Community colleges pushed to become diploma mills

June 28, 2010

Zeno at Halfway There describes a terrible situation in California community colleges — not unlike the situation Texas high schools face.  Don’t tell Texas Republicans, they’ll want to adopt it for community colleges, too.

State senator Carol Liu is the author of SB 1143, a measure which would somehow incorporate course completion rates in the formula for computing state funding for community colleges. Think about that for a moment. (Try giving it more thought than our legislators do.) Colleges that pass more students through their curriculum will get more funding. Colleges that pass fewer will get less. At first blush, that might seem reasonable.

Liu forgot, however, to include any quality standards in her bill. Schools that are willing to become diploma mills will prosper under her dollars for scholars program. The pressure to lower standards will be intense.


Which party encourages education in Texas?

June 28, 2010

You have the tools to compare the party platforms and determine for yourself which part supports education in Texas — I mean, really supports education, as opposed to using Doublespeak to profess support while angling to get a shiv in the back of education.

You can look at the 2010 Texas Republican Party Platform here.  There are brief mentions of education in other sections, but you’ll find education starting on page 12.  Texas Democrats put education up front, on page 2 (unofficial version, but the emphasis won’t change).

Education sections of the 2010 Texas Democratic Party Platform appear immediately previous to this post, in eleven sections.

Which party is more favorable to educating our children well?


2010 Texas Democratic Platform: Diversity

June 28, 2010

This post is tenth in a series on the education planks of the 2010 Texas Democratic Party Platform.

This is an unofficial version published in advance of the final version from the Texas Democrats, but I expect very few changes.

DIVERSITY

Texas Democrats support innovative approaches to ensure diversity in every Texas institution of higher education. We condemn intolerance on Texas campuses and encourage universities to develop and offer culturally diverse curricula, student activities, and student recruitment policies that promote understanding, respect and acceptance.


2010 Texas Democratic Platform: Community Colleges

June 28, 2010

This post is tenth in a series on the education planks of the 2010 Texas Democratic Party Platform.

This is an unofficial version published in advance of the final version from the Texas Democrats, but I expect very few changes.

COMMUNITY COLLEGES

Democrats recognize and support the essential role of Texas community colleges, where almost 60% of Texas post-secondary students are enrolled. By combining affordability, high quality and responsiveness to community needs, these institutions provide an education to those who would be otherwise excluded.

Republicans have drastically reduced funding for community colleges and that burden has been shifted onto students, their families and property taxpayers. A significant funding increase would be needed just to restore Republican cuts to the 2002-3 state funding level, without adjusting for inflation. Not only do the Governor and Republican politicians again want to shift hundreds of millions of dollars in additional costs for employees’ group insurance onto students and local property taxpayers, they have already cut funding by 5% this year. And they are asking for an additional 10% in cuts to Republican budgets that currently allow only 4% of students eligible for Texas Equal Opportunity Grants to receive grants designated for community college students. To maintain community colleges’ role in providing lifelong education, we endorse:

  • full formula funding of the cost of instruction and of the growth in student enrollments;
  • fully state-funded full time employee group health insurance and proportional health benefits for adjunct instructors;
  • funding for new campuses and program expansions, especially in critical need programs, sufficient to meet Closing the Gaps goals;
  • rolling back tuition and fees that have increased over 50% under Republican control;
  • sufficient financial aid to cover 260,000 community college students who are eligible for grant assistance but receive none because state funding is inadequate; and
  • elimination of financial aid rules that penalize students who transfer to universities from community colleges.

To prevent further erosion of community colleges’ ability to serve their communities, Texas Democrats oppose:

  • proposals for “proportionality” that would shift group insurance costs onto students and property taxpayers;
  • shifting the basis of formula funding away from actual costs; and
  • “incentive programs that would discriminate against colleges and programs serving disadvantaged and non-traditional students or against non-degree skill-building and retraining programs.

2010 Texas Democratic Platform: Higher Education

June 28, 2010

This post is ninth in a series on the education planks of the 2010 Texas Democratic Party Platform.

This is an unofficial version published in advance of the final version from the Texas Democrats, but I expect very few changes.

