The following letter was sent to California State Senator Carol Liu and the members of the Assembly Higher Education committee on August 8th:
August 8, 2013
Senator Carol Liu
State Capitol, Room 5097
Sacramento, CA 95814
Fax: (916) 651-4925
Re: SB 195: Support — amendments suggested.
Dear Senator Liu,
The Council of UC Faculty Associations is in general agreement with and supports the overall goals of this bill. It is appropriate that the legislature have a framework and data that will aid policy makers in ensuring that the higher educational needs of Californians are met. This bill correctly focuses on state needs and global measures of success. It is important to note that the institutions already have rigorous internal processes for more granular review and improvement at the level of academic programs, majors, and departments. In addition, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges accredits and reaccredits institutions of higher education in California. However these processes do not have the more general statewide perspective of this legislation.
In the following discussion, we suggest several refinements that, in our view, would enhance the effectiveness of this legislation if enacted.
Although it is implicit in the bill and in goal b of Sec. 67051 that the education offered by the segments remain of the highest quality, the metrics are heavily concentrated on throughput and efficiency. Quality and throughput can be in tension and need to be balanced. The quantitative items in 67053 (a) (2) must be balanced with the need to maintain and improve the quality inherent in goal b of 67051. It would be very unfortunate if this legislation were to result in an excessive focus on quantitative measures of throughput and efficiency and thereby create perverse incentives for the institutions to sacrifice quality. Such an undesirable outcome would be of benefit to neither the state nor its individual citizens. We suggest that the bill explicitly state that it is the intent of the legislature to maintain and improve the educational quality of public higher education in California while also meeting the quantitative needs of the State.
Our second suggestion is tied to the first. The ability of the working group to identify appropriate, meaningful metrics that also support the quality of the education will be greatly improved by members from the academic leadership of the segments. Thus we suggest that the working group have a member selected by the each of the segment faculty academic senates.
Our third suggestion is that this legislation be linked to the effort in AB 1348 to replace CPEC with a California Higher Education Authority. Efforts to address the high level goals of SB 195 are hobbled by the fact that CPEC is no longer functioning. It would be appropriate for the the work suggested in SB 195 to be carried out by a CPEC-like body such as the California Higher Education Authority of AB 1348.
Vice President for External Relations, Council of UC Faculty Associations and
Professor of Physics, UC Davis
cc: Assembly Higher Education Committee