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California Summit on Race in America scheduled for Jan. 30

Bilingual education, affirmative action and immigration reform will be the topics of the hour at the "California Summit on Race in America" on Friday, Jan. 30.

The day-long summit will be held in Kresge Auditorium from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. It is free and open to the public.

"Our goal is to present a wide range of research-based information and different views that will stimulate meaningful and informed discussion on these critical public policy issues ­ issues that are based in U.S. race relations," said Al Camarillo, professor of history and director of the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity (CCSRE), which is sponsoring the summit.

Proceedings will be submitted to the president's advisory panel for review and inclusion in its final report to President Clinton.

The summit will be divided into three panel sessions: "Education, Bilingualism and the Minority Student"; "In the Wake of Proposition 209: Race and Opportunity in California"; and "Immigrants, Race Relations and the Impact of Proposition 187." The panels will include question-and-answer sessions to encourage the audience to join in the debate.

Panelists debating bilingual education programs include Ron Unz, co-author of the "English for the Children" ballot initiative that has been placed on the June 1998 ballot and is designed to end bilingual teaching programs in California schools, and Kelly Hayes-Raitt of Citizens for an Educated America, the umbrella group that has formed to oppose the initiative. Henry Der, deputy superintendent of public instruction with the California Department of Education, will contribute a perspective from Sacramento.

Panelists speaking in support of the goals of Proposition 209 are Gail Herriot and Charles Geshekter of the Proposition 209 committee. They will face off against Constance Rice of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Ron Takaki, professor of Asian American studies at the University of California-Berkeley and author of the new "California Equity Initiative" that seeks to restore state-sponsored affirmative action.

William King, co-author of Proposition 187 and executive vice president of Americans for Responsible Immigration, will speak in favor of Proposition 187 and criticize the November court ruling that invalidated the 1994 initiative. Thomas Saenz, a regional counselor with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), will lead the anti-Prop. 187 panelists who oppose the measure's efforts to cut benefits to illegal immigrants.

Public officials, policy analysts, representatives of non-profit organizations and business leaders also are expected to join the conversations.

While some critics in the United States have faulted the advisory panel of President Clinton's Initiative on Race as being liberally biased, Camarillo said, CCSRE is commited to opening debate on each of the three policy issues to the widest spectrum of political views.

"As a center of intellectual exchange and production of research on race and ethnicity, we are not interested in any forum where all views are not heard, where empty rhetoric is espoused or where open-mindedness is discouraged," Camarillo said. "Ultimately, the summit and the sharing of various perspectives will lead to better-informed opinions about the status of race relations in America. It is our mission to provide the information that will lead to more productive interactions among Americans in our diverse society."


By Diane Manuel

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