The Leadership Conference is working diligently to see that Tom Perez is confirmed as U.S. Secretary of Labor. Perez is an eminently qualified public servant and consensus builder who has dedicated his career to ensuring that all individuals are treated fairly and have the opportunity to succeed. He has served with integrity and distinction at the local, state and national level, compiling an outstanding record of achievement.
Groups: 'Texas Ten Percent Plan' No Replacement for Affirmative Action
Feature Story by civilrights.org staff - 6/29/2004Senators in the Texas legislature heard testimony last week at a hearing to review the state's "Ten Percent Plan," which guarantees Texas seniors in the top 10 percent of their class admission to state universities.
Staff from Texas Governor Rick Perry's office, civil rights leaders, and college administrators, professors, and students all testified before the state's Senate Subcommittee on Higher Education. The hearing was prompted by Governor Perry's recent inquiry into whether the plan has benefited all students.
Originally implemented by then-Governor George W. Bush in 1998, the Ten Percent Plan was developed in the wake of Hopwood v. Texas (1996), where the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that consideration of race in admissions at the University of Texas Law School was a violation of the Constitution's equal-protection guarantee. Advocates of the plan say it is a race-neutral approach for rewarding students, and has helped to increase diversity at Texas colleges and universities.
Although minority and rural student enrollment has increased at Texas flagship campuses, middle-class parents in Texas have been angry that their children, who have good grades but finish just outside of the Ten Percent Plan, are being denied admission to Texas universities. The parents argue that the plan punishes students who attend more competitive high schools, and some parents have been calling for an immediate repeal of the plan, while others contest that the plan needs to limit the number of students guaranteed admission into the University of Texas system.
Civil rights groups say that while the plan has helped to increase diversity at Texas schools, it is not a valid replacement for affirmative action in the state. Representatives from several of these organizations, including the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), NAACP, and the League of United Latin American Citizens, testified at the hearing.
"The University of Texas program should institute a limited affirmative action program to allow for race to be considered among one of many factors to attend the universities in Texas," MALDEF policy analyst Luis Figueroa said.
MALDEF is one of several authors of a report released last week that concludes the Texas Ten Percent Plan and other race-neutral measures cannot wholly replace affirmative action. The new report, "Blend It, Don't End It: Affirmative Action and the Texas Ten Percent Plan After Grutter and Gratz," specifically focuses on UT-Austin and Texas A&M University. Co-authors of the report include the Equal Justice Society, the Society of American Law Teachers, and Americans for a Fair Chance, a project of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund.
Echoing Figueroa's remarks at the hearing was Norma Cantú, professor of education and law at UT-Austin, former secretary for the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education, and MALDEF board member.
In June 2003, the Supreme Court considered the issue of affirmative action in university admissions in Grutter v. Bollinger, making clear that diversity is a compelling interest and that race can be considered as one of many factors in higher education admissions. Authors of the report point out that Grutter overrules Hopwood.
Michael A. Olivas, law professor at the University of Houston and co-author of the Ten Percent Plan legislation, approved the report's recommendation.
"I believe that 'blend it, don't end it' is a wise approach, surely preferable to the Texas A&M approach," Olivas said, "which declined to employ Grutter and originally included the Aggie Legacy points until they were embarrassed into ending the point system. Texas colleges need to build on the Ten Percent Plan's contribution to socioeconomic and geographic diversity at the flagship universities."