HIGHER EDUCATION

Texas Democrats believe all Texans should have the opportunity and be encouraged to pursue affordable higher education at public universities, community colleges, and technical schools.  Republican “tuition deregulation” – cleverly named to imply an easing of burdens – has dramatically increased the financial burden and forced many students from middle income families to take on substantial debt to avoid being priced out of college. Tuition policies threaten our ability to meet state “Closing the Gaps” goals essential to our economic future. To offer affordable access to higher education, we support:

  • restoration of formula contact hour funding to the level prior to Republican cuts, adjusted for inflation and student growth;
  • legislative rollback of tuition and fees to affordable levels to reflect the restored funding;
  • federal income tax credits for college tuition;
  • full funding of TEXAS Grants and reforming and reopening the mismanaged state Prepaid Tuition Program, to provide higher education to more Texans without excessive debt burden;
  • legislation to reduce the inordinately high costs of college textbooks, technical manuals and other instructional materials;
  • adequate compensation, security, professional status, and benefits for all faculty and fair market wages for college employees;
  • weapon-free institutes of higher education;
  • higher education research funding to spur economic development, including sufficient funding to locate a Tier 1 research and teaching university in every region of the state;
  • collaborative public/higher education partnerships from pre-K-16 to enhance learning and teacher preparation;
  • enhanced, equitable funding for Prairie View A&M and Texas Southern University and for higher education in South Texas and all border communities;
  • efforts to place a voting student regent on the appointed governing board of each state supported four-year institution of higher education; and
  • the continuation of the Texas DREAM Act.

2010 Texas Democratic Platform: Making Our Schools Safe Havens for Learning

June 28, 2010

This post is eighth in a series on the education planks of the 2010 Texas Democratic Party Platform.

This is an unofficial version published in advance of the final version from the Texas Democrats, but I expect very few changes.

MAKING OUR SCHOOLS SAFE HAVENS FOR LEARNING

Texas Democrats believe students, teachers and other school personnel should be safe from acts of violence, and students must be protected from bullying. School campuses and functions must be weapon-free and drug-free. We support swift and fair enforcement of disciplinary standards. Teachers deserve support when they exercise their right to remove a disruptive student from class.

Students referred to disciplinary alternative education programs should continue to receive strong academic instruction. When a student’s misconduct is serious enough to warrant disciplinary placement, the state should make sure that the disciplinary setting – whether a school district’s own disciplinary alternative program or a county’s juvenile-justice alternative education program – offers a full array of educational and social/behavioral services to help that student get back on track. School districts should be discouraged from indiscriminately placing students in disciplinary alternative education programs for trivial misconduct.

We support the Dignity for All Students Act to guarantee safety for all students.


2010 Texas Democratic Platform: Reform of the Unbalanced State Board of Education

June 28, 2010

This post is seventh in a series on the education planks of the 2010 Texas Democratic Party Platform.

This is an unofficial version published in advance of the final version from the Texas Democrats, but I expect very few changes.

Generally I’ll not comment on these planks just yet, but I must say that I take delight in the perhaps unintentional commentary offered in the title of this plank.  I suspect the intent was to point to the bias of the State Board of Education, an imbalance of political views, and not to the sanity of the board.  But, I could be wrong — the title may be just an official Democratic labeling of the Board’s actions as unbalanced behavior.

REFORM OF THE UNBALANCED STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION

The right-wing Republican extremists who have dominated the State Board of Education have made a laughingstock of our state’s process for developing and implementing school curriculum standards that determine what our students learn. The damage they have done is no laughing matter. In rewriting the curriculum for social studies, English language arts, and science, they repeatedly have dismissed the sound advice of professional educators. Personal ideology, not high academic standards, has guided their work. Their skewed vision slights the contributions of racial and ethnic minorities. Their slanted versions of American history and of science mislead students and violate the separation of church and state. They use loaded language to favor the roles of right-wing organizations and activists. Led by a Rick Perry appointee as chair, this State Board of Education wants to indoctrinate, not educate, the schoolchildren of Texas. Their actions are unlikely to encourage a company to relocate and bring jobs to Texas. Any substantive changes to curriculum must be reviewed by non-partisan experts, and that review must be made public prior to any changes in curriculum by the State Board.

Texas Democrats will realign the State Board of Education with mainstream Texas values, will realign the state curriculum with objective reality and the facts of history and science, and will insist on the exercise of sober fiduciary responsibility for the Permanent School Fund, exposing and prohibiting conflicts of interest.


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