On the recommendation of Los Angeles County Superintendent of Schools Debra Duardo, the County Board of Education today voted to support Assembly Constitutional Amendment 5, a bill to repeal Proposition 209, California’s ban on affirmative action passed in 1996. The Board voted 5-1 in support of the bill.
“The pandemic and recent events have underscored the need for us take immediate action to help address systemic racism and persistent inequities in public education,” said Duardo, who heads the nation’s largest regional education agency. “The constitutional amendment represents such action. It will have a direct, positive impact as it allows for a student’s cultural and racial background to be used as a context for deciding admissions to higher education.”
Proposition 209, which disallowed the use of such information, decimated the ranks of minority students in higher education. Repeal of Proposition 209 would not mandate adoption of affirmative action programs but would allow public agencies to create employment or admission programs that explicitly take the race, gender or national origin of an applicant into account.
“This amendment is an important step in removing another barrier to achieving the American dream that should be accessible to all our young people, and puts the issue before voters,” said Board President James Cross.
ACA 5 aligns with LACOE’s ideals of fostering diversity in higher education and providing all students access to success. The proposed law would also encourage contracting minority-owned businesses.
“We support the bill because it would diversify business owners, allow more opportunity for financial success to those who have been excluded and provide a model for young people that they can become business owners and work in places run by people who look like them,” Duardo said.
She added, “The amendment would permit LACOE the flexibility to take affirmative steps to ensure that the sex, race and ethnic composition of our employees reflect the demographics of our region.”
The Los Angeles County Office of Education, headquartered in Downey, is the nation’s largest regional education agency, providing a range of programs and services to support the region’s 80 K-12 school districts and some two million preschool and school-age children.