The Washington Post has a lengthy feature piece on Rick Perry’s attempt to reform state-funded higher education in Texas, Rick Perry wages an assault on state’s university establishment.
The article clearly was intended to portray Perry as meddling in academic freedom by suggesting cost and performance analyses simliar to the push to inject merit and performance assessments into the public school systems nationwide. Inevitably these efforts meet with pushback from the educational establishment, for whom alleged intellectual independence frequently is an excuse for defending bureaucratic turf.
This passage from the article jumped out at me (emphasis mine):
At that gathering of the university regents, [Perry friend and campaign contributor Jeff] Sandefer outlined what have since come to be known as “Seven Breakthrough Solutions.” They were developed by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank closely allied with Perry and on whose board Sandefer sits.
Professors are wasting time and money churning out esoteric, unproductive research, Sandefer and the foundation have argued, when they should be putting in more hours in the classroom. Among their suggestions: that individual faculty members be measured as profit or loss centers, that research budgets be separated from teaching budgets, and that student evaluations help determine how much professors are paid.
The highlighted line is so true.
While we await a reevaluation of how educational goals are measured, how about a partial quick fix:
Eliminate political science departments, which produce more esoteric unproductive research than all other departments combined; then forbid anyone from using the term “political scientist” without a license, but never create a department to hand out licenses.
It would be a good start