Parlor Spider...Step In, Little Fly

Insightful thoughts and/or rants from atop the soapbox from one who wishes to share the "right" opinion with everyone.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Not Everything's Big in Texas

My dad, born and raised in Texas, used to comment all the time about how things were not only bigger in the Lone Star state, but better as well...presumably for reasons other than their preposterous size. Then, of course, along came Alaska and made Texas the second-largest state in the Union, and Pop lost some of his bluster. Still, though, in spite of everything, he continued to believe that there was no place like Texas for just about anything. "Bigger is better...more is better" seems to be getting pushed into the background these days in least as far as higher education is concerned.
It seems that Gov. Perry has proposed to the state of Texas, its legislators and its educators of higher education, that Texas could be the first to offer a college education for $10,000. That's not per year; that's the proposed cost for a four-year program! This would be quite a downsizing, especially since last year in TExas, the average cost for a four-year degree averaged almost $26,000, not including books, which would probably push the figure nearer $30,000.
So, how can he even propose such a thing? It's really not as crazy as one might think. Here are parts of the proposal to reduce the cost:
1. Having more students attend community colleges for the first two can figure the savings there as easily as I can give them to you.
2. Utilize the internet for far more online courses. Since most universities offer these already, the only change would be to make sure there was a path toward graduation in some instances. What about the vast knowledge imparted by professors, you ask? Well, yes, that could be a factor, but then, not EVERY class would be taught online anyway.
3. Allow for self-paced, accelerated programs. This idea has merit in many aspects. Why should any student wait for another who has yet to get the point? Discussions might be problematic, but even I have discussion boards for my classes and ask students to read and respond to others' posts...not like a face-to-face discussion, to be sure, but definitely a place where today's students feel comfortable.
While I am suspicious of the PACS and Texas money supporting Perry's bid for president, I think this idea, at least, has some merit.
Oh, and Perry's proposal indicates that only a small portion of degrees might be conferred this way: as little as 10%; however, if one is in the unenviable position of having little money for an education, this could fit nicely into the plan.
And an education never hurt anyone...well, except for Socrates.


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