Forget Prop 209–Use Race to Help Latinos, Says Study

AP Photo/Charles Dharapak
AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

According to The Campaign for College Opportunity, a nonprofit organization, the paucity of Latinos in California with a college degree represents a problem that should be solved by allowing the state’s public universities to use race or ethnicity as a factor in weighing an applicant’s qualifications.

That recommendation is in direct contravention of 2009’s Proposition 209, which stated that it “Prohibits the state, local governments, districts, public universities, colleges, and schools, and other government instrumentalities from discriminating against or giving preferential treatment to any individual or group in public employment, public education, or public contracting on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin.”

Michele Siqueiros, president of the non-profit, argued to the Los Angeles Daily News that forcing universities to use race and ethnicity would “meet the standard set forth by the Supreme Court,” adding that remedial education for community college students must be improved and colleges should aid students so they can better their transfer rates.

On Wednesday, Siqueiros’s organization released a report that stated 65% of Latinos attend California community college, with 39% earning a degree, certificate or transfer within six years. The report found that 53% of whites earned a degree; the statewide average was 48%.

The report stated, “When one in two children under the age of 18 in California is Latino, one conclusion is clear: The future of our economy and the state will rise or fall on the educational success of Latinos. To secure the economic future of California, we need to significantly increase the number of Latino students who are prepared for, enroll in and graduate from college.”

Among Latinos, 12% of adults between the ages of 25 and 64 achieve at least a bachelor’s degree; 23% of blacks, 42% of whites and 53% of Asians reach that level, according to the report.

The report admitted that language could be a factor; almost 60% of Latinos in California between the ages of 25 and 64 were non-native, although only 18% of native-born Latinos obtained a bachelor’s degree, as opposed to the state’s average of 31%. The report added that 29% of Latino graduates from high school finished the coursework necessary for UC or Cal State entrance, while 47% of white students and 65% of Asian students did the same.