By Patty Nieberg, The Associated Press / Report for America
Colorado Governor Jared Polis on Tuesday signed a bill making the state a leader in the national effort to ban inherited admissions to public colleges and universities.
Prateek Dutta, Colorado policy director for Democrats for Education Reform, who pitched the idea for the bill to state lawmakers, said Colorado is the first state he has found to have passed such a law.
The bill prohibits officials of public higher education from examining “inherited preferences” or family relationships with alumni of the institution, in their admissions process.
“Just because your parents or grandparents went to one of our colleges in Colorado doesn’t mean you automatically enter,” Polis said. “Because it might take the place of someone more worthy of that place.”
Inherited admissions can disproportionately harm Coloradans who are first-generation students, people of color or who live illegally in the country, he added.
State Representative Kyle Mullica, a Democrat from Northglenn and main sponsor of the Legacy Admissions Bill, was himself a first-generation student.
“I remember being nervous when they asked this question if I had any family that went to school, wondering if it was going to hurt me or not,” he said. “The point of all of this is to create a level playing field. “
In Colorado, nearly 63% of white students and 67% of middle-to-high-income students enroll in a bachelor’s degree program right after high school, compared with just 42% of Latino students and 47% of low-income students who do. ‘enroll directly from high school, according to the text of the bill.
“This bill will help point us in a direction where our higher education institutions are moving towards meritocracies, which means you need to be admitted because of who you are, what you can do and your potential.” . Not who your parents or grandparents were, ”Polis said.
While several states have attempted to ban affirmative action based on race, Colorado appears to be the first to ban “affirmative action for the rich, that is, inherited preferences,” said Richard Kahlenberg, Director of K-12 Equity and Principal Investigator at the Century Foundation. , an independent and progressive think tank.
Several universities are considering ending their legacy admissions practice, following Johns Hopkins University which made its announcement in January 2020. Texas A&M University made the decision to abolish its legacy program in 2004.
In October 2019, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed legal requirements for colleges to disclose whether they grant preferential admissions to applicants linked to donors or alumni. The bill came in response to the college admissions scandal that revealed dozens of wealthy families paid bribes to get their children into elite California universities.
Polis also signed a bill on Tuesday to remove requirements for state public colleges to consider SAT or ACT scores for first-year students, encouraging what he called a more equitable and holistic approach to the process. admission process and access to education.
Nieberg is a member of the Associated Press / Report for America Statehouse News Initiative corps. Report for America is a national, nonprofit service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to cover undercover issues.
The Colorado Sun contributed to this report.