Thursday, April 28, 2011

Texas Sucks at Math

I have teased McGill students for being bad at math because they think they can get the education they expect without raising (or perhaps even lowering) tuition.  Well, Texas puts other bad mathletes to shame: proposing a college education for just $10,000.  That's right--four years of education for just a total of $10,000.  Given that the average public university in Texas costs $6,500 per year in tuition, and the $10k figure is to include tuition, fees, and books, the proposal is essentially offering to reduce the cost of an education by 2/3's.

How to do this?  More online stuff, community colleges (have they been watching too much TV?), accelerated and self-paced formats (holy contradiction in terms--would most folks be self-pacing fast or slow?), and so forth.  The best way to do this would be to increase state subsidies to universities, but how likely is that?

Or, to borrow Marc Lynch's terms for policy solutions in the Middle East (Magic Democracy words), we can just use magic educational innovation words to cut the cost of a college degree in Texas by two-thirds.  It is hard enough to keep the costs from rising, but to cut them by that much?  I guess if all you want is a degree stamp and not an education, this should be pretty easy.

Of course, like any good consumer product, the devil is in the details.  What is excluded from the new Texas $10k degree?  Check out the fine print: Does not include Math, Budgeting, Economics, Management, Public Policy, Accounting, Logic, etc.

The funny thing is that money may not guarantee a high quality education with great outcomes, but we can be pretty certain that an absence of money is a guarantee of a sub-standard education. 

I wonder if these folks had basic econ: what happens when you depress the cost of something?  Does it change the demand?  Hmmmm.  I guess I will spend $10k to find out, right?

1 comment:

Nick said...

They were probably inspired by Rand Paul's budget proposal.