2011 August 04 Thursday
Rick Perry's Higher Education Reforms Hit Resistance

Texas governor (and likely US presidential aspirant) Rick Perry wants to force Texas state universities to lower their costs.

More recently, Perry has proposed that the stateís top colleges come up with a four-year degree that costs no more than $10,000 ó a goal that skeptics say cannot be achieved without sacrificing academic quality and prestige.

The whole article makes no mention of separating certification testing from teaching and course work. Yet that's key to lowering the cost of education. If someone does not need hand-holding and doesn't mind watching videos and taking online practice tests why should that person pay the very high cost for enrolling for a bricks-and-mortar education?

Perry wants to measure costs and benefits of each faculty member. This has basically caused an "Empire Strikes Back" where influential and powerful alumni fight to protect their favorite university from Perry's reform attempts.

On May 3, nearly two dozen people who had been honored as distinguished alumni by the Association of Former Students of Texas A&M released an open letter to their fellow Aggies: ďOur concern is the result of the extraordinary level of political intervention in our university. . . . It is our observation that individuals, including the Boards of Regents, often misunderstand the fragile nature of academic prestige.Ē

State Sen. Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo), who chairs the Senate Higher Education Committee, said of Perry: ďHe bit the giant, and that giant is the alumni, who care more deeply and passionately about their alma maters than they do about his politics.Ē

Perry's wasting his time trying to reform the existing (and inefficient and corrupt and manipulative) higher education system. Take a lesson from Sun Tzu. Do not attack directly. Reformers should focus on building up pieces of a parallel system and avoid political warfare with loyal alumni. Western Governors University is a useful model. But I would go further and divert some dollars toward producing free-to-download lecture series. Then allow people to just pay for tests to prove their competency for a variety of basic university courses. Best to start out with highly objective subjects like calculus, physics, and other science basics where the knowledge does not change for years.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2011 August 04 02:26 PM  Education Revolution


Comments
Jehu said at August 4, 2011 3:56 PM:

Here's your avenue of attack. Step 1, implement something like Florida has, where every public college or university must accept credit hours from every other college or university in the state and transfers from same.
Step 2: Institute at one college in Texas, preferably the one with the least powerful Alumni, credit by examination on any class that you can reasonably argue fits the model of a comprehensive & cumulative final exam. By this, I mean if you can score at or above, say, the 70th percentile score of people in Texas that customarily take the final exam in a given course, you get credit for it and that credit is transferable per (1). You take the same test, on the same day as the regular students for some nominal fee.
Once you've got this wedge in, you can start cutting the supply line of that section of the Cathedral.

kurt9 said at August 4, 2011 4:32 PM:

What Perry should do is work to change the state laws defining who can start universities and get accreditation. The problem is that the universities do not have enough competition. I would start by making it easier to start universities that specialize in STEM degrees.

Randall Parker said at August 4, 2011 6:49 PM:

Jehu,

In California all the UCs (and I'm guessing all the Cal States) accept credits earned in state junior colleges. What I worry about is low standards at a community college or some rather weak college. So I end up wanting to have a way for each student at a community college or some other college to be able to sit in a proctored room and take tests that were supplied by, say UC Berkeley or UT Austin for that subject.

When I was a freshman our chemistry prof showed us a test created by the American Chemical Society for what you should learn by the end of a freshman year in chemistry. I'm thinking such a test would be even better than a test from UC Berkeley or UT Austin (or UMich Ann Arbor or Rutgers and so on). Such a test would tell employers the student met an objective standard.

kurt9,

There's the problem of quality. How to assure the new U has high standards? For STEM subjects standardized tests (generated off a template that introduces variations) with multiple locations that can give these tests would decouple course work from exams.

map said at August 4, 2011 10:11 PM:

Most of these educational reforms are nonsense and they will accomplish nothing. What Perry should push is the treatment of all student loans as nothing more than ordinary, insecure credit: students should be allowed to discharge their student loans in bankruptcy. This should be the basis of his run for the presidency.

