Core Message: Focus on three main messages.
- Expanding opportunity. It’s in our interest to see that talented students from all backgrounds get a close look and a fair shot at overcoming obstacles to educational opportunity.
- The benefits of diversity. Learning with people from different backgrounds and perspectives benefits all students, our workforce, and our country as a whole.
- Our national interest. Fostering educational diversity and greater opportunity is critical to our nation’s future in a global economy and an increasingly interconnected world.
- Labels matter. The language of “equal opportunity” is much more effective for us in describing the programs we’re defending than terms like “racial preferences” or “quotas.” The term “affirmative action” enjoys mixed support.
- Tell your story, not theirs. Proactively tell your own story. “Affirmative action helps to maintain visibly open pathways to opportunity for students from a range of backgrounds. We know it works, because of the improved success of all students who’ve benefitted from diverse classrooms and campuses.” Avoid repeating stereotypes about “unqualified” applicants.
This guidance was prepared in collaboration with the American Values Institute, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
- Keeping the ladder of opportunity sturdy for everyone in our country is crucial to America’s future, and to a lasting economic recovery.
- Despite the progress we’ve made toward equal opportunity for all, far too many Americans are unplugged from decent jobs, fair mortgage lending, or a shot at running a business. For instance, women in our state earn just 77¢ for every dollar that men earn, and women of color earn only 66¢ per dollar. That’s bad for our economy, and contrary to our national values.
- Modest programs that promote equal opportunity are one important tool for ensuring that all communities have a chance to achieve economic security and contribute to our state’s economy. We must preserve these policies while at the same time pursuing others that advance our shared prosperity, like small business counseling, student aid, and worker training.
- Host a community meeting or write a letter to the editor supporting strong equal opportunity protections.