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Monday, September 25, 2023


Board receptive to education reforms

Gov. Rick Perry pushed Texas’ major public universities to adopt a slate of higher education reforms calling for requirements of teaching skill for tenured professors, bonus pay for teachers correlating with student surveys and voucher-style funding for students.

While some reforms, proposed May 22 at a conference in Austin, are out of its hands, UH System Board of Regents Chairman Welcome Wilson said it plans to pursue Perry’s education initiatives and investigate their financial repercussions.

If implemented, Perry’s reforms would provide bonus pay to faculty and professors who receive better marks on student evaluations, create a fiscal distinction between professors’ research and their teaching capabilities and require tenured professors to demonstrate proof of their teaching skills.

For Wilson, a student’s perspective is a valid factor to be taken into consideration when determining a professor’s overall effectiveness.

"Student input on evaluations is certainly a worthwhile thing," Wilson said.

Wilson said surveys would provide students with an outlet to play an active role in their experience at UH.

"Students can be very responsible when it comes to their education," Wilson said.

In an effort to improve student success rates, Perry also proposed students be provided with information upon enrollment outlining graduation rates, starting salaries and unemployment rates for the average student in a given major with the same grade-point average and SAT scores.

"A student enrolling at UH needs to know exactly what will be expected of them, what courses we will expect them to take and what they can expect to take from the University," Wilson said. "A clear written understanding of who can expect what from whom is an excellent idea."

Perry’s move for voucher-style funding would take legislative funds for higher education and, instead of appropriating them directly to a given college or university, give them to students in the form of voucher-style scholarships.

Though Wilson said he’s fascinated by this proposal for student funding, from a fiscal point of view he said he was not prepared to comment on the initiative.

The regents have asked Chancellor Renu Khator to give the board her analysis and evaluation of Perry’s proposals.

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