Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

`Savings' on California Initiative Challenged: CCRI Will Cost Money, UC Administrators Say

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

`Savings' on California Initiative Challenged: CCRI Will Cost Money, UC Administrators Say

Article excerpt

`Savings' on California Initiative Challenged: CCRI Will Cost Money, UC. Administrators Say

Proponents of the California Civil Rights Initiative (CCRI) tout it as a measure that will bring about substantial savings to state-house coffers by abolishing so-called state-sponsored discrimination in the form of affirmative action programs.

Many educators, however, say the figures cited by Gov. Pete Wilson's administration are highly inflated and based on wrong information.

"People in government are playing politics with the numbers," says Mike Aldaco, executive director of the Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) program at the University of California. The MESA program has as its mission to increase the numbers of qualified minority college applicants.

According to Aldaco, if CCRI passes, there will not be a savings to the state. In fact, the reverse will happen, he says.

However, Aldaco says, in a state that has a $3 billion deficit, appeals that call for any kind of tax savings are appealing. "Those are buzzwords. It would influence votes."

State Analyst Challenged

The state's non-partisan legislative analyst, Elizabeth Hill, has stated that savings from elimination of affirmative action programs based at the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) could total $50 million.

Hill's statistics were recently challenged in a letter sent her by Dr. Richard Atkinson, president of the University of California system. Said Atkinson: "I am concerned that such an expectation would be raised. Contrary to the notion that money would be saved in the event the CCRI is approved by the voters, we expect the level of university expenditures for affected programs to increase...."

Administrators for both UC and CSU say that for the past several years, virtually all student outreach, scholarship programs and other affirmative action programs have been reconfigured to attract economically and educationally disadvantaged students regardless of ethnicity, race or gender. But CCRI, they say, by targeting economically disadvantaged students, as opposed to racial or ethnic minority students, will broaden, not decrease, the pool of students targeted by both systems.

"The university's affirmative action programs, developed in the 1960s, have focused special attention on the academic development of disadvantaged and minority students; if race, ethnicity and gender should become impermissible criteria for these programs, however, the university would carry on and, to the extent possible, expand its efforts to increase educational opportunities for more Californians," wrote Atkinson.

Already in Compliance

Additionally, UC administrators say that even if the programs did not expand, Hill has greatly overestimated the potential savings. The reason, they say, is that she is using the total amount from all affirmative action programs, seemingly unaware that some aspects of the programs were already in compliance with the goals of CCRI.

In another Atkinson letter to one of the UC chancellors, he states that only $6 million is used in state funds for affirmative action programs and that, because of reconfiguration, passage of CCRI would not result in savings. He adds: "A decision was made within the Legislative Analyst's Office not to submit our footnote along with the budget figures."

According to a UC administrator, only $1. …

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