California voters will weigh in on affirmative action in November. Here’s what that means for the rest of the country

Source: Market Watch

Over the past few decades the question of whether affirmative action is an appropriate antidote to centuries of discriminatory policies have animated the court system and voting booth. As Americans have become increasingly focused on systemic racism over the past several weeks, those questions have taken on new urgency.

Now, California voters will have a chance to weigh in with potentially precedent-setting consequences for the way colleges consider race in admissions — one of the most hotly contested battlegrounds in the affirmative action debate.

On Wednesday, the California Senate voted to approve California Assembly Constitutional Amendment No. 5, which seeks to repeal Proposition 209. The law, passed in 1996, bans the state from discriminating against or offering preferential treatment on the basis of race, gender and other criteria in hiring public employees, awarding public contracts and admissions to public universities in the state.

“We can’t ignore the fact that racism does exist,” said Elisha Smith-Arrillaga, the executive director of Education Trust-West, an organization focused on equity in education. “The way that we think about affirmative action is that having race is one of many tools that you use in allocating resources just helps to level the playing field.”


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Karla Fernandez

Communications Manager

Karla Fernandez (she/her/hers) joins Ed Trust–West as a Communications Manager with over 11 years of experience advancing social impact initiatives.

Karla started her career as a teacher at Chicago Public Schools and UIC College Prep. After teaching, Karla joined United Friends of the Children to support LA County’s youth in foster care as a college counselor. Through Leadership for Educational Equity, Karla also served as a Policy Advisor Fellow for the office of a Los Angeles Unified School Board Member. She solidified her interests in policy analysis and quantitative research during her time with the Price Center for Social Innovation, the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, and the USC Presidential Working Group on Sustainability. Before joining The Education Trust–West, Karla was the Associate Director for the Southeast Los Angeles (SELA) Collaborative, a network of nonprofits advocating for communities in SELA.

Karla holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology from the University of Chicago, a Master of Public Policy from the USC Price School of Public Policy, and a Graduate Certificate in Policy Advocacy from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Karla is based out of southern California and is passionate about using data analysis, communications, and digital strategies for policy advocacy and social justice efforts.