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.
Consequences of Ward Connerly's Anti-Equal Opportunity Initiatives - Fact Sheet
Americans for a Fair Chance - October 10, 2005
Ward Connerly, sponsor of California's Proposition 209 (1996) and Washington State's Initiative 200 (1998), ballot initiatives that eradicated equal opportunity programs in both states, is campaigning for enactment of a similar initiative in Michigan on the November 2006 ballot. These initiatives have dealt major setbacks to California and Washington State in increasing access to higher education, employment, and contracting for women and minorities, from which the states are still trying to recover. Connerly's agenda would deliver a devastating blow to the progress that has been made in Michigan in increasing access for women and minorities in education, employment, and contracting.
- Connerly, a former member of the University of California Board of Regents, has led a series of attacks against equal opportunity at the state level since 1995.
- Connerly is the key figure behind the 1996 enactment of California's Proposition 209, which eliminated the state's use of equal opportunity in higher education, public contracting, and hiring.
- He was also the key figure behind Initiative 200 (I-200) in Washington State, where in 1998 voters approved the ban of the use of equal opportunity in higher education, public contracting, and hiring.
A key reason why Connerly has been successful with his ballot initiatives is because the language he uses is deceptive to the electorate. Following is the language from Connerly's successful campaigns in California and Washington State:
- Language of Proposition 209 and I-200: "The state shall not discriminate against, or grant 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, or public contracting"
Connerly's use of the above appealing ballot language is a deliberate tactic to mislead voters into believing that the initiative would provide opportunities for all citizens, and end discrimination. However, in fact, the ballot initiative language would do away with the very programs, including equal opportunity programs, that help to redress discrimination.
Impact of Proposition 209 and I-200 in California and Washington State
After enactment of Proposition 209 and I-200, state and local higher education programs were prohibited from conducting recruitment and retention activities targeted at women and minorities.
- 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, pre-college programs that encourage underrepresented minority groups or girls to apply to college or pursue nontraditional academic courses were likely prohibited if targeted exclusively to women or minorities.
- For example, following passage of Proposition 209, then California Governor Pete Wilson interpreted Proposition 209 as prohibiting programs including the following:
- The California Summer Science and Technology Academy, which targets female and minority high-school students.
- The American Indian Early Childhood Education Program, which is directed at school districts where more than 10 percent of the students are American Indian.
- The Student Opportunity and Access Program, a minority outreach and information network under the Student Aid Commission.
Further, immediately following enactment of Proposition 209, 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).
- While the University of California system has made some gains in increasing the number of underrepresented minorities admitted to the colleges and universities, the numbers still fare poorly.
- In fact, the overall percentage of enrolled underrepresented minorities declined at both University of California-Berkeley and UCLA, the two largest schools in the UC System. For example, at UCLA, the number of black students from California admitted dropped from 3.3 percent to just 2.8 percent in the fall of 2003.
- In addition, minority enrollment numbers in the UC medical schools and law schools still have not rebounded to pre-Proposition 209 levels, which were consistently higher than 20 percent. The enrollment percentage for underrepresented students in the first-year class for UC medical schools in 2002 was 16.5 percent. The proportion of underrepresented students in the law schools was 16.2 percent of the first-year class.
The year after I-200 passed (1999), there was a drop in minority enrollment at the University of Washington and Washington State University.
- 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.
- Although minority enrollees have increased at the University of Washington and Washington State University, the number of underrepresented students enrolling at these two institutions still fares poorly.
- In fact, the total number of underrepresented minority students made up only about 8 percent of the University of Washington 2002 first-year class.
- The fall 2002 first-year class at the University of Washington included 138 black students, making up just 3 percent of the class.
- In addition, there was a decline of Hispanic first-year students, dropping from 193 students to 178 students.
Employment and Contracting
Connerly's Proposition 209 and I-200 also banned equal opportunity programs and policies in state and local agencies to address the under representation of women and minorities in employment and contracting.
- These programs include outreach in areas such as appointment, promotion, transfer, recruitment, training, and career development. For example, in California, following enactment of Proposition 209, Governor Wilson prohibited programs including the Registered Nurse Education Program, which sought to encourage minorities to enter nursing.
- In addition, Governor Wilson sought to repeal 33 state equal opportunity programs, including 11 contracting programs, which affected $4 billion in annual state contracts. He also ordered state agencies to stop implementing and enforcing the Minority and Women Business Enterprise Program.
- In Washington State, according to the Seattle Times, four years after I-200 passed the share of Seattle public-works contracts awarded to minority- or women-owned firms decreased by more than one quarter. In 1998, African American-owned firms had received the smallest percentage of contracts at 2.3 percent. In 2001, the percentage of contracts going to African American-owned firms slipped even further to 1.1 percent of all contracts.
Potential Consequences of Connerly's Michigan Civil Rights Initiative
The proposed language of the so-called "Michigan Civil Rights Initiative" is similar to that of Proposition 209 and I-200. If Connerly's initiative is enacted, any Michigan program that aims to increase opportunities for women and minorities, including recruitment, training, and outreach programs in public education, employment, and contracting could be scaled back or cut altogether. This could include state and local programs such as:
- apprenticeship programs
- training programs
- summer job programs
- minority business enterprise pr