• News
  • Celebrities
  • Finance
  • Crypto
  • Travel
  • Entertainment
  • Health
  • Others

UT dean’s report pushes back against Perry’s TPPF-backed higher ed reforms

The University of Texas College of Liberal Arts has issued a 17-page rebuttal to higher education reform plans promoted by Gov. Rick Perry and his allies, saying they are mistaken in equating students with customers.

The proposals to reform Texas’ universities, advocated by the conservative, Austin-based Texas Public Policy Foundation, include separating research and teaching budgets, judging faculty on revenue generated and class size taught, and running universities from a customer-service standpoint.

Randy Diehl
Randy Diehl

UT-Austin College of Liberal Arts Dean Randy Diehl

“The Higher Education Experience is not akin to shopping on iTunes or shopping at Banana Republic” said Randy Diehl, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and author of the report.

The report is a response to the “Seven Breakthrough Solutions for Higher Education,” written by Jeff Sandefer, a major Perry donor and TPPF fellow. It states that the “solutions” would be so detrimental to higher education in Texas that they would leave Texas with only one Tier One university, Rice, which is private and enrolls only about 4,000 students.

Diehl pointed out that research cannot be evaluated on its immediate financial impact, as the value of much research can only be evaluated after generations.

Diehl wrote that the market-driven approach promoted by the governor will not work for higher education. “Put simply, this is the wrong approach,” the report says.

The report includes a nod to reporting by the Texas Independent’s Patrick Brendel, who noted in May that Perry had jettisoned plans to implement TPPF’s seventh solution, to create a Texas-only “results-based accrediting alternative.” Brendel reported that Texas A&M had “quietly” considered switching to a new accrediting entity, in line with TPPF-backed reforms.

Though Diehl’s report concedes that Sandefer’s proposals may be attractive at first glance, Diehl said they will undermine teaching and will result in the university losing its Tier One status. He said he is highly skeptical of the proposal to increase enrollment by 46 percent at UT while creating a $10,000 bachelor’s degree program.

On Wednesday, Texas Public Policy Foundation spokesman David Guenthner told the Austin American-Statesman the report is “interesting,” and questioned how UT paid for it and the accompanying website. A UT spokesman responded that the website was inexpensive as it was paid for in-house.

Perry spokesman Mark Miner responded to the report in a statement:

“Gov. Perry continues to advocate for necessary reforms, accountability and transparency in our state’s higher education system. The status quo that some Texas universities try to protect – with rapidly increasing tuition and four-year graduation averaging just 28.6 percent – is not keeping pace with our state’s needs.

Resisting reform and accountability is an unsustainable recipe for mediocrity and stagnation. Texas deserves better.

The Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education, a collection of big-name alumni and former officials in the UT and Texas A&M systems, joined in the flurry of responses,issued a statement in response to Miner, calling it “unfortunate” that Perry’s spokesman “chose to denigrate Texas universities rather than support their efforts to improve and reform.” The group continued:

By choosing to discount a scientific and research-based analysis of proposals that threaten to undermine the quality of higher education in Texas, the Governor’s spokesman creates the impression that his efforts are about scoring political points rather than improving higher education.

Diehl’s report, like the website unveiled along with it, addressed the solutions point-by-point. The first of the solutions involves changing how teaching is evaluated, by dividing the cost of professors’ salaries by the number of students they teach, ranking individual professors and collecting and reading research articles for “high cost faculty.”

Diehl said these ideas betray an oversimplified concept of teaching and learning. He said research has proven that the idea that “student satisfaction” is a good measure of teaching effectiveness is patently false.

Solution Two suggests rewarding outstanding teachers, based on student evaluations, with $10,000 cash. Diehl said this sort of system could lead to professors focusing on popularity rather than teaching, assigning less work and inflating grades.

Solution Three recommends splitting research and teaching budgets, and paying faculty based on the number of students taught and research grants received. Diehl responded that this would change the mission of the University of Texas dramatically, and would likely devalue serious research. He pointed out that he also is concerned with Sandefer’s suggestion that specialized academic articles with limited readership lack value. He said this outlook could detrimentally affect fields such as mathematics, natural sciences and social sciences, in which seemingly narrow findings have the potential to dramatically change human understanding.

He said research in the humanities is particularly vulnerable to this sort of approach, and pointed out that the American Association of Universities already has warned Texas A&M to avoid such “ill-conceived proposals.”

The fourth solution suggests giving tenure only to those teachers with high ratings on student satisfaction surveys, and reserving about 75 percent of tenured spots for professors who teach large classes. He said that the tenure process already evaluates good teaching, and must be judged by a professors’ peers, not just students. He said that a different, but equally important, type of teaching is required in various class formats like a large history lecture class, a language class with 15 students and a chemistry lab.

