Today a coalition of civil rights groups in California released a report entitled REACHING FOR THE DREAM: Profiles In Affirmative Action. The report outlines 31 codes and related programs threatened by proposed legislation. The report also profiles eight Californians whose lives were changed by these vital programs. The report will be sent to Assembly and Senate members by the American Civil Liberties Union's California legislative office.
Currently, AB 1700, sponsored by Assembly member Bernie Richter (R-Chico), and similar legislation by Quentin Kopp (Independent-San Francisco) would curtail or dismantle 31 state codes the Governor identified as violating Prop. 209. The codes generate outreach and recruitment programs in public education, employment and contracting that serve disadvantaged individuals. They do not exclude anyone based on race or gender.
None of the targeted codes and their programs mandate any form of preferences or quotas. As indicated in the report, "The targeted programs do not run afoul of Proposition 209 because they do not constitute forbidden `preferential treatment.' They are primarily outreach and recruitment programs. No business is guaranteed any particular contract. No individual receives a concrete benefit that is affirmatively denied anyone else. The programs simply open up the system to a wide range of qualified applicants and businesses." The codes/programs in question are outlined at the bottom of this release.
The report profiles eight individuals who benefitted from the programs in question. They include a former San Joaquin Valley farm worker who is now a top surgeon and a USC gynecology professor recently appointed to the Medical Board of California, a former welfare recipient and single mother from San Diego who entered California's EOP&S program and now teaches college and counsels students facing similar hardships, the daughter of a Mexican immigrant restaurant worker who enrolled at UC Berkeley with a full scholarship after attending the California Student Opportunity and Access Program, San Francisco's Chief of Police, and a Chino Hills Republican woman contractor who heads an environmental cleanup company.
In his introduction to the report, David B. Oppenheimer, Associate Professor of Law, Golden Gate University-San Francisco, says, "The programs described in this booklet help to remedy discrimination by reaching out to the excluded, giving them an opportunity to compete. These programs don't violate Proposition 209they give no preferences to anyone. But by bringing new faces to the table they give life-altering opportunities to thousands of Californians, permitting them to reach for dreams otherwise beyond their grasp."
The report includes brief sketches of the programs, ranging from the California Academic Partnership Program that has provided more than 130,000 K-12 students with mentoring, to the programs that provide opportunities for women and minority-owned businesses at the state and local level. The report's legal and policy discussion was compiled by some of the leading civil rights attorneys in the state from the coalition of organizations that produced the booklet.
The report was published with assistance from the van Loben Sels Foundation. The profiles were written by Peter Y. Sussman, prefaces are by Robert L. Harris, Vice President, PG&E and John T. Know, retired Speaker Pro Tem of the California Assembly (1960-1980).