Friday, August 03, 2007

'm proud to have supported retention of admissions law, says Rep.

Data are important to look at here. Check out this link from the UT admissions research website for the racial and ethnic backgrounds of Top 10 Percenters. -Angela

Top 10 percent rule
I'm proud to have supported retention of admissions law, says Rep.

by Roberto Alonzo / Dallas Morning News

08:59 AM CDT on Friday, August 3, 2007

As the old adage goes, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." That is exactly how I feel about the top 10 percent automatic admissions rule that was left intact by state policymakers at the end of the 80th regular session of the Texas Legislature in May.

As a member of the House Committee on Higher Education and staunch supporter of fair and equal access to higher educational opportunities for all students, I celebrated proudly on May 27. Along with 74 House colleagues – Democrats and Republicans alike – we soundly defeated SB 101 on a 75-64 vote hours before the legislative session ended.

We preserved the 1997 law authored by the late state Rep. Irma Rangel of Kingsville – the first Latina state representative in Texas – and I am convinced that we will continue to make a college education accessible and affordable to more students in Texas. Rangel proudly authored this law in 1997 when she served as chair of the House Higher Education Committee, passing it convincingly.

Since the top 10 percent rule was adopted more than 10 years ago, Texas has been able to recruit and retain more students than ever before and give them the opportunity to obtain a college education, including many from low-income families, rural communities and small high schools as well as thousands from larger urban areas of the state.

To say that I am thrilled with the defeat of SB 101 is an understatement, because, as I have advocated consistently, our current law as written will continue to work and make a post-secondary education accessible and affordable to many young Texans who choose to go to college.

The research and statistical data is replete with evidence that the current law is working. I never supported the idea of capping or altering by any means the top 10 percent rule in Texas, especially when you consider the fact that Latino enrollment to Texas colleges and universities has increased by over 56 percent since the law was implemented in 1997.

Furthermore, the current track record that top 10 percent students outperform non-top 10 percent students in grade point averages, standardized tests scores, retention rates, percent graduating, length of time to graduate and percent needing remedial course work adds more significance to that important measure.

Finally, according to U.S. News & World Report, it should come as no surprise that nearly 90 percent of the entering freshmen at the best universities graduated in the top 10 percent of their high school class. And this holds true for the best public universities, as well.

After all the personal testimonials I heard from college students speaking before the Higher Education Committee, the statistics and data I examined, coupled with the hundreds of e-mails, letters, telephone calls and faxes I received during the five months of the session, I can confidently say that the current top 10 percent rule has done a good job of increasing diversity – ethnic and geographic alike – on our college campuses and does not need fixing. It may not be a perfect law, but we need to give it a chance to work.

State universities still have work to do recruiting and retaining students from all walks of life, especially minority and rural students. Teachers, counselors and administrators must nurture and encourage students to be in the top 10 percent of their high school class, too.

I could not have been prouder as a state lawmaker to have helped preserve Ms. Rangel's legacy.

Roberto Alonzo represents House District 104, which includes parts of Dallas and Grand Prairie. His e-mail address is Roberto.Alonzo

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