Schwarzenegger Signs College Access Bill

By Tammy Johnson Oct 16, 2007

Taking a cue from groups across the state working on college access issues, the Applied Research Center authored AB 428, and last Friday, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the bill into law. Championed by State Assembly member Wilmer Amina Carter (D- LA), AB 428 mandates that every high school in the state send out written notification of all college preparatory classes that public universities require for admission. The law could be used by community based education groups as leverage to secure more resources for counseling and other support services. AB 428 was not an easy bill to pass. There are a few lessons that we learned along the way: Affluence before Access California’s legislature would rather cut much needed programs that serve communities of color, than force yacht owners to pay taxes on luxury items. AB428 was gutted in the appropriations committee, reduced from 3 million programs to a 200,000 parent/student notification effort. Racial Equity and business do mix. Business will support a racial justice agenda and garner Republican support as a result. With the assistance of Hipanas Organized for Political Empowerment (HOPE), we collected over 70 letters of support for our bills. Maybe the Buddha was right. Playing by the rules has not served our communities well, policy wise. But at least we can take from the experience the knowledge that the Buddha gave us: Play by the rules so that you can learn how to break them properly. Now its time to break some rules. We play best on our home court. The capitol-base lobbying game is an aliening process that doesn’t lend itself to generating the public outcry we need move our issues. Digging deep into legislative districts where community base groups have localized power is where it is at for us. What’s next? What faces us is a battle on who decides the future of students of color. If Governor Schwarzenegger and the vocational tech lobby have their way, these students will join the growing ranks of the low wage workforce. Ironically, many of the jobs the governor mentions require some level of college education. And the low-road lobby continues to resist upgrading teacher quality and educational standards needed to bring “career tech” up to 21st century standards. They also blatantly overlook the fact that 75% of California’s students wish to attend college, and 80% of their parents wish them to attend college; yet fewer than 30% of those same students are aware of the requirements. These communities, not the governor or the low-road lobby, that should decide the life path of students of color. It’s time we step up and allow these community voices be heard over the rhetoric and wheeling and dealing of the state capitol gang. Let our communities decide. For more on College Access issues, see ARC’s myspace page For more on California bills that were passed or veto in the current session check out our special edition of Race in Focus: (it will be out Wednesday)