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.
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.