Skip to comments.Gov. Perry’s ‘Seven Breakthrough Solutions’ -- bad business, undermine meaning of a university
Posted on 07/25/2011 1:16:04 PM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
"Gov. Rick Perrys 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 governors 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. Perrys proposals do challenge a bigger question: is the business model really the best way to ensure the sustainability of public higher education?
I dont think so. Conflating the business model with the education model is more than just misleading. Its 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. Its 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, its best to not forget our purpose here as a university. Do you think UCLA should be treated as a business?
[Texas Education Agency] TEA to lay off 178 workers [Thousands of pink slips for state workers] [great FReeper discussion about education]
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.
Ah!.. Socialism with Obama -OR- Fascism with Perry..
There is a difference....... kinda..
Whatever the federal government does tends to suck..
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Gov Perry is taking on the liberal elite establishment at the Universities. They are shreiking in horror in response.
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!”
WOW. Showing you age there bub. That went out with the card catalog.
A lot of people understand this. But of course Big Education will fight it.
Time to take back our kids and our money.
Perry's going after their soft, indefensible underbelly. Everyone has had it with this BS.
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.
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:
AND the ENVIRONMENALISTS are heavily invested in, if not running, all three (manufacture data, regulate, and indoctrinate).
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