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College Admissions and Affirmative Action: In Texas it's Still Legal

A court says the University of Texas at Austin can consider race as an admissions factor. With college admission so competitive, are they right?

The affirmative action debate is back in the hot seat after the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans upheld the use of race as an admissions factor at the University of Texas at Austin.

Judge Patrick E. Higgenbotham wrote in the majority opinion that affirmative action is not unconstitutional and does not conflict with Texas' current policy of accepting all students in the top 10 percent of their high school classes into the state's public universities. In an ironic twist, this same federal appeals court banned the University of Texas in 1996 from using race as an admissions factor.

The current ruling upholds a 2008 lower-court decision that the University of Texas didn't violate the civil rights or constitutional right to equal protection of two white students, Abigail Fisher and Rachel Michalewicz, who were denied admission to U.T. Austin that year. The two women could have attended a less prestigious campus in the U.T. system and possibly transferred to Austin in their second year if they met the requirements to do so. Instead, they chose to sue.

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Dropout Rate Increases for California's Minority Students

Need proof that the achievement gap is alive and well in California? Record numbers of minority students are dropping out of high school.

The achievement gap is alive and well in the State of California—and it's still breaking down along racial lines. Data from the Annual Report on Dropout and Graduation released by the California Department of Education shows that in the 2008 to 2009 school year, 37 percent of black students dropped out of high school, and with a 27 percent dropout rate, things aren't looking much better for the state's Latino population.

Even worse, dropout totals for both subgroups are three percentage points higher than the year before. Overall, 22 percent of California high school students dropped out, also up three percent from the 2007 to 2008 school year.

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