Rick Perry's Sales Pitch for Cheaper, Dumber Universities Is a Lie

Categories: Schutze

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All you ambitious students out there, please take time to understand what Governor Rick Perry is really doing to you when he says he wants to help you graduate from college. It's the opposite.

See also:
- Rick Perry's Manufactured Miracle

What Perry really wants to do is the same old thing he has always wanted -- grind down Texas universities, weaken them, turn them into trade schools and devalue today's top-tier Texas diplomas into waste paper.

It's how he rolls. It's how he has always rolled. Perry makes hay politically by railing against higher education, throwing mud at universities and their faculties and hoping the hicks will like his act.

The latest Perry assault is his recently unveiled plan to freeze tuition for college students and tie state support for universities to graduation rates. Does it sound like he's on your side? Look again.

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For years at Perry's urging state government has been starving universities -- and you -- of the state support that made them great in the first place and that helped you graduate. This isn't new. The Texas Tribune, reporting on this trend two years ago, showed how Perry has been gradually pulling the rug out from under universities with one hand while he puts the other one in your pocket for higher and higher tuition:

Since deregulation in 2003, the share of college costs shouldered by students has shot up while the state's portion has inched up ... At UT-Austin, for instance, the students collectively paid $259 million in 2003 -- compared to $491 million this year. Meanwhile, the state paid $286 million in 2003 and $323 million this year.

Monica Rohr of the Houston Chronicle reported on the same trend last April: "In 2009, students at public universities were paying 72 percent more than they had been six years earlier, forcing many families to borrow more money or forgo college."

Meanwhile Perry has helped engineer a general gutting of public schools in Texas, exacerbating the challenge that colleges face dealing with a population of under-prepared high school graduates: "The state falls far short of national averages in most measures of college readiness, enrollment, and graduation rates," The Texas Tribune reported. "For example, only 32 percent of Texans 25 or older have earned at least an associate's degree, putting Texas 39th among states in that measure."

Don't be fooled about why Perry acts this way. Take a look at Paul Burka's piece in Texas Monthly last year, which started out, "Rick Perry is waging a quiet war against our current system of higher education, which makes him a lot like some previous governors. He may win, but we'll lose."

Hey, come to think of it, take a look at our piece too, published when Perry was running for president, in which we quoted people from all sides of the political spectrum shaking their heads over Perry's determined assault on higher education. They were especially alarmed by a Perry plan to pressure universities and professors to do less research and spend their time instead in classrooms teaching.

John Sibley Butler, a professor of entrepreneurship and small business at the University of Texas in Austin and director of an institute that studies and promotes economic growth in Texas, said, "To me, it's a disgrace to the tradition of scholarship and discovery."

Texan Terry Sullivan, a political science professor at the University of North Carolina, (not the same Terry Sullivan who works for Florida Senator Marco Rubio ) told us: "The reason we don't have kudzu in Texas is because researchers, not teachers but researchers at Texas A&M University, know how to stop that stuff."

Sullivan, a national fellow of the conservative Hoover Institution, said, "The reason our cattle are more productive in Texas even though they live on really crappy land is because researchers, not teachers, at Texas A&M discovered how to make cattle stronger.

"For somebody to think that major state universities like Texas A&M should focus on teaching and not research is to grossly misunderstand the importance of fundamental research to the economy of the state of Texas.

"So if a governor's only claim to fame is his ability to improve the economy of Texas and he doesn't get that, then there must be a critical difference between how the Texas economy got where it is and that governor's role in it."

Part of the Perry plan just announced is a provision that would tie state funding of universities to their graduation rates -- a way of pressuring state institutions to graduate everybody they enroll. That might sound good to you students out there. You might think, "Hey, if I get in, I'm guaranteed a diploma."

Listen. You know better than that. Why is a degree from UT or Tech or A&M worth so much more in the world than some diploma you bought off late-night TV? Because it's so much harder to get.

Think about Perry's idea for half a minute. It's like telling companies that once they hire somebody they can never fire them. They have to keep them on the pay-roll no matter what until they retire.

You see through that. He's sucking up to you with something that sounds like a break, but in fact it's going to make that college degree you've worked so hard to achieve worth the same as the late-night TV thing.

Here's an even trickier one to figure. What about his idea to freeze your tuition? That sounds good, doesn't it? But think it over. At the same time he's freezing the amount you pay, he's pulling the rug out from under your university by scaling down the amount he gives them. What will that do over time?

If you attend a top state university in Texas right now, you will be taught by people who are job-hopping and moving around from Harvard to UT to A&M to Yale to Tech to Brown, because right now Texas's top-tier universities can still afford to hire and still have enough academic prestige to attract people of that quality.

