September 8, 2012

Abolition by Merger of the Board of Governors for Higher Education: Explain Again Why We're Doing This?

Monique Chartier

At the last minute and with zero public notice or input (this session, anyway), the General Assembly in June rushed through a merger of the state's Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education and the Board of Governors for Higher Education into an 11-member Board of Education.

After days of questioning by the Providence Journal (great follow-up, guys) as to why this was done, G.A. leadership finally responded by citing their frustration at

the failure of the state’s schools to adequately prepare students for college

which they believe can be fixed in part by forcing

K-12 and higher education to work more closely together.

But setting aside the larger matter that perhaps the problem of inadequately prepared Rhode Island college freshmen cannot be traced to a lack of cooperation between the K-12 and higher ed systems, where is the explanation as to exactly how the de factor elimination of the Board of Governors for Higher Education would improve the state's K-12 academic achievement?

Yesterday's GoLocalProv article reporting that the

Merger of Education Boards May be Placed on Hold

is an excellent opportunity to revisit this ill-advised legislation.

Believe me, that I find myself in agreement with the NEARI

While the pressure to postpone the merger is believed to be coming from higher education side, National Education Association government relations director Patrick Crowley said his organization believes the legislation should be re-examined.

on a point of education policy has given me pause. And, of course, following upon their maneuver last September to extend in-state college tuition to illegal aliens, which was completely unacceptable in principle, budgetarily and quite likely legally, I have quite a dim opinion of the current Board of Governors for Higher Education.

Despite these reservations, I find myself far from satisfied with the proffered explanations for the merger of the two boards and quite concerned about its likely fall-out. The consensus seems to be that most of the attention and efforts of the newly created board will go to the K-12 side of their purview. But this would de-emphasize higher ed. Is that wise when one of the weaknesses hampering economic prosperity in the state is a lack of workers with post-secondary skills in certain areas?

Is it possible that the real reason for the abrupt passage of this legislation goes back to that decision last year by the B.G.H.E. to give in-state tuition to illegal aliens? If so, lots of people are certainly with you on that point. However, wouldn't abolishing the B.G.H.E. just end up punishing innocent bystanders - i.e., RI colleges and, ultimately, college students - rather than the responsible party? Not to mention failing to redress the wrong itself ...

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It's like this.

This education stuff in RI is screwed up. Ain't nobody learnin' enuf and da ones what do leave da state to go to goods jobs somewheres else.

Let's fix it Pooh...but what can we do? Hmmmm....think, think, think.

Let's make it all just one so ..., yeah, that'll fix it. Why? 'Cause, that's why. Yeah.

Nobody likes it? Tough. Oh, the union and college guys say we gotta wait? Oh.

Oh bother....let's go tell Christopher Robin. Maybe he can tell us why we do this.


Posted by: John at September 8, 2012 7:59 PM, now I do! Thank you, John!

Posted by: Monique at September 9, 2012 11:26 AM
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