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The Brief: The Top 10 Percent Rule and a Tale of Two Campuses

The Tribune's Neena Satija and Matthew Watkins take a long look today at the Top 10 Percent Rule and how well it allows students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds to attend the state's top universities.

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The Big Conversation

The Tribune's Neena Satija and Matthew Watkins take a long look today at the Top 10 Percent Rule and how well it allows students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds to attend the state's top universities.

Today's story focuses on two Dallas-area high schools, Highland Park High School and Bryan Adams High School, which are just 10 miles apart, "but they might as well be in different countries," Satija and Watkins write.

"Students whose grades place them among the top 10 percent of their senior class — whether at a school like Bryan Adams or Highland Park — are guaranteed a spot in any public university in the state. ... But just promising a student a spot in a top university doesn’t promise that he or she will go. Only one student from Bryan Adams enrolled in UT-Austin last fall, compared with 67 from Highland Park."

The stories of students at both high schools seem to demonstrate no easy fixes to solving the diversity challenge at Texas' universities. Still, those who research automatic admissions policies like the Top 10 Percent Rule point to Texas' approach as a good one.

Satija and Watkins write, "Texas’ plan seems to be the best at boosting diversity in an equitable way... Eleven other states — eight of which have an affirmative action ban in place — have some type of automatic admission policy for their flagships, but Texas’ rule is the only one that focuses solely on grades."

Trib Must Reads

Dallas Accountant Faces Execution for Killing Daughters, by Jolie McCullough — A Dallas accountant who shot and killed his two daughters, 6-year-old Liberty and 9-year-old Mary Faith, in 2001 faces execution Tuesday, but his lawyers argue he is not mentally competent enough to be put to death.

Analysis: Voters, Y'all, by Ross Ramsey — Politicians won’t say it but the fact is, voters are ignorant. They are truly terrible at sorting good from bad information, at checking things out, at questioning their own assumptions when new information comes in.

George P. Bush Pledges Coastal Protection, by Madlin Mekelburg — Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush told the Energy Thought Summit in Austin on Tuesday that protecting the Texas coast will be his priority during the 2017 legislative session.

Guns Up: Texas Tech Will Allow Firearms in Classrooms, Some Dorms, by Matthew Watkins — Texas Tech University plans to ban guns in its recreation center, chapel and some dorms but won't prevent students with concealed handgun licenses from carrying in classrooms, according to an operating policy issued Tuesday.

Texas Behind in Preparing Kids for College, Panel Told, by Kiah Collier — Texas lags most other states in preparing high schoolers for college and needs to update its readiness standards, Higher Education Coordinating Board Commissioner Raymund Paredes told state senators at a hearing on Tuesday.

Lawmakers Mull Tweaks to Eminent Domain Law to Favor Landowners, by Jim Malewitz — State lawmakers are considering whether to tighten eminent domain laws to help landowners battling pipeline companies, electric utilities, public agencies or other entities seeking to condemn land their land for public use.

No Record of Rick Perry Voting in Texas Republican Primary, by Terri Langford — Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry may have stumped for Ted Cruz for president, but there's no record he voted in this year's Republican primary in Texas.

Scott Walker Endorses Ted Cruz for President, by Patrick Svitek — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Tuesday endorsed Ted Cruz for president, lending his support to a former Republican presidential rival a week before his state's primary.

The Day Ahead

•    Three House committees meet at the Capitol complex to hold interim hearings. They are: Transportation [E2.012]; Insurance [E2.036]; and Pensions [E2.028]. In addition, the House select committee on transportation planning meets [E2.012]

•    And on the Senate side, three legislative panels are planning meetings. They are: Finance [E1.036]; Business & Commerce [E1.016]; and Criminal Justice [E1.012]

•    A joint legislative committee set up to look at TRS Health Benefit Plans also has a meeting planned [E1.028]

•    Gov. Greg Abbott will announce an expansion of the Governor’s Commission for Women at an 11 a.m. appearance at the Governor's Mansion.

Elsewhere

Donald Trump, Revoking a Vow, Says He Won't Support Another G.O.P. Nominee, The New York Times

Cruz to one-up Trump with in-person pitch for North Dakota delegates, Politico

Donald Trump vs. Ted Cruz Creates a Headache for Talk Radio Hosts, The New York Times

Students taking computerized STAAR may have lost answers to glitch, Austin American-Statesman

Texas sees 140 percent jump in number of people applying for gun licenses, San Antonio Express-News

State troopers could be headed to Dallas to help fight crime wave, The Dallas Morning News

FBI: Frisco Hospice Owner Directed Nurses to Overdose Patients, NBC DFW

Study: Prosecutors rarely disciplined for misconduct, Houston Chronicle

Garcia: Indicted Crystal City manager lands public-defense work, San Antonio Express-News

Border ‘duality’ seen first hand, The Monitor

Lawmakers push for more aggressive farmworker housing inspections, Austin American-Statesman

Report: Oil price slump costs Texas 65,000 energy jobs — and 250,000 overall, The Dallas Morning News

Tesla Weighs New Challenge to State Direct-Sales Bans, Wall Street Journal

Quote to Note

"He says he voted. He sent it within 72 hours of receiving it."

Jeff Miller, Rick Perry's former campaign manager, insisting to the Tribune that the former Texas governor voted in the GOP primary this year despite records showing a completed mail-in ballot was never received by the elections office in his home county

Today in TribTalk

Texans deserve better than discriminatory politics, by Chuck Smith — Texans do not support discrimination in the name of faith. They understand that it's bad for the state, it’s bad for the nation and — most importantly — it’s wrong.

News From Home

•    The Top 10 Percent Rule aims to give all public Texas high school students an equal shot at getting into the state's top public universities. But that doesn't guarantee that qualifying students will seize that opportunity. This story is part of the Tribune's "Price of Admission" series.

•    Texas held its Democratic and Republican primaries on March 1. In 22 races, no candidate won a majority of votes; the top two finishers from each of those races will meet in May 24 runoff elections. Explore the current state of this year's elections here.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    The Price of Admission: A Conversation on the Top 10 Percent Rule on March 31 at Austin Community College Highland Campus

•    A Conversation with Sen. Carlos Uresti and Rep. Poncho Nevárez on April 13 at Sul Ross State University in Alpine

•    A Conversation with Dawn Buckingham on April 21 at the Austin Club

•    A Conversation on San Antonio & the Legislature: The Issues in the Interim on April 26 at the University of Texas at San Antonio

•    A Symposium on the Texas Economy on April 29 at the University of Houston

•    The Texas Tribune's third Texas-centric Trivia Night on May 1 at The Highball in Austin

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