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Gov. Perry’s ‘Seven Breakthrough Solutions’ -- bad business, undermine meaning of a university
UCLA Daily Bruin ^ | ROY HU

Posted on 07/25/2011 1:16:04 PM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife

"Gov. Rick Perry’s ‘Seven Breakthrough Solutions’ would make for bad business, undermine meaning of a university"

Last week, lawmakers in Texas were embroiled over a series of reforms – boldly named the “Seven Breakthrough Solutions” – proposed by Texas Gov. Rick Perry. The governor’s wildly optimistic proposals seek to implement a business-like model for the Texas state university system to optimize efficiency by measuring student satisfaction, while pinning the blame squarely on professors.

The proposals sound great, until you realize the “Seven Breakthrough Solutions” are hardly breakthroughs and barely solutions. In light of rapidly dissipating state support for public higher education in our own state, Gov. Perry’s proposals do challenge a bigger question: is the business model really the best way to ensure the sustainability of public higher education?

I don’t think so. Conflating the business model with the education model is more than just misleading. It’s potentially dangerous. Under the “Seven Breakthrough Solutions,” the state treats the university like a business. It would quantify professor performances through student evaluations, and reward large budgets to departments that conduct lucrative research sponsored by external grants. The idea is to minimize what is perceived as an abundance of useless and esoteric research and focus on what could be used to directly benefit the public.

To be sure, Gov. Perry makes many points which are valid and true. Burgeoning administration costs are a sign of inefficiency within any organization. But in the end, no version of the “Seven Breakthrough Solutions” can come close to encapsulating the whole issue. Examining the vastness of the debate over the future public higher education produces all the feelings of disorientation when looking through a kaleidoscope.

A university should not follow along the prime imperative for all businesses: to turn a profit, or, even to sustain itself. It’s wrong to operate a university under the business model because it begins with the wrong premise, and therefore asks all the wrong questions.

The public certainly views the university as a business. A recent poll showed that 60 percent of respondents believed “Colleges today are like most businesses and care mainly about the bottom line.”

Unlike a business, the aims of a university are much more wide and complex. The aims of a university are both to educate and to innovate, where all kinds of ideas can be explored.

The business rhetoric bemoaning the enormous monetary cost of public higher education highlights an uncomfortable, but very real, contradiction in the public mentality. In words, it is a truth universally acknowledged that having an elite public higher education system is in some sense “good” for society. In action, though, we are reluctant to fund it with our hard-earned tax dollars unless it produces tangible goods.

State support for public education has been dwindling for decades, increasingly expecting the university to run like a business. In 1990, California paid for 78 percent of the total education cost per student. Currently it pays for around 48 percent.

But a university is not a business. Treating the university as such blatantly ignores its unique rich history and tradition. Even under constraints of a tight budget, California legislators need to recognize that properly funding the university is not the same as subsidizing a failing business.

It means protecting one of our strongest civic institutions. And anything less would be to undermine it.

Embroiled in our own budget crisis, it’s best to not forget our purpose here as a university. Do you think UCLA should be treated as a business?


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Editorial; Government
KEYWORDS: academics; accountability; economy; education
Seven Solutions

Higher Education Coalition attack on [Texas Gov. Rick] Perry raises eyebrows

[Texas Education Agency] TEA to lay off 178 workers [Thousands of pink slips for state workers] [great FReeper discussion about education]

Perry's education record distinctly different from Bush's

1 posted on 07/25/2011 1:16:12 PM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

There are genuine criticisms of Perry’s initiative — for example, it seems to promote research universities and discourage the classical liberal education that was the norm until the liberal left took over academia — but this article is just blather.


2 posted on 07/25/2011 1:21:28 PM PDT by Crichton
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

Ah!.. Socialism with Obama -OR- Fascism with Perry..
There is a difference....... kinda..


3 posted on 07/25/2011 1:27:18 PM PDT by hosepipe (This propaganda has been edited to include some fully orbed hyperbole...)
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To: hosepipe

Whatever the federal government does tends to suck..


4 posted on 07/25/2011 1:28:41 PM PDT by hosepipe (This propaganda has been edited to include some fully orbed hyperbole...)
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To: Crichton
"...but this article is just blather."

BINGO! Note the key word in the following.

In words, it is a truth universally acknowledged that having an elite public higher education system is in some sense “good” for society.

Based on the evidence of the last 5 decades, I'd say academic elitism has done a great dis-service to our country.

5 posted on 07/25/2011 1:46:53 PM PDT by Drill Thrawl (How close is the tipping point?)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
A university should not follow along the prime imperative for all businesses: to turn a profit, or, even to sustain itself. It’s wrong to operate a university under the business model because it begins with the wrong premise, and therefore asks all the wrong questions.

