I agree that affirmative action to correct injustice is a reasonable policy. But I do have two reservations:
First, we know that the public operations targeted in the initiative are already color-blind. This initiative would make public operations color-biased. This strikes me as rather like the fire department hosing down a house with water because a house three blocks away is on fire. Shouldn't our focus be on actual injustice?
Second, the argument that Prop 16 is intended to correct PAST injustice raises all sorts of questions. Let's consider the poster boy case: a black student who failed to get into the University of California because his grades and SAT scores were too low.
Now, there are two explanations for this failure: either the black student just doesn't have the talent to do well in the university; or (more likely) the black student went through a substandard school system that left him ill-prepared for the university.
In this latter case, the solution should be obvious: fix the bad school system. If your car is spewing smoke because a piston ring is broken and it's burning oil, the solution is NOT to install some sort of "smoke collector" device at the end of the tailpipe; the solution is to fix the problem at its source: the broken piston ring.
I would therefore propose that the State of California assume full responsibility for all education in the state. It already imposes a huge range of requirements on schools and teachers, and it already provides a goodly amount of funding. This is the only way to insure that all schools are operated equally.
There is one troublesome catch: there is some evidence indicating that the degree of parental support for education varies with ethnic group. Asians have the highest parental support for education. Other immigrants come next. After that come middle-class whites. And at the bottom of the list come blacks. If this information be correct, then affirmative action and equality of school funding won't help. Our money would be better spent devising programs to motivate black students to higher levels of personal committment to their educations.