Texas A&M Says No

Texas Governor Rick Perry has a lot of plans for education reform. Some Texas institutions of higher learning object to his plans but his alma mater, Texas A&M, has been largely supportive.

A&M has, for instance, published rankings of academic “productivity,” as Perry, a Republican, requested. Well no longer.

According to an article by Patricia Kilday Hart in the Houston Chronicle:

On Tuesday, 22 A&M graduates honored as “Distinguished Alumni” by the Association of Former Students warned that “an extraordinary level of political intervention in our university” could damage A&M’s reputation, particularly “proposals to fundamentally change how research universities in Texas fulfill their educational responsibilities.”

The signatories, most of them wealthy Texas businessmen who have contributed generously to their alma mater and have served in leadership positions at the university, ranged in graduation class from 1949 to 1967. Perry graduated from A&M in 1972.

“It is our opinion that several of these proposals will do significant damage,” the alumni wrote. “We encourage you to ask the Board of Regents to end their well-known support for the seven proposals. We call on you to ask the board of Regents to resist inappropriate political intervention …”

The seven proposals include a lot of measurement of “effectiveness,” though no real measures of actual student learning. Critics have called his proposals “simplistic and harmful to research institutions.”

It’s not so much that the Distinguished Alumni object to his actual plans. He’s one of them, after all, and his ideas are, perhaps therefore, somewhat sensible. No, they just object to his level of involvement. Let the governor govern, not micromanage; just give the universities money and let them manage themselves.

I’ve noted before the odd involvement of Gov. Rick Perry in state institutions. For someone theoretically supportive of having everything operate “like a business,” man he sure likes to be involved in state institutions.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer