Although this title would seem to engender a lively competition, the current front runner for the Republican presidential nomination may be where the smart money should gravitate to. Texas governor Rick Perry, in his decade as C E O of the state, actually managed to push through a number of reforms of the state’s higher education system that the state’s academics find anathema.
“In his state of the state address this spring, he urged administrators to develop a four-year bachelor’s degree that would cost less than $10,000 ‘including textbooks,’” Andrew Ferguson reported in The Weekly Standard on September 19, 2011. “The discount degree, he said, would be a ‘bold, Texas-style solution’ to the problem of rapidly rising tuition. (The average in-state cost of a four-year degree in Texas, including books, is roughly $30,000.)”
Ferguson is also the author of the book, Crazy U: One Dad’s Crash Course in Getting His Kid Into College. “In late August, Perry scored another significant, if partial, victory,” Ferguson, who has covered both Perry and higher education in America today, reports. “The University of Texas regents approved an ‘action plan’ proposed by the system’s chancellor, who isn’t a Perry appointee.”
“The plan is a compromise, but it incorporates many of Perry’s ideas, including some of the most radical, such as ‘pay for performance’ and ‘learning contracts’ between schools and their students.”
For better or for worse, Perry likes to surround himself with people whom he is comfortable with. This, too, has not endeared him to the tenured radicals in the University of Texas. “The protests might have been more effective except that Perry, for the last decade, has been seeding Texas higher education with like-minded reformers (cronies too),” Ferguson writes. “By 2009 he had appointed every regent in the state.”
“The chancellor of A&M who issued the cost-benefit report, for example, was a former chief of staff of the governor. At least three campus presidents have been pressured to resign in recent years, to make way for Perry appointees—all Republican businessmen. A particularly popular (and vocal) vice president of student affairs at the University of Texas was removed and replaced by . . . a retired Marine Corps general.”
Against this backdrop, it is hardly surprising that Perry’s less-than-flattering transcripts were leaked to the left-wing Huffington Post website. One does not have to be Hercule Poirot in order to figure out where to find suspects.
Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.
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