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Photo: Yana Paskova/Getty Images

The Justice Department on Thursday accused Yale University of violating federal civil rights law by discriminating against Asian American and white undergraduate hopefuls.

Why it matters: The claim is an extension of the Trump administration's efforts to challenge race-based admissions policies at elite universities, and comes after a two-year investigation in response to complaints from students about the application process at some schools.

  • The Supreme Court has previously ruled on affirmative action, upholding the consideration of race in college admissions, per Reuters.

What they're saying: “There is no such thing as a nice form of race discrimination," Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband for the Civil Rights Division said.

  • “Unlawfully dividing Americans into racial and ethnic blocs fosters stereotypes, bitterness, and division. It is past time for American institutions to recognize that all people should be treated with decency and respect and without unlawful regard to the color of their skin," Dreiband added.
  • The investigation concluded that Asian American and white students have “only one-tenth to one-fourth of the likelihood of admission as African American applicants with comparable academic credentials."
  • "Yale rejects scores of Asian American and white applicants each year based on their race, whom it otherwise would admit."

The other side: Yale said it “categorically denies this allegation.”

"Given our university’s commitment to complying with federal law, I am dismayed that the DOJ inexplicably rushed to conclude its investigation without conducting a fully informed analysis, which would have shown that Yale’s practices absolutely comply with decades of Supreme Court precedent," Yale University president Peter Salovey said.

The big picture: The Justice Department previously filed a statement supporting claims that Harvard University discriminates against Asian American applicants in its use of a "personal rating," which evaluates prospective students on traits including likability, courage and kindness.

Go deeper

Poll: Majority of Americans find inequity in our education system

Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Note: ±2.4% margin of error; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

A strong majority of Americans say our public education system is unequal, and half say the nation's schools aren't well equipped to help children of all races and ethnicities succeed, according to a new Axios-Ipsos survey.

Why it matters: As our nation becomes more diverse and confronts racial discrimination, Americans want our school systems to live up to the promise of providing a more equal opportunity for all children to succeed.

A reckoning with teaching race and history in America

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Library of Congress, Warren K Leffler/Getty

American history classes have failed to represent the experiences that children of color live, leaving some students struggling to see themselves or their cultures as part of America.

Why it matters: Accurate historical teachings on slavery, indigenous peoples and immigration help all students understand how people of color have shaped American society. Ethnic studies courses can narrow the learning gap and boost the academic performance of some students of color at risk of dropping out, experts say.

Nov 14, 2020 - Health

America's unequal reliance on school resources

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Brooks Kraft LLC/Getty Images

Environment deeply affects adolescent wellness, and families have come to rely heavily on schools to help them meet challenges ranging from poverty and discrimination to societal pressures to succeed.

The big picture: Black, Latino and Native American students need different kinds of support beyond the classroom to do well in school and for sound emotional development into adulthood.