WASHINGTON, D.C. – OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates, a national membership-driven organization of community advocates dedicated to advancing the political, social, and economic well-being of Asian Pacific Americans (APA), is concerned about the irresponsible policy making shown by California State Senator Ed Hernandez during the creation, introduction, and passage of Senate Constitutional Amendment 5 (SCA 5).
California State Senator Ed Hernández authored SCA 5, a constitutional amendment that would provide public universities in California the ability to include race, sex, and ethnicity for consideration in their admission policies. However, SCA 5 does not repeal the ban on affirmative action in public employment and contracting. If passed through both houses, it will appear on the 2016 ballot for a vote by Californians. The amendment passed in the California Senate and is currently held for consideration in the Assembly.
Although APAs comprise a large amount of Senator Hernandez’s constituency, very few APA community members were consulted during the creation, introduction, and passage of SCA 5 in the California Senate. Issues of concern around SCA 5 include, but are not limited to:
Absence of public input
No hearings with issue experts
Lack of educational meetings held with community members on affirmative action
“OCA is supportive of affirmative action, but we are concerned by the Senator’s disregard for the APA community’s voice in policies that heavily affect our communities,” says Tom Hayashi, OCA Executive Director. “Even though Senator Hernández has a large Asian Pacific American constituency, he did not consult our communities. Grave injustices can occur if we do not have public policies that equalize educational opportunities; however, what is more disconcerting is policy making that renders our communities mute and invisible. Responsible policy making must take into consideration the opinions of all communities before bills are even introduced.”
OCA has taken favorable positions on affirmative action in the past. In 2003, OCA passed a resolution that supports the continued use of affirmative action in the workplace, contracts, and higher education. Additionally, a national resolution was also approved in 2014, which supports:
Holistic admission policies in higher education, inclusive of race, sex, and ethnicity
Opposes the practice of merit-only admission practices
Opposed any forms of caps and quotas in public colleges and universities.
“There is still much educational disparity among APAs, and our policies must expand to increase resources to students at all educational levels. Additionally, policies that emphasize education for students and parents beyond the classroom are necessary to maximize student competitiveness and ensure that our communities better understand the need to go beyond grade point averages and SAT scores. At OCA, we have multiple programs that emphasize leadership and professional development to ensure all APA students better comprehend soft skills. But this effort needs to also be emulated in our public policies,” says Miriam Yeung, OCA Vice President of Public Affairs. “OCA remains committed to uplifting historically oppressed communities, but we cannot support a bill that politically marginalizes Asian Pacific Americans in the process. Affirmative action is a necessary component of the national dialogue on education reform. And because of that, we must commit ourselves to an engaged policy making process that constructs policies which provide equitable and equal educational access for all students.”
OCA has been engaged in conversation with affirmative action experts and policy makers in California in order to best comprehend the context for SCA 5. Additionally, OCA has also engaged in its own research and data disaggregation of application, admission, and enrollment numbers from the University of California Regents. It is because of the hard work, on-going conversations, and policy analyses of the OCA California Chapters, including East Bay, Greater Los Angeles, Sacramento, Silicon Valley, and San Francisco, that OCA has been able to continue monitoring the progress of SCA 5. OCA remains committed to advocating for equal and equitable educational policies that create opportunities for all Asian Pacific American students at every educational level and which address key issues beyond those included in SCA 5.