You let Rick Perry sell you on this idea of stripping down the funding for universities even more than he has already, and you're going to be taught by less-than-average high school teachers. Everybody's going to know that's who you were taught by. And your degree is going to be worth not very damn much.

This guy is not your friend. If your ambition is to work hard for a valuable college degree, he's your worst enemy. Keep your eyes open. Keep your hand on your money. Keep believing that anything worth the trouble is going to be hard to do.



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61 comments
rufuslevin
rufuslevin

sounds like he wants to match the colleges up with the quality of the public high school graduating capabilities to me. maybe he needs to just clean out the worthless academicians that make the costs so high, make sure that all athletic programs are self supporting, and reduce housing, food, and tuition costs for the mediocre diploma MOST kids are going to get anyway. Mediocrity EXISTS...not from Perry, but from the educational system....and Perry is just the governor...he is not the head edumacator of de public skoolin.

marc259
marc259

I'm majoring in " Do you want fries with that?  "

TitusGroan
TitusGroan

We need to have a real discussion of our expectations of the educational system.  Not everyone is cut out for a bachelor's degree.  We need to stop pretending that they are.  Universities should not be in the business of remedial education.  Solid CATE programs in high school and diverting unprepared students to technical/community college would save tremendous amounts of money.

PerryMoore
PerryMoore

Universities across the country vie for big-money in the form of research grants. If you get a degree in the sciences nowadays, you will probably learn to write a grant application. Research grants are lucrative sources of income for universities. Universities love research. Universities (at least the traditional kind) teach research and encourage their students to engage in it during their academic journey. Imagine that--making money while you serve the greater good. I understand Mr. Perry's concern about restoring the pedagogical aspects of the educational process, but de-emphasizing research seems to be killing the goose that lays the golden egg.

HannibalLecter
HannibalLecter

God forbid we actually expect people to pay for their own education. Not when they can live off the taxpayers.

 

You want a college education? Then get a job and pay for it. Or at least leach off your parents instead of the rest of us.

 

(For the record, I worked my way through one of the most expensive private schools in the state, without a penny from my parents. So don't tell me it can't be done.)

 

 

 

 

 

roo_ster
roo_ster

Jim:

 

I get that you are supposed to be some sort of geriatric patchouli-soaked artsy-fartsy hippie with no concern for arithmetic. Hey, whatever works for you.  I'll still love you for your articles promoting the Trinity as a waterway that ought to be improved for recreation instead of a sometimes submerged highway. 

 

Sadly, in the Test of Life, there is a math component.

 

In order to reduce your blood pressure, I think I might help with that whole 'rithmetic thing so often derided by the lefty contingent.  Take a look at the Texas Trib quote you used:

 

"Since deregulation in 2003, the share of college costs shouldered by students has shot up while the state's portion has inched up ... At UT-Austin, for instance, the students collectively paid $259 million in 2003 -- compared to $491 million this year. Meanwhile, the state paid $286 million in 2003 and $323 million this year."

 

When you say Perry has cut(1) funding to the state universities, did you take into account the teensy-tiny contrary fact that:

*The state/taxpayer portion has not only remained constant, but "inched up."*

 

So, in the real world where math exists, _there has been no cut_.  Matter of fact, since the taxpayer proportion has remained the same or "inched" up, relative to the students, it can be surmised that taxpayer support has kept up with inflation(2) and the college-going population increase. 

 

The reason students are shouldering such a greater portion of their schooling costs (in Texas) are twofold:

1. Texas Ledge let the colleges increase their tuition more than before 2003.

2. College cost inflation 4X the rest of the economy.

 

I might take Perry to task for his part in the 2003 dereg, but he is the Gov of Texas, not Pres of the various colleges.

 

Take a gander at those mis-managing our state's universities for inflating their costs at 4X the rate of inflation.  Useful, revenue-generating departments like engineering are supporting useless, revenue-eating departments like LGBTXYZOU812-Studies and yet another Dean for Duh-versity and Edifice Complexity.

 

Jim, you need to sharpen your knives and cut into the comfortable and flabby educrat contingent(3) that seeks to saddle our kids with student loan debt.

 

The great coyote killer from Paint Creek is not my preferred example of scholarly reform, but he is about the only one out there beating the educrats about the head as they so dearly need & deserve.  Imperfect as he is, his way of doing taxpayer-funded college reform is better than other folks' way of not doing reform.  Because 4X CPI cost inflation can not go on forever.

 

 

 

 

(1) Wow, if my company could "cut" costs by increasing what we spend, I'd be sittin' in high cotton.

