Louisiana Senate Addresses Crisis in Higher Education

Louisiana Senate Addresses Crisis in Higher Education

Louisiana State SealMetairie Senator Conrad Appel has introduced Senator Bill 117 which provides for the creation of the Outcomes-Based Funding Task Force. The real bottom line is that it would force universities to get kids out in 6 years if they wanted the ability to continually raise tuition.

Everyone in Louisiana keeps hearing how the cost of Higher Education is skyrocketing. Well, in Louisiana, that’s only part of the story. Every time the state cuts funding to Higher Education, they allow the universities to raise tuition to offset their budgets. As taxpayers, your state taxes don’t go down, but now if you are a parent or student, you have to pay the higher tuition. But from a Jindal point of view “it’s not a tax increase.” It’s just more money out of your pocket.

Anyway, here’s my not to Senator Appel today. Please take a few minutes to read it. If you agree, please send a quick note to your senator or legislator. You can find all their emails at appel2008.

In February 2010 Governor Jindal came up with the LA GRAD Act. At that time I met with Reps. Schroder, Pearson, & Ligi to voice my concerns with the program. Attached you will find the document (a personal blog) I shared with them.

While it is certainly reasonable to hold Higher Education accountable, perhaps there is a better way than using graduation rates. Our college students are extremely perceptive. How do you think they will react when they find the pressure is on universities and faculty to churn out the degrees? For those on the “get through” program the LA GRAD Act and SB 117 could be the answer to their prayers!

Perhaps you and your colleagues should visit the classrooms of our graduation college seniors. Each and every semester I ask the same question “How many of you have jobs?” The answer is usually less than 15%! When I ask how many have student loans, the answer is usually 85%. These are the “real” problems our students have.

Do we really want to get our college students out quicker? Or do we want to provide quality education with the expectations of meaningful employment opportunities? The impact of SB 117 is to speed up higher education, lower the quality, and provide a mechanism for state universities to increase their tuition. Exactly what does it do for our students?

Perhaps a more valid approach would be to:

1. Increase college entrance requirements to the same level statewide – of course this would force the recognition that there are not enough “academically qualified” students to fill our current four (4) year schools.
2. Expand the Community College System – develop an exit exam that must be successfully completed to ensure they can be successful at a four year university.
3. Put an End to Higher Tuition – as long as the state budget continues to cut funding to Higher Education, tuition will continue to increase. Make the changes in the state constitution that will stop the unfair burden to continually be placed on Higher Education and Healthcare. Taking money out of Higher Education and putting an increased burden on students, parents, and student loans is unconscionable.

It’s beyond time to make the systemic changes in our Higher Education system. We can’t continue to allow our students, their parents, and the future of Louisiana be determined the annual budget frenzy in Baton Rouge. Find another way to hold university administrators accountable. Don’t put the full burden on faculty and students.

Louisiana Politics At Its Finest

Please pass this on to your friends, and perhaps even better, forward it to your state representatives and senators. This is the link to their email addresses to your senators and representatives. Do it now! Our future depends on it. We can make a difference one email, one call, one vote at a time!

Ron G. Cheek, PhD

College Entrepreneurship Professor, Serial Entrepreneur, Social Media Expert, & True Lover of the State of Louisiana

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