The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

Local News

January 16, 2009

‘Top 10 percent rule’ on session agenda

PALESTINE — Calling it an “important” issue to citizens of District 8, State Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, vowed to work to keep the so-called “top 10 percent rule” intact during the just-started 81st Texas Legislature.

Texas’ top 10 percent rule grants automatic admission to any of the state’s public universities to Texas high school seniors finishing in the top 10 percent of their graduating class.

The automatic admissions law was adopted a decade ago after a federal appeals court decision made affirmative action illegal in Texas college admissions.

During the past few legislative sessions, efforts have failed to modify the top 10 percent rule and give the state’s public universities more flexibility in their admissions process.

Similar efforts to tweak the rule are possible during the 140-day session.

“We fought it off last time,” Cook said, referring to attempts to have the rule modified. “Right now, it only affects the University of Texas. The rest of them (other state universities) aren’t banging up against their admissions ceiling.”

On Wednesday, University of Texas President William Powers told a gathering of media and others that a record 81 percent of the school’s incoming freshmen this past fall were admitted under the top 10 percent rule.

In the not-too-distant future, Powers said the school would be unable to admit any students falling outside the top 10 percent of their class.

In theory, the top 10 percent rule benefits rural students. Proponents argue it ensures ethnic and geographic diversity at the state’s public institutions.

Cook said he believes it remains important to keep the playing field level and provide opportunities for more District 8 students to attend the University of Texas if they desire.

“If they want to go to the University of Texas,” Cook said, “ they have a chance to go there. And I think that’s important.

“The kids who go under the 10 percent rule have always out-performed the general student population,” he added. “That shows you it works.”

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Paul Stone may be contacted via e-mail at pstone@palestineherald.com

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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