Abbott Lays Out Lackluster College Plan

The Republican running for Governor, Greg Abbott, released a lackluster college plan today. Instead of providing much needed resources for universities who must help students catch up and become “college-ready,” Abbott proposed to fund our institutions based on outcomes. On top of this, Abbott proposed a plan to expand high-enrollment online college courses for college students.

If one wants to attempt to read the plan, here it is.

Basically, Abbott’s plan holds much-needed resources hostage, while his online college plan only hurts the brick-and-mortar institutions that have put Texas on the higher education map.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott will call for students to receive college credit for taking massive open online courses — often referred to as “MOOCs” — as part of the higher education plan he unveils on Tuesday, sources with knowledge of his plans say.

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MOOCs are online courses with unlimited enrollment that anyone — regardless of whether they are enrolled at a university — can sign up for and take for free. Right now, the courses rarely earn students college credit.

What Abbott’s plan does is negatively affect student-faculty relationships as these courses have unlimited enrollment. Perhaps they might work for some survey course in which students just regurgitate information, but the effect a faculty member has on a course in expanding critical thinking through course discussion will certainly be evident. For sure, these unlimited enrollment courses will not work for courses in ones major course of study. And since he is so supportive of outcomes-based funding, the fact is that these high-enrollment college courses have a high-flunk-out rate–students just leave the courses and never complete them.

Above all, and unlike Wendy Davis, Abbott has ignored the fact that 1/2 of community college and 1/3 of university students enter unprepared, thanks to funding cuts and lack of investment in K-12. Abbott should know a little about this as he has supported K-12 funding cuts and recently lost a lawsuit brought by hundreds of Texas school districts regarding school finance. But, I digress. If students are entering our institutions unprepared after learning in brick and mortar K-12 classrooms, how does he expect these students to be successful in online courses?

Greg Abbott isn’t offering anything regarding college affordability and tuition controls or student financial aid. In short, the Greg Abbott plan does nothing to improve graduation and retention rates. What it does do is bring Texas a step closer to privatizing public higher education.

I wouldn’t even credit Greg Abbott with supporting the status quo, as it seems he is more in tune with digging a deeper grave for state institutions of higher education.

Stick with Wendy Davis’ higher education plan. It works for all Texans.

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