Bills could change where East Texas students go to college

By Holley Nees - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Jesn'e Church is at the top of her class.

"I like never dreamed of actually being number one," said the Lufkin High School Valedictorian.

She is eyeing Washington University, but if it does not pan out, under current texas law, she is automatically accepted to Texas A&M University.   A law that Rep. Mcreynolds said should stay.

"I'm not sympathetic to shutting my own children out of the possibility of getting an education in a university of their choice," McReynolds said.

There is no argument between local lawmakers.

"I have always been a strong advocate of the ten percent rule, and I think it has been important to the families and children of Senate District 3 in East Texas," Sen. Robert Nichols said.

Children like Jesn'e who come from single-parent homes.

"It feels good that I get to be automatically admitted, but also have, like I said, friends that are right out of it," Church said.

Friends such as fellow Lufkin High School student, Tesfahun Hailu, who is in the top 20 percent.

"It's hard because I've worked all these years staying up late, doing work, doing notes all those four years," Hailu said.

He thinks people like Jesn'e deserve it, but being overlooked is hard for him to swallow.

However, Lufkin High School counselor, Lyndia Austin, said even without the top ten percent law, everyone can still go to the college they want, it just may not be the way they planned.

She hopes the law stays in place because without it, she said many hard-working rural students might miss out on college.

"It captures students who have the qualities that are found when you see the well-rounded student," Austin said.

The Lufkin Independent School District Superintendent, Roy Knight, agrees.

"The kids in the top ten percent rule, in the top ten percent of the graduates are hard workers.  They don't get there accidentally, and to imply that there are harder workers or more talented kids out there that aren't in the top ten percent is absolute foolishness," said Knight.

For now, Jesn'e and Tesfahun will keep working hard regardless of what the law says.

The Bill is scheduled for a hearing in the State House next Wednesday.   In the State Senate the Bill had a public hearing this past week and is still in committee.