Perry says top 10 percent admissions law should be revised

The Associated Press State & Local Wire
May 26, 2004, Wednesday

Gov. Rick Perry said Tuesday the state needs to overhaul a law requiring state colleges and universities to accept all students who graduate in the top 10 percent of their high school class.

The law, passed in 1997, was intended to boost minority admissions after a lawsuit ended affirmative action in admissions policies.

"I clearly think it is a problem in the state of Texas when you've got highly qualified young men and women leaving the state of Texas because they can't get into the University of Texas," Perry said Tuesday. "I really don't see how it has worked the way people projected it would work. And I think, across the board, Texans see it as a problem."

Perry is expected to call a second special session to address school finance later this summer and the law could be taken up then.

Larry Faulkner, president of the University of Texas in Austin, has called for a limit on the number of students required to be accepted under the law. He argues that the law stymies the university's ability to choose students based on criteria other than high school grades, such as musical talent.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said in September that the law should be revised to cap the number of slots reserved for top 10 percent graduates. State Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, sought unsuccessfully to repeal the law last year, and he said Tuesday that he still believes that's the best solution.

More than 70 percent of the state residents accepted last year qualified under the law, up from 54 percent the previous year.

UT's 2003 freshman class was the most diverse in the university's history, with white students making up less than 60 percent for the first time.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that race could be used as a factor in admissions.

Perry said there is no reason to believe that a change in the law would lead to fewer minority students at UT.

"I think any college in the state of Texas, if they will go recruit our high school academic success stories the way they recruit high school football players, we will get as many of our bright, qualified minorities in Texas colleges," he said.