"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Friday, February 10, 2006

Who's Chuck Miller to Decide the Future of Higher Ed?

Thanks to Susan Ohanian for the link to the story below at UTWatch.org, which provides the UT student perspective on the answers to the above question. Note that his testing/privatization gambit is nothing new except that now he is aiming at America instead of the University of Texas:

A Houston investment consultant appointed by Bush, he's the chairman [1999-2005] of the Board of Regents. He also chairs several other organizations: Meridian Advisors, Ltd. and the National Center for Policy Analysis, a right-wing think tank based in Dallas.

He sits on the Houston board of JP Morgan Chase, which has $630,177 in UTIMCO investments as of June 2003. He raised over $100,000 for Bush's presidential campaign and gave $85,000 to Gov. Perry. Lest we think that his financial and political activities would leave no time for education, he has worked with Enron's Ken Lay and the Governor's Business Council in lobbying for charter schools. He sits on the boards of Charter School Resource Center of Texas and the Financial Foundation for Charter Schools of Texas. As the most powerful person in public education, he is using his leadership position to push for private education.

Miller seems practically giddy about declining state support for Texas's public universities. Speaking in favor of tuition deregulation, Miller said, "Even though we're considered a state institution, we're more like a private institution than a public one. Because of that, I feel very strongly that we should be allowed to do more things freely. That's why we're pushing for deregulations [from the state Legislature] so that we can optimize how we manage the system." In other words, he would like to see UT turned into a private investment corporation for himself and his pals... if it isn't already.

Miller's pet project is standardized testing. He has pushed for SAT-type testing on UT System students, seemingly unaware that a college education can't be measured by multiple-choice standardized tests. His pilot program starts in fall 2002 for liberal arts and natural sciences students.

In 2001, Miller helped create the National Center for Educational Accountability at UT-Austin, a research group that studies "student testing efforts." The NCEA is a joint initiative with none other than Miller's own disingenuously-named Just for the Kids, Inc - a non-profit which pushes the dogma of testing, testing, and more testing for America's schoolchildren. The proposed budget for NCEA consists of $1,706,391 provided by JFTK and $859,259 from UT-Austin. Miller and other proponents of Bush-style education reform have succeeded in mating the University with some of Miller's other school projects in the form of the UT East Austin charter school. If money talks, then Miller and his right-wing pro-testing, anti-public education brigade will prevail.

Miller's personal investments coincide substantially (surprise!) with UTIMCO.

Miller strongly opposes a student regent, saying that a student couldn't handle the burden.

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