If students graduating from college are unable to pay off their student loans because they cannot earn enough money, maybe the cost of education is too high. Maybe some kind of business model is appropriate to rein in education costs.

Today young folks graduating from college cannot get jobs, are still living with their parents, and are burdened with payments on loans.

Given that everybody should be able to go to college, given grade creep, given watered down education programs, something must be done, do you not agree?

Some kind of business model is appropriate. It cost me $20,000 to go to college, $5,000/year for four years. I gave up an income of $5,000/year for four years to go to college, so I started my career $40,000 in the hole. But my earnings overcame that in another five years. Do today's students enjoy the same in the current job market? By the way, I was an engineer, not a liberal arts major.

The high cost of a college education today is of questionable utility when evaluated with the simplest business model. Perry is on the right track.

6 posted on 07/25/2011 1:51:30 PM PDT by olezip
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To: Drill Thrawl

Higher education has become a way for leftists to indoctrinate your children and make YOU pay for it.

Reforming universities is another way of de-funding the Left.


7 posted on 07/25/2011 1:51:46 PM PDT by darth
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

First the leftards from the 60s, and then their progeny, turned American education into a marxist reeducation camp, and then they moan and b*tch when someone wants to clean up the sh*t-house they’ve turned our universities into.

They should all be fired, all lose their tenure, and then the few good ones hired back... at starting salary.


8 posted on 07/25/2011 2:58:09 PM PDT by samtheman
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To: Drill Thrawl
Based on the evidence of the last 5 decades, I'd say academic elitism has done a great dis-service to our country.

You might be interested to disinter and read some of James Fallows's old writings on the baneful "blessings" of meritocracy and elitism. He disarticulated meritocracy in a moderately long article that appeared in The Atlantic Monthly some 20 years ago. Might be worth bugging your librarian to dig out her Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature and hunt it up for you as a service of the library .... might also be listed in Lexis/Nexis.

9 posted on 07/25/2011 3:01:05 PM PDT by lentulusgracchus (Concealed carry is a pro-life position.)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
State support for public education has been dwindling for decades, increasingly expecting the university to run like a business. In 1990, California paid for 78 percent of the total education cost per student. Currently it pays for around 48 percent.

As with so many other socialist whinges about funding "cuts," what this really means is that expenses have risen dramatically faster than the also-rising funding.

10 posted on 07/25/2011 3:33:44 PM PDT by Tax-chick (Public schools = TSA: incompetent, abusive, anti-American. Why are we putting up with either one?)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

Gov Perry is taking on the liberal elite establishment at the Universities. They are shreiking in horror in response.


11 posted on 07/25/2011 3:46:57 PM PDT by WOSG (Cut the spending!)
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To: olezip

Unfortunately, Perry is on the wrong track. The cost of higher education has risen chiefly because of the expansion of administration, both in numbers, salaries, and number of staff. And administrators, by and large, are also enamored of the university-as-business, student-as-customer model.

On the education side: if the students are customers, and the university run as a business, then the students become ineducable: “the customer is always right” is the motto of a well-run business, but students are not always right. Indeed, that’s the point: if they were always right, they wouldn’t need an education. Standards have been watered down, not primarily because of a liberal professoriate seeing equality of outcome, but because of administrators insisting that “student evaluations of instruction” be a major component of faculty evaluation: a feature of the business-mentality that assumes students are customers. Professors who give an easy A get good evaluations.

Universities as educational institutions cannot be run according to a business model because students do not fit into any category existing in a business model. Are they customers or raw materials? They have aspects of both. How should “output” be measured? Number of students graduating? Number of credit hours generated? Both encourage watering down of education. Universities would be better off is professors were required to (or at least rewarded for) grading on a strict old-fashioned curve: grade ranges a standard-deviation wide, mean score at the middle of the C’s, 6.7% get As, 24.2% B’s 38.2% C’s 24.2% D’s and 6.7% fail. But then the darling students would be unhappy, and the ones who flunk out stop paying tuition, bad for “the bottom line”, and a lot of students who clutter up classes really should be flunked out, or shouldn’t have come in the first place, but gone to a trade school instead.

