Biased or blind?

An amendment that could impact Skyline student’s transfer possibilities is in debate in a special committee where students, faculty and experts can voice their opinions.

Senate Constitutional Amendment 5 would overturn a portion of Proposition 209’s 1996 ruling banning affirmative action. The amendment seeks to grant California’s public universities permission to consider race, gender, and ethnicity in college admissions process.

The amendment easily passed through state senate with 27 votes in favor and three votes against it; SCA5 then made its way to state assembly where it has been held for further inquiry at the request of the amendment’s author, State Sen. Ed Hernandez. Sen. Hernandez cited that SCA5 didn’t receive the two-thirds vote necessary to pass the decision on to citizens in time for the November 2014 ballot.

In a statement released by Hernandez, he announced that a joint senate and assembly commission will conduct hearings on the matter andwill hold the amendment until the commission feels that a comprehensive deliberation from both proponents and opponents has taken place.

“Our expectation is that this commission engages students, faculty, administration, parents, and community leaders in an ongoing discussion about ways to ensure that our campuses can recruit, admit and retain student bodies that reflect all of California”

Professor of sociology here a Skyline College, Michael Moynihan, believes the under representation of minority groups in California’s public universities has more to do with a growing inequality among social classes and how public education is funded than with a universities admissions policies.

“Everyone should have the opportunity to go to school regardless of race ethnicity or gender, but the issue is larger than that.” Moynihan said, “The source of the issue is social class, the single best predictor of who goes to college and university is social class.”

To resolve the issue, “The public education system has to be restructured and refinanced in such a way that the questions raised in SCA5 are no longer relevant. It seems to be a matter of both funding and equality.”

According to the California Department of Education’s 2012-2013 statistics, among public school districtsin San Mateo County certain cities like Woodside and Hillsborough spend nearly two times the amount of money per student a year than school systems in Pacifica, San Bruno, or Millbrae.

That’s because school districts utilize property taxes to fund schools, and in the cities with less school funding the students receive less educational tools due to the fact that citizens living within those districts can‘t afford to pay higher property taxes.

“We have a segregated public school system but it’s not by law it’s by residential patterns.” Moynihan continues saying that augmenting admissions policies won’t address the source of the problem. “Pitting different ethnic groups against each other is missing the point, the larger structure is how we finance our school systems both prop 209 and SCA5 seem to be missing the point. It has to do with a great inequality in how we educate our children.”

American Civil Rights Institute vice president, Diane Schachterle is opposed to SCA5.

“Passing prop 209, we believe is the best thing that ever happened to California because race preferences are unconstitutional and unfair.” said Schachterle “Prop 209 is the law of the land, the UC system is better off without racial preferences there is no reason to go back to using race, that would be going backwards.”

Current senator with Skyline College’s Associated Students, Davante Cader believes that the amendment could be beneficial.

“It would give minorties an opportunity to be represented at the university level, but it’s hard to pick a side” says Cader

Cader also believes that Increased diversity in universities would contribute “new and different ideas, opinions, and outlooks on things as well as different ways to solve problems.”

Skyline student Lilly Miranda would be against the use of race, gender and ethnicity in the college admissions process.

“It wouldn’t give everyone an equal opportunity,” Miranda said.

SCA5’s future is unknown, but its proposal has initiated a discussion regarding inequality in California’s public school system.