At a time when California is facing a critical shortage of educated workers and has become a majority minority state, we must courageously contribute to a more thoughtful conversation on race inequity in our educational system and examine how increased access and student success at our public colleges and universities can help ensure the future social and economic well-being of our diverse state.


State funding for public universities has not kept pace with the growing young adult population seeking a spot in college, and this has created a more competitive college admissions process. It is harder to get into college today than it has ever been for previous generations. As you've read in our latest reports on the state of Latino and Black students in higher education, racial inequities have persisted over time and continue to grow. While there are many factors that have a role in this disheartening trend, our latest policy brief examines the effects of Proposition 209, the voter approved ban on the use of race in college admissions. Proposition 209 has created barriers to college access for California students and has had the biggest impact on Black and Latino students applying to the University of California's (UC) most selective campuses. 


In fact, over the past 20 years, the admission rates for Blacks and Latinos at UC declined by 30 and 26 points, respectively, compared to 21 points for Whites. Admission rates have declined even more dramatically for Blacks and Latinos applying to UC Berkeley and UCLA. The policy brief finds that both Black and Latino students make up a larger share of the applicant pool than the admit pool at UC. Most dramatically, between 1994 and 2013, the number of Latino applicants to UC Berkeley and UCLA almost quadrupled while there was relatively no change in the number who were admitted. 


Putting forward a new statewide ballot initiative to modify Proposition 209 is challenging, but there are ways our policymakers and education leaders can improve college enrollment and completion for underrepresented groups in California now. The ban on affirmative action should not excuse our leaders from addressing racial/ethnic gaps in our state. We urge California policymakers, college leaders, and the public to develop a comprehensive strategy to achieve greater equity and opportunity across California's public higher education system.  




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Campaign for College Opportunity