FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
Rick Perry Thinks Forward On Affordable Education. Barack Obama Poses For A Photo-Op.
Perry Attacks The Problem. Obama Basks In The Optics.
A fully accredited college education for the price of a Honda Civic.
College? Don’t pay $50,000 for three years, and then your kid drops out.
College? Pay for your child’s education, not four years of party time.
Wal-Mart University: Save Money. Learn Better.
America has an increasingly bad problem with its University system. It costs too much to attend, and the graduates leave with ridiculous piles of debt. Both President Obama and Texas Governor, Rick Perry have outlined proposals to fix the problem. President Obama has proposed a meaningless waste of money to look good in front of the cameras. Rick Perry has proposed something crazier than an outhouse rat. He has requested that the Texas Board of Regents study Western Governors University and offer an analogous four year degree than costs $10,000 or less.
The President has proposed renegotiating the maximum required for student loans and to make them forgiveable after 20 years rather than 25. This is roughly equivalent to handing someone in Hell a glass of lemonade. It looks nice, but does nothing to fix the true dilemna. Details follow below.
Obama will accelerate a law passed by Congress last year that lowers the maximum required payment on student loans from 15 percent of discretionary income annually to 10 percent for eligible borrowers. It goes into effect next year, instead of 2014. Also, the remaining debt would be forgiven after 20 years, instead of 25. The White House said about 1.6 million borrowers could be affected.
Rick Perry, on the other hand, offers a totally different approach to the problem. He has joined Texas to the consortium that supports the Western Governor’s University. This is an online, self-paced university that models its degree programs to match industry certification requirements. WGU charges approximately $3,000 for its students to participate during a six month period. This amounts to a total of $20,000 to $25,000 to complete a B.A. Degree.
The Governor now wants the Texas Board of Regents to develop a program analogous to WGU that would only cost $10,000 for a Bachelor’s Degree. He will probably fail in achieving that goal. MSMNBCBSNN will pounce. They’ll say he’s crazy and should listen to the experts. He should fail in a manner more conducive to feeding the cartel.
To his persistant nay-sayers, he’ll look poorly-informed. The way Thomas Edison did when he spent over a year messing around with moving electricity through platinum wires. It’s very unlikely that Governor Perry will enjoy a moment similar to the one Edison did when he switched his material to copper wiring. But, I, for one, commend Governor Perry’s willingness to risk an actual failure. He’s failing forward, like a running back that falls for an additional two yards after a tackle. He’s moving American education in the right direction.
Critics make intelligent and accurate points about online education. There is a lack of interaction. There isn’t the same community of scholars. You don’t get Notre Dame Saturday, and you’ll never be able to build collaboration between Phoenix U and WGU that rivals the JPL Empire that Cal Tech and UCLA have founded. And furthermore, the Texas Regents won’t get to $10K for several reasons.
Onlinecollege.org points out several possible roadblocks to Governor Perry’s ambitions. He’s asking for another institution that would operate on a smaller economic scale than WGU; but still cut the per-degree costs in half. Skeptics doubt academic professionals would willingly work at “Cheap Tuition State.” The degree from such a college could be seen as a badge of social inferiority and poverty. All of which may have some truth.
But let’s assume a partial-failure scenario. (I’m optimistic on this; so we can also call it a partial success). Assume the Texas Board of Regents can get this place running for a price of $16K per degree (2011 USD). This, not a lower student loan payment, would help fight the problem of debt-laden graduates. Get intelligent and motivated lower-income people an opportunity to earn an affordable degree that breaks the cost of college barrier that prevents them from joining the affluent America. Even a partial success at this endeavor makes America a better, more just and happier nation. I want my politicians to fail like that Perry dude more often!