Policies in Florida, California and Texas that guarantee admission to public universities for top high school graduates do not make campuses more diverse, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights said Tuesday in a draft report.
Minority students in those three states are faring worse or no better than they were under affirmative action programs, according to the report.
"If percentage plans grow in popularity, it is inevitable that the number of minority students attending the most prestigious public universities will decrease," commission Chairwoman Mary Frances Berry said.
The percentage plans guarantee admission to the top 20 percent of graduates at Florida high schools, the top 4 percent in California and the top 10 percent in Texas.
Florida's state university system has shown an increase in black and Hispanic students since the advent of Gov. Jeb Bush's One Florida program to end affirmative action in 2000. But at the University of Florida, the most selective state institution, the numbers have dropped.
In Texas, the report showed that fewer blacks and Hispanics were admitted to and enrolled at the University of Texas at Austin in 2001 than in 1996, before a federal court outlawed affirmative action in admissions at public universities.
In California, the same was true in graduate law and medical admissions, the report said. The state voted to end race-based admissions in 1996; the ban took effect in the 1998-99 school year.
In September, Bush's office released figures showing that the number of minority students enrolling for the first time at state universities rose in the current school year, but not as quickly as the overall growth in incoming students. That means minority enrollment dropped almost half a percentage point compared with last year's incoming class, despite the overall increase.
Bush said then that the data show his plan is working: "What I said was there would be more African-American and Hispanic students attending our university system. Promise made, promise kept."