STATEMENT ON GOVERNANCE OF EDUCATION IN TENNESSEE
||Advisory Committee to the Senate Chairman,
University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Senate
|Presented to Legislative Hearings, October 20, 1972, Knoxville
In education, as in other vital pursuits, quality is the critical concern. This is true, We believe, at every level (from kindergarten to graduate school) in every corner of the state (from Johnson County to the City of Memphis), and for every student (from weak to strong). The objective of quality in education is at the center of the faculty perspective we represent. We agree with the General Assembly that governance structure is also important, but we consider a good governance structure as primarily a means to quality education. A governance structure is good, in other words, not because it is good for faculty, or for administrators, or for legislators, but because it is good for students and all others whom the educational system serves.
In light of this reasoning, and especially in light of the central objective of quality education:
1. We urge that all educational appointments, whether faculty or administrative, be made according to professional criteria, and that partisan, regional, or personal politics have no place in them.
These recommendations are consistent with legislator concerns as well as with faculty concerns. obtaining wise counsel in deciding upon educational programs and in allocating resources is a dilemma for the legislator. Pulled one way and another by the Tennessee Education Association, the UT System, the Regional Campuses, the Community Colleges, the Vocational Schools, and the Department of Education, he seeks some super-wise agency to help him make intelligent choices. Whether or not such an agency can be found, legislators, like faculty members, wish to bring Tennessee's educational system closer to excellence.
2. We urge that the present superstructure of Tennessee education, including the new Board of Regents and system administration for the regional universities, be tried and evaluated for a reasonable time (2-4 years) before additional changes are considered.
3. We see the Tennessee Higher Education Commission as a competent and impartial referee for the General Assembly and the Governor with respect to programs and budget allocations in higher education.
Our recommendation that the new governance structure of Tennessee be used for several years before attempting still more alterations is based not only upon commonsense considerations, but also upon our reading of the experience of other states. Tennessee legislators should, in our judgment, carefully examine the evidence in these states before launching into further experiments. Even if such examination should result in decisions for change in Tennessee, the experienced judgment of the THEC and the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees and the potential promise of the Board of Regents and its system could not lightly be cast aside.
Though we doubt that persons can be found who are expert in each of the areas of higher education, grades K-12, and vocational education, we find it encouraging that members of the General Assembly see their problem as one of obtaining wise or professional counsel. Could this mean that the faculties and legislators are close to agreement--agreement that educational governance and educational performance be evaluated in terms of quality?
To offer suggestions or comments about this web site, please click here.