April 2011 Editorial Winner

Fix the Real Problems

Ted Streuli, The Journal Record

Oklahoma's Legislature should stop fixing imaginary problems and find solutions to the issues that face the state, primarily a substantial budget deficit.

This week's nonproblem was affirmative action. A proposal by state Sen. Rob Johnson, R-Kingfisher, and state Rep. Leslie Osborn, R-Tuttle, would prohibit special treatment based on race or sex in public employment, education or contracts. But no such preference is available when competing for state contracts, state employment or admission to a state university. The only real effect the law would have would be to make a small number of race-based college scholarships illegal.
Opponents suggest that the GOP-driven effort to put the question on the 2012 ballot is a gimmick to pull conservative voters to the polls.
The most recent U.S. Census data showed a clear trend: There are far fewer white babies being born and a lot more minority babies making arrivals. The big white glut, the baby boomers, are nearly aged out of child bearing, so the percentages are shifting. Oklahoma's business community belabors the point that the state needs a well-educated, well-prepared workforce to foster economic development. That workforce will soon include even more of the racial and ethnic groups we now consider minorities.
It is in Oklahoma's best economic interest to provide those students, who continue to have fewer opportunities than their Caucasian counterparts, every bit of encouragement and assistance we can muster.
The bill has already passed in the Senate; if it gets through the House, Gov. Mary Fallin should have a veto at the ready. Cutting off minority scholarships would be foolish, and that's the only effect the law would have.

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