Prioritizing Racial Equity


Opportunity for All Coalition

California is one of the few states in the country where people of color have become the majority of the population. While the state has become increasingly diverse and is the 5th largest economy in the world, people of color are often underrepresented and have often faced barriers to success and opportunity to actualize the American dream. Whether it’s inequities in the state’s K-12 public school system, access and affordability challenges to colleges and universities, or the lack of diversity in tech and other sectors in the economy, it is a hard truth that structural racism exists and is real. It is especially evident now with COVID- 19 having a disproportionate effect on communities of color. It is simply not enough to know that structural racism is a problem. What matters most is that California policymakers and education leaders have the tools to structurally help end discrimination. It starts with restoring affirmative action this November election.

Research in Brief

The Opportunity for Race-Conscious Policy
and a More Equitable California

Detailing how Prop 16 will help the 2.1 million students at California’s Community Colleges.

Opportunity for All Coalition

The Education Trust-West joined the Steering Committee of Opportunity for All in January 2020 to help spearhead efforts to place Proposition 16 on this November’s ballot and further the organization’s mission to expose and eradicate injustice and inequities in California schools and colleges. Restoring affirmative action will provide schools and colleges the flexibility to employ race-conscious strategies necessary to improve public education for all California students.

Reinstating Affirmative Action Will Help…

Close Racial Opportunity Gaps

California’s Local Control Funding Formula provides school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools with supplemental funding to serve English learners, foster youth, and low-income students. Because of the twenty-five year ban on affirmative action, the LCFF overlooks the unique role of race in limiting educational opportunities both in terms of how the state funds LEAs and how LEAs support their students. The inability of LEAs to be race-conscious leaves LEAs without the resources needed to serve students facing some of the most severe opportunity gaps. Restoring affirmative action would provide an opportunity to strengthen LCFF by allocating supplemental funding to meet the needs of students of color who require additional academic support independent of their socio-economic status.

Recruit and Retain More Educators of Color

California’s public school children and their teachers look very different. Approximately 77 percent of the students in public schools are students of color, while 65 percent of teachers are white. Research shows teachers of color boost the academic performance of students of color and all students, including improved math scores, improved graduation rates, and increases in aspirations to attend college.Teachers of color are more likely to teach in schools with high numbers of low-income and students of color, and have higher rates of movement and turnover than their white peers.The repeal of Proposition 209 would allow the state to work with LEAs and institutions of higher education to develop recruitment and retention programs that target prospective teachers of color and improve teacher diversity to the benefit of all students.

Promote Diversity in California’s Public Universities

Proposition 16 would enable the California Community College (CC), the California State University (CSU) and the University of California (UC) campuses to target enrollment and support efforts to address the higher education opportunity, transfer, and completion gaps faced by students of color. Currently, the inability to utilize race as one factor in a holistic admissions process has resulted in a precipitous drop in diversity across the University of California system. The UC system still has significant progress to make to improve diversity and representation despite significant investment in race-neutral alternatives since the ban on affirmative action was passed almost twenty five years ago. Restoring affirmation action will not result in the use of quotas. It will restore the ability for public universities to use race-conscious strategies such as targeted recruitment and retention efforts to build upon and improve campus diversity to ensure equal opportunity for all.
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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.