Protecting CSU Access for
Black & Brown Students

Protecting CSU Access for Black & Brown Students
Felicia Jones, Associate Director
Congregations Organized for Prophetic Engagement

A delegation of Inland Empire students and community members, joined others to oppose a proposal requiring California State University (CSU) applicants to complete a fourth year of high school math or a quantitative reasoning course, such as statistics, computer science or an extra lab science, among others as an admission requirement. This proposal will expand the A-G requirements, the sequence of courses students must complete to become eligible for enrollment in the California State system. According to CSU, the proposal will raise the level of preparation among all students to support in the first year of college and will create more equitable opportunities in STEM majors and careers. CSU’s rush to address preparedness is shortsighted of the numerous existing barriers and equity gaps for low income Black and Latinx students and school districts.

At the July 2019 CSU Trustee meeting, current students and alums spoke candidly about some of their access concerns. Students like Brianna Robertson say “I would not be enrolled in CSU if this requirement were in place now.” Brianna is a San Bernardino City Unified School District graduate and says that she only took 3 years of math and admittedly struggled. However, she was successful in college math because of quality instruction and a host of student supports provided at her college.

Brianna is not alone. Countless other students spoke of the access hurdles they faced in their schools. Mabel and Michael Dugbarty, siblings and graduates of Fontana Unified School District, took a fourth year of math. They did so because they advocated for themselves despite counselors who advised them away from the courses. Other students shared how adding a fourth year would add an extra hurdle for thousands of students who need to remediate a course if they fail. There will be little room for failure and fewer opportunities to recover. Another student spoke of not taking a 4th year of math to pursue work or internship opportunities that equally prepare and expose them to STEM and other careers. 

Supporters of the proposal believe that waiting until 2026 will provide adequate time to prepare schools districts, students, and families for the new requirements. Yet education advocates like Congregations Organized for Prophetic Engagement (C.O.P.E.), BLU Educational Foundation, and others know the long haul battle to improve A-G access and completion rates in San Bernardino County and specifically among low income and students of color. More than a decade ago, community members brought their concerns about the massive Algebra failure rates among 9th grade students to San Bernardino City Unified School District. These failures took students off the A-G completion track and created an extra barrier to meeting the minimum three year math requirement. Unfortunately, the problem persists and community members and advocates know that time alone will not fix the statewide math crisis. There should be substantial consideration for the types of investments required to improve math instruction, student support and other K-12 resource needs. There has been no consultation between CSU and California K-12 school system regarding the readiness of high schools to expand the math to adequately meet the proposed requirement.

We appreciate the school districts, board members and superintendents from Los Angeles, Santa Ana, Anaheim, and Sacramento who chose not to ignore the realities in their own district and to stand in opposition with students and advocates. We value our very own school board members like Dina Walker, Rialto Unified School District and Danny Tillman, San Bernardino City Unified District, for their courageous example of opposition for others in the region.

The fight will continue at an extended CSU Trustee meeting on August 29, 2019 where they will review the proposed plan in detail and hear supporting and opposing views on the plan. We stand firmly in opposition and invite others to stand with us. To make your voice heard and stand in solidarity with us:

Join C.O.P.E. to be part of the delegation at the August 29th meeting! Contact to learn how!

CSU students and alumni can sign and share this digital petition against the CSU 4th year math requirement with your organization’s networks. If you know any CSU students/alumni please share this petition with them!

Follow our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts then reshare, reshare, reshare to get the word out to friends and family!

Submit your concerns, letters of opposition or written testimonials by email to the Trustee Secretariat at and cc Click for template!

To learn more about the equity concerns with the CSU proposal visit the Campaign for College Opportunity #AccessDenied Page.