University of Texas Admissions Law Could Face Change

Article excerpt

AUSTIN, TEXAS

If it weren 't for the top 10 percent law, says Dr. Monte Geren, many of the most successful students in his school district wouldn't make it to a Texas university.

Geren is superintendent of La Vega Independent School District, a relatively low-income area in central Texas. Eliminating the law, which guarantees students who graduate in the top 10 percent of their high-school classes automatic admission to public universities, would likely punish students for factors beyond their control - such as the location and wealth of the school they attend.

"The fact of the matter is that in many instances the curriculum is more limited, facilities and other resources are limited, and we feel it would be a detriment to not have that opportunity just because students didn't have the opportunity to attend one of the better high schools that have all those things," Geren told lawmakers.

The state Senate Subcommittee on Higher Education heard testimony about how Texas' admissions laws affect racial, ethnic and geographic diversity in the state's public universities, as the committee examined one bill that would repeal the percent law and others that would fundamentally change it.

The university admissions law was adopted after a 1996 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision made affirmative action illegal in Texas college admissions. In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed that decision, allowing universities to use race as one of many decision-making factors.

The top 10 percent law primarily affects the state's flagship universities, the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University in College Station, where enrollment is most selective. …