The state Senate recently passed SCA 5, a constitutional amendment that proposes to exclude California’s public university system from the state Constitution’s requirement to “not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin.” The bill is awaiting action in the Assembly; passage there would put it on the ballot as a referendum in a statewide election.
I’m for affirmative action in general, and support effective efforts in redressing historical or present injustices and discriminations based on race or gender. However, I’m against SCA 5, which tries to reverse the progress made since Proposition 209 was approved by California voters in 1996.
In the past 20 years, California’s public universities have been very successful in inspiring, admitting, educating and training students, regardless of their racial or ethnic heritage. Our universities have made tremendous strides in contributing to the most significant technological advancements of our era and supporting the most innovative economy of our country.
What are the reasons to change a successful, globally admired higher education system that have enabled all these?
I understand the bill proposer’s and supporters’ good intention for improving the equity and diversity in our education system. But I believe there are better ways to accomplish this than reverting to ranking and dividing students by race or ethnicity. We should invest more in our early childhood education, K-12 and vocational training programs; provide more support to our universities to admit and enroll all qualified Californian applicants; and take more proactive steps to update our schools, teaching workforce and educational paradigm for the 21st century, in order to better prepare our students to compete at not only state, but also national and global levels.
Silicon Valley, Hollywood, Candlestick, Central Valley and innumerable places across California boast the most successful high-tech, entertainment, sports, agriculture and other human endeavors in the world, made possible by Californians diverse in heritage but common in exceptional aspiration, entrepreneurship, competitiveness, cooperation, skills, perseverance and hard work.
They excel in this Land of Opportunity by benefiting from the freedom, fairness and rights protected by the Constitution, not from the preferential treatments prohibited by the Constitution.
The future of California depends on the efforts of all Californians. Let’s look forward, focus on progress, be united and do the best we can do.