Connerly’s efforts swayed the state of California to pass Proposition 209, in 1996, to end preferential treatment based on race, gender, or national origin. “We are in a critical stage of refashioning a new approach to affirmative action, the old one hasn’t worked, we have had it for forty years,” Connerly said.
Krislov passionately supports affirmative action, saying it is a modest tool to insure equal opportunity is provided to those underrepresented, and is not an issue of race but also of gender. “The greatest beneficiaries of affirmative action have been white women,” he said.
Krislov said affirmative action provided a blue print for universities and college to recruit a diverse population and therefore provide a dynamic education and better opportunities. “Frankly I wish the City Club should be talking about what is perhaps most important, the pipeline issue,” he said.
Krislov cited recent studies that attest Cleveland has the third largest graduation gap between Metropolitan school districts and suburban schools in the country. The average graduation rate in Metropolitan districts is 43 percent compared to 78 percent of suburban school.
He said the real issues that should be debated are the educational inequities between districts and the segregated communities where people do not have access to opportunities or interaction with diverse point of views.
Connerly agreed the educational discrepancies between whites, blacks, and Asian kids are increasing and said the disadvantages begin the moment a child is born. “We were so concerned about integration that we have destroyed black neighborhoods, destroyed black schools, we do not provide the infrastructure, we do no provide equality of education for these kids because we are more concerned about a black kid sitting next to a white kid,” he said.
Connerly said he agrees with many parts of affirmative action that advocate equal opportunity and denounce discrimination but, “the race based era of affirmative action is coming to an end my friends,” he said.