Author Archives: kencollier

About kencollier

Ken Collier is native Texan raised in Longview, Texas. He is a product of the Texas Youth in Government program and the PhD program of the University of Texas. Ken teaches courses on US and Texas politics at Stephen F. Austin State University. He is coauthor of Lone Star Politics: Tradition and Transformation in Texas. The views and opinions expressed herein and pretty much everywhere else are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Stephen F. Austin State University, CQ Press/Sage, my coauthors, my wife, daughter, and two of my three dogs.

Higher education spending by state

A story in Inside Higher Education (“A few states are spending more on higher ed than before the recession hit”) shows which state are rebounding in 2012-13 from the drop in higher ed spending associated with the economic downturn and which are still cutting support for schools.

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The good news is that states are starting to spend on higher education again. The bad news is that Texas is not.

 


Why we should stop worrying and accept accreditation

An essay in Inside Higher Ed (“Accreditation helps limit government intrusion in U.S. higher education“) reminds us that the annoying intrusion of regional accrediting bodies is a way of avoiding the annoying intrusion of  state and national governments.  


Digital transcripts?

Inside Higher Ed has a story (“Colleges move to digital transcripts managed by outside firms“) that outlines the advantages of digital transcripts.

Isn’t it time we upgraded transcripts?

 


Higher-Ed Trends for 2014

National Journal has a story previewing  5 Higher-Ed Trends for 2014. The article identifies five broad trends that look likely to impact higher education this year. National Journal does excellent reporting and their list looks solid to me.


Grade Inflation

National Journal has a story (“Harvard Is Completely Ordinary When It Comes to Grade Inflation“) how an A has become the most common grade in the US and the average GPA has risen from 2.52 in 1966 to 3.11 in 2006.

The rise of grade inflation is on display every day at GradeInflation.com. The picture isn’t pretty.

Chart of grade inflation

This is a problem that faculty need to take responsibility for. Why aren’t we doing a better job holding the line?


Athletic Spending Database

The Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics has released a database (“Athletic & Academic Spending Database for NCAA Division I“) that let users put together custom reports that compare spending for Division I athletic programs.

I did a quick comparison of spending at Stephen F. Austin vs the University of Texas (that is, where I am compared to where I went to school). You can click on the graph to see a larger version.

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As you can see, there’s no real comparison. I have occasionally been amused by colleagues here who like to talk about “big time college athletics” at SFA

The Knight Commission’s system allows you to compare spending on academics (I chose “Instructional Spending per FTE) to academic and non academic spending per student. You can compare all kinds of schools and all kinds of variables. It’s big-time college fun.


Turning down student requests for deadline extensions

A story in Inside Higher Ed (“McGill professor manages to turn down student request and gain popularity“) looks like a great example of turning the plea for extending a deadline a fun and teachable moment.


Binge drinking and critical thinking skills

A story in Inside Higher ed (Study links binge drinking and low critical thinking skills, with a caveat“) reveals that students who enter college with poor critical thinking skills don’t develop these skills if they binge drink. That’s not surprising. However, students who start college with good critical thinking skills seem to seem not to have this problem.

 


Congress is talking about Higher Ed Reform

Congress seems to be getting more interested in looking at reforming accreditation and other aspects of higher education (“Calls from Washington for streamlined regulation and emerging models“). It’s hard to believe that they could break the deadlock they’ve experienced on other issues. However, more tinkering with higher ed seems inevitable.


It’s not just a HBU thing

Aaron Taylor has an article in Inside Higher Ed calling for historically black colleges to move to Division II. He makes some very good arguments. However, it’s worth noting that some of us think this argument goes beyond HBU programs and the the NCAA and the media have some obligation to creating meaningful competition and fan interest in schools beyond the big programs that make them the most money.