A Shift in State College Grants

Mary Carmichael, Boston Globe, September 6, 2011

Governor Deval Patrick is expected to announce today that for the first time in decades, Massachusetts is awarding some money to public colleges and universities based on their plans to boost academic performance, rather than on how many students they enroll.

The money will go mostly to schools that proposed strategies to raise graduation rates, strengthen science instruction and career development, and close achievement gaps among minorities.

The grants are relatively modest–$2.5 million in total, taken from the 2012 state budget finalized in July–but they signal an important shift in the state’s approach to higher education funding. {snip}

“This is a sea change in the way we think about higher education funding and a harbinger of important changes to come,” said Paul Reville, secretary of education, comparing the competition to the federal Race to the Top contest for states reforming their public school systems.

{snip}

Eight of the state’s 13 schools that offer four-year undergraduate degrees–including three of the University of Massachusetts campuses–will receive a total of about $1.1 million.

{snip}

The largest grant, $233,417, will go to five projects at Worcester State University. [Higher education commissioner Richard] Freeland said he was especially impressed by an initiative that sends college students into the Latino community to work as teachers’ aides. The program is 10 years old, but Vision Project money will give it a shot in the arm.

{snip}

Another grant will go to North Shore Community College. The school has developed maps, modeled on the Washington, D.C., subway system, that illustrate the courses and tests students need to take in order to pursue specific careers. Freeland said the maps were a good example of how schools could align their programming with the state’s workforce needs.

Sixteen of the eighteen winning schools are trying to improve graduation rates. “The community colleges were especially focused on the issue. I think that’s why they did well in the competition,” said Stan Jones, one of the five judges and president of the national nonprofit Complete College America. “They could have chosen not to focus on completion, but this is an issue whose time has come.”

{snip}

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  • CDE

    Boosting minority graduation rates = dumbing down curriculum

  • Question Diversity

    Funny they mention Worcester State University. USA Today had this article about it in 2007:

    http://goo.gl/9Ajt5

    I reacted at the time that the school was about to become an affirmative action diploma mill.

    That’s what Patrick’s grants will mean for the institutions that receive them — Grade inflation, easy basket weaving classes, meaningless degrees for blacks and Hispanics.

  • Istvan

    1 — CDE wrote at 6:59 PM on September 8:

    Boosting minority graduation rates = dumbing down curriculum

    My organization just finished interviewing for new hires. The blacks with degrees, for the most part, had 1.9-2.3 grade point averages, majored in “Human Services”, and took courses in Afro-American studies, Woman’s Studies, Racism and Society, and other assorted drivel. The closest they got to anything academic were remedial courses in English and Math. Those were the ones that graduated. There were a couple who had been going to community college for 4-5 years, no degree and mostly “F” grades. Sad. Our nation’s future.

  • Hirsch

    When you offer financial incentives like this, all you do is increase the likelihood of cheating. Expect the kinds of scandals you see at black preparatory academies to be making an appearance at a college near you.

  • Anonymous

    Let them dumb down the curriculum, as if they could do any more damage than what they have done already.

    What will the Money Elite do when they don’t have their electricity on, and their power plants safely operating, and reliable water flowing to them, and their many pools, and indoor Jacuzzis? Who do they think runs all the machinery, and Plants that makes the world go ’round for them? They will cut their own throats, but who cares.

    Stay away from the Marxist College Campuses, and do what several of our friends children are doing, which is attending Trade Schools, and Apprenticing with Plumbers, Carpenters, and Electricians. Two have already been offered full-time jobs with benefits.

    What our kids need is a Classical Education through High School, as well as a solid Trade they can build on after their High School Graduation.

    Tell the Marxists to go stuff their Colleges, because we don’t need them. But, they will always need us. And it will cost them.

  • rockman

    When in Gods name does the white mans burden come to an end. How long do we have to have mealy mouthed politicans buying votes with public money. If the minorities can’t cut it then too bad. True equality will never happen so long as we continue the shoveling of endless money down the rat hole of minority programs that are legalized discrimination against white people

  • Sureesh

    Way to boost the minority graduation rate= import smart Indian and Chinese immigrants who excel in the hard sciences and outachieve whites.

  • Disgruntled College Student

    “The money will go mostly to schools that proposed strategies to raise graduation rates, strengthen science instruction and career development, and close achievement gaps among minorities.”

    A hard reevaluation of what is creating the education cost bubble, and the parasitic nature of low completion rates is sorely in order for college & university funding. However, closing the achievement gap is a lost cause short of cooking the books, and will ultimately result in the lowering of the quality of education for all; it already has in a great many fields.

