The issue with 46…….

 

Jean Gadberry  

One of the most controversial initiatives on this year’s ballot is Amendment 46.  The title of the amendment is somewhat deceptively named in Discrimination and Preferential Treatment by Governments, otherwise known as the Colorado Civil Rights Initiative. In the wording of the amendment it states:

“Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado Constitution concerning a prohibition against discrimination by the state, and in connection therewith, prohibiting the state from discriminating against or granting preferential treatment to any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, and in public contracting.”

This initiative has become a source of debate and contention within the city for the past couple of months. Here is a recent debate that was held by 9news regarding the initiative:

Both of the women in the debate had very good points, but looking at data from the same “cookie cutter initiative” in Washington and California, this initiative looks to have caused significant issues pointed out by the Vote no on 46 website. (here are some but not all of the issues resulting from passage in these states)-

In Early Education:

The American Indian Early Childhood Education Program, which is directed at school districts where more than 10 percent of the students are American Indian.

 Initiatives designed to encourage the number of women to pursue fields where they have traditionally been underrepresented, such as math and science studies, were no longer permitted.

Further, immediately following enactment of Proposition 209(California) minority admissions at colleges and universities experienced a significant drop:

• For example, at the University of California at Berkeley, 8000 students were offered admission for the fall 1998 term. Only 191 students were black (compared with 562 students in 1997) and 434 students were Hispanic (compared with 1,045 students in 1997).

• The number of black, Latino, and Native American first-year students at the University of Washington dropped from 373 students to 255 students. At Washington State University, the number of black, Latino, Native American, and Asian students dropped from 396 students to 284 students. 

These issues are feared by the opponents of Amendment 46 including Gov. Ritter:

But for me, the likely passage of this amendment is worries me on the level of the youth in high school now and what will happen to the many that can fall through the cracks.  I took a look at two schools in the Denver area.  (I realize it is a small sample size, but really, now long would you like this blog to be??) Let’s take a look at Abraham Lincoln High School, part of the Denver Public School District, and Grandview High School, in the Cherry Creek School District.

Abraham Lincoln’s school performance summary is at Low, and Grandview’s is at High.  So far not too bad, (the range is unsatisfactory to excellent with average between low and high).

But then you look further, at Lincoln, the percent of students eligible for free and reduced lunches is at 79.7%, and Grandview’s is at 8.5%.

So, two schools, two very different levels of economic prosperity. Ok, well, lets take a look at ACT numbers for the schools. For Abraham Lincoln:

Composite

 

This School1

State Average1

National Average2

Graduating class of 2008

 13

19

n/a

Graduating class of 2007

 14

19

21

Graduating class of 2006

 12

19

21

Grandview:

Composite

 

This School1

State Average1

National Average2

Graduating class of 2008

 22

19

n/a

Graduating class of 2007

 21

19

21

Graduating class of 2006

 21

19

21

So, two schools, large discrepancy in income of students, and huge gap in ACT score.  When looking up demographics here is what is found:  

Enrollment by Race/Ethnicity: Abraham Lincoln

 

Amer Ind/Alaskan

Asian

Black

Hispanic

White

 Students 

16

71

40

1,238

82

Grandview:

 

 

Amer Ind/Alaskan

Asian

Black

Hispanic

White

 Students 

14

210

216

205

2,073

 

To me, its pretty obvious that there is a socioeconomic gap between the two schools. So, how has the gap been filled? Not only does there need to be support of parents, but there is always benefit of school resources. In some cases, clubs and associations for minorities can fill this void.  With Amendment 46 passing, associations for minorities as part of the public schools will be void, and there in turn will be a lack in services and support, where it is needed. The time for affirmative action support needs to end when there is support added that is not solely based on race, but also according to socioeconomic problems, and until that changes, the programs in place today should continue. We need to learn from our counter parts in California and Washington to avoid the problems that have plagued their institutions.  Planning ahead for equality is wise. 

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10 Comments

Filed under Colorado

10 responses to “The issue with 46…….

  1. Shawn_Scanlon

    Thank you for this blog, Jean. It’s good to take a look at this issue. My focus in Sociology has been on social stratification, and more specifically, our segregated schools. This is a further attack on educational opportunity for the disadvantaged.

    I’m for ending affirmative action; but not until we give everyone a chance to succeed.

  2. Diego Del Campo

    I agree with you Jean. Amendment 46 is a disastrous proposal–I hope voters don’t fall for its sneaky title, which suggests voting for the Amendment will be voting in favor of ending discrimination.
    Back in my more conservative days, I used to oppose race-based affirmative action, but that was until a professor showed exactly what you are showing here: that there really is a basic inequity in the educational system that perpetuates segregation and (ironically) discrimination if affirmative action-type measures aren’t taken.

  3. Jean Gadberry

    Diego and Shawn- I’m glad to see others supporting my thoughts and agreeing. I used to also have an issue with affirmative action but the more I have learned through different courses, the more I have realized that it is important that programs stay available until the playing field is actually level. I am hoping that there will be a time in the future where schools and opportunities are available on a socioeconomic level, but I have a feeling that is still very far away. I am currently applying to law school and the one interesting thing I did see was that the schools I applied to in California asked about my socioeconomic status and (from what I can remember), other states did not. I thought that was interesting, but am not sure if it will work in the way intended. Just an interesting observation.

  4. Tony Robinson

    Very good post, Jean. I am most impressed with your work to truly “create” political knowledge by incorporating your research into local school statistics. And you pulled that off, notwithstanding your comment “how long would you like this blog post to be?” Yes…I saw that and chuckled.

    I am especially provoked by your point in your commentary about relying on socio-economic status as a new way to get at “affirmative action.” I think there is great potential there. I recall when I was younger taking some deep offense at affirmative action programs, due to my understanding that such programs sought to increase racial/ethnic/gender divesity, but didn’t pay much attention to class issues. And I believe that class, ultimately, is more important that race in determining the options available to you.

    I grew up very poor and in the hills of Montana–first in family to graduate from college, etc. I felt i had worked hard to earn my opportunities, and felt that I faced immense obstacles in moving forward (inabilty to afford college and grad school, lack of knowledge about how to succeed in ivy leagues, etc.)–and I was offended that an affluent latino youth, perhaps raise by two professional doctors, had access to affirmative action scholarships and programs that I didn’t because I was white (although I felt that I faced deeper obstacles than some of these other peers, regardless of our race).

    That’s how I felt back then. I believed then, and now, that providing affirmative outreach to poor people and poor youth would be a far more just tsystem than a race-based system. William Julius Wilson’s great book, the Truly Disadvantaged, supports this notion that affirmative action and race-conscious social mobility programs (in the absence of considerations of class) only tend to advantage the most affluent and capable members of a minority group, while leaving the truly poor (of all races, including white) in a worse position. His data is compelling and leads to the conclusion, simply put, that its all about class, not race.

    On a related point, Research and various polls show that there are many people who have turned against affirmative action programs and that people almost always vote such programs down when given the opportunity. People don’t like race-conscious programs and that’s a fact. Would they be more likely to support class-based programs of “class-based” affirmative action that work to “spread the wealth around” (in Obama’s words, while responding to joe the plumber)?

  5. Stephen Noriega

    Jean,

    Thank you for the informative post. On the surface it might seem that this amendment might be the best thing for disadvantaged students. If affirmative action is essentially killed, then a progressive legislature might feel compelled to do something along socioeconomic lines. Unfortunately, it is not just economic class that determines disadvantage. It is race. The G.I. Bill and the housing gentrification of the 1950’s caused a systemic dysfunction that pervades through race today. More white people have the advantage of generational property. As African Americans have a statistical disadvantage in the general accrual of wealth, just looking at economics does not see the full scope of the problem. Here is a scholarly quote about this:

    “Due to employment discrimination, and residential segregation, African-
    American families have historically been denied the opportunity to accumulate wealth.”

    http://www.manningmarable.net/works/pdf/apr06a.pdf

    I believe that some of your earlier stats speak to this as minority enrollment dropped in educational institutions. This is certainly not going to help with the economic concerns and will only cause further stratification of our society.

  6. Matt Knipple

    This is a very tricky Amendment trying to be passed and this post is very informative. I’m glad you addressed it. It is a very controversial subject matter in a way because some people want the best applicant for the job/school which in turn may not be the best applicant for the job/school. It may be essential to have some sort of diversity to get different views of things and not always getting the majority view–whatever that majority may be.

  7. Jean Gadberry

    Tony- I think one of the major issues with so many people rejecting affirmative action is that there has been a few that have ruined it for the rest. These programs were initially thought of and implemented to help minorities reach a level playing field because of the issues that Stephen brings up. The problem is when people who do not necessarily need the help, (the Latinos’ you mention are a perfect example), utilize these programs, legally, but in turn make others who cannot utilize the programs angry (whites). But that is just the nature of community. There will always be someone who ruins it for everyone else. I see that one of the biggest problems Obama is going to have winning the election is that he is being painted as someone who is going to take from the middle class and give to the poor, and many people are NOT willing to have that happen. People are in a state of fear when it comes to their money, especially now watching the markets rollercoaster. The majority just wants to keep what is theirs, and when the word socialism (McCain’s words), comes up people equate it with being anti-American.
    I would like to see socio-economic fixes, and I know that with technology there is a way to figure out how or what class someone is from. I did read about software that accomplishes this, but for the life of me cannot find out anymore about it. It maybe as easy as having applicants give the addresses they had in the previous couple of years for application into college, and having software come up with the demographics and information according to the neighborhood school (if they attended it), and the neighborhood. It will take some creative thinking, but I know there is a way for it to be done. That still does not answer the question of whether people would be willing to stand by and help these people, but it may be a valid fix.

  8. Tony Robinson

    Jean: Again, thanks for the insightful thoughts. Though I will be voting against the proposed ban on affirmative action–as I definitely believe that race is relevant to one’ s life prospects, and that diversity is a goal worth seeking through affirmative outreach, I ultimately think that race-based affirmative action is a dead end. It is dead end for two reasons:

    1) Politically it is unsustainable. It turns progressives against each other, voters never support it when given the chance, it gives conservatives an easy issue to run against the left one, etc. The fact is that race-based decisions just are hard to support and easy to attack and the American voter doesn’t like aff action at all–

    2) The more serious problem is class in any case. Today, class/income defines one’s future prospects far more than race alone. A class-based “affirmative action” program would be more politically sustainable, would unite lower-income whites with lower-income non-whites, as opposed to fostering division and senses of resentment as race-based affirmative action does. It would also benefit non-whites disproportionately, as non-white people have lower incomes and show up more on the poverty rolls–so class-based aff action would achieve many of the same goals as a race-based system, without the unpopular political consequences.

    It’s not so hard to design a class-based system. One’s income is either based on their parents income on IRS forms, or on their own income depending on length of their persnonal emancipation.

    Gotta go.

  9. balaban13

    I agree with Tony’s last point that ultimately race-based affirmative action is a dead end and that’s why I’ll be voting for this amendment. I truly believe that we have to look at this issue from a stand point of economics and income than race or ethnicity. Should a poor white kid be disadvantage so that a well off African-American or Asian get to go to college because of their race? I don’t think so.

    Having said that, I’m not in any way trying to deny the fact that racism still exists, especially down in the south. But affirmative action is not the answer as all it does is raise the level of hates in whites towards Blacks, Asians, Hispanics and others. When you present the issue from the stand point of poverty, that’s a much harder argument for the opponents to make.

  10. Pingback: Local Ballot Measures « The Engineer also Muses

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