Comments to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB)

Comments to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB)

April 19, 2017

Comments on Proposals From the Federal Interagency Working Group for Revision of the Standards for Maintaining, Collecting, and Presenting Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity

Project RACE (Reclassify All Children Equally) is the national organization advocating for the multiracial community. Our population requires changes in the racial and ethnic classifications in this country so that we are counted correctly and accurately for research, making and enforcing laws, redistricting, school data, etc., but also for medical reasons. We have no idea what the health risks are for our population because we have not been included on forms requiring health information. These are matters of life and death. To that end, we are commenting on the Proposals From the Federal Interagency Working Group for Revision of the Standards for Maintaining, Collecting, and Presenting Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity,

In order to maintain our confidence in Federal statistics, our recommendations will address the multiracial population, which is also called “two or more races” and we hope will be taken under consideration by the OMB.

We are in favor of the combined format, as outlined by the Federal Interagency Working Group, because it is inclusive and provides for equitable and balanced results for our population. Testing for the 2015 National Content Test (NCT) by the Census Bureau showed, in fact, that there was consistency for multiracial individuals with this method. It did reduce reporting of Some Other Race, which we address below. It also appears to better reflect self-identity, which is critical to the multiracial population.

The salience of terminology used for race and ethnicity classifications and other language in the standard are critical to our community, and should have been addressed by the working group. Specifically, it is crucial that instructions are included in every instance where racial and ethnic data are collected as follows: Paper collection: Mark all boxes that apply. Note: You may report more than one group. Online collection: Select all boxes that apply. Note: You may report more than one group. These formats are the only way we can be assured that our respondents will, in fact, know they can check two or more races. These formats have been tested during the NCT by the Census Bureau and have been shown to offer the best guidance for and assurance of the most accurate resulting numbers. The new instructions increased the rate of consistency of multiple-responses when compared to the old instructions. We strongly recommend this critical approach to ensure that our population, which is often seemingly forgotten by the OMB, be counted as accurately as possible.

We also recognize problems with “Some other race” or “Other” categories and the multiracial population. If someone writes in “multiracial,” “biracial,” or “mixed,” for example, they should be tabulated and reassigned to the “two or more races” category. “Some other race” was the third highest category on previous decennial censuses, which caused much confusion and resulted in an undercount of the multiracial population. Federal agencies other than the Census Bureau commonly utilize some type of “Other” category and proper guidance should be provided by the Federal Interagency Working Group.

It is our hope that our suggestions will be taken seriously by OMB in its review of Federal Register Comments. Thank you.

Susan Graham for the members of Project RACE

MASC DID WHAT?!

MASC Did WHAT!

I have a lovely wood recognition plaque in my office given to me in 1995 from the Multiracial Americans of Southern California (MASC). It hangs right under a letter to Project RACE and the Association of Multi-Ethnic Americans also dated 1995 and signed by President Bill Clinton. We were known then as MASC, Project RACE, and AMEA. MASC apparently no longer advocates for the multiracial community, Project RACE does, and AMEA is defunct. A great deal has happened in the past 25 plus years. Not all of it is good.

I will forever defend the work of Project RACE (Reclassify All Children Equally), but most of you know the history of the multiracial movement, so I won’t go back over that now. Suffice it to say that different organizations went different ways, but we all—or at least it seemed—wanted some form of recognition for the term “multiracial.” We were making progress. AMEA fell apart. Hapas moved on. MAVIN couldn’t decide what it wanted to be and the founder disappeared. The academics saw a way to “get published or perish” and began publishing papers and books like crazy with or without actual facts. Podcasts popped up, Loving Day gained momentum, and even comics took their best shots at us. We somehow endured. Project RACE kept doing what we did in 1990 and advocated for a multiracial identifier on racial classifications. We won some; we lost some.

Now it’s 2016 and decisions must be made by 2017 for the 2020 census. It must be done quickly for many reasons, which is why OMB issued a 30 day notice instead of the usual 60+. One more chance to take our best shot.

