In an official statement, the AAUP has taken a tough position in criticizing the Obama proposal to condition federal aid for higher ed on performance standards: “In an attempt to rein in rising tuition and skyrocketing debt President Obama has announced a plan for performance based funding for higher education. Under his plan colleges would be rated on affordability, graduation rates and earnings of graduates. While we applaud the President for raising concerns over rising tuition and student debt, concerns that we share, we also believe that the President’s proposal will do little to solve the problem and will likely result in a decline in the quality of education offered to working class and middle class students, particularly students of color. Unfortunately, the President’s plan is little more than a version of the failed policy of ‘No Child Left Behind’ brought to higher education…”
Unfortunately, there is more heat than light in the statement. What is needed is line-by-line analysis of the plan. And there needs to be some analysis of how much of it would require action by Congress – which is not in a mood to do much in the way of acting on anything. Generally, it can be said that all incentive plans – whether in the workplace or any other situation – turn out to have potential perverse side effects. If money is conditional on some metric, it is sometimes (often) the case that you can game the metric in ways that compromise the goal. But to make such an analysis of the plan at hand, we need careful scrutiny of the details. AAUP needs now to follow through on the details.
Toughness only gets you so far: