The Leadership Conference is working diligently to see that Tom Perez is confirmed as U.S. Secretary of Labor. Perez is an eminently qualified public servant and consensus builder who has dedicated his career to ensuring that all individuals are treated fairly and have the opportunity to succeed. He has served with integrity and distinction at the local, state and national level, compiling an outstanding record of achievement.
Diversity Suffering in Washington Higher Education after Affirmative-Action Ban
Feature Story by Trevor Clark - 9/19/2006
Eight years after Initiative 200 (I-200) banned affirmative action in public institutions in Washington state, colleges and universities there have seen minority enrollment continue to fall below where it was before the 1998 ban.
Across the state African-American, Hispanic and Native American students are less likely to attend a college or university immediately following graduation than their white and Asian American counterparts. And all students are unlikely to experience minority-taught classes as fewer than 5 percent of college and university faculty are African-American, Hispanic or Native American.
The campaign to enact I-200, which banned the use of affirmative action programs in state contracting, education and employment, was led by Ward Connerly, a California businessman and former University of California regent who successfully led a similar campaign in California in 1996.
According to a Washington Higher Education Board (HECB) draft report released in July, the sharp decline in minority students enrolling in college directly out of high school following the passage of I-200 appears to have ended for Hispanic and African-American students (this is not true for American Indians who have seen their numbers steadily decline). But despite a certain stabilization, the percentages of minority students admitted have not returned to pre-ban levels.
In 1998, prior to the passage of I-200, 56% of white, 55% of African-American, and 50% of Hispanic students went directly from high school to college.
As of 2003, 55% of white students were attending college immediately following their high school years, almost identical to their 1998 numbers. But only 49% and 45% of African-American and Hispanic students respectively were doing the same.
The report comes out of HECB's May 2006 review of the programs and practices run by universities and colleges across the state to increase diversity on campus. HECB is responsible for monitoring and reporting on the academic success of African American, Hispanic and Asian American students in Washington's statewide system of higher education.
"We are encouraged by this examination into how Washington institutions of higher education are implementing diversity programs since the passage of Initiative 200," said Wade Henderson, executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR). "This evaluation is long overdue, especially for a system that we now see is clearly failing to provide equal access to all Washington students."
In the absence of a statewide affirmative action policy, many universities and colleges in Washington have been reaching out to minorities through their own diversity programs. However, according to the report, "While often successful individually, these collective programs fall short of what is needed to ensure commensurate participation and achievement of racial and ethnic minorities in higher education."
The inability of the Washington university system to produce diversity could lead to greater problems, according to HECB report. "If education gaps remain the same and changes in demographics occur as projected, the state will face a much starker future with a less educated workforce in a rapidly changing world. Ultimately, our standard of living will drop and the state's economy will suffer."
The report's recommendations include: more pre-college outreach programs as a coordinated effort among the colleges and universities, better retention programs that would allow greater contact between students and advisors, improved faculty diversity through visiting professorships and using more adjunct faculty, and promoting systemic change.
The HECB report was discussed August 28, 29, 30 and 31 at public forums, and will be submitted on September 27 for approval by the HECB and could be used to send proposals to the state legislature as early as 2007.
HECB draft report (pdf)