Domestic, Not-for-Profit, Policy, Public education, Required, Students, University & College - Written by on Friday, August 26, 2011 11:01 - 0 Comments

Is Rick Perry an Higher Education Visionary with 7 Smart Solutions?

photo: courtesy Gov. Rick Perry via flickr

Gov. Rick Perry Announcing Texas Public Higher Education Almanac

by Elbert Chu


Lots of people are hating on Texas Gov. Rick Perry right now. Perhaps what is being overshadowed and worth considering are Perry’s ideas and leadership on Higher Education. As Texas Governor, Perry has been putting some fresh solutions to work since 2008. Kevin Carey, a policy director for Education Sector (a think tank in Washington, D.C.), writes a helpful piece in The New Republic. First a quick outline of the seven solutions:

Taken together, the seven solutions are remarkably student-friendly. Four of them focus on improving the quality of university teaching by developing new methods of evaluating teaching performance, tying tenure to success in the classroom, separating the teaching and research functions within university budgets, and using teaching budgets to reward professors who excel at helping students learn. The fifth solution would give prospective students choosing colleges more information about things like class size, graduation rates, and earnings in the job market after graduation. The sixth would make state higher education subsidies more student-focused, and the seventh would shift university accreditation toward measures of academic outcomes.

Unsurprisingly, these ideas are painful for entrenched academia, bound by inertia. Carey continues:

But when Texas universities began implementing the seven solutions, academe went apoplectic. Last year, the Texas A&M system published a report comparing the salaries of individual professors to their teaching loads and their success in garnering external research funding. Most professors were pulling their weight. But some were enjoying fat, publicly-funded salaries while doing little work in return. Data from the University of Texas system yielded similar results. At UT-Austin, one group of 1,748 mostly-tenured professors, representing 44 percent of the faculty, generated 54 percent of institutional costs, taught only 27 percent of students, and brought in no external research funding whatsoever.

Education’s usual advocates, Democrats and liberals, who usually rally to the call for lower-income students, were this time no where to be found:

What’s less understandable—or forgivable, at least—is the total dismissal of the Perry higher education agenda by Democrats and members of the left. Perry’s antagonists are completely upfront about their intentions. One recently-formed opposition groupdeclared that the governors plans for “dramatically expanding enrollment while slashing tuition” are “decidedly the wrong way.” Making college more accessible and affordable is, of course, the foundation of progressive higher education policy. Yet Democrats in Texas have almost uniformly denounced Perry’s plans.The left-leaning Texas Monthly declared that “Rick Perry is waging an undeclared war on higher education.”

via Rick Perry Is A Higher-Education Visionary. Seriously. | The New Republic with thanks to @daveeday for the heads up.



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