TPPF’s new higher education baggage

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Last Tuesday, the much-maligned Texas Public Policy Foundation released a statement from their new Director for Higher Education Research, Thomas Lindsay. The Texas Public Policy Foundation is the Austin think tank, which produced the “Seven Breakthrough Solutions” for improving higher education earlier this year and precipitated a major controversy.

Lindsay has had a long career in higher education and was most recently president of Shimer College, a small liberal arts college in Chicago which follows a “Great Book” curriculum. However, Lindsay was voted out of the position by the college community after strongly supporting a mission statement many believed to be charged with libertarian ideology. Lindsay also criticized what he called the “peerless” ability of institutions of higher education to circle the wagons and resist change.

More recently, Lindsay has fanned old flames by calling the notorious and now-comatose “seven solutions” a “good start,” according to the Texas Tribune. Lindsay’s hire portends more of the same from the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

Fortunately for UT, renewed cries of waste will likely be too little, too late. While the storm of controversy lingers on, UT has responded and is addressing the criticism directed at it. Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa’s Framework for Advancing Excellence in Education and UT President William Powers’ insistence that must UT improve its four-year graduation rates signify a system and campus that are serious about reform. If there is any wagon circling, it is only designed to ensure that the right people — University administrators, faculty, staff and students — are the ones making the changes. UT has received the “reform” message, stopped arguing and started working.

And if outsider commentators wish to continue beating their war drums on an empty battlefield, we should pay them no mind.

Printed on Friday, October 14, 2011 as: TPPF's higher education baggage