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Archive for Thursday, March 5, 1998

IN FIGHT FOR HIGHER-ED PLAN

March 5, 1998

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A state legislator says he has been trying to clear up misconceptions about a higher-education reform plan before the Kansas House.

It has been an uphill battle trying to win support for a higher-education reform plan now before the Kansas House, says one of the plan's chief craftsmen.

``I've been a little stymied as to how to address the regents community's concerns, because the concerns are so vague,'' Rep. Ed McKechnie, D-Pittsburg, said Wednesday.

McKechnie is ranking minority member of the House Select Committee on Higher Education, which plans a hearing late this afternoon on the new plan.

McKechnie said the concerns he has heard from the state's university communities deal with what it means for a proposed Council on Postsecondary Education to govern and coordinate the state's six regents universities and Washburn University while merely ``coordinating'' the state's community colleges, area vocational schools and technical colleges.

McKechnie said he thinks many who criticize the coordination aspects have said they don't think the plan makes any changes because it leaves local boards in control of those schools.

``I can't find a single person who will really come and say this doesn't do more,'' McKechnie said.

In terms of coordination, the proposal calls for the council to:

  • Develop comprehensive long-range plans that accommodate change and encourage innovation for all aspects of academic, vocational and lifelong learning in Kansas.
  • Determine institutional roles and approve institutional missions.
  • Require the development of institutional master plans that, within the role and mission of each institution, address programs, facilities and other matters.
  • Develop measurable performance indicators that ensure periodic evaluation of program quality, provide accountability and serve as a basis for appropriating revenue.
  • Review and approve degree programs and conduct ongoing program review.
  • Recommend statewide funding levels.
  • Oversee cooperative programs among institutions to improve course transferability, coordinate services in shared areas and share resources.
  • Administer statewide student financial assistance programs.
  • Develop and implement long-range plans for using distance learning to make programs available for students.

-- Dave Toplikar's phone message number is 832-7151. His e-mail address is toplikar@ljworld.com.

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