Then a few weeks ago the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the government people who decide on race and ethnicity in this country published a notice in the Federal Register, that obscure publication that half-heartedly asks for public opinion, suggesting that John Q. Public let them know what they think of the proposed plans. They laid out (as best they could) these areas under consideration:

  1. Whether to continue to have one category for Hispanic origin and one for race, or one combined answer;
  2. Have a distinct new category for respondents of Middle Eastern or North African heritage (MENA);
  3. The description of the intended use of minimum reporting categories; and
  4. Terminology used for race and ethnicity classifications.

Look back at those areas of consideration. Number 1 has been on the table for years and it is already a done deal. Number 2 has been in contention since before the multiracial question even came up, but it’s become a messier MENA category than previously. I’m not sure what number 3 even means completely.

Then…BINGO! Number 4 gives us a chance to bring up terminology again.

Project RACE jumps on the terminology question, gathers our members and supporters, and starts our answers to the open comment period! We gain momentum and wait for other “multiracial groups” to join in. MASC. The MULTIRACIAL Americans of Southern California stuns us. They openly advocated for number 1, the Hispanic race/ethnicity question.

Thomas Lopez is the president of MASC. He strongly favors Hispanics becoming a race instead of an ethnicity on forms. There are many reasons for the combined question to be considered. There are still organized groups fighting for it and the MENA question. Lopez glosses over consideration 4 with this: “In a combined question format this would simply be another version of ‘Two or more races.’” This would have been the perfect place to advocate for multiracial wording—for an acceptable, respectful term for our children. What were Lopez and the board of directors of MASC thinking?! Apparently, they should change their name to:

The Hispanic and Two or More Races Americans of Southern California

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Moment of Your Time  

by Susan Graham 

We’re not asking for a month or a day-but just a moment during this week. June 7 to 14 is National Multiracial Heritage Week. I know, I know, you’re getting tired of all these groups with all their months, weeks, and days. Does every group need a special time-slot? Probably not, but if they do, we want one too.

This special week now has the official sanction of the Governors and legislators of Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, Texas, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee, Washington, and the Mayor of the District of Columbia. The multiracial population is the fastest growing racial group in the country. We’ll only get bigger.

Project RACE (Reclassify All Children Equally) is in its 25th year of “introducing” the multiracial community to the rest of the world.

The word “multiracial” has had a stormy ride. In the 1990s, when we were trying to convince the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that people needed to be able to check more than one box, they advised us to give them a definitive word to use. We had the choice of multiracial, biracial, mixed-race, and others. We asked the community and the consensus was the term “multiracial.” It is more inclusive than biracial. It doesn’t grate as much as “mixed,” which lends itself too easily to “mixed nuts” or “mixed up,” not to mention the problem that “mixed” is the opposite of “pure,” and that’s not a place we want to go.

Yes, the nomenclature is a problem. I wish we could be as successful in changing terminology as the gay community. Remember when people used the term “homosexual”? Not anymore. I wish we could be as savvy as the community once known as colored, then Negro, then Black, and now African-American. But for reasons beyond our control, we remain more mixed than multiracial, more “other” than biracial, and more forgotten than other populations. But are we invisible? Didn’t you see that light tan baby being pushed down the street in the stroller yesterday? The dark woman pushing it was not the nanny-she was the mother. What about the family with the children who look part Asian? Yes, they take after their Asian mother and their white father.

When we were trying to reason with OMB, we also ran into the U.S. Census Bureau. But they still call us “MOOMs”-people who Mark One or More races, or the “combination” population. It’s hard to get bureaucrats to change once two or more of them make up their minds.

Then there is the United States Department of Education. They might allow schools to let students check more than one race, but then they redistribute us to other racial categories with some strange algorithms. If a student checks Hispanic as one of their ethnic parts, then they become 100 percent Hispanic.

Then we have the United States Department of Justice, and all of their concerns about discrimination. They depend on the data to ensure that minorities are not discriminated against in any way. How could a multiracial person prove discrimination based on the fact that they are multiracial if no such multiracial numbers exist? It’s a real quandary.

Choosing to be multiracial is just that: a choice. If you want to be monoracial based on your personal history or just because that’s how you feel today, that’s great. However, if you wish to celebrate your entire heritage, the choice should be yours and yours alone.

So, if you can, think about how you can contribute to Multiracial Heritage Week from June 7th to 14th. Give us a moment. Perhaps you can simply acknowledge a grandchild, teach about famous multiracial people, think about what you are going to call that multiracial person you know, or contribute to our cause. Join us. Google us. Befriend us. Follow us. Help us get the message out that this is the start of something big-something multiracial.

Susan Graham is the president of Project RACE, Inc.

 

Fun Fact

U.S. Census FACT

 

John H. Thompson is the Director of the Census Bureau. He’s the big shot. He has been sending out updates about planning for the 2020 Census. He recently gave this update about their goals:

  1. Increase reporting in the race and ethnic categories as defined by the U. S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
  2. Increase the accuracy and reliability of the results, and
  3. Elicit detailed responses for all racial and ethnic communities (e.g., Chinese, Mexican, Jamaican, Lebanese, etc.).

He also said this:

“We’re also engaging in an ongoing discussion about race and ethnicity among statistical agencies and various population stakeholder groups.”

Oh geez, did the multiracial community—a population stakeholder—miss a meeting? Nah, we were never invited. By the way, Director Thompson also had a lovely meeting in sunny Mexico recently with Hispanic stakeholders. From the pictures, he looked like he was having a great time!

The multiracial community must understand the games played between OMB and the Census Bureau. The Census Bureau does what they feel is the appropriate “testing.” They give the results to OMB with their suggestions. OMB then adopts the suggestions of the Census Bureau. Then one points to the other if a population group is not happy. Welcome to the bureaucracy in Washington.

End of Racial Lockdown Policy

California prisons to end racial lockdown policy

 

(Reuters) – The California prison system has agreed to settle a long-running civil rights lawsuit by ending race-based lockdowns of inmates, court records show.

The 21-page stipulated settlement, which has not been filed in court but was published online by the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday, provides for lockdowns in the prison system of the country’s most populous state to now cover all inmates in a certain area or specific inmates deemed to pose a threat.

For lockdowns exceeding 14 days, the settlement also requires wardens to make plans for inmates to participate in outdoor activities.

“The prisons will still be able to maintain security, while prisoners will no longer be targeted for lengthy lockdowns just because of their race or ethnicity,” said Rebekah Evenson, an attorney for the prisoners.

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokesman Jeffrey Callison said in an email the department was pleased with the settlement and it started making the policy changes in May. The department did not concede to any violation of federal law in the settlement.

The case was filed in 2008 by High Desert State Prison inmate Robert Mitchell, who said it was the department’s policy that “when there is an incident involving any race, all inmates of that race are locked up,” court records show.

Mitchell said the policy violated prisoners’ constitutional rights, while prison system officials argued that it helped ensure safety after racially-fueled outbursts.

The case was certified as a class action in July to cover the state’s roughly 125,000 male inmates, court records show.

The proposed settlement will be sent to the class and discussed at a fairness hearing, and will require final approval by a federal judge, according to the document.

 

Medical Monday

 

For racially diverse patients with disabilities, increased barriers to health care

Summary:
It’s well established that Americans with disabilities and those in underserved racial/ethnic groups face significant disparities in access to health care. Now, researchers are beginning to examine the unique patterns of health care inequalities experienced by racially and ethnically diverse patients with disabilities.

It’s well established that Americans with disabilities and those in underserved racial/ethnic groups face significant disparities in access to health care. Now, researchers are beginning to examine the unique patterns of health care inequalities experienced by racially and ethnically diverse patients with disabilities, according to a special October supplement to Medical Care. The journal is published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, a part of Wolters Kluwer Health.

“This special issue of Medical Care is focused on the intersection of disability, race, and ethnicity and the particular health care barriers faced by people at this intersection,” accord to an introductory article by the supplement guest editors, led by Willi Horner-Johnson, PhD, of Oregon Health & Science University, Portland. The goal is to set a new research agenda for research into health care disparities affecting adults with disabilities who are also members of underserved racial and ethnic groups.

Analyzing Disparities by Both Disability and Race/Ethnicity

Despite an extensive body of research on health care disparities, researchers have only begun to explore issues of diversity among people with disabilities, or how disability may affect inequities related to race and ethnicity. “This supplement is among the first efforts in the peer-reviewed literature to bridge the gap between these two fields of research,” the guest editors write.

The special issue includes nine papers, contributed by leading experts, presenting original research and new insights on disparities at the intersection of disability and race/ethnicity. An opening commentary calls for collaborative approaches to merging these historically separate “tracks” of health disparities research. Original research papers present evidence of racial and ethnic disparities within various groups of people with disabilities. One paper provides a snapshot of “difference, disparity, and disability” at the national level.

Other studies report on racial differences in the use of assistive technology by veterans with severe disabilities; and in health care services for young people with muscular dystrophy, even with similar health care benefits. Another paper reports relatively low racial/ethnic disparities in accessing preventive care among adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“Braid the Strands” to Achieve Health Equity

Another set of papers looks at unique issues at the intersection of disability, race, and ethnicity. Analysis of nationally representative data confirms separate disparities by disability and race/ethnicity, but finds limited evidence of “interaction or additive effects” between the two. Other papers address the “critical gap” in research on racial/ethnic differences in barriers to health care among people with disabilities and the challenges facing immigrant families of individuals with developmental disabilities.

The special issue concludes with a commentary from Dr Camara Phyllis Jones of Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta. Dr Jones discusses the “parallels and intersections” between disability and race/ethnicity — including the need to “braid the strands” to achieve health equity. She writes, “Achieving health equity requires valuing all individuals and populations equally, recognizing and rectifying historical injustices, and providing resources according to need.”

The editors and contributors to the special issue hope their efforts will provide a starting point for building a more robust set of research data on the health care issues facing the growing number of Americans who have disabilities and belong to underserved racial or ethnic groups. “As healthcare transformation proceeds, efforts to reduce inequity in health care will gain increasing prominence,” Dr Horner-Johnson and colleagues conclude. “Our hope is that these efforts will take into account the full range of patient diversity and needs, including those at the intersection of disability, race, and ethnicity.”

Analyzing Disparities by Both Disability and Race/Ethnicity

Despite an extensive body of research on health care disparities, researchers have only begun to explore issues of diversity among people with disabilities, or how disability may affect inequities related to race and ethnicity. “This supplement is among the first efforts in the peer-reviewed literature to bridge the gap between these two fields of research,” the guest editors write.

The special issue includes nine papers, contributed by leading experts, presenting original research and new insights on disparities at the intersection of disability and race/ethnicity. An opening commentary calls for collaborative approaches to merging these historically separate “tracks” of health disparities research. Original research papers present evidence of racial and ethnic disparities within various groups of people with disabilities. One paper provides a snapshot of “difference, disparity, and disability” at the national level.

Other studies report on racial differences in the use of assistive technology by veterans with severe disabilities; and in health care services for young people with muscular dystrophy, even with similar health care benefits. Another paper reports relatively low racial/ethnic disparities in accessing preventive care among adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“Braid the Strands” to Achieve Health Equity

Another set of papers looks at unique issues at the intersection of disability, race, and ethnicity. Analysis of nationally representative data confirms separate disparities by disability and race/ethnicity, but finds limited evidence of “interaction or additive effects” between the two. Other papers address the “critical gap” in research on racial/ethnic differences in barriers to health care among people with disabilities and the challenges facing immigrant families of individuals with developmental disabilities.

