Two months before California voters decide whether to again allow affirmative action, debate is heating up over how the 24-year state ban on it has affected Black and Latino students at the University of California.
Richard Sander, a UCLA economist and law professor, on Tuesday sharply challenged a recent UC Berkeley study that concluded Black and Latino California students experienced lower enrollment, graduation rates and subsequent wages following passage of Proposition 209, which banned preferential treatment in public education and employment based on race, ethnicity or sex.
Sander said the study erroneously claimed that enrollment of underrepresented minorities fell by about 800 students per year after the ban took effect in 1998. Their freshman enrollment did fall in 1998, Sander said, but began growing after that. Graduation rates also increased, as did attainment of degrees in science, technology, engineering and math fields, he said.
Sander called the UC Berkeley paper “worse than useless” in its current form, speaking out at a press briefing organized by opponents of Proposition 16, a proposed constitutional amendment on the Nov. 3 ballot that would repeal the affirmative action ban. He has asserted that the ban was “arguably the best thing that ever happened” to racial minorities because it pushed UC campuses to heavily invest in their academic preparation and helped raise their graduation rates.
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