(Editorial) Racial Justice in Education: Discussing Potential Repeal of Prop-209 in California
Updated: Jan 9
Author: Tim Yudong Zhang (Flintridge Preparatory School)
Associate Editor: Lexi Lin, Sarah James
Souce: "California bill asking voters whether to repeal anti-affirmative action Prop. 209 advances," San Francisco Chronicle
In 1996, California voters overwhelmingly voted in favor of Proposition 209, enacting a statewide ban on affirmative action. Well, it appears the times have changed.
The California State Assembly voted earlier this month on Assembly Constitutional Amendment 5, which would do away with Proposition 209 and allow for colleges and universities across the state of California to consider race in recruiting efforts and admissions decisions. The amendment now moves the State Senate. If it passes in the Senate, it will be presented to California voters come November 2020.
First off, what is affirmative action? According to Merriam-Webster’s, affirmative action is “an active effort to improve the employment or educational opportunities of members of minority groups and women.” On the surface, it sounds great. But let’s dig into the pros and cons of affirmative action and whether or not Californians should pass ACA-5.
Pros for passing ACA-5 and repealing Proposition 209
“It makes little sense to exclude any consideration of race in admissions when the aim of the University’s holistic process is to fully understand and evaluate each applicant through multiple dimensions,” said UC President Janet Napolitano.
Source: Affirmative Action and Minorities, CNBC"
“Proposition 209 has forced California public institutions to try to address racial inequality without factoring in race, even where allowed by federal law. The diversity of our university and higher education institutions across California, should—and must—represent the rich diversity of our state," Napolitano added.
Proponents of affirmative action would say that our education system is biased against minority students, and that action must be taken to balance the proportionality of racial groups on college campuses. Consider that two years after the passage of Prop. 209, UC Berkeley’s proportion of black students was halved.
We need affirmative action to ensure that our college campuses are representative of the communities they are supposed to educate, someone might say. Without affirmative action, African-Americans and Latinos will be passed over at unfair rates.
Souce: Repeal of Proposition 209," The San Diego Union-Tribune
Chairman of the UC Board of Regents, John A. Perez, said, “There is amazing momentum for righting the wrongs caused by centuries of systemic racism in our country. The UC Board of Regents' votes to endorse ACA 5 and to repeal Proposition 209 plays a part in that effort. As we continue to explore all the University's opportunities for action, I am proud UC endorsed giving California voters the chance to erase a stain, support opportunity and equality, and repeal Proposition 209.”
It’s time to finally rid our colleges and universities of the patriarchal, systemic racism embedded within the institution. With affirmative action, we can work on building diverse student bodies that are representative of the location they reside in.
Cons for passing ACA-5 and repealing Proposition 209
Source: "Protests against racial quotas outside the Supreme Court in 2015," AP
Doesn’t affirmative action fly right in the face of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream that people “will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”?
Affirmative action favors skin color and ethnicity over academic capability. The truth is, whether or not someone is accepted into a college or university is—and should be—based almost solely on academic achievement and capability. The color of people's skin should not determine one's chance of entering higher education.
Hard work is a key to success. The American dream that attracts people from all around the globe to this country is about the fact that, no matter the upbringing, if someone works hard enough and puts in the efforts and hours, he or she can succeed. That is part of the beauty of the United States. On the other hand, other social traditions, such as the the caste system in India, may trap a person in a certain social forever because of their skin color.
Affirmative action has also been shown to disadvantage Asian-Americans who are brought up in a culture of study and hard work. Why should an Asian-American, who has worked hard his or her entire life to prepare for his or her dream school, be denied his dream to make room for someone else because of who has not prepared as well?
Also, a look at the stats shows that whites usually comprise a smaller proportionality of students when compared with the percentage of the population. “Whites comprise 22% of UC graduates and 21% of CSU’s, compared to 36% of the state’s population,” a report in edsource.org read.
Affirmative action is not the path to filling our colleges with prepared minority students. If we really want to help disadvantaged minority communities, let’s start with our K-12 school systems. Weaken the teacher unions to allow for the firing of bad teachers and the hiring of good teachers. Promote school choice.