Wednesday, March 19, 2014

CA State Senate Abandons Attempt To Restore Race-Conscious College Admissions

Bad news today out of the Democratic state senate, where a state constitutional amendment that would place a partial repeal of Proposition 209 on the November 2014 ballot has been tabled. Proposition 209 passed in 1996 and banned the use of race, ethnicity or gender in public education, public contracts or public employment. The state senate had passed SCA 5 by a vote of 27 to 9 on January 30, 2014.

Speaker John Perez (and State Controller candidate) announced today that the Assembly would not consider the measure. According to the San Jose Mercury-News Asian-American state senators switched from support to opposition due to pressure from the community.
Last week, saying they had received thousands of calls and emails from constituents, senators Leland Yee, D-San Francisco; Ted Lieu, D-Torrance; and Carol Liu, D-La Cañada/Flintridge asked Assembly Speaker John Perez to stop the bill. 
"As lifelong advocates for the Asian-American and other communities, we would never support a policy that we believed would negatively impact our children," they wrote in a letter to Perez. 
In 1996, California became the first state to outlaw affirmative action in public university admissions and state hiring, a policy that took effect in 1998. The amendment would have allowed voters to lift that ban, either this fall or in 2016. 
Hernandez and others have said that misinformation about what affirmative action would mean -- such as racial quotas for new freshmen -- spread quickly, stoking parents' fears about their children's chances of getting into UC, the state's public research university system. 
Using racial quotas in admissions would be unconstitutional; recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions have strictly limited consideration of race in public university admissions. UC officials last week said any suggestion of quotas is irresponsible: "We have never done that, and we never would," said Nina Robinson, UC's associate president and chief policy adviser.
 Hopefully the legislature will realize that it is important to be able to use race as a factor in college admissions.

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