Back to Basics: Texas Promises New Money To its Black State Universities

Top Story of Fall 2001:

Fourth Federally-Mandated Desegregation Plan Approved and Posted At Official Website

By Greg Moses

As it attempts to reverse a slump in higher education, the state of Texas has promised to send new money to two old schools that have the best record of educating the state’s nonwhite students.

The Fourth Texas Plan for Desegregation of Higher Education, requested and approved by the Office of Civil Rights at the US Department of Education, promises to bring some parity to the state’s support of Prairie View University and Texas Southern University.

While The Fourth Texas Plan includes concern with a continuing need to diversify the state’s traditionally white campuses, there is a shift of emphasis away from embattled affirmative action at traditionally white colleges. This plan concentrates on the long-standing disparities between historically black and white campuses.

The plan also encourages an increase in white participation at the two historically black universities, located in or near the city of Houston.

During the past several years, OCR has conducted an extensive investigation of civil rights complaints alleging that Texas continues to operate under the influence of segregation. OCR investigators then shared six concerns with state officials that served as the basis for the new plan, which extends to 2007.

Officials pulled the report recently from the state’s official website, citing a need to correct some errors. The plan has been relinked (Aug. 23, 2001) and is available in PDF format (link deprecated).

Two federal court decisions were important to the legal framework of the Fourth Texas Plan. On the one hand, the Hopwood decision challenged the legality of affirmative action at historically white universities in Texas. On the other hand, the Fordice decision in Mississippi reinforced a national commitment to overcome vestiges of segregation in American colleges and universities.

Meanwhile, a planning committee for Texas higher education recently warned that particpation rates for higher education in Texas were in overall decline. In a report called, “Closing The Gaps,” the committee called for a fifty percent increase in higher education enrollments.

The Texas Civil Rights Review has been watching this process since 1997 when the National Black Law Students Association filed a civil rights complaint with OCR, alleging that vestiges of segregation persist.

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