Affirmative Action Could Make a Comeback in Washington

Taylor McAvoy, Seattle Weekly, January 30, 2018

Seattle area Democratic lawmakers could repeal a 20-year-old voter initiative meant to outlaw preferences based on race and gender in college admission, public employment, and contracting.

The Senate Bill 6406’s prime sponsor, Senator Maralyn Chase (D-Edmonds), and its co-sponsors believe that while the decades-old Initiative 200 was meant to level the playing field for college admissions and state employment, it ended up having the opposite effect.

{snip}

In 1998, the Washington’s voters passed I-200, aimed at eliminating racial and gender preferences in state hiring.

{snip}

Senator Bob Hasegawa (D-Beacon Hill), a co-sponsor of the bill, said the issue was more about an equitable outcome rather than equal treatment.

{snip}

Hasegawa said he doesn’t see anything drastic changing soon, but repealing I-200 would remove a barrier for communities of color to achieve economic success. He said remedying systemic inequity in education, employment, housing, and the economy would require a long period of rebuilding.

{snip}

But University of Washington President Ana Mari Cauce {snip} said in a press release that I-200 puts universities at a disadvantage when trying to enroll underrepresented students.

“Every demographic analysis indicated that the future of our state and nation will be increasingly diverse and it is incumbent on us to nurture students, regardless of their background,” Cauce wrote in a press release.

Kaaren Heikes, director of the Washington State Board of Education, said the board has seen achievement gaps by race in every educational institution from kindergarten to college. She said repealing I-200 would not give preferential treatment to minority students, but would allow schools to provide the resources they need to succeed.

{snip}

Teresa Berntsen, director of the Office of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises, said businesses owned by minority women have taken a hit. She said that in the five years before I-200 was passed, state agencies and higher education spent ten percent of their contracted and procurement dollars with certified minority women-owned firms. That rate now sits at only three percent, and the number of certified minority women-owned firms has declined to nearly half of what it was before the initiative.

{snip}

Topics: ,

Share This

We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. If you log in with a social media account, your comment should appear immediately. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may comment as a guest, using a name and an e-mail address of convenience. Your comment will be moderated.