Archive for Thursday, October 7, 2010

Education saturation

A proposal from Emporia State University raises valid questions about coordination and duplication within the state’s higher education system.

October 7, 2010


Kansas University officials may not have cause to be miffed at Emporia State University for infringing on KU’s “geographic service area,” but a proposal for Emporia to offer bachelor’s degrees in education at Johnson County Community College has other issues that the Kansas Board of Regents should consider.

The board’s Academic Affairs Committee agreed Tuesday to delay consideration of Emporia’s proposal for at least a month. The intention was to allow interