Democrats in Sacramento try again to repeal Prop. 209.
Political conservatives are often accused of wanting to “turn back the clock,” but in California it is progressives who are leading an effort to return to the bad old days of state-sanctioned racial discrimination.
In 1996 voters passed Proposition 209, a ballot initiative that prohibited the consideration of race and gender in public education, employment and contracting. It was the ban on race-based admissions at the University of California system that ruffled the most feathers on the left. Opponents predicted that, without preferential treatment, black and Hispanic enrollment would decline overall and virtually disappear at the system’s most elite schools, UCLA and Berkeley. Yet in the intervening quarter-century, that hasn’t happened.
Richard Sander, a UCLA law professor, has chronicled enrollment trends throughout the UC system. He told me by phone this week that while black and Hispanic enrollment did drop initially at the more selective campuses, the dip was both short-lived and less than had been anticipated. Moreover, for those same minority groups, enrollment overall in the UC system, which had been declining, “went up pretty much right away and is now up stunningly over the pre-209 levels.”
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