Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Civil Rights Commission Finds Fault with Percentage Plans

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Civil Rights Commission Finds Fault with Percentage Plans

Article excerpt

So-called "percentage plans" that guarantee college admission to students who finish near the top of their high school graduating classes do not promote diversity or successfully reach underrepresented groups, according to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

Venturing into a potential political mine field given some states' support for these programs, the commission nonetheless has issued a report asserting that such policies are not substitutes for comprehensive efforts to recruit and support students of color.

"Simply guaranteeing admission to a certain percentage of students is not enough. The plans must be supplemented with proactive recruitment, financial aid, outreach and academic support programs," says Dr. Mary Frances Berry, chairwoman of the commission.

The report examined efforts in California, Texas and Florida to replace some or all affirmative action policies with a college admission plan based on students' class rank. The policy began in Texas following the Hopwood v. State of Texas decision, which curtailed affirmative action in the region. In its place, the state guarantees public college admission to the top 10 percent of its high school classes.

Minority enrollment that declined severely after Hopwood has rebounded, the study says. But enrollment in many areas is below pre-Hopwood levels. For example, minority enrollment at the University of Texas School of Law remains down about 7.5 percent from the year following Hopwood.

At the undergraduate level, minority applications to the University of Texas-Austin have increased since the start of the percentage plans. …

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