Reforms, no matter how good, are never going to be accepted if they do anything to curtail the financial gravy train of universities. The solution is to first create a tear-down mentality by pitting parents and students against teachers and administrators. Once students are allowed to discharge their loans in bankruptcy you then push for price controls on universities. You then start creating online alternatives.

This also has the added benefit of destroying left-wing institutions.

map said at August 4, 2011 10:16 PM:

Most of these educational reforms are nonsense and they will accomplish nothing. What Perry should push is the treatment of all student loans as nothing more than ordinary, insecure credit: students should be allowed to discharge their student loans in bankruptcy. This should be the basis of his run for the presidency.

Reforms, no matter how good, are never going to be accepted if they do anything to curtail the financial gravy train of universities. The solution is to first create a tear-down mentality by pitting parents and students against teachers and administrators. Once students are allowed to discharge their loans in bankruptcy you then push for price controls on universities. You then start creating online alternatives.

This also has the added benefit of destroying left-wing institutions.

Mthson said at August 5, 2011 3:42 AM:

Which will happen first? Meaningful improvements in the education bureaucracy, or higher IQ reprogenetic kids turning 20 in 2060 and thus obsoleting much of "education"? The suspense is killing me.

Check it Out said at August 5, 2011 6:12 PM:

Education will continue to go down in quality all over the world -even Finland- simply because there seems to be a deliberate project for turning education into idiocy. Just take a look at the latest educational "reforms" in many countries and the contents in them.

Nanonymous said at August 6, 2011 10:05 PM:

Perry wants to measure costs and benefits of each faculty member.

This will not do. His crime right there. Higher education sinecures is a sacred cow of colossal scale. The parasites did a damn good job convincing public that that is the only way the system can function. Perry stands no chance in this fight.

Cosmoskitten said at August 7, 2011 9:26 AM:

"decouple course work from exams"

Concur with this suggestion, heartily!

Another suggestion: Work from the bottom up. What KSA (Knowledge, Skills, Abilities), do people need to do their job? Work psychology has some methods that are useful. Do work analysis on jobs, find clusters of skills, create certificates.

Lono said at August 7, 2011 9:45 AM:

Perry brags about attending Bilderberg meetings and now - lo and behold - he comes out of nowhere as a potential prominent presidential candidate.

Trust me - as someone intimately familiar for a long time with the actions of this fool - he has absolutely NO interest in improving education.

The late great Carlin nailed it on the head when he said this:

"There's a reason for this, there's a reason education sucks, and it's the same reason it will never ever ever be fixed. It's never going to get any better. Don't look for it. Be happy with what you've got... because the owners of this country donít want that. I'm talking about the real owners now... the real owners....

Well, we know what they want. They want more for themselves and less for everybody else, but Iíll tell you what they donít want. They donít want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They donít want well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking. Theyíre not interested in that. That doesnít help them. Thatís against their interests. Thatís right. They donít want people who are smart enough to sit around a kitchen table and think about how badly theyíre getting fucked by a system that threw them overboard 30 fuckiní years ago. They donít want that. You know what they want? They want obedient workers."

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/George_Carlin

Mthson is quite correct in his assertion that we are much more likely to have augmented Humans in the near future than any kind of meaningful educational reform - and again - that is ON PURPOSE.

That Perry can so easily fool so many with his obvious pandering to the electorate makes me weep for the future - wasn't G.W. enough for you already people!?? - Sheesh!!!

Randall Parker said at August 7, 2011 10:56 AM:

Cosmoskitten,

Yes, creation of lots of certificates is key, especially ones with value that employers will recognize. We already see this in computer administration where the private sector has created lots of certificates, some of which are very valuable. For example, anyone who can make it all the way up thru the Cisco networking certification program to earn Cisco's highest level of certification can easily make over $100k per year. I don't understand why more people don't do it frankly.

I'd like to see certificates for levels of vocabulary, spelling, and written language comprehension. When hiring an administrative assistant it would help to know that the person can read and write. Similar certificates could test levels of knowledge in basic to advanced math with specialties like statistics.


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