Website Claims Bush-led OCR will Fight Affirmative Action

A Thursday guest column at a Conservative website, written by an anti-

affirmative-action activist, predicts that the Office for Civil Rights at the US Department of

Education will fight affirmative action in Texas colleges and universities.

The

report is remarkable for its well-embedded Republican-party sources. It was posted at USAGOP.Com and

written by a senior fellow from the Center for Equal Opportunity, Edward Blum.

The

report suggests a chilling answer to one of the mysteries in Texas higher education these days: Where

is the OCR and why are they saying nothing about Texas A&M’s announcement last month that it would

reject affirmative action in admissions at two of its predominately white campuses?

The

Blum column is shocking for its suggestion that OCR will speak out in opposition to affirmative action

plans at the University of Texas at Austin.

As Blum argues, “President Bush personally

–as governor and as president–and the rest of his administration have strongly supported the use of

race-neutral means to achieve diversity. Indeed, they have pointed to the system UT was using–and now

wants to reject–as a model approach.”

Blum’s report fails to mention that Bush made

written promises to OCR while he was Governor, that Texas higher education would augment where possible

its efforts to de-segregate predominantly white campuses, such as the University of Texas at Austin and

the Texas A&M University campuses at College Station and Galveston.

And Blum does not

address what OCR’s relationship might be to upholding the current context of constitutional

law.

When Bush was Governor, Texas was living under the influence of the Hopwood

decision, which was widely enforced as a prohibition against affirmative action in college admissions

for the state of Texas.

But Governor Bush was also party to an ongoing de-segregation

plan, and he made written promises, called the “Texas Commitment,” during the Summer of

2000.

Partly because of the Hopwood ruling, the implementation plan of the “Texas

Commitment” focused on rectifying long-standing neglect of historical black campuses in Texas, at

Prairie View and Texas Southern Universities.

Yet, the “Texas Commitment” by Gov. Bush

promised that Texas would operate within the complex context of constitutional case law and would

augment its efforts wherever possible to integrate predominantly white

campuses.

Meanwhile, the state’s top lawyer for Texas higher education has been

advising admissions officers about constitutional criteria for affirmative action that were created by

the Supreme Court in the Grutter ruling of Summer 2003.

Blum’s column raises questions

about the kind of civil rights logic that would be used to wield the power of OCR in opposition to

adoption of a constitutional affirmative-action program, especially in the context of a “Texas

Commitment” that was solicited by OCR in the first place.

But Blum’s column also

suggests that a larger political agenda might help explain Texas A&M’s announcement that it would not

take up the Grutter ruling as its guide.

I choose the term “announcement” rather than

“decision” because nothing about race or affirmative action was ratified in writing at the widely-

reported meeting of the Board of Regents last December. It came as a complete surprise to state

regulators, legislators, and civil rights organizations. And it is not yet clear how the policy was

percolated up through the decision-making structures at the College Station

campus.

Furthermore, Blum’s political analysis fails to note that the top ten percent

plan may have turned out to be even more contentious among Texas voters than affirmative

action.

In a recent comment to El Paso reporter Darren Meritz, Texas state Senator Jeff

Wentworth, a San Antonio REPUBLICAN, said, “There are a lot of problems with the Top 10 Percent rule,

and it needs to be repealed.” Sen. Wentworth, suggested that the restoration of affirmative action

would eliminate the need to impose the widely-studied race-neutral attempt to achieve racial diversity,

that was invented as an antidote to Hopwood.

Sen. Wentworth’s suggestion during an

election year may offer Democrats a chance to argue that affirmative action is actually less divisive

and more precise than the so-called race-neutral percentage plan.

Meanwhile today at the

University of Texas campus, a new report calls for some legislative relief from the percentage

plan.

And UT President Larry Faulkner surrounded himself today with diversity allies

from across the nation for a two-day diversity symposium. Please stay tuned to Texas, where the future

of civil rights is on the line.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s