Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Now That's the Way to Make a Point

EDITORIAL BOARD. Austin American-Statesman
Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Like many other legislators, state Rep. Harold Dutton Jr., D-Houston, loves to talk about double standards. Unlike many other legislators, Dutton tries to do something about them.

His latest attempt is to exempt state universities from the "top 10 rule" that allows high school students in the top 10 percent of their graduating class to be automatically admitted to selective state universities. We aren't naive about the bill's chances, but we appreciate the irony.

To qualify for exemption under Dutton's bill, the percentage of minority students attending that university has to equal the percentage of minorities on its football team.

The percentage of minorities on Texas' top football teams is many times higher than the percentage in the general student body.

You don't have to love Dutton to love his style in making a point. If colleges and universities can find enough minorities to run and to catch and throw a ball, they should be able to find enough minorities for respectable representation in the overall student enrollment.

Dutton rips the mask of hypocrisy right off the state's college admissions practices.

And he challenges the critics of the 10 percent rule — adopted as an alternative to affirmative action policies — to put up or shut up.

"Colleges and universities have a knack for placing sports above academics. . . . They look for the best players they can find," Dutton said. "That's really what the 10 percent rule is about, to look for the best students they can find, but look in places they haven't looked before."

It's unlikely that Dutton's bill will go anywhere, but we look forward to the stuttering and sputtering it will provoke on its way to the graveyard.

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