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Countywide : Backers of Affirmative Action Meet

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Education officials from around the country are meeting in Irvine this week to discuss ways of countering the expected political onslaught against affirmative action programs.

At a news conference Wednesday, participants in the three-day Third World Summit defended affirmative action programs, saying that efforts to cut them will do much more harm than good to the state.

Affirmative action programs “create fairness in a very unfair world,” said Charles Cambridge, a professor at the University of Colorado at Denver.

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The summit, which is being held at the Hyatt Regency Irvine, is sponsored by a handful of California minority education organizations, including the Asian and Pacific Americans in Higher Education, the Black Faculty and Staff Assn., and the Chicano/Latino Higher Education Convocation.

Regina Stanback-Stroud, president of the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges, said that much of the movement against affirmative action programs stems from the fact that the programs are actually working and evening the field for whites and minorities.

“There’s somehow a perceived discrimination because (whites) will not receive that (racial) preference,” Stanback-Stroud said. “If we get to the point that we can have fair and effective hiring practices, then, in fact, we will have a diverse work force.”

It is the responsibility of minority groups to present the benefits of affirmative action programs, especially as those programs are expected to come under attack in the 1996 elections, said Warren Furutani, a member of the Los Angeles Board of Education.

“It has worked in a lot of places,” he said.

Furutani added that school administrators are “fighting” to make affirmative action work in Los Angeles schools, and most want more programs at their disposal, not fewer.

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