Naked City

Keep the Poor Kids Down

Texas A&M University has given preliminary approval to a plan that would grant automatic admission to the top 20% of seniors at 250 Texas high schools rated by the Texas Education Association as "low performing." The program would be an extension of the state's Top Ten Percent policy, which enables seniors ranked in the top 10% of their class to attend a state university of their choice. Not surprisingly, the Young Conservatives of Texas have already attacked the plan, calling it an "illegal, unfair, and academically indefensible preferential treatment scheme."

Despite A&M administrators' claims that the 250 schools were selected based on economic criteria, YCT alleges that the Top Twenty program "would give preference to students from mostly minority high schools" -- specifically mentioning black and Hispanic students. They are asking Attorney General John Cornyn to rule against the plan.

The Top Ten Percent policy was implemented in hopes of increasing racial diversity without violating the 1996 Hopwood decision, which bans consideration of race in Texas universities' admissions policies. A&M's new 20% policy obviously hopes to take it a bit further by specifically targeting economically disadvantaged schools. The A&M regents want Cornyn to examine the proposal to see if it passes constitutional muster, but as of press time, the AG's office had issued no opinion.

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