CIR to testify before Texas legislature

Warns against return to race preferences

The Center for Individual Rights will testify tomorrow before a Committee of the Texas Senate investigating changes to admissions policies in Texas institutions of higher education. CIR Director of Legal and Public Affairs Curt Levey will urge the Texas legislature to continue the historic effort it began seven years ago when it abandoned the use of separate or two-track admissions standards in favor a single, or unitary race neutral admissions system.

As Texas has learned, it is possible to have diversity without race discrimination. Today, public institutions of higher education throughout Texas have a critical mass of minority students. At some schools minority enrollment now exceeds the level of minority enrollment achieved under the old two-track system abandoned seven years ago.

Texas has achieved this impressive increase in minority enrollment without resorting to two-track admissions systems based on race. Not surprisingly, students admitted under a unitary admissions standard do better academically than students admitted under separate lower academic standards.

The Texas unitary approach to admissions gives the force of law to what the overwhelming majority of Texans — and Americans — believe. Every opinion poll confirms that a majority believe race shouldn’t be a factor in college admissions, including in one Washington Post poll, 86% of African Americans.

Tomorrow’s hearing is occasioned by the efforts of Texas education officials to modify or eliminate the so-called Ten Percent Plan, according to which students who graduate in the top ten percent of their high school class are guaranteed admission to a state school. Officials want to go back to the use of racial preferences, which they contend are permitted by last year’s rulings by the Supreme Court in CIR’s twin cases challenging racial preferences at the University of Michigan.

As CIR will testify, the “holistic” individualized way now mandated by the Court is difficult, expensive, and legally risky. In the first year it tried to implement the new rules, the University of Michigan spent an extra $1.8 million to evaluate lengthy written essays by each applicant, yet minority enrollment dropped by 13 percent and African American enrollment dropped by 21 percent.

In contrast, Texas schools continue to enroll significant numbers of minority students without the use of race preferences. At UT Austin, for example, Hispanic enrollment now is at 17 percent, significantly greater than what it was under the old, two-track system.

Photo: “The Texas State Capitol in Austin, Texas” by Michael Barera licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.