I figured I’d post it here because it’s informative and I’m quite proud of it.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Gov. Rick Scott is considering changes to higher education that would put limits on tenure and introduce a merit-based system for paying professors.
The plan, modeled after one proposed by Texas Gov. Rick Perry, would stop raises for professors. Instead, it would focus on giving the top 25 percent of professors bonuses based on a number of factors, including the number of students they teach, the amount of research money they bring in and student evaluations.
“What would be conspicuously lacking would be the kind of peer-reviewed merit criteria that’s been traditional in higher education for decades,” said John Biro, president of the University of Florida chapter of the United Faculty of Florida, the state’s faculty union.
Scott is exploring this plan as a way to reduce budget deficits in Florida. According to his plan, implementing bonuses rather than raises for faculty would cut costs and serve as an incentive for professors to work harder, as well as keeping taxes low.
He’s also been promoting the “Seven Breakthrough Solutions” – the basis of the Texas plan – among people he’s thinking about appointing to the college board of trustees, according to Tom Auxter, the statewide president of the United Faculty of Florida.
“When [students] get a diploma, it’s just going to be a piece of paper that says they’ve been a warm body in a bunch of classes,” Auxter said. “It’s a system that is set up to fail.”
Opponents of this reform say that the new plan would cause universities to be run as businesses – and students would be the customers.
“The idea that you can make a university into a business, in which students are the customers and professors are supposed to deliver what the customer wants…how does that help to provide the kind of education you will need in this increasingly competitive world?” Biro said.
In addition to the “Seven Breakthrough Solutions,” Scott has tried to eliminate tenure as a way to save on higher education. Auxter worries that the combination of a merit-pay system and the elimination of tenure will cause more experienced faculty to leave, as well as stop new faculty from coming to universities in Florida to teach.
“It’s not a merit-pay system, it’s a bonus system…you get a one-time only award,” he said. “This is going to be a real disaster for Florida universities.”
Though this plan has not been officially proposed to the legislature, it is likely to because of preparations Scott is already making – such as promoting the “Seven Breakthrough Solutions.”
It has already been viciously opposed by the United Faculty of Florida, despite the fact that Scott believes these changes will reduce the state’s deficit.
“We’re here to serve the students,” Biro said. “But not as customers.”