Friday, October 30, 2009

Maginnis understands -- we're going to cut expenses by denying more students the opportunity to go to college.

Louisiana Politics by John Maginnis
Path Set to Change Colleges

On its surface, a policy recommendation from the higher education advisory commission to increase graduation rates seems like a nice idea with little real future impact. But if implemented the way the Jindal administration seems to want, it could dramatically decrease enrollments of four-year schools over the next few years by increasing admission standards.

The real action, however, must be taken by the Board of Regents, which can direct the college governing boards to set higher admission standards and to reduce exemptions. The Regents can do that on their own, without legislative approval. Higher education sources believe that is no accident but a strategy to down-size some schools without legislators having to take hard votes.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Kathleen Blanco defends higher education in Louisiana.

Don't give up on Louisiana | | The Courier | Houma, LA
Because of financial problems caused primarily by short-sighted fiscal decisions last year, state government is faced with budget shortfalls. This answer leads to penalizing our people when capable students are denied access to four year degrees. Draconian cuts to higher education simply result in a meltdown into mediocrity, something that will take generations to overcome.

Do not accept this flawed logic that says dumbing down Louisiana is the answer. Education is a cause worth fighting for. Let your voices be heard on this issue or Louisiana’s gains will perish, I guarantee. It behooves all faculty members, students, families and the business community to seize this moment and insist the madness be stopped.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Ethics. Jindal style.

Jindal Fires State Employee Day After She Criticized Him
Gov. Bobby Jindal fired a state worker, Melody Teague, one day after she publicly condemned his plans to privatize state services. The worker's attorney claimed Teague was told that she was terminated for poor performance in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, years ago.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Jindal vs Cao on high speed rail.

Jindal rejects $300 million in stimulus money for high-speed rail | | The Thibodaux Daily Comet | Thibodaux, LA
BATON ROUGE — Gov. Bobby Jindal is at odds with a fellow Louisiana Republican over the governor's decision not to seek $300 million in federal stimulus money for a high-speed rail line between New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

Like other governors, Jindal had a midnight Friday deadline to submit an application for the money. But Jindal aides have said the administration is not applying because of concerns about the project's ongoing costs. They said the state would incur an annual $18 million bill to run the rail system once it became operational.

But U.S. Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao, R-New Orleans, on Friday called on Jindal to apply for the money. Since all U.S. taxpayers will foot the bill for the stimulus spending, Cao said, the state's elected officials should see that Louisiana gets its fair share.

"It's our duty to obtain as much as we can to rebuild this region," Cao said at a news conference at his city's train station.

Blanco takes on idea that we have too many college graduates.

She took aim at state officials with the Economic Development and Labor departments who have said the state has a surfeit of four-year college graduates and not enough workers with two-year degrees, considering the demands of Louisiana's job market. "I don't think there's a soul in this country who has ever accused Louisiana of being overeducated," Blanco said. "This is a huge mistake, and we'll pay for it for generations." She said LSU System President John Lombardi has not been afraid to speak out against the cuts and "dumbing down" of the state's education system, but that "the political class will probably try to silence him" and "run him off." She finished by saying, "Add your voice to this fight. . . . March over to the state Capitol and demand proper funding for all levels of education"

A good, snarky letter to the editor

No brain, no drain -
Curt Eysink, appointed by Gov. Bobby Jindal as executive director of the Louisiana Workforce Commission, has found an easy way to fix Louisiana's brain drain, and his logic is impeccable: If there were no brains, there would be no drain.

So Louisiana, let's quit growing those pesky things. It might take a while to reduce the "surplus" of college graduates without some help. To that end, I propose we start by asking two to leave -- Curt Eysink and his boss, Gov. Jindal.

Incredible! Too many graduates???? So create more jobs!!!!

4-year college graduates a surplus in Louisiana -
BATON ROUGE -- Louisiana has a "surplus" of college graduates getting traditional four-year degrees and needs to steer more people into community and technical college programs to meet future job demand, the state's top labor official said Monday.

Curt Eysink, executive director of the Louisiana Workforce Commission, cited occupational forecasts that show the state will produce 10,312 more four-year graduates than there are jobs to fill between 2008 and 2016, while at the same time there are 3,892 more jobs available requiring associates' or technical degrees than there are people to fill them.

