Thursday, February 03, 2005

Changing the Top Ten Percent Law***

As of today, there are 3 separate bills looking to either alter or repeal the Top Ten Percent Law in Texas. For those who don't know, the "Top Ten" law was created in the wake of the 1996 Hopwood decision that eliminated the use of affirmative action in university and college admission policies in Texas. Filed by then-Rep. Irma Rangel, the Top Ten law was meant to give a leg-up to minority high school students; however, its impacts have been widely disputed since its implementation.

Following last summer's Supreme Court decision to permit a watered-down form of affirmative action in all public colleges and universities across the nation, everyone knew that Texas legislators would start working against the Top Ten law. So far, these are the only bills filed - all by Republicans.

There are certainly pro's and con's to the Top Ten law. It's getting out of control, especially at UT-Austin, my alma mater - around 65 percent of UT's entering freshman class are admitted under Top Ten. The Top Ten law ought to be capped around 40-50%, with the rest of class admitted under holistic review and affirmative action. But that probably won't fly this session.

In the Legislature's legalese, Top Ten is referred to as "automatic admission."

SB 320

(Sen. Wentworth, R-San Antonio)

Bill Text:

This Senate Bill would wholly repeal automatic admission under Sections 28.026, 51.803, 51.804, and 51.8045 of the Education Code. This bill simply repeals these sections and takes out automatic admission language throughout the Education Code.

*Has not been referred to committee

Note: Rep. Beverly Woolley (R-Houston) has filed HB 750, a sibling bill to SB 320.

HB 37

(Rep. Eissler, R-The Woodlands)

Bill text:

This House Bill allows for public university systems (such as UT, Texas A&M, Texas State, Texas Tech, U. of Houston, etc.) to admit applicants to other component institutions within their system. For example, if a student applies to UT-Dallas under Top Ten, their admissions office may reject them and admit them to UT-Arlington.

The biggest problem with this bill is not only that Top Ten and all its inadequacies are not addressed, but that there are schools - say UT-Brownsville, for a random example - that may admit all the minority students who graduated in the top 10% of their class with a 3.3 GPA while UT-Austin admits only those students with a 4.0 (and probably white). This, coupled with tuition deregulation, could very well make university systems two-tiered.

*Has been referred to the House Committee on Higher Education

HB 656

(Rep. Goolsby, R-Dallas)

Bill text:

This House Bill replaces the Top Ten law with a Top Five law - beginning in the 2009-2010 academic year, all students within the top five percent of their graduating class are automatically admitted into the public college or university of their choice.

*Has not been referred to committee

***In case you don't visit the homepages of Eissler and Goolsby, rest assured they're also white males.


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