Did you know that 70 percent of high school graduates move on to some kind of post-secondary education, but only half of those who enroll finish a degree? Last week, I attended a briefing at the US Chamber of Commerce on a report called Leaders & Laggards: A State by State Report Card on Public Postsecondary Education. The report takes a look at the policy and performance of states regarding post-secondary education and grades them based on transparency, efficiency, student access, and student success.
I think it is very important to make sure public post-secondary institutions are providing students with as much information as possible to make a smart choice about where they continue their education. We definitely need more information about graduation rates at institutions, as well as an estimate of how much money a student can expect to make with the degree.
Moving towards greater transparency is a necessary goal for states in this era of budgetary constraints. We do need to make sure institutions are good stewards of public funds. Keep in mind, however, that our public institutions are the best in the world and deserve to be funded as such. We cannot keep beating up universities and community colleges by only pointing out that tuition rates have grown at three times the rate of inflation without also pointing out how state funding has plummeted. Public post-secondary education is not about making a profit; it is about service, access, and opportunity. So let’s not treat schools like they are just a waste of money, they have and always will be a great device for economic prosperity in our country; a device that can be accountable to the public. I believe reports like this State report card can move us in the right direction so that institutions can prove they are spending dollars wisely and advocate for funding more effectively. –Kasey Klepfer