Ohio House of Representatives Creates “Higher Education Reform Study Committee”

Earlier this month, the Ohio House of Representatives announced the creation of the “Higher Education Reform Study Committee,” chaired by Rep. Cliff Rosenberger (R-Carksville), who also served as chair of the House finance Higher Education Subcommittee during the budget process.

The committee has embarked on a “road show,” traveling all over the state to public and for-profit colleges to discuss a myriad of issues in higher education.

At this time, it is unknown what the committee ultimately hopes to accomplish. The committee’s mission statement doesn’t provide any real clues: “A high-quality education system is critical not only for individuals’ success but also the long-term viability of Ohio’s economy. The Higher Education Study Committee is an opportunity to follow up on outstanding issues raised during the budget process as well as identify additional policies designed to strengthen Ohio’s education system. It is my hope that information gathered through these hearings will form the basis for initiatives designed to support and expanded ongoing reform efforts.”

The word “Reform” in a committee title usually suggests that some problem has come to so much public attention, that it has caused such expressions of public concern, that it must now be addressed very vigorously and pointedly by the legislature.

But this committee is covering just about every issue related to higher education:

August 8, 2013
Miami University, Oxford – 10 a.m. to Noon
Higher Education–Workforce Connection:
Sustainable funding for co-ops and internships
Commercialization of student work
Improving workforce and education alignment

August 14, 2013
University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College–3:00 to 5:00 p.m.
Multiple Higher Education Pathways:
Transferability of credits
Program accreditation
“Stackable” certificates
Adult education
Gateway course reform

August 20, 2013
Penta Career Center, Perrysburg–1:00 to 3:00 p.m.
Transitioning to Higher Education and the Workforce:
Dual enrollment programs
Improved student preparation/reducing remediation rates
Developmental education reform
Higher education – high school alignment project
Career counseling
What parents need to know about higher education

September 4, 2013
University of Mount Union, Alliance–3:00 to 5:00 p.m.
Affording Higher Education:
529 Plans
Financial aid
Managing student debt

September 9, 2013
Columbus State Community College–6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Reducing the High Cost of Higher Education:
Faculty workloads
Role of technology/blended learning
State funding
Institutional collaboration and partnerships

September 19, 2013
Kaplan College, Dayton – 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.
Serving Non-Traditional Students:
Financial aid
Addressing skill/knowledge gaps
Mid-life career changes
Academic and nonacademic support

So someone either has some sort of massive overhaul in mind, which doesn’t seem likely this close to Governor Kasich’s re-election campaign, simply because such an overhaul would almost necessarily be controversial if it were massive, or, alternatively, this series of hearings is a kind of a fishing expedition intended to result in some “plan” for higher education in Ohio that makes am especially good campaign plank because it has resulted from public hearings and, ostensibly, public input, but that isn’t really much more substantive than President Obama’s recent proposals.

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