Equity & Diversity

Calif. Initiative to Halt Racial-Data Collection Eclipsed by the Recall

By Joetta L. Sack — September 03, 2003 4 min read

California voters will not only have the chance to choose a new governor next month, but will also be faced with a decision on data collection by race.

Overshadowed by the nationally watched election on recalling Gov. Gray Davis and choosing his prospective successor, a voter initiative also on the Oct. 7 ballot aims to bar California’s state and local governments—including public schools—from collecting data on the race and ethnicity of students and employees.

Proposition 54 is backed by Ward Connerly, the University of California regent who led the successful 1996 campaign to pass Proposition 229, which effectively ended California’s affirmative action programs.

In the politicking over the recall, Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, the only prominent Democrat in the race to succeed the Democratic incumbent, picked up an important endorsement last month from the California Teachers Association, the state’s most powerful education group.

Opposing Proposition 54

The CTA opposes the recall of Gov. Davis and says that the estimated $70 million cost of the recall election would be better spent on the education system. (“Calif. School Groups Line Up Against Davis Recall,” Aug. 6, 2003.)

But the CTA’s board of directors chose to endorse Mr. Bustamante as a fallback candidate on Aug. 21 because of his record on education and his support for many of the CTA’s positions, union leaders said.

“CTA remains strongly opposed to the Oct. 7 recall of a democratically elected governor,” CTA President Barbara E. Kerr said in a statement. “But if the recall passes, teachers want to know which candidate has the best plan to protect public education. We know that Lt. Gov. Bustamante has a long history of supporting students, teachers, and public schools.”

Earlier last month, there was some speculation that the CTA, a National Education Association affiliate, might endorse Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is seen as the leading Republican in the crowded field of would-be governors. The union worked with the actor last year on a successful ballot initiative on after-school services.

Mr. Schwarzenegger said in a speech last month that he would not raise taxes if elected, but he vowed to protect education, which makes up nearly half the state budget.

In a public appearance last week, Mr. Schwarzenegger said he opposes school vouchers. He also indicated that he believes in school prayer, but that decisions about how to handle it should be left to the schools.

Proposition 54 had originally been slated for the March 2004 ballot, but it was moved up under state law once the October election was set. Voters in two counties, however, have filed a federal lawsuit asking that the initiative be moved back to the March primary.

The initiative would amend the state constitution to prohibit the use of race, ethnicity, or national origin when collecting data on current or prospective students, employees, and contractors in public education and other government operations. Initiative advocates argue that the prohibition would help the state save millions of dollars and would end what they see as unfair preferential treatment based on race.

However, the initiative does not prohibit collection of data by gender.

The CTA is opposing Proposition 54 because, the union says, the measure would hinder the state’s distribution of resources to high-need schools and would make accountability efforts harder to implement. Other groups have said the initiative would hinder efforts to provide local health services and enforcement of anti-discrimination laws.

Tracking the Candidates

Public-opinion polling on the recall, meanwhile, suggests the political situation is unpredictable.

The nonpartisan Field Poll showed that in mid-August, 58 percent of 448 likely voters would choose to recall Gov. Davis, up from 51 percent a month earlier. Thirty-seven percent opposed the recall, with 5 percent undecided. The poll’s margin of error was 5 percentage points.

A poll conducted by the Los Angeles Times and released Aug. 24 found that 50 percent of 801 likely voters said that the governor should be removed, and that 45 percent were against the recall. The margin of error was 3 percentage points.

That poll also found that 35 percent of likely voters favored Mr. Bustamante as a replacement for governor, with 22 percent saying they would choose Mr. Schwarzenegger. Republican state Sen. Tom McClintock was third, at 12 percent. However, a recent poll conducted by an ABC television affiliate in Los Angeles found Mr. Schwarzenegger ahead of Mr. Bustamante, 45 percent to 29 percent. That poll questioned 591 voters who said they were “certain” they would vote in the election.

Republican Bill Simon, Gov. Davis’ opponent in last year’s election, has withdrawn from the current race.

Assistant Editor Linda Jacobson contributed to this report.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Professional Development Webinar
Building Leadership Excellence Through Instructional Coaching
Join this webinar for a discussion on instructional coaching and ways you can link your implement or build on your program.
Content provided by Whetstone Education/SchoolMint
Teaching Webinar Tips for Better Hybrid Learning: Ask the Experts What Works
Register and ask your questions about hybrid learning to our expert panel.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Families & the Community Webinar
Family Engagement for Student Success With Dr. Karen Mapp
Register for this free webinar to learn how to empower and engage families for student success featuring Karen L. Mapp.
Content provided by Panorama Education & PowerMyLearning

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Director of Headstart
New Haven, CT, US
New Haven Public Schools
Director of Headstart
New Haven, CT, US
New Haven Public Schools

Read Next

Equity & Diversity Why Are Black Teachers Being Vaccinated at Lower Rates Than Their White Peers?
The discrepancies are about more than vaccine hesitancy, says one union leader.
6 min read
A nurse prepares to administer a COVID-19 vaccine in London.
A nurse prepares to administer a COVID-19 vaccine. Teachers of color in the U.S. are being vaccinated at lower rates that their peers.
Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP-File
Equity & Diversity Opinion Which of My Students Were Freezing in the Storm?
As power outages gripped the state, a Texas teacher reflected on the stark opportunity gaps some students face year-round.
Holly Chapman
3 min read
Eithan Colindres wears a winter coat inside on Feb. 15, 2021 after the apartment his family lives in lost power following an overnight snowfall in Houston. With the snow and ice clearing in Texas after the electricity was cut to millions as temperatures plunged as people struggled to stay warm in their unheated homes.
Record-breaking cold and ice brought Texas electricity grids to the breaking point. Many families, including this one in Houston, struggled to stay warm in their unheated homes.
Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP
Equity & Diversity Opinion Don't Teach Black History Without Joy
The Black experience is not one-dimensional. Why do we teach it that way?
Jania Hoover
4 min read
Joyful figures raise their hands and sparkle inside the profile of a smiling woman
Edson Ikê for Education Week
Equity & Diversity Opinion What Does Leading for Racial Justice Look Like?
On Feb. 10, A Seat at the Table focused on leading for racial justice. Our guests, Jennifer Cheatham and John Diamond, offered many impactful answers.
1 min read
Leading for Racial Justice
Shutterstock