Effort to repeal affirmative action ban stalls in the Legislature

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.
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