The special issue concludes with a commentary from Dr Camara Phyllis Jones of Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta. Dr Jones discusses the “parallels and intersections” between disability and race/ethnicity — including the need to “braid the strands” to achieve health equity. She writes, “Achieving health equity requires valuing all individuals and populations equally, recognizing and rectifying historical injustices, and providing resources according to need.”

The editors and contributors to the special issue hope their efforts will provide a starting point for building a more robust set of research data on the health care issues facing the growing number of Americans who have disabilities and belong to underserved racial or ethnic groups. “As healthcare transformation proceeds, efforts to reduce inequity in health care will gain increasing prominence,” Dr Horner-Johnson and colleagues conclude. “Our hope is that these efforts will take into account the full range of patient diversity and needs, including those at the intersection of disability, race, and ethnicity.”

The journal’s special issue can be found at: http://journals.lww.com/lww-medicalcare/toc/2014/10001

 

Source: Science Daily

 

 

Medical Monday

 

Classifying Human Races

From A Troublesome Inheritance by Nicholas Wade

 In the 18th century Linnaeus, the great classifier of the world’s organisms, recognized four races, based principally on geography and skin color. He named them Homo americanus (Native Americans), Homo europaeus (Europeans), Homo asiaticus (East Indians) and Homo afer (Africans). Linnaeus did not perceive a hierarchy of races, and he listed people alongside the rest of nature.

Multiracial Children Forgotten in Data

The Annie E. Casey Foundation is one of the premier supplier of data on children. They consistently forget multiracial children in their demographics. 

U.S. Must Improve Outcomes for Minority Youth as Demographics Shift, Report Says

 As children from minority populations gradually become the majority in the United States, the country must address unequal outcomes and opportunities between racial and ethnic groups to ensure a prosperous future, a report released April 1 said.

In “Race for Results,” the Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation created a new index that uses 12 educational, health, and economic factors to rank how children from major racial and ethnic groups fare in every state.

“It is clear that children of color—especially African-Americans, American Indians, and Latinos—are in serious trouble in numerous issue areas and in nearly every region of the country,” the report says. “Our nation cannot afford to leave this talent behind in hopes that these problems will remedy themselves.”

The report points to unequal access to community resources, good schools, and safe neighborhoods as contributing factors to persistent achievement gaps and health disparities. Many of those problems are rooted in intentional policies from the past, such as Jim Crow laws, that take focused and intentional efforts to undo, the report says.

And the stakes are high for everyone, the authors wrote. If the United States had closed the academic achievement gap between African-American and Latino students and their white peers by 1998, the country’s gross domestic product in 2008 would have been up to $525 billion higher, according to a 2009 estimate by management consulting firm McKinsey & Company that is cited in the Annie E. Casey report.

The state-by-state rankings are similar to the foundation’s popular Kids Count Data Book, but the Race for Results report disaggregates the data by race, presenting interesting state snapshots that could help inform policy discussions. Factors included in the index include low-birthweight births, preschool enrollment, 4th grade reading proficiency, the amount of children who live in areas where the poverty rate is less than 20 percent, and on-time high school graduation rates. Here’s how the report explains the methodology behind the new index:

“Though a bit more complicated than using simple percentages, our index does standardize scores across 12 indicators that have different scales and distributions. We think that this is the best way to make accurate comparisons. These scores were then put on a scale of 0 to 1,000. Index values are presented for all states and racial groups for which there were enough children so that valid estimates were available. The higher the score, the greater the likelihood that children in that group are meeting milestones associated with success.”

Nationally, Asian and Pacific Islander children fared the best under the index, followed closely by white children. African-American children fared the worst, slightly behind American Indian children. Here’s a chart pulled from the report.

raceresults.JPG

Under the index, Hawaii scored highest in terms of its outcomes for African-American children, Texas for American Indian children, Delaware for Asian and Pacific Islander children, Alaska for Latino children. White children, who did pretty well everywhere, fared the best in Massachusetts.

American Indian children in South Dakota had the lowest index score of any group in any state—185 out of a possible score of 1,000, the report says.

