What’s going on at Texas A&M will likely happen or be tried at many state universities all over Texas. But it’s all part of the plan. Privatization schemes, like what is being proposed at A&M, are a way to funnel taxpayer money to corporations that fund the campaigns of those who “deregulate”. Here’s what deregulation has done to tuition at public universities, Higher education: Texas state universities to seek tuition hikes.
Legislators in 2003 gave the governing boards of state universities, whose members are appointed by Gov. Rick Perry, the ability to raise tuition after cutting funding for higher education by $181 million to help close a $10 billion state budget shortfall.
Since then, the statewide average total academic charges for a student taking 15 semester credit hours at a public university has increased by 83 percent, according to the state’s Higher Education Coordinating Board.
The so-call free market is driving up the price of higher education, no surprise there. But in order to make it look like they’re trying to cut costs, university chancellors will go after the lowest paid workers, (who can’t afford a lobbyist), what they consider to be non-essential employees. As with other privatizations schemes this will likely fail, and only cost taxpayers, and working Texans, more in the long run. With only the corporations and those whose campaigns they bankroll benefitting.
Here’s the conclusion of a study of privatization in Texas done by Texans for Public Justice in 2007, Peddling Welfare-Privatization Boondoggles.
Over the past decade, Texas officials and state contractors and their lobbyists repeatedly have grossly underestimated the costs—and wildly exaggerated the benefits—of social service privatizations. The best of these mismanaged projects have failed to perform as promised; the worst of them have wasted hundreds of millions of tax dollars. As a result, some of the privatization contractors and lobbyists profiled here are among the best-paid and least-deserving welfare recipients in Texas.
It’s not a pretty picture. There’s a considerable amount of backlash against Texas A&M Chancellor John Sharp’s plan to outsource the university’s dining services, landscaping, custodial services and building maintenance. In the latest the faculty has written Sharp about this, Faculty challenge Texas A&M proposal to outsource jobs.
The plan to potentially outsource hundreds of rank-and-file Texas A&M jobs to the private sector will hurt morale and represents micromanagement of the university by the A&M System, the executive committee of the Faculty Senate wrote to Chancellor John Sharp last week.
“This worrisome trend has escalated over recent years and has, in nearly every case, resulted in outcomes that were detrimental to the university and rarely increased efficiencies or saved money,” stated the letter signed by Faculty Senate Speaker Michael Benedik. “We believe that this current attempt will likewise follow that trend.”
Sharp is taking heat for this and doesn’t seem to like the scrutiny. On a local radio show the Chair or the Brazos County Democratic Party Maggie Charleton was interviewed. She stated, among other things, how this will hurt the workers, the community, and that she wants to make sure that all options are being explored to cut costs. Sharp, in his response, starts with and non-sequitor and by bashing Democrats in Texas.
Sharp has a job to do and this certainly seems like a done-deal barring some sort of backlash against it. But it’s not all his fault. Until Texans realize that this is the result of the decisions we’ve been making on election day, whether by who we vote for or choosing not to vote, then nothing is going to change. If we value our state’s public university system, and a family attitude between faculty, workers, and students then we must elect people that believe that too.
We haven’t been doing that for the better part of the last three decades. The people that have been getting elected in Texas believe that if we sell our government to the highest bidder everything will be better. That is why what is happening at A&M is a microcosm of what’s happening to Texas. And it’s why nothing will change as long as Rick Perry keeps appointing his college buddies to positions of power in Texas.