Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Washington UPDATE: GOP Plan Would Federalize Proposition 209

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Washington UPDATE: GOP Plan Would Federalize Proposition 209

Article excerpt

Washington UPDATE: GOP Plan Would Federalize Proposition 209

A new Republican plan to eliminate affirmative action in college admissions is the latest potential challenge for educators working on reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA).

Rep. Frank Riggs (R-Calif.) says his new plan would bring to the federal level what controversial Proposition 209 has done to California. The plan would bar colleges and universities from discrimination and preferences in admission if they want to continue receiving HEA funds.

"Affirmative action policies all-too-often discriminate against certain groups of Americans and lead to segregation rather than assimilation, and preferences rather than equal opportunity," said the three-term congressman who chairs the House Early Childhood, Youth and Families Subcommittee that oversees K-12 education.

Riggs also is a member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, which planned to mark up an HEA bill in late March. He noted that his plan would not prevent schools from recruiting qualified women and minorities.

"I believe that we can achieve the twin goals of diversity and minority outreach without the need for preferences that favor one minority group over another," he said.

The California congressman unveiled his proposal shortly after announcing plans to retire from the House next year and seek the Senate seat held by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.).

Riggs cited what he considers the success of Proposition 209 in seeking broader federal action, maintaining that the voter initiative did not end diversity in the University of California (UC) system.

"Despite predictions of resegregation of California higher education, applications for admission to UC campuses are up significantly, most notably among minority groups," he said.

But the GOP congressman's plan drew sharp criticism from Democrats.

"It will chip away at affirmative action," Rep. Major Owens (D-N.Y.) told Black Issues. "We'll be in for a big fight."

Some congressional Republicans have sought to combat affirmative action in most settings through another bill -- Rep. Charles Canady's (R-Fla.) Civil Rights Act. Riggs's new plan is another part of that effort, according to Owens. …

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