The chapters also break down intragroup differences, showing, for example, that Japanese, Asian Indian, and Filipino children are the most likely within the Asian and Pacific Islander group to live in families with incomes at or above 200 percent of poverty. Children from southeast Asian ethnic groups—Hmong, Laotian, Cambodian, and Vietnamese‐ are on the other end of the spectrum, the report says.

The foundation recommends that policymakers use disaggregated data to best target limited resources toward programs that will “yield the greatest impact for children of color.”

Source: Education Week

Census CHANGES

U.S. Census looking at big changes in how it asks
about race and ethnicity

 

proposednewcensusrace

Experimental question combines race and Hispanic ethnicity.

The Census Bureau has embarked on a years-long research project intended to improve the accuracy and reliability of its

race and ethnicity data. A problem is that a growing percentage of Americans don’t select a race category provided on the

form: As many as 6.2% of census respondents selected only “some other race” in the 2010 census, the vast majority of whom were Hispanic.

Six percent may seem small, but for an agency trying to capture the entire U.S. population (nearly 309 million in 2010) every 10 years,

that number results in millions of people unaccounted for. This pattern of response led to the bureau’s “most comprehensive

effort in history to study race and ethnic categories,” according to Census officials Nicholas Jones and Roberto Ramirez.

Increasingly, Americans are saying they cannot find themselves” on census forms, Jones said.

Many communities, including Hispanics, Arabs and people of mixed race, have said they’re unsure of how to identify

themselves on census forms.

2010censusrace

Current Census form asks about race and Hispanic ethnicity separately.

The 2010 Census form asked two questions about race and ethnicity. First, people were asked whether they are of Hispanic,

Latino or Spanish origin. Then they were asked to choose one or more of 15 options that make up five race categories — white,

black, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, or Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander. A separate question about Hispanic

origin has been asked of all households since 1980, and the census form specifically instructs respondents that Hispanic origins are not races.

To address concerns about a rising share of “some other race” selections, a combined race and ethnicity question is under

consideration for 2020, in which people would be offered all the race and Hispanic options in one place. They could check

a box to identify as white, black, Hispanic/Latino/Spanish origin, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian

/Other Pacific Islander or some other race or origin. They would be offered a line under each category to supply more detail

about their origin, tribe or race. Examples of this include: German, African American, Mexican, Navajo, Asian Indian and Samoan.

The Census Bureau’s goal is to reduce the number of people who select “some other race.” The category was added to the 1980

Census form to capture the small numbers of people who did not select one of the official race categories, and has grown to become

the third-largest race category in the census, Jones said in a presentation this week to Pew Research Center.

In the 2010 census, many Hispanics were unsure which box to check in the race question. Hispanics accounted for more than

18.5 million of the 19 million people who checked “some other race” to describe themselves.”

As the bureau has conducted experimental surveys and focus groups with a new approach to writing the race and Hispanic

questions, some Latino groups have voiced concern that eliminating the separate question about Hispanic origin would result

in a decrease in the number of Hispanics counted by the census. However, that did not happen in the experimental survey collection,

according to the Census Bureau. Because census data is vital to determining everything from how congressional districts are

drawn to $400 billion in federal aid programs and enforcement of civil rights laws, the prospect of having one race or ethnic

group’s numbers change is fraught with political consequences.

The bureau is continuing to research changes to the question wording. Agency officials intend to meet with Hispanic advocacy

groups this spring and others interested in potential changes to the race-Hispanic questions to get feedback. It plans to test a

combined race and ethnicity question on its Current Population Survey next year and on its American Community Survey in 2016.

But a lot of work remains. Questionnaire changes would have to be approved by the Office of Management and Budget, which

determines and defines the race and ethnicity categories. Any proposed topics must be submitted to Congress by 2017.

Question wording is due to Congress the following year.

