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NPT Capitol: Straus on Top 10 percent rule and minority enrollment

House Speaker Joe Straus said that Texas would not change the Top 10 percent rule for public universities if it were not possible to do so in a way that did not adversely affect minorities.

“I think if we don’t feel that is possible then we shouldn’t move forward on these changes. I think we ought to be sensitive to minority enrollment,” said Straus.

A bill passed the Senate on Tuesday that would allow Texas’ 35 public universities to cap the top 10 percent rule at between 50 and 60 percent of an incoming freshman class. The bill, if it became law, would expire in 2015. Currently, students who graduate in the top 10 percent of their high-school class are automatically awarded a place at their top pick university within the University of Texas system.

But Straus believes that, with the number of freshman who are now admitted under the rule in the 80th percentile, something needs to be done.

“I certainly favor taking action this session on that issue…Very soon I think there is going to be some forced changes. What do you do with that 100 percent plus one student, which is rapidly coming? We might as well deal with it now,” said Straus.

On Wednesday, state Sen. Eliot Shapleigh responded to the rule change:

“Top Ten Percent works well. At UT-Austin, 93 percent of all El Paso students who were admitted there in 2008 were admitted under Top Ten. Why change what works?”

You can read Shapleigh’s full response to the bill’s passage of the Senate after the jump.

–Ben Wright

For Immediate Release

March 25, 2009

Senator Shapleigh releases statement on change to Top Ten Percent Rule

“Top Ten Percent works well. At UT-Austin, 93 percent of all El Paso
students who were admitted there in 2008 were admitted under Top Ten.
Why change what works?”

AUSTIN – Today, the Texas Senate passed SB 175, which would allow Texas
Universities to admit graduates in the top 10 percent of their
graduating high school class only until such students make up 50
percent of the incoming freshman class. Currently, the rule grants Texas
high school students automatic admission to any of Texas’ 35 public
universities if they graduate in the top 10 percent of their class. The
University of Texas at Austin is the only state university that would
currently be affected by this change.

Senator Shapleigh offered the following statement on his opposition to
changing the Top Ten Percent Rule:

“The Top Ten Percent Rule has ensured that all Texas students have an
equal opportunity of attending the Texas college of their choice.

With the rule, minority students, rural students and students from
smaller, poorer school districts would be put at a significant
disadvantage when competing against their more-affluent peers. This will
have a tremendous effect on students in El Paso. In 2008, 137 students
from El Paso enrolled at UT-Austin. Of those, 128 students were accepted
under the Top Ten Percent Rule.

Minority enrollment and geographical diversity at UT has increased
noticeably since the law was passed. UT-Austin records show that the
number of black students has gone from 1,353, or 3.7 percent of
undergraduates, in fall 1997 to 1,803, or 4.8 percent, in fall 2008. The
number of Hispanic students has risen from 5,234, or 14.2 percent of
undergraduates, to 6,766, or 18.1 percent.

The answer to high demand at schools like UT Austin and Texas A&M is
greater state investment to create tier-one universities. In California,
where state leaders invested in higher education quality since 1960,
nine universities are now tier-one, with a total of 184,000
undergraduates now attending those schools. Instead of crushing
students’ dreams of attending a top Texas college, we need to work to
create more top colleges for them to choose from.

Top Ten Percent works well. At UT-Austin, 93 percent of all El Paso
students who were admitted there in 2008 were admitted under Top Ten.
Why change what works?”

– End –

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Written by newspapertreeelpaso

March 25, 2009 at 11:29 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. Question: how many of the 128 students were actually minorities and is it proportional to our city’s demographics? Could it be that top 10% is actually admitting those students who are part of programs like IB where most are white than a student who attends Jefferson or Bowie? Look at the research that says how many minority students attend Utep and not UT. Also, if you put a cap on it and begin slowing down the rush of students that go to austin that might put some pressure on UTEP to up their standards so that texas schools will be on a more even playing field. It would also give admissions more of a say to actually CHOOSE to diversity the student body (and there is no evidence that says they don’t want to) whereas the current system forces them to accept these students.

    I am fond of Shapleigh’s politics and of what he has done, but he needs to look at the research and at the bigger picture.

    Not buying it

    March 26, 2009 at 10:41 am

  2. […] in March, Sen. Shapleigh voted against the bill also, as it left the Senate bound for the […]


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