NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

States Crafting Diversity Plan For College Admissions

November 11, 1999

At least three states have opted for a plan to guarantee top students in every high school graduating class a place in their state's universities. Since this policy would apply equally to students in minority-dominated schools as well as those which are predominantly white, the scheme is seen as a substitute for race-based college admission systems.

  • California has a program which guarantees placement in state colleges of the top 4 percent of high school graduates in each school, and Texas has a similar program embracing the top 10 percent of each graduating class.
  • Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) has just announced a plan for his state assuring state school acceptance for the top fifth of each class -- and he has moved to stop minority set-asides in state contracts.
  • While the school proposal in Florida would require the approval of the state university system's Board of Regents, officials from several other states reportedly called Bush's office to inquire about his plan -- suggesting they are considering implementing their own versions.
  • If Bush's plan is accepted, it could derail a statewide vote to end all affirmative action, which is being pushed by Ward Connerly, a black businessman who has led successful campaigns to ban racial set-asides in California and Washington.

A spokesman for Connerly's organization, the American Civil Rights Coalition, praised Bush for trying to create a system that rewards merit. But rather than call off its push for a blanket end to affirmative action, the group will study the plan first.

At the University of Florida, the student population is 9.2 percent Hispanic and 6 percent black, in a state that is 13.6 percent Hispanic and 13.4 percent black, according to the school's provost.

Source: Rick Bragg, "Florida Plan Would Change Admissions Based on Race," New York Times, November 11, 1999.


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