The fifth solution involves creating a contract between teacher and students about learning results, which Diehl said would fundamentally alter the student-teacher relationship.

“Curricula are based on the wisdom of traditional educational experience, accrediting agencies and state requirements, not simply the momentary wants of customers. The university has long embraced a student-centered approach to learning. But that does not mean that students should have control over the entirety of their academic learning as these proposals suggest,” the report says.

The sixth solution suggests putting state funds for education directly in the hands of students, which Diehl said amounts to a voucher system. The report compares this proposal to the model used by the former UT Regents special adviser Rick O’Donnell to develop the Colorado Opportunity Fund when he was head of that state’s Department of Higher Education. O’Donnell, like Sandefer, has worked for TTPF. Diehl said that the program in Colorado was generally considered to be a failure, and enrollment in Colorado fell after it was implemented, while minority and low-income students were less likely to attend college.

Diehl did not address the seventh solution, creating accrediting alternatives, beyond mentioning Perry already has said he isn’t interested.

Diehl concluded the report by saying that the “solutions” are based on the idea that colleges and universities should be operated like businesses. He said that pointing to for-profit colleges as examples is fraught with problems, including low graduation rates, disproportionate numbers of students receiving Pell grants and student loans, and more than 40 percent of the student loan defaults in the nation. The four-year graduation rate of for-profit colleges, Diehl pointed out, is just 27 percent.

An even greater concern with the for-profit model, Diehl said, is that Texas’ public colleges and universities were established on the principle that education is a public good and can improve the lives of students and their families to the benefit of the state.

“Higher education should be driven by that public good rather than a profit/loss statement,” Diehl said.

Read more about the report:

[Houston Chronicle: ‘Seven solutions’ draws new rebuttal]

[Texas Tribune: UT Dean Rejects "Seven Solutions" in New Report]

[Austin American-Statesman: UT dean disputes governor, ‘breakthrough solutions’]

Discussion & Comments (0)

    Recent Articles

    • Things You Should Know about North America

      Things You Should Know about North America

      Get to know more about North America.

    • Eurovision 2010 Paula Seling Unpredictable Contest

      Eurovision 2010 Paula Seling Unpredictable Contest

      Paula Seling's experience on the Eurovision stage led her to declare that "Eurovision is an unpredictable contest". Which may explain the success of the young Lena from Germany, about whom the predictions before the event did not offer much chances for victory.

    • VIPRow.me - The Best Sports Streaming Website Today

      VIPRow.me - The Best Sports Streaming Website Today

      Have you ever contemplated creating a user-friendly site dedicated to sports-related free live streaming channels?

    • Learn How To Download, Install, And Use The Xnxubd 2022 Frame App

      Learn How To Download, Install, And Use The Xnxubd 2022 Frame App

      XNXUBD 2022 Nvidia users are able to watch thousands of videos and other contents online. XNXUBD 2022 Nvidia New is a piece of software that enables people to watch videos online without having to pay for memberships. On a graphics card, the XNXubd also provides some of the best gaming and virtual reality experiences.

    • Xvideostudio Video Editor Apk Free Download For Pc Full Version In 2022

      Xvideostudio Video Editor Apk Free Download For Pc Full Version In 2022

      A new edition of the Video Editor Apk for xVideostudio.Video Studio has all the latest features, including support for multiple video download formats in HD, FHD, and even 4K resolutions.

    • 9 Best Lotion For Masturbation - Popular Choice For 2022

      9 Best Lotion For Masturbation - Popular Choice For 2022

      Masturbation is a common activity for men and women. It's a natural and risk-free way to explore your body, experience pleasure, and release sexual tension.

    • Reasons Why You Need To Stop Watching Movies From Sflix

      Reasons Why You Need To Stop Watching Movies From Sflix

      Without having to sign up or pay anything, you can watch movies online for free with SFlix. It has more than 10,000 movies and television shows.

    • Coi Leray Mom And Dad's Family History & Wife, Explained

      Coi Leray Mom And Dad's Family History & Wife, Explained

      Coi Leray Collins (born May 11, 1997) is a rapper from the United States. Leray started publishing songs to SoundCloud in 2014, and in 2018 she released her breakthrough track "Huddy" as well as her first mixtape, Everythingcoz.

    • Listen And Download Music On MyFreeMP3 For Free

      Listen And Download Music On MyFreeMP3 For Free

      Are you in a bind and looking for a place to obtain free mp3 songs? Never again will you need to bother, since this article has everything necessary to obtain your solution. Download free music from MyfreeMP3.com, one of the world's most popular websites.