Here are some more detailed findings from the Census Bureau’s Alternative Questionnaire Experiment presentation:

  • Combining race and ethnicity into a single question did not result in a reduction of the proportion of the population identifying as Hispanic.
  • Among those who identified as Hispanic, however, there was a decline in the number of people who wrote in a specific origin group.
  • For Hispanics, the decrease was driven by people of Mexican descent, according to census officials.
  • The selection of “some other race” declined to less than 1% of respondents when race and ethnicity were combined into one question,
  • according to results cited by census officials. The category was chosen by as many as 7% when race and ethnicity were asked in the
  • experimental and standard variations of the two-question form.
  • The proportion of people who did not respond at all to race and ethnicity questions also declined in the experiment.
  • About 1% percent did not answer the combined question. When the questions were separated, 3.5% to 5.7% did not respond to the
  •  race question and 4.1% to 5.4% did not respond to the Hispanic origin question.
  • Despite concerns that the combined question would lead to less data about Afro-Latinos, the proportion of Hispanics
  • who also reported as black was not statistically different in the separate-question or combined-question format, bureau officials said.
  • The bureau will soon release more detail about this and other race reporting by Latinos.
Source: Pew Research

Prop 209 Reconsidered

Affirmative action programs reconsidered under new California amendmen

 

California voters will reconsider affirmative action programs in higher education on the November ballot after a proposed amendment passed the Senate last month.

Approved by 54.6 percent of California voters in 1996, Proposition 209 is an amendment to California’s Constitution that prohibits affirmative action in government hiring, public school admissions and public contracting by prohibiting special treatment to individuals on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or nationality.

 The proposed amendment will allow race and ethnicity to be considered in higher education admissions.

“Research shows that since the passage of (Proposition) 209, historically underrepresented students have experienced dramatic declines in enrollment within the (University of California) system,” said ethnic studies professor Elvia Ramirez.

Sociology professor Manuel Barajas has been part of many groups at Sacramento State that advocate equity and diversity amongst faculty and students. To bring awareness to the higher education crisis in California,

Barajas gave a faculty presentation in 2011 titled “Challenging Borders to Higher Education in California.”

“Diversity is part of the state’s wealth,” Barajas said. “It offers an exciting innovative environment that reflects and integrates world experiences, and positions the state in a strategic and influential position.”

Sac State does not use diversity in admission decisions, said Director of Admissions and Outreach Emiliano Diaz.

To promote diversity on campus, the university partners with programs like Sacramento Pathways to Success that focus on public school outreach to create awareness of higher education opportunities.

Freshman child development major Lien Lui said college admission based on ethnicity might help some individuals, but it is not fair to those that meet the grade qualifications.

“I would have liked to get into Long Beach or San Jose State, but I didn’t have the grades and I think that is fine,” Lui said. “I don’t want them to accept me just because I am Asian.”

Although race and ethnicity do not play a role in student admissions, it does in access to higher education and the job market, sociology professor Paul Burke said.

According to a 2008 California educational trend study, 13 percent of Latinos have a bachelor or higher degree, compared to 20 percent African Americans, 53 percent Asian Americans and 30 percent European Americans.

Cultural anthropology freshman Jasmine Taylor said she is lucky to have gone to a private school that prepared her for college.

“Our public schools are horrible,” Taylor said. “It is mostly minorities. Those people, they really don’t have a chance.”

According to the 2012 California Budget Project, public school funding between 2007 and 2010 has been cut by $7 billion, causing reduced services to students including summer and after school programs and shortened school years.

Additionally, budget cuts have nudged students into crowded classrooms because of a 32,000 teacher workforce drop between 2007 to 2008 and 2010 to 2011.

Looking at education funding reductions in the past 10 years and the increase of college tuition fees, attaining higher education in California has become a challenge, primarily to minority groups who benefit from programs that are being cut.

The solution to California’s higher education crisis is complex, and although affirmative action programs will not completely resolve the crisis, it has been a proposed starting point according to numerous reports.

“(The amendment) long overdue, and I think it will pass,” Burke said. “California has changed a lot in 20 years. We are a more progressive state and we are more diverse demographically. I think the time is right.”

 

Source:n State Hornet