Academic journal article Bunche Research Report

Separate but Certainly Not Equal: 2003 Capaa Findings

Academic journal article Bunche Research Report

Separate but Certainly Not Equal: 2003 Capaa Findings

Article excerpt

In 2002, the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA was awarded a five-year grant stemming from discussions with the Ford Foundation about the Center's concerns with the repeal of Affirmative Action in California's public institutions via the passage of Proposition 209, and the subsequent decline in African American admissions to the University of California (UC) system. This context provides the preliminary rationale for our interest in undertaking a research agenda that has comparative implications for the rest of the nation, as other states wrestle with increasing efforts to dismantle affirmative action. Over the next four years the College Access Project for African Americans (CAPAA) will examine the current status of, challenges to, and strategies for increasing opportunity in higher education in California for African Americans.

This report chronicles the results of studies culminating from three mini-grants the project awarded in 2003. In a year in which we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka decision ending legalized segregation in American schools, we find a troubling trend in California toward resegregation and the concomitant inequalities. Renee Smith Maddox was funded to consider the impact that California Proposition 209 has had on African American access to California's public institutions of higher education. Robert Teranishi, Walter R. Allen, and Daniel G. Solorzano were commissioned to study the role that disparities in K-12 education in California public schools play in structuring unequal access at the college level in the state. Finally, Anthony B. Maddox was funded to propose a model for increasing the capacity of African American families to participate effectively in the College Preparation (CP) process.

The Impact of Proposition 209

Proposition 209 appeared on the California ballot in 1996. The measure holds that "the state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color or ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting."1 This meant that the university of California2 and California State University3 systems would no longer consider race or ethnicity in the application process. Students entering the UC and CSU system in the fall of 1998 were the first to see the effects of the law.

The African American population in the UC system saw a noticeable drop in enrollment following the implementation of Proposition 209 in 1998. Between 1997 and 1998, African American freshman enrollment dropped by 24 percent, from 917 to 739, although the number of African American applicants increased slightly, to 2151 from 2141 (Chart 1)4. The most significant drop in enrollment that year was seen at UC Berkeley where African American freshman enrollment dropped by 51 percent, from 257 to 122, although the total freshman enrollment increased by 5 percent, to 3333 from 3215 (Chart 2)5.

California has the second largest black population among the nation's states (about 2.3 million people). Yet, in 1999 only 3 percent of African American high school graduates in California were fully eligible for admission to the UC system compared to 13 percent of Whites, 30 percent of Asians, and 4 percent of Latinos.4 During that same period, African Americans represented 3.3 percent of the UC undergraduate enrollments despite making up nearly 7 percent of the state's overall population. At the most competitive UC Campuses-Los Angeles, Berkeley, and San Diego-acceptance rates for African Americans declined sharply between 1997 and 2002. Table 1 shows that rates dropped from 38.4 percent to 19.0 percent at UCLA, from 49.6 percent to 21.5 percent at Berkeley, and from 54.7 percent to 26.5 percent at San Diego.

Shifting Demographics

Perhaps one of the most important issues facing the educational system in the United States is the changing face of an increasingly diverse society. …

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