By Richard Vedder
I am attending the spring meeting in Hilton Head, South Carolina, of the American Legislative Exchange Council, a group of state legislators. I am about ready to speak to some of them (Saturday morning). I am going to recommend a few things they can do NOW to improve their colleges and universities in a manner that will cost virtually nothing.
1. Following up on the Spellings Commission, require all state schools within the state to administer a standardized test agreed to amongst the schools, such as the Collegiate Learning Assessment, a specially designed test made by ACT, the College Board, etc., and perhaps, also, the National Survey of Student Engagement. Give the test at the beginning of the freshman and the end of the senior year.
2. Report results of this test along with other data on a single web site for all state institutions. Other information to be incluuded would be 4,5,6 year graduation rates (retention rates), the gross tuition fee and the average amount of student discounting from scholarships, the campus crime rates for various categories of felonies; and, in an uniform fashion for each school, the percent of the total budget (less comercial enterprises such as hospitals or dorms) that goes for instruction, research, student services, administration, intercollegiate athletics, etc. Actually, I would encourage an even longer list than given above.
3. Separately, pass legislation that prohibits state university employees or the institutions from accepting any gift, including scholarship aid, or other monetary payment from any private lender to students of that institution. Prohibit institutional endorsement of private lenders in any form. Generally, divorce the act of educating from the act of financing that education.
4. Move away from a school-based to student-based funding of higher education; voucherize it, giving bigger vouchers to students who are poor and do well, smaller ones to the more affluent and who perform less.
For legislators wishing to promote such legislation, CCAP would be glad to help you. Give us a call at 202-376=7831. Talk to Bryan O'Keefe, who can then get you in contact with me.