President John F. Kennedy inaugurated the federal policy of affirmative action with Executive Order 10295. This Executive Order, which established the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, also declared that companies contracting business with the federal government needed to take "affirmative action" to hire minorities. President Johnson later expanded the government's affirmative action programs in 1965, with Executive Order, which decreed that all federal government agencies must take "affirmative action."
Since its inception, affirmative action has been a controversial policy and it has evolved over time. It has been controversial and some commentators have blamed affirmative action for causing the split in the liberal coalition that led American politics for much of the post-World War II period.
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Affirmative Action in Employment
A "Best Source" for Affirmative Action information in LexisNexis Academic is a CRS Report from 1998 included in the "Policy Papers" source. The report, Affirmative Action in Employment: Background and Current Debate, includes an in-depth background on Affirmative Action in employment since the phrase first appeared in the Wagner Act of 1935. Different ideas such as "quotas", "voluntary affirmative action", and "timetables" are included in the history section. The report also includes the "current debate" on Affirmative Action in employment from 1998.
This report along with Affirmative Action: Congressional and Presidential Activity, 1995-1998, gives a very specific portrait of Affirmative Action during the Clinton Administration. Clinton's "mend it, but don't end it" attitude of Affirmative Action in employment led him to attempt to reform the system and revitalize Americans' committedness to this issue. The report states,
He also instructed agencies to apply the following four standards to all affirmative action programs: "No quotas in theory or practice; no illegal discrimination of any kind, including reverse discrimination; no preference for people who are not qualified for any job or other opportunity; and as soon as a program has succeeded, it must be retired." The President called for the elimination or reform of any program not meeting these standards.
For a more current and less historical view of Affirmative Action, use the index to add the term "Affirmative Action in Employment" to your search on the Power Search form. You can limit your search to the past two years and choose particular sources to narrow your results set.
Affirmative Action Concepts and Diversity in Higher Education
An important tip when researching Affirmative Action concepts in Higher Education admissions is to try searching on "Diversity" instead of "Affirmative Action". The index term "Affirmative Action" will return similar results, but you may find more informative articles by incorporating the word "Diversity" into your search.
The term "Affirmative Action" refers to an idea designed to combat discrimination against minorities in our large social context. While the goal of equality remains the same, the implementation of "Affirmative Action" concepts is obviously different in institutions of higher education than in our society at large. Educational institutions require certain standards of admission that may or may not be affected by a person's minority status. Because of this, Affirmative Action is not government mandated in educational institutions, but "Diversity Goals" are encouraged. These goals are intended to provide students with a worldy, diverse, and nurturing student body and faculty. They are not intended to remedy the social issue of discrimination - something that government has an obligation to achieve. Therefore, the term "Affirmative Action" is normally reserved for a scale larger than the realm of higher education. Usually, the term "Diversity" is used when referring to incorporating more minorities into colleges and universities.
The Best Sources for articles on Diversity Goals are:
The Chronicle of Higher Education (Using the index term "Affirmative Action")