 

(2) CPI, or any of the usual non-sector-specific inflation rates.

 

(3) Non-teaching, non-researching "professional" faculty is approaching or has passed half the workforce in many state university systems. 

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

You want a school that doesn't do research but has all their faculty in the classroom? Yeah, we have that.

 

Those would be the Texas State/Sul Ross/Tarleton and various UT's (Tyler, Permian basin, etc).

 

For those who think "Degrees became worthless for anything but credentialism", take a look at the stats on which segments of society are unemployed and who is not. Large cos. hire workers who have earned a degree and avoid those who haven't. Why? Not because they need the "credentialism", but the HR folks know that they have a shorter learning curve, a better analytical mind, and more maturity.

 

For those who say "World class lecturers teaching thousands. More efficient transfer of knowledge", that is the opposite from the reality. students learn more and learn quicker in smaller, direct person to person environments. Large classrooms with large class sizes are the problem, not the solution.

 

For the comment "They learn from textbooks and get tested on material in textbooks or books first printed years or centuries ago", some of the subjects (such as philosophy, political theory) have used ideas that have stood the test of centuries and are still good subject matter; second, many courses today don't use printed books, they use digital materials. My daughter just completed a year of school with not a single book being purchased. Totally on line materials, couldn't get more up to date than that.

 

Yes, on one the biggest problems IS "out of control tuition inflation". Rick Perry's proposal will not solve that issue. That issue is addressed by restoring a fairer funding ratio of greater government contribution and less student contribution.

 

Rick Perry just doesn't get what higher education is made of, but then that isn't surprising. Rick Perry doesn't get most things, he's our "oops" Governor.

 

 

 

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

It takes stupid people to keep electing a stupid ass. Ergo, gotta keep crankin out the stupid people.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

The miracle is that places like A&M and UT can take children produced by parents who are anti-intellectual Bible-smooching hicks and turn them into thoughtful human beings capable of contributing to the 21st Century in ways that are meaningful and worthwhile.  Of course, accomplishing that requires letting the kiddos in on the fact, at some point, that their parents are anti-intellectual Bible-smooching hicks, and it is that process, I believe, that produces some of the howling from said parents that we see below in certain  comments.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

What Rick Perry is doing is an acknowledgement of reality.  Degrees became worthless for anything but credentialism long, long ago.  A degree no longer says, "I'm educated."  It says, "I come from a household that can provide for me to learn conformism for four years while I stay drunk, get stoned and get laid on the reg."

 

If the degrees are just vacuous credentials, then let's drop the charade and just churn the students.  If we want to start educating them again, then you're talking about a fundamental reboot of the whole university system.

oakclifftownie
oakclifftownie

The reduced collection of taxes has drastically cut the funding of the public schools. 

How soon will those same and much anticipated future reductions impact the states ability subsidize higher education as well ?

 

 

 

jerikjonsson
jerikjonsson

Rick Perry's responsible for the inflation rate in higher education?  Or are you saying that his response to it is inappropriate?  Isn't the biggest problem here out-of-control tuition inflation?

MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

C@PerryMoore What per cent of UT Austin students are remotely near that kind of research in their undergraduate studies? Just about all the labs for STEM are cookbook exercises. Yes, a few students likely headed for doctoral programs take that path of working with important studies. The rest of the herd, even in independent study, pursue nothing that is groundbreaking no matter how important the title is. Yes research is important. We likely have to find a way to finance. The dubious proposition that an undergraduate gets some benefit by being in the same zip code with someone that may find something noteworthy clouds our analysis of the drivers and solutions of our problem. We need to set aside the hoary bromides on college and determine how to realize the separate components. The current package is failing us. I find it incredible that the same people that scream about big banks (too many missions to focus on quality, unable to manage resources, no accountability, etc.) fail to recognize an even worse situation exists at their university.

tbob69666
tbob69666

 @HannibalLecter I agree.  Lets also repeal the G I Bill.  I do not understand why people who volunteer to service in the military should reap the benefits of free education.  What a wasteful way to spend my tax money. 

observist
observist topcommenter

@roo_ster

Based on the numbers provided in the article, the state's contribution has increased at 1.4%/year.  The tuition (students') contribution has increase at 7.4%/year, so the overall university "income" has increased 4.6%/year.  During the same period, inflation has averaged 2.5%/year.   So, the state's contribution hasn't kept pace with inflation, and overall university expenditures have increased at 1.8x inflation.

 

You can't pin the increases on Texas university administrators starting in 2003 - the same university expenditure/tuition inflation has happened nation-wide starting 10 years before that.

