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Reply to "The Texas 10% Plan"

I wrote a piece about this on mt blog back in 2004. Here it is...


Could it be true? Are white folk that once opposed affirmative Action in Texas now in favor of it? What would make a group of white folk change so drastically after fighting so hard to remove Affirmative Action? The history of Affirmative Action in Texas goes something like this; In 1996 Cheryl Hopwood, a white woman sued the University of Texas on the grounds that she was rejected solely on the basis of her race. As with most Affirmative Action cases, she did not sue the school for letting other white folk in with inferior test scores and so on, she went after those who got in because of Affirmative Action because she know damn well not one of those Black and Latino students deserve to be in the school more than her. The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in her favor thus ending Affirmative Action in Texas.

After the end of Affirmative Action in Texas the state legislature went to work to devise an alternative plan that would give Black and Latino students a better chance at getting into Texas Colleges and Universities. The state legislature came up with the Top Ten percent plan. This plan stated that the top ten percent of every graduating High School class was guaranteed admission into any public Texas College or University of their choice. In 1997 the Governor of the state of Texas, George Bush signed this plan into law. In the beginning there was much criticism of this law; various studies were done to prove the law was not doing what affirmative action had done and that Black and Latino student enrollment had failed in comparison to pre Hopwood days. The studies were correct, enrollment had failed in comparison to pre Hopwood, but as the years went by things changed and by 2001 Black and Latino student enrolment was not only back up to pre-Hopwood days, it had surpassed them, and here lies the problem.

The top ten percent plan is working so well now that white folks are now petitioning to have it reduced or capped and some are petitioning to have it out right revoked, even though more white students are benefiting from it than Black and Latino. Here is the burner; some of them are espousing using pre-Hopwood standards, meaning using Affirmative Action as it once was in order to get rid of the top ten percent plan. (We can not win for loosing with white folk in Texas.) The reason why these particular white folk want to get rid of the Top Ten Percent plan is they have spent all their money buying homes in affluent communities so that their children can go to the best schools but what they are finding out is their children while graduating with a 3.9 GPA, taking Advance Placement courses and scoring decent on the SAT are not in the top ten percent of their class, thus they do not get a guaranteed seat in any of the Public Colleges or Universities in Texas. However, down in the city where all the Black and Latino students attend School, students are graduating with a 3.4 GPA, no advance placement courses and low SAT scores but still graduate in the top ten percent of their class and get a guaranteed seat in any Public College or University.

State Senator Jeff Wentworth is leading the fight to repeal the top ten percent plan. During his interview on 60 minutes he espoused many preconceived notions about Black and Latino students being accepted to state Colleges and University under plans like the one in Texas and Affirmative Action. Senator Wentworth stated without checking his facts that "some of the students who get into the state Flagship University are not prepared academically for the rigorous training they get at that higher educational institution and some of them don't last, they wine up quitting very frustrated because they were not prepared." However the statistics at the University of Texas contradict the Senator. Larry Faulkner the president of the University of Texas was confronted with the Senators statements and President Faulkner stated, "The students from the "minority" schools do well at the University of Texas" he then went on to say "if you reach the top ten percent of your H.S. class, you know how to work, you know how to organize your time and those two things count a lot in an institutions like the University of Texas". Mr. Faulkner was then asked does the top ten percent law dumb down the University of Texas, he said "he do not believe it dumb downs the University of Texas, We have the highest graduation rate in the history of the University, we have the highest four year graduation rate in the history of the university, we have the highest freshman retention rate in the history of the University." The white reporter then commented that none of that says anything about the quality of the students, (you see how evil these people are). President Faulkner said in response to her dismissal and degrading of the quality of students being admitted, that "We have the highest SAT scores in the history of the University, and we have the highest class rank in the history of the University". The reporter said even with the top ten percentage plan and President Faulkner said even with it.

One of the most ironic things said in the interview by Senator Jeff Wentworth is that he receive letters from affluent white folk who children can not compete with the other affluent students thus these white folk are trying to transfer their students to "inferior" (his word, not mine) schools so that they can be in the top ten percentile and get a guaranteed seat. What we have here is a plan that was supported in lieu of Affirmative Action and now it appears to be working better than Affirmative Action thus white folk want things back to how they use to be, even with empirical evidence that white students benefit from the top ten Percent Plan more than Black and Latino. It all comes down to some white folk believing they are more deserving of an education that Black and Latino students.
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