    What is needed: higher standards for admission, students being informed of the completion rate of programs *before* they sign anything, basic testing before a student plunks down federal money to attend school, perhaps an offer of a period of remedial education as a condition of acceptance for those whom are lacking in an area (there are people that are intelligent, but uneducated — they can be taught. Its the people who lack intelligence that can’t be educated.) More money should be spent on weeding out those that truly aren’t college material so that those that do make it through actually get value for their education at the end of it. This type of regulation would eventually lower costs, or at least hold the line. (At the largest university near me — one that has a small endowment, and is state funded — the completion rate for any 4 year program is less than 16%. The most pessimistic interpretation of this is that 84% of students that attend there will leave the university no better off than they were before, and most of them with a large amount of student loans that they will struggle to pay off. The reality is a little better than that as some students transfer out, or go on to complete degrees elsewhere, but the bottom line is that university system parasites off of far more than it helps. There are NO financial incentives for schools to change this system as it benefits them directly. This legislation may be token, but it is likely a step in the right direction; even if it is not substantial enough to fully stop the parasitic behavior.

    If we don’t start regulating this better, and we continue on our present path — a college education will become meaningless. Companies will have to screen applicants with some version of SAT-like employment testing, and we will end up with a system that makes every profession licensed, and regulated either directly by the government, or through the backdoor of the courts.

    Its bad enough one graduates with enough debt that they are cast into serfdom with debts that rival first mortgages, but if you give into testing the companies lose, and if we get regulation by the back door; if you give into professional license type regulation all of our next meals become subject to whim of government, and we become serfs for life rather than until loans are paid off. This doesn’t even include the vast majority who start school, and then do not complete their programs due to: lack of money, lack of ability, or other issues.

    The housing bubble & investment fraud of the 2000’s opened my eyes to look at things that are getting way too much growth, way too quickly. I didn’t understand where the money was coming from for the housing bubble because I had never looked at those type of investments. I have looked at the types of investments that colleges, and universities are making, the staggering debt ratios (in spite of massive tuition hikes) they carry, and at the driving forces behind the skyrocketing tuition bubble. Any school of higher education without a major endowment is living on borrowed time should this bubble burst.

    Eventually this situation will hit a critical mass. 70% of HS graduates are going to college, and even a fair number of those with general equivalency degrees. There aren’t that many skilled jobs out there for them, and most of them aren’t college material; what happens when the loans come due? Just like with the housing bubble wall street, and the investment bankers have managed to externalize the liabilities onto the taxpayer. If you haven’t learned from the crashes of 2000, and 2008 — when wall street knows their product is worthless, and places its bets against it — the end is nearer than you think.

  • Tim Mc Hugh

    “easy basket weaving classes, meaningless degrees for Blacks and Hispanics”-Question Diversity

    I dropped out of college not once but three times. It was learning how to make hand painted tile that gave me enough organization to go back and finally finish on the fourth try. Tile work involved planning out blocks of time to complete the project on a day by day basis. It involved prioritizing tasks from most important to least important. It took learning verbal skills to relate the process and choices to customers in a clear concise manner.

    I guess what I`m saying is that you CAN get a legitimate degree in basket weaving, if it teaches all of that and more…It`s not important what you learn. It`s learning the process of learning itself that is worthwhile. I`d rather have a degree in basket weaving or copper enamel jewelery than the collected works of Maya Angelou. And I also think the the world and society are shifting towards that kind of work and economy. Reminds me of the old joke about meeting the world`s richest man. “He`s a plumber moonlighting as a TV repairman…”

    To see what kind of tile I learned how to make do a google image search on Spanish Cement tile… Beautiful stuff!!

  • Anonymous

    The article’s reference to “minorities” actually refers to what we know as “under-re;resented minorities” (URM) which excludes N. Asians. With Asians, data show that Whites need to “close the gap.”

    Originally, the problem was enrolling more URM in colleges. Now, they must also graduate them as scientists and engineers. It’s easy enough to convince URM to “want” to go to college but encouraging them to study in these areas will be the real challenge. I expect to see more scholarships, more tutors, easier curricula, more URM faculty, etc.

    As an aside, I don’t understand why are not infuriated by these Policies which lead the uniformed reader to lump Asians with URM. They should say, “The problem isn’t ‘being an minority’ rather ‘being black or brown.”

  • mark

    “The money will go mostly to schools that proposed strategies to raise graduation rates, strengthen science instruction and career development, and close achievement gaps among minorities.”

    No proposals necessary. We all know how it’s done. Atlanta schools set a good example. I am sure their method can also be implemented in colleges and universities.

  • sedonaman

    “The money will go mostly to schools that proposed strategies to raise graduation rates, strengthen science instruction and career development, and close achievement gaps among minorities.”

    Since something must be compared to something else, does this mean that the schools will finally have to reveal the graduation rates of their affirmative action admittees? Else, how would we know if the grad rates were increased?

  • Say It!

    The racial academic gap industry is the best sort of lucrative industry. Why? Because it ostensibly exits to solve a problem that has no solution – in this case because of the inherent difference in average IQ. Since the goal can’t be reached (and everyone knows why but dare not say) the industry never ceases for political reasons and the grant$ keep coming. For those in it, such a deal!

  • Alexandra

    Sureesh–How about Indians and Chinese stay in India and China and use their intelligence to improve India and China?

  • Michael C. Scott

    Of course the obvious is not being mentioned concerning this plan: 100% of the money will be spent creating additional makework “diversity coordinator” jobs.