 

U inflation probably has a number of contributing factors - cultural over-valuing of college, expansion of loan programs, inelastic demand at top ~100 schools (a function of over-valuing), investments in technology, cultural expectation of luxury amenities for students, over-paying of celebrity professors, etc.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

Rooster, You sound like someone who's probably attended a lot of wonderful motivational lectures, and maybe that's where you learned your math, but if you want to play ball here, you will have to buckle down a bit: the numbers you need to deal with are the ones showing total contributions per student per year for two full semesters. http://www.cppp.org/files/2/Texasbrief_final.pdf

In 1990-91 state funding per student per year was $7,554. In 09-09 The state was paying $7,452 for a decrease of one percent. In that same period fees and tuition went from $1,645 to $6,454, for an increase of 390 percent.   Now, tell me how that isn't a picture of Perry and the Lege pulling their money out and telling the schools top get it from the students and their families? And now he's going to play the hero by limiting the amount the students pay? How does that not come out of the gut of the schools? There are arguments here from your philosophical kin to the effect that the state should say to hell with college education and let the students pay all of it.  I wonder of you and the others making these arguments have heard of all these places they call England, France, Germany, China.You know, the world does stretch beyond Tulsa. Anyway, something for you to think about while you drive to your next Zig Ziglarfest.

MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

@mavdog Schools exist with outstanding results for their graduates that do very little research or just enough for the tenure process. They are the service academies. Everything at those schools is about the students. A school's rep depends on the quality of the incoming students and what they achieve once they leave. Research, while important for the nation, is not important for the students. Refocusing our efforts on preparation of the students is the more effective path and will cut costs. Research needs to follow a separate path.

rufuslevin
rufuslevin

 @mavdog guess what....you get BETTER classroom education at the Tyler and Sul Ross campus that as the first two years at UT Austin, or at UNT Dallas, even the community colleges are better values and guess what.....english, history, accounting, and science ARE THE SAME COURSES WITH THE SAME TEXTBOOKS at both places.....but you don't get grad student lecturers in the smaller schools....you also don't get a bunch Orange clad drunk kids playing college around you.....

rufuslevin
rufuslevin

 @Montemalone that is Obama's mantra for sure...plays the same all over Dallas County too.....

rufuslevin
rufuslevin

 @JimSX Now just which sororities and which frat houses are these KIDS housed at buddy....clearly you have NOT been on campus much lately....and Bible reading USED to be the only thing that LITERATE people had to read once...and just maybe they led better and more productive lives prior to National Enquiror, Playboy, or Sports Illustrated...and for sure prior to the media pretending to be intellectual today.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

 @JimSX It's somewhat akin to understanding Leftist dogma re: Bible-smooching hicks.  Here's how I struggle through your European rationalism:

 

"I observed that, whilst I thus wished to think that all was false, it was absolutely necessary that I, who thus thought, should be somewhat; and as I observed that this truth, I think, therefore I am (cogito ergo sum), was so certain and of such evidence that no ground of doubt, however extravagant, could be alleged by the skeptics capable of shaking it, I concluded that I might, without scruple, accept it as the first principle of the philosophy of which I was in search" Descartes argued that empirical evidence is insubstantial, but one's own existence is certain, because in order to think you must be. From this first principle, his reason deduced, in no more than the turning of a page, that God exists and that truth lies in clear conception. - Rene Descartes - Born 1596, died 1650 French philosopher. One of the founders of European rationalism.  The Latin phrase cogito ergo sum, or "I think, therefore I am" meaning "I doubt, therefore I know", is possibly the single widest-known philosophical statement, and is due to Rene Descartes.

 

Have you hugged a Bible thumper today?  He is you.  You both square up on Faith as the prime mover.

rufuslevin
rufuslevin

 @everlastingphelps Clearly the occupants of the White House and their buddies they drug in to help from various Ivy League colleges have proven that Harvard, Yale, and U of Phoenix have more in common than one would have imagined prior to the last 12 years or so.

Chuck_Schick
Chuck_Schick

 @everlastingphelps All I'm seeing is a "boot" - of all qualified programs, professors and researchers - because Perry and Co. see them as dangerous liberal arts types. Soon it will be easy to get an education at UT or A&M, not because it's cheap, but because no one want to attend anymore.

rufuslevin
rufuslevin

 @jerikjonsson NOT INFLATION.....fee increases driven by easy money from student loans, pell grants, and foundation scholarships for minorities.

