TCCTA lobbyist Beaman Floyd testified, on Feb. 15, before a House Appropriations subcommittee on prospective funding for community colleges. Presidents and chancellors representing two-year schools from around the state also addressed the panel.
Mr. Floyd discussed two main concerns regarding state revenue for the next biennium (2014-15).
First, he said the "chief interest" of college teachers involves the challenge of maintaining rigor in course content and pedagogy within the framework of proposals by the Coordinating Board and the Texas Association of Community Colleges for "outcomes-based" funding. For a look at these proposals, here is a link to a previous post. (The indicators are still under discussion and are likely to be modified in the coming weeks.)
TACC proposes that ten percent of funding be distributed according to institutional improvement in measurable outcomes. The chair of the House Committee on Higher Education, Rep. Dan Branch (R-Dallas), believes it should be as high as 25 percent.
"We are expected to keep rigor in our courses, and we will," Mr. Floyd said. "Course completion must always, however, be considered within the context of rigor." He told the panel that TCCTA has almost 6,000 members, and is now in its 65th year of representing community college educators.
"Very frankly, sometimes an 'F' is the best medicine—if it is earned—to awaken students to the importance of rigor," he told the panel. "When such a grade is awarded, the next step is crucial, to make sure programs are in place to help the student respond in a manner that fosters hard work and resilience."
He alluded to the forthcoming TCCTA convention, much of which will be devoted to strategies for helping under prepared students succeed, and the Texas Network for Teaching Excellence, which offers online tools and instructional techniques to accomplish the same goal.
TCCTA will remain constantly engaged at the Capitol in advocating policies that are consistent with academic integrity.
The second major emphasis of Mr. Floyd's testimony was devoted to urging a restoration of cuts made to health and retirement benefits funding during the last Regular Session. TCCTA is in full agreement with the Texas Association of Community Colleges in working to accomplish this goal, he said.
Funding for health and retirement programs was reduced drastically in 2011, reflecting a view known as "proportionality." However, since full time employees must receive these benefits, the revenue must be taken from the instructional mission of community colleges.