Senate Moves Hernandez Equal Opportunity in Education Proposal Forward

January 30, 2014

IMMEDIATE RELEASE                         Contact: Janet Chin, Communications Director

                               Senator Hernandez’ Constitutional Amendment Restoring
                                         Equal Opportunity in Education Moves Forward

Sacramento, CA --- A proposed constitutional amendment by State Senator Dr. Ed Hernandez, O.D. (D – West Covina) that would repeal prohibitions on the consideration of race or gender in public education programs passed out of the Senate today.

Senate Constitutional Amendment 5 (SCA 5), which cleared a major hurdle today by garnering a critical two-thirds vote of support in the Senate, would ask voters to consider eliminating Proposition 209’s ban on the use race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in recruitment, admissions, and retention programs at California’ public universities and colleges.

“Proponents of Prop. 209 argued that we could address longstanding racial disparities in our education system by ignoring race, but the statistics prove otherwise,” added Hernandez, “You cannot address inequality by refusing to acknowledge it, so I am very happy to see this legislation moving forward.”

Prop. 209 eliminated programs at public universities and colleges that were designed to recruit, retain, provide scholarships, and give consideration to students that come from groups that are underrepresented and historically discriminated against.  As a result, there has been a precipitous drop in the percentage of Latino, African American, and Native American students at California public universities, despite the fact that those same groups have seen steady increases in their percentages of college-eligible high school graduates. 
With nearly 20 years of history showing campuses becoming less diverse and qualified high school graduates being overlooked and ignored under Prop. 209, many have been trying to draw attention to the scope of the problem.  UCLA Research Professors Patricia Gándara and Gary Orfield see Senator Hernandez’ proposed amendment as a welcome change in the discussion.

"The Civil Rights Project at UCLA hails the vote for this legislation as a step forward in enabling California's higher education system to better serve all of California and to strengthen the future of the state," said Gandara and Orfield.

SCA 5 now moves on to the State Assembly for consideration.  If approved by two-thirds of Assemblymembers, SCA 5 would go before the voters in a statewide election.  Senator Hernandez believes people will see this proposal as a chance to provide equal opportunity for all of California’s qualified students.

“SCA 5 does not mandate affirmative action programs, nor does it implement any sort of quota system;” said Hernandez, “This will strengthen our state by simply allowing our colleges and universities to find ways to pursue the best and the brightest students from every background, so that we can keep that talent pool right here in the state.”