July 20, 2020
Sacramento, Calif. – The California Community Colleges Board of Governors today unanimously endorsed a resolution urging voters to support Proposition 16, which would repeal Proposition 209, the 1996 measure that banned consideration of race, sex, color, ethnicity and national origin in California public employment, education and contracting.
Proposition 209 invalidated a series of laws enacted over the years requiring state agencies to eliminate longstanding patterns of segregation and racial and gender-based exclusion in the workforce and develop action plans to remedy underrepresentation. These laws did not involve quota systems.
In the same meeting, the Board of Governors unanimously agreed to amend its regulations to include principles supporting diversity, equity and inclusion. The move would provide regulatory authority for the California community colleges to adhere to those principles in the administration of all programs consistent with applicable state and federal laws.
“California is one of just eight states that do not allow race or gender to be considered in decisions on hiring or accepting students into the state’s public colleges and universities,” said Board of Governors President Tom Epstein. “Proposition 16 and our regulatory action enshrining diversity, equity and inclusion principles will help our system correct historical injustices.”
The resolution supporting Proposition 16 notes that the Board of Governors has remained unwavering in its support and promotion of programs, initiatives and policies designed to instill values associated with community and inclusion. Proposition 209 has not decreased patterns of racial exclusion in public education. To the contrary, it has led to the reduction of students from underrepresented communities admitted to public colleges and universities, and perpetuated racial inequities in the employment of faculty in the California community colleges. Proposition 209 is in direct conflict with the mission of the California Community Colleges to close equity gaps.
A 2015 study by the Equal Justice Society found that Proposition 209 has cost women and minority-owned businesses $1.1 billion annually in lost contract awards, perpetuated gender and racial wage gaps and allowed discriminatory hiring and contracting processes to continue unabated. In addition, 73% of community college students are students of color, immigrants or both, yet the majority of college faculty and staff are white.
The California Community Colleges is the largest system of higher education in the nation, composed of 73 districts and 116 colleges serving 2.1 million students per year. California community colleges provide career education and workforce training; guaranteed transfer to four-year universities; degree and certificate pathways; and basic skills education in English and math. As the state’s engine for social and economic mobility, the California Community Colleges supports the Vision for Success, a strategic plan designed to improve student success outcomes, increase transfer rates and eliminate achievement gaps. For more information, please visit the California Community Colleges website or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.