MADISON, WI – After giving a speech on the Assembly floor speaking out against AB 554, a bill that would eliminate race-based statutory grant and loan programs, Representative Shelia Stubbs (D-Madison) released the following statement: 

“Four years ago, Former State Representative Jason Fields and Former State Representative Amy Loudenbeck collaborated on a bipartisan bill to expand the Minority Teacher Loan Program in Wisconsin. I trusted their judgement, expertise, and knowledge and applaud the work they did to support a diverse student body and workforce in our state.  

I am heartbroken over the prospect of AB 554 being passed today and undoing the efforts of Former Representatives Loudenbeck and Fields. As a state we have made progress in addressing the systemic racism that has plagued our state for decades. However, by passing this bill we are turning back pages of the history books and closing the gates to higher education for many minority students, in addition to pitting minority groups against each other.

There are a number of issues with this bill. Technically, this bill is not necessary because we are not in violation of the US Supreme Court Decision on affirmative action. According to the Wisconsin Legislative Council, the admissions case decision only applies to race-conscious admissions decisions. Race-conscious grants and loans are still legally permissible with the Supreme Court decision.

Additionally, there is no definition for what would be considered disadvantaged. This bill did not have a definition for disadvantaged in committee and even on the floor still does not have one. This bill is incomplete. How are we even considering voting to pass an incomplete bill?

Diversity is our strength, and as a legislative body we have a responsibility to ensure that our workforce reflects the communities they serve. Children of color deserve to see themselves reflected in the teachers, doctors, and dentists they encounter on a daily basis. We also have a responsibility to support our students of color as they complete their studies and enter the working world. We must not pass legislation that will erode that support. It is therefore my obligation to oppose AB 554 and all other measures that will take away opportunities from our minority students and professionals.

In the words of Representation Matters founder Aisha Thomas, ‘Until society represents everyone, the question will always be ‘Where do I belong?’ I am committed to building a Wisconsin where all are represented and find belonging.”

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