New Coalition Aims To Block Controversial Higher Education Reforms

The UT Tower

More than 200 prominent Texans have banded together to stop Gov. Rick Perry’s controversial reform agenda for higher education, the group announced today.

The nonpartisan Texas Coalition for Higher Education said in a press release that it will work to reframe an ongoing debate over the future of Texas public universities to “support a more thoughtful and transparent discussion,” focused on creating jobs through excellent teaching and research.

The collection of philanthropists, former regents and office-holders, and advocates for higher education draws from both Republican and Democratic circles. Its members are particularly interested in protecting UT-Austin and Texas A&M’s status as Tier One research institutions, which these new proposals appear to threaten.

“We are alarmed that some recommendations being floated by others—from dramatically expanding enrollment while slashing tuition, to separating research and teaching budgets, to seceding from a recognized and respected accreditation organization—are a prescription for mediocrity that would have severe and negative long-term consequences for our state,” the statement reads.

The “recommendations being floated by others” refers to the seven “breakthrough solutions” offered by the Texas Public Policy Foundation and Perry donor Jeff Sandefer. Sandefer first presented the proposals to the regents of Texas public university systems in 2008.

Since then, they have alarmed faculty and administrators at universities across the state, who see the proposals as simplistic and bent on de-emphasizing academic research.

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a blurb here. The Texas Tribune, too, has an article quoting Texas Exes president Richard Leshin saying, “We need to convince the regents that we don’t want to follow Sandefer’s recommendations. We don’t want to go that route.”

Read the full press release below. File photo by Val Cook.

Higher Ed Coalition Launch


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