"We're producing a workforce that we cannot employ in Louisiana," Eysink told the Louisiana Postsecondary Education Review Commission, which is looking for ways to overhaul the state's higher education system.

The panel was created by the Legislature this year and is expected to deliver a plan to the Board of Regents by Feb. 12 outlining proposed changes to the state's colleges and universities. Gov. Bobby Jindal has directed the group to identify $146 million in possible budget cuts as the state prepares for years of likely budget shortfalls resulting from stagnant revenues and rising costs.

Eysink cited forecasting models that show the state's top-growing occupations to be low-skilled, service-industry jobs such as ticket-takers, cashiers and customer service representatives, as well as more skilled occupations such as nurses, teachers and trades such as welders and carpenters.

Several commission members were unhappy with the perspective, as Louisiana already trails the rest of the South and the nation as a whole in nearly every educational indicator, including the percentage of the population with college degrees. Only 21 percent of Louisiana residents ages 25 to 64 have a four-year degree or higher, compared to 26.4 percent for the South and 29 percent of the nation as a whole.

Saying a state has too many four-year graduates "is like telling a rich guy he has too much money," said Artis Terrell of Shreveport, a principal in the Williams Capital Group. "Can you ever have too many four-year degrees?"

Is this the best Jindal can do?  We chould cut higher ed to make sure that the number of burger-flippers and dial-readers is sufficient for our low level industries. A guarantee of mediocrity for the next hundred years!

In this article, the BoR Chariman fired back.
Commission members said while community and technical college enrollment needed to grow, they didn't think that needed to come at the expense of four-year university degrees.

"It's like telling a rich man he has too much money. Can you ever have too many four-year degrees?" said Artis Terrell, chairman of the Louisiana Board of Regents.

For example, Terrell said Shaw Group Inc. founder and CEO Jim Bernhard recently told state officials that he chose to locate an engineering office in Charlotte, N.C., because of a shortage of engineers in Louisiana.

And to make matters worse, we ALREADY have a horrible graduation rate.

Only 5 percent of students graduate from two-year colleges compared with 16 percent in the region, said Joan Lord, a vice president of education policies for the Southern Regional Education Board in Atlanta.

Lord said 37 percent of students in Louisiana graduate from four-year colleges and universities compared with a 52 percent average in the region.

This editorial in the Picaynue
makes the right argument -- let's not cut education, let's plan for an economy which provides more real jobs.
The state doesn't have too many educated people. Instead, it has a shortage of jobs that will attract and keep college graduates. Fortunately, that's how members of the Louisiana Postsecondary Education Review Commission seem to view the issue.

Recent Census statistics back up that position. Louisiana lost more than 2,500 college graduates between 2007 and 2008, one of only eight states that recorded a net loss of college-educated residents age 25 and older. The brain drain has long been a pattern of economic life in Louisiana, and it's discouraging to see it continuing.

Louisiana does need to meet current labor demands, but the state should focus on those residents who don't have any post-secondary training or education to beef up enrollment at community and technical colleges. Moving people from low-skilled, service-industry jobs into more skilled occupations such as welders and carpenters will help those residents and the economy.

Kennedy draws line against LSU head.

Treasurer, LSU System chief at odds on higher education | | The Advertiser
BATON ROUGE — Treasurer John Kennedy believes the state's public four-year universities should be governed by one board to help cut costs, but he said Monday he opposes any suggestion to limit spending under the TOPS free college tuition program.

Those ideas, along with the treasurer's opposition to college tuition increases for students, put Kennedy at odds with the leader of the higher education system that includes the state's flagship university.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Jindal endorses Democrats’ health care reform bill

The Political Carnival: Jindal endorses Democrats’ health care reform bill
8 out of Jindal’s 10 are already in the President’s plan and the variations wending their way toward a merge process. [...]

Jindal’s article makes it clear that conservatives agree with how we’re proceeding on health care reform. It looks like Democrats made a serious effort to bring conservative principles into play where they could as a proxy for the demagogues in Congress who decided stonewalling is the way to reform our health care system.