Chuck_Schick
Chuck_Schick

 @jerikjonsson Rick Perry is partially responsible. In 2003, the Legislature (at his urging) cut funding to state universities and allowed their boards of regents to set tuition rates as they saw fit. As state money has gradually been cut (with more on the way in 2013), tuition has gone up.

rufuslevin
rufuslevin

 @observist  @roo_ster How about a bundle of govt loans and grants that brought free money into play for the schools to use to justify increasing their fees?  Like INSURANCE increased the cost of medical services, so too did ready available subsidies and loans to students...so now the students owe the govt ONE TRILLION DOLLARS IN LOANS FOR THE SORRY ASSED DIPLOMA THEY WERE TOLD BY HR DEPTS THAT WITHOUT ONE YOU NEED NOT APPLY....NO MATTER WHAT THE JOB REQUIREMENTS WERE....THUS YOU SEE A LOT OF MASTER'S DEGREES working down at Dallas County in clerk jobs.....HR demanded degrees...govt loans made them available...especially with special deals for afirmative action....and so the costs at college went up to match the money made available.

 

and THAT ain't ole Rick Perry's deal....more like Clinton, Carter, and Obambi's deals.....

 

 

roo_ster
roo_ster

 @JimSX Good on you for finally dredging up supporting material that actually supports your contention! 

 

It would have made your article somewhat stronger if you had cited it from the get-go, rather than citing data that undermined your argument.  Can't really blame your readers for reading your cited data _and actually understanding what it says._

 

Stronger, but not much stronger, given that the taxpayers are paying only one percent less per student in 2009 than in 1991 (again, according to data you cite).  In other words, taxpayer funding has kept up with the growing student population, less only that one percent.  An objective observer would consider that remarkable support by Texas taxpayers in the face of years-long grave economic difficulties over three recessions since 1990.

 

I know you really don't like the Well Coiffed One, but he is not the man responsible for the the gargantuan cost increases at Texas state colleges.  If you or others in the media really gave a damn about students (instead of just using any weapon at hand to beat on your political opponents), you'd be putting college administrators' feet to the fire, rather than whining about 99% fictional cuts in taxpayer funding for state colleges. 

 

Really, did you read _any_ of your citations?  "In 2009, students at public universities were paying 72 percent more than they had been six years earlier..."  2009-2003=6.  So, since 2003, (when the ledge gave them the authority) the _educrats_ running the colleges increased tuition by 72%. Not Perry, not legicritters, not those of us paying the taxes.  Educrats.

 

Maybe if you stopped huffing tooting your "IH8Perry" horn for a while, you might ask some pointed questions of college administrators.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

 @holmantx Guy walks into a bar, sees Descartes sitting there.Says, "No shit! Rene Descartes! I can't believe it. Hey, listen man. Let me buy you a a beer."

Descartes wrinkles his nose, gives a big Gallic shrig, says, "Mmm. I think not."

Disappears!

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

 @Chuck_Schick That would be different -- it's impossible to get an education there now because they aren't offering it.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

 @holmantx I sorta stole it. Little bit. Totally.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

 @JimSX that really is good.

 

You write like Wes Pruden.

MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

@JimSX @holmantx That joke depicts exactly what we now think is Education: enough knowledge to catch the reference to I think therefore I am quote. We do not know jack of what Cartesian philosophy really is, but at least we are not knuckle dragging proles that do not see it. 10 yards wide and an inch deep recaps our baccalaureate understanding. It would be ok if it were free, but it is not. Since we have to pay, we need better value for our money. Tightening the screws on management is time tested approach to force the so called experts to find a better way.

oakclifftownie
oakclifftownie

 @JimSX  @TexasGirl  @everlastingphelps 

Some public funding for higher education will continue to exist as long as folks want alumni bragging rights at church on Sunday during football season ...As for a quality education ? Those results may vary .

TexasGirl
TexasGirl

 @everlastingphelps  I am willing to bet you did not go to college. I have kids in college and both are taking poly sci, philosophy and other thoughtful classes either for electives or interdisciplinary studies, in between getting drunk. I totally enjoy conversing with them as they have gained more knowledge.

 

I agree the education and research opportunities are superior at smaller universities. One of the best ranked research uni's in Texas is UTD, but does our local media ever give them the time of day.  Of course not. Because their championship games are won in Chess and other critical thinking competitions, rather than through muscle.

 

We definitely need more trade schools. 

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

 @Chuck_Schick I mean the definition then, before it changed.  World History, classic literature, critical thinking, political science, art history, etc.  Not "pick a group and add Studies after it" classes.

Chuck_Schick
Chuck_Schick

 @everlastingphelps  @jerikjonsson I understand that tuition will go up - it always has and will. But as the state's population grows, so should its support for higher education. See also roads, utilities, health care, public schools. Texas is gaining new residents and jobs, but it must collect revenue on a level that supports the growth.

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