Monday, August 17, 2009

Excellent summary of what the Tucker Commission means to higher ed.

Higher ed needs major overhaul : Politics and People
Too many students attend four-year universities and fail to finish. More students should be encouraged to attend community colleges where tuition is less expensive and they wouldn’t have to go into deep debt to get an education.

One report said if 10,000 students went to community colleges instead of universities, $26 million would be saved.

Gov. Bobby Jindal said the state’s education programs should be geared to producing students that can foster in-state economic development. Otherwise, Louisiana graduates go elsewhere.

State economic development and workforce officials said 30,000 students get bachelor’s degrees or advanced degrees every year in the state, but there are only 13,000 jobs out there for them. So they leave Louisiana.

On the other end, there are thousands of jobs not requiring a four-year degree that go unfilled.

If we don't "need" more than 13,000 graduates to fill Louisiana jobs, that means we can cut universities in HALF or more! Then create lots of 2-year institutions to "produce workers" for low-skill jobs. (Hey, Louisiana Economic Development Person, how about attracting some more high-skill employers to Louisiana, instead of subsidizing chicken farms and sweet potato processors? How about keeping some of the raw material we produce in abundance here and finding new ways to process it her, instead of sending it upstream?)

There is just so much wrong with this idea that higher ed needs to be more "efficient" and "productive," as though students were not persons but simply units of labor. This article makes it clear that there are serious costs to society to making higher ed more "efficient." Among numerous other arguments for higher ed, this one seemed to me pretty persuasive:
It is true that we as a nation must educate for the skills/abilities that fuel our economy, and at reasonable cost. But we educate for the habits of mind and action that fuel a democracy as well. Educating for democracy as opposed to mere academic coursework is a global differentiator of American higher education.
That differentiator seems ever more necessary these days, and it's not cheap.

If, at last, you do not think that Jindal and Tucker are out for higher ed blood, check out the following.
A state budget official said the state faces a $939 million shortfall in its fiscal year 2010-11 budget and another $1.93 billion shortfall in the year after that.

Across-the-board cuts under that scenario would translate to a 54 percent higher education cut, according to a former legislative budget official now working at LSU.


SalGal said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Joseph said...

Um. You have twitched aside my transparent garment of anonymity.

Anonymous said...

For things being so economically uncertain, they sure do have a lot of certitude when it comes to shortfalls and, not coincidentally, what will be cut as a result of these manufactured shortfalls.

Just what we needed. Keep the third-world state a third-world state, intelligence-wise and economy-wise.

I can't believe there aren't more people screaming about this Great Leap Backward, and how shameless this administration is in keeping Louisiana in the 1800s.