fair or not?
June 20, 2005
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Earlier tonight I saw a very interesting segment on ’60 Minutes’. The story (read more here) was about a law that has existed in Texas for the past 8 years which states that any high school student who finishes in the top 10 percent of their class can automatically go to any public university in the state. The law, intended to encourage ethnic diversity, has both it’s supporters and opponents. After watching the segment, I’m still not sure of what I think.
The story examined the situations of two different students, one a hispanic girl from a poorer community, and a caucasian girl from a very elite high school in a top community. The hispanic girl was easily in the top 10% of her class with a 3.4 GPA taking standard courses, whereas the caucasian girl just missed the cut in her class with a 3.9 GPA taking mostly Advanced Placement courses in addition to numerous extra curricular activities. I’m sure you’ve figured out by now what happened, the hispanic girl got to go to University of Texas whereas the other girl did not since the school has scant room remaining beyond the “top 10” students.
Obviously on paper the one candidate is much more qualified than the other. But should some people be given privilege because of their otherwise unpriveleged background? I think ultimately that their is no right answer or perfect system. Having a “rule” like this sets a very clear cut standard which leaves very little gray area (as the gray area is what usually gets the universities in hot water when they are left to make a decision on their own since someone is going to be disappointed). Anyone else have any thoughts on this?