On the research side, measuring productivity in terms of grants, only exacerbates the herd-mentality that is destroying American science. You only get grants if you’re doing the same thing as everyone else, and pushing the same theory as everyone else (just look at theoretical physics which is all string-theory even though it hasn’t made a testable prediction in 40 year, and has to be jiggered to get rid of predictions it does make that don’t occur in nature; or climatology. . .), or what some committee of Federal bureaucrats at the NSF has decided is important. (There are at least 5 different NSF programs with the goal of getting more Americans to get Ph.D.s in mathematics. But Ph.D.s in mathematics graduating now have trouble finding jobs, and have since the 1980’s! But there’s going to be a shortage. . . )

Fitting everything into the mold of commerce is as stupid as turning everything into a social program. Running a church like a business is ruinous to souls (esp. of the clergy), running an infantry division like a business gets men killed, and running a university like a business is bad for human knowledge, both its advance through research and its propagation through education.

Want to fix the universities? Return them all to the governance structure that grew up organically in European universities and still exists at Harvard and Yale, with the administration serving at the pleasure of the faculty.

As the French academics put it “Le savoir n’est pas une marchandise!”


12 posted on 07/25/2011 6:08:29 PM PDT by The_Reader_David (And when they behead your own people in the wars which are to come, then you will know. . .)
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To: lentulusgracchus
Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature

WOW. Showing you age there bub. That went out with the card catalog.

13 posted on 07/25/2011 8:57:43 PM PDT by Drill Thrawl (How close is the tipping point?)
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To: olezip
...The high cost of a college education today is of questionable utility when evaluated with the simplest business model. Perry is on the right track. ..

A lot of people understand this. But of course Big Education will fight it.

14 posted on 07/26/2011 1:42:51 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: darth
..Reforming universities is another way of de-funding the Left.

BINGO!

15 posted on 07/26/2011 1:43:26 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: samtheman
First the leftards from the 60s, and then their progeny, turned American education into a marxist reeducation camp, and then they moan and b*tch when someone wants to clean up the sh*t-house they’ve turned our universities into..........

Time to take back our kids and our money.

16 posted on 07/26/2011 1:57:01 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: WOSG
They are shreiking in horror in response.

Perry's going after their soft, indefensible underbelly. Everyone has had it with this BS.

17 posted on 07/26/2011 1:58:24 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: The_Reader_David

Well, you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet.

Breaking down the walls of these bastions of protected anti-American socialists and practitioners of LIBERAL indoctrination needs a wreaking ball and a fork lift to carry out the entrenched.


18 posted on 07/26/2011 2:04:05 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Tax-chick

Exactly! The TEA is suing because the Texas legislature didn’t FUND enough — not cuts, mind you — but not what they have learned to expect.

Pink slips have gone out, so the lawyers and the educators and the MSM, have taken up their cause of maintaining the status quo of sucking money out of tapped out taxpayers.

After all the biggest backers (money and muscle) of Democrat politicians are #1 [Big Education] and # 2 [Big Lawsuit] — and “explained” to the public by the MSM.

The THREE BIG anti- Rick Perry groups:

Big Education

Big Law

Big MSM

AND the ENVIRONMENALISTS are heavily invested in, if not running, all three (manufacture data, regulate, and indoctrinate).


19 posted on 07/26/2011 2:18:28 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: All
Great article about education:

Even Democrats are now alarmed about the state of education in this country but its too late because the GOP owns this issue.

Perry-Christie??

20 posted on 07/26/2011 2:41:11 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: All
A cry in the black education wilderness - LINKS to articles of education-leftists-race.
21 posted on 07/26/2011 3:06:35 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

I’m underwhelmed by conservatives who quote Robespierre in an approving manner.

There are solid studies that show that leftist “indoctrination” in the universities fails. Folks leave with pretty much the same politics they enter with, and yet, you’d complete the desired effect of the long march of the left through the institutions, and destroy one of the institutions on which Western civilization rests to get rid of the tenured radicals.

I suggest a bit of Edmund Burke and Russell Kirk to tone up your conservatism.
Preserving peculiarities is conservative. Making a monoculture where everything looks like commerce is not.


22 posted on 07/26/2011 6:45:33 AM PDT by The_Reader_David (And when they behead your own people in the wars which are to come, then you will know. . .)
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To: The_Reader_David

I always keep learning R_R_D.

Why is it academics and elites take such a condescending tone when imparting advice?

Do you think they even notice that trait in their character?


23 posted on 07/26/2011 6:52:51 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

I’m afraid I only sound condescending when I’m peeved, and one of my pet peeves on FR is folks whose conservatism appears from their writings here to consist of a love for the free market that then makes them think everything should be run like a business.

Your quoting Robespierre just made it worse.

To me conservatism involves conserving not just the American Founding, but all of the goods of Christian civilization (and those inherited from Greek and Roman pagan civilization before that) on which the American Founding rested. And the university, as it grew organically from the middle ages onward, is one of those goods. Academic freedom was the original freedom of speech, when none existed elsewhere in Europe or indeed the world, and tenure is its guardian. Attacking it, whether with leftist speech codes or by remodeling the university as a business, seems to me to be an attack on all freedom, and the sort of unconservative behavior that amounts to moving the boundary markers of our ancestors.


24 posted on 07/26/2011 7:03:47 AM PDT by The_Reader_David (And when they behead your own people in the wars which are to come, then you will know. . .)
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To: The_Reader_David

I quoted Robespierre?

You know everything I feel about education and free markets from this thread?

Goodness. I guess you’ve called up the guillotine for me without any proof.


25 posted on 07/26/2011 7:17:23 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
The THREE BIG anti- Rick Perry groups:

Big Education

Big Law

Big MSM

AND the ENVIRONMENALISTS

Well... there's an anti-Rick-Perry group here in FR but admittedly they're not BIG... unless you judge by mouth-size.
26 posted on 07/26/2011 8:01:39 AM PDT by samtheman
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

Yes, the eggs and omelette remark was Robespierre. And approving of Perry’s plan is sufficient to bring out my peeve about remaking education as business.

And, no, I’m not a Jacobin, I don’t even propose the guillotine for Obamaites, much less my fellow conservatives, even if they are less Burkian than I.


27 posted on 07/26/2011 8:04:36 AM PDT by The_Reader_David (And when they behead your own people in the wars which are to come, then you will know. . .)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

Yes, the eggs and omelette remark was Robespierre. And approving of Perry’s plan is sufficient to bring out my peeve about remaking education as business.

And, no, I’m not a Jacobin, I don’t even propose the guillotine for Obamaites, much less my fellow conservatives, even if they are less Burkian than I.


28 posted on 07/26/2011 8:04:54 AM PDT by The_Reader_David (And when they behead your own people in the wars which are to come, then you will know. . .)
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To: The_Reader_David
And to think I misspelled omlette.

Volia!

29 posted on 07/26/2011 8:13:02 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: The_Reader_David
Omelette!!

=^D

30 posted on 07/26/2011 8:14:51 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: The_Reader_David

“Unfortunately, Perry is on the wrong track. The cost of higher education has risen chiefly because of the expansion of administration, both in numbers, salaries, and number of staff. And administrators, by and large, are also enamored of the university-as-business, student-as-customer model.”

That is not the cause, that is the effect. The cause is government grants and low interest loans from the government to pay students to get educated. These student grants and loan guarantees allow universities to give teachers and administrators more money. This increases the cost in a vicious cycle. It doesn’t matter if college is expensive if the government will pay people to attend anyway.


31 posted on 07/26/2011 9:55:40 AM PDT by antisocial (Texas SCV - Deo Vindice)
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To: All
Talking heads discuss: Gov. Perry takes on college education
32 posted on 08/03/2011 3:43:21 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: The_Reader_David

TRD I think the point you are missing is running a University as a business means efficiency and turning out a product with an education that creates both breadth and meaning. Liberal Arts is a catch all for I learned nothing of any real marketable value to the marketplace but I expect companies to hire me because I went to a school for 4 years.

Sure, if they want to take Art History or other in high demand majors let them, but then don’t whine if you cannot make a living with it.

In China approximately 10% of ALL University graduates have the requisite skills required by multi-national corporations who do business in their country. This also explains why they flood to US schools to at least have a chance at getting the skills needed to meet the market. Why spend 100K and get a degree and end up driving a txi because you cannot do anything?

BTW China is planning to spend billions of dollars to reform this and make their workforce more marketable in their workforce, education is my passion but it has become a repository for hoary old theoreticians ho have never had a job in their lives or mills to indoctrinate Liberal entitlement thinking into young minds.

JMHO of course


33 posted on 08/18/2011 4:01:44 PM PDT by 100American (Knowledge is knowing how, Wisdom is knowing when)
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To: 100American

Do remember that “liberal arts” was named long before the left stole the word “liberal”. It meant “arts appropriate to free men”. The sentiment often attributed to Churchill (who may have quoted at second or third hand) expressed by James Alexander Smith, a Professor of Moral Philosophy at Oxford, “Nothing that you will learn in the course of your studies will be of the slightest possible use to you in after life, save only this, that if you work hard and intelligently you should be able to detect when a man is talking rot, and that, in my view, is the main, if not the sole, purpose of education,” is still the prime point of acquiring a liberal education (remember that’s the uncorrupted use of the word “liberal”).

Unfortunately the reform needed, a return to the classical model of the university, is not the reform which will occur by adopting a business model.


34 posted on 08/18/2011 5:51:46 PM PDT by The_Reader_David (And when they behead your own people in the wars which are to come, then you will know. . .)
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