All the ways the Supreme Court dramatically altered education last week

The Supreme Court made headlines last week with a couple of decisions related to education. These decisions have massive ramifications, some of which are immediate and some that may appear down the line. Below is an explainer that attempts to clarify the high court’s recent impact on the education landscape.

Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard College and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina  

  • Immediate impact
    • Schools can no longer use race as a factor in the admission process
  • Potential impact
    • Schools find proxies for race
    • Schools move to a test optional process
    • Race-based scholarships struck down

Affirmative action as most people have come to know it, is all but dead in higher education but that doesn’t mean the debate will end. Schools with a desire to have a diverse cohort may be tempted to adopt other policies that have been proven to diversify campus. Using proxies like geography and not requiring an SAT or ACT are popular options in that regard. Scholarships based on race may also be impacted. The ruling is not particularly clear about scholarships but some states have already interpreted it as a denial of race-based scholarships too.

Biden v. Nebraska

  • Immediate impact
    • President Biden’s student loan program is struck down
  • Potential impact
    • Biden tries to forgive loans through another act

This decision was easy to see coming if you saw the oral arguments. The student loan program President Biden originally came up with is dead. However, his administration is working on a backdoor with another act and has beefed up the protections for borrowers in the meantime.

Charter Day School, Inc. v. Peltier (Lower Court)

  • Immediate impact
    • Charter school students are still protected under the “equal protection” guarantee
  • Potential impact
    • Charter schools are “state actors”

This case flew under the radar because the Supreme Court declined to hear it. But if they had, and ruled the way many legal experts thought they would, it would have essentially allowed charter schools to operate as private schools as opposed to public ones. Instead, the lower court decision is upheld, and charter schools are considered state actors for the time being.  

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