Effort to repeal affirmative action ban stalls in the Legislature

QUICK HITS (USE THIS!!!)Facing an outcry from some Asian-American groups and shifting support in the Legislature, a state lawmaker on Monday backed off efforts to repeal California’s ban on affirmative action programs in university admissions.

Senate Constitutional Amendment No. 5, proposed by Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina, stalled in the Assembly and was returned to the Senate without additional action. The measure would have asked voters to once again allow race-based preferences in university admissions, overturning part of Proposition 209, the 1996 ballot measure that banned affirmative action programs.

The proposal passed the Senate in January, but Asian-American advocacy groups have been outspoken in opposition to the measure, saying it would leave Asian students at a disadvantage when considering applications from minority groups that are underrepresented in university admissions.

And last week, three Asian-American senators who had supported the bill wrote to Assembly Speaker John A. Perez and ask that it be stopped, the Sacramento Bee reported.

“‘Prior to the vote on SCA 5 in the Senate, we heard no opposition to the bill. However, in the past few weeks, we have heard from thousands of people throughout California voicing their concerns about the potential impacts,’ Sens. Ted Lieu of Torrance, Carol Liu of La Canada Flintridge and Leland Yee of San Francisco wrote to Perez on March 11,” the Bee reported.

In a joint statement, Hernandez and Perez said the Legislature will instead convene a commission to study admissions, recruitment and retention issues at state colleges. The numbers of African-American, Latino and American Indian students admitted to the University of California plummeted after Prop. 209 took effect.

“We look forward to working with the commission, both in Sacramento and in meetings around the state, as they engage in these important discussions with the expectation of putting forward recommendations that could be approved either legislatively or by vote of the people as we seek to ensure that California’s campuses remain centers of opportunity for every Californian,” the statement said.

(From the wayback machine: “Has Prop. 209 saved us or or failed us?” Coverage of the 10th anniversary of Proposition 209 from the Oakland Tribune, Nov. 5, 2006)

Michelle Maitre covers career and college readiness. Contact her and follow her on Twitter @michelle_maitre. Sign up here for a no-cost online subscription to EdSource Today for reports from the largest education reporting team in California.


Filed under: College & Careers, Community Colleges, High-Needs Students, Legislation

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4 Responses to “Effort to repeal affirmative action ban stalls in the Legislature”

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  1. Floyd Thursby on Mar 18, 2014 at 2:32 pm03/18/2014 2:32 pm

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    I think kids need to be made more aware of how their effort before they turn 18 will have more impact on their income, success and ability to have a family and stay in San Francisco than what they do after 18. Many studies show top professionals work no more hours than minimum wage workers, yet earn far more.

    An article in the ‘Economist’ showed how our students study far less than those in other advanced nations nearly 5 years ago. We need every child to know this, to know they can be anything they want to be but it will take hard work.

    I’ve had teachers discourage my kids from trying to strive to get an A. They’re in the 20th century, not the 21st.

    Yes, you would have a couple speakers a year discuss the impact of TV, hours, using services, on their future. Paint a picture. Tell kids some of you will be on minimum wage, barely able to survive, the ones who prefer TV to doing homework, the ones who can’t read, the ones who don’t push through problems like trouble in math and dislike of reading. Others, who may be looked at negatively by some kids, the smartest, will have great lives with money for trips, a nice home, a nice car, etc.

    These kinds of seminars have done wonders fighting racism and homophobia, reducing teen pregnancy and smoking and drug use (I know it’s still a problem and worse in the past 5 years but better than it was 25 years ago by far). They’ve fought bullying pretty successfully and reduced fighting.

    Most kids are unaware of how huge an impact their behavior as a child has on their future income, happiness, success. They will spend 70 years after age 22 on average based on current projections. The quality of those years and of their children’s lives will be based on their current level of effort.

  2. Don on Mar 18, 2014 at 10:11 am03/18/2014 10:11 am

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    The image of a group of elementary school children listening to a motivational speaker makes me laugh. Tell me, Floyd, is this motivational education a class taught by teachers or some outside Tony Robbins sort of consultants? Does it takes place during math class, instead of lunch or is it an afterschool program for disinterested students?

    The things you are advocating like paid tutors, encouragement to turn off TVs and motivational speakers are not generally associated with affirmative action which usually comes down to something like quotas.

    I’m having a hard time trying to imagine what a school program of the kind you are advocating would look like. Right now, the only image I can come up with is the “Voice of Christmas Past”.

  3. Floyd Thursby on Mar 18, 2014 at 12:26 am03/18/2014 12:26 am

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    I think they should really focus on affirmative action from age 4-17. Pay for tutoring, universal Pre-K, and motivational speakers to encourage kids to study 20 hours a week in middle school and watch TV 7 or fewer, not what most do, 5 hours of studying and 40 of TV, games, etc.

    I have heard that it will be a minor factor. I would support this, but I doubt this will happen. Before 209, it was not a minor factor. Latino and African American kids got into UC Berkeley and UCLA and other UCs with far lower SATs and GPAs, not just 3.9 for whites and Asians with a 1500 SAT and 3.8 with 1450 for others.

    I do think this would lead to discrimination against Asians and lead us to fail to emulate their excellent impulse control, work ethic, and moral decision making to study more hours and waste fewwer hours. The truth is, now 33.5% of Asian Americans qualify for a UC vs. 8.7% of whites. Lower percentages of other groups do. If this causes a quota where 12.5% of each race gets in, there would be a much higher standard for Asians than anyone else. Individual Asians are nearly 4 x as likely as whites to be admitted to a UC. This is because they study 13.8 hours a week vs. 5.6 for whites and 16% of whites start kindergarten ready to read and knowing their math and frequency words vs. 60% of Asians.

    This should be a wake up call and lead every parent to insist their kids study 13.8 hours from age 11, or more, and all parents do flash cards with their kids. The wake up call will be snoozed if we change to a quota based system.

    I would support a very slight advantage, but no advantage for whites over Asians. I would support perhaps saying that any child of low income, of any race, can get a slight advantage, if they are good enough to get into UC Merced or UC Riverside, they can be bumped to UC Irvine, UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara, US San Diego, or UC Santa Cruz, and if they are good enough for these without help, they can be bumped to UCLA, and if they are good enough for UCLA without help, they can be bumped to UC Berkeley, the flagship UC Campus. But you shouldn’t be able to be bumped from Merced/Riverside to Cal just by being a certain race.

    It would be more fair to do it by income than race. This would allow poor whites and poor Asians, if they work hard, to get hte same advantage poor blacks and Latinos get.

    Before 209, no consideration was given to income. African Americans and Latinos of high income found it easier to get in than low income whites and Asians. Poor Asians have great habits anyways, in fact are the only group to thrive while poor, so this would enable their example to be held up for all as a model to follow in terms of habits, impulse control, time management, moral/time decisions and parenting while giving a leg up to disadvantaged children on free or reduced lunch or without parents who are college graduates.

    Before 209, some vastly underqualified were being let into Cal. They say now that this will be only 1 factor in 15, one minor factor. We have to hold them to that. Why not use income, not race, and guarantee it is a small factor? We have to focus on changing study habits and parenting more than just having underqualified admitted and then dropping out.

  4. Paul Muench on Mar 17, 2014 at 11:48 pm03/17/2014 11:48 pm

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    Five years of initial declines have been replaced by a decade of impressive gains in enrollment for URM. In comparison to prior to prop 209 URM enrollment is up 25%. Since just after 209 was enacted URM enrollment is up almost 100%. I suppose elite institutions will always garner the headlines, but it would sure be interesting to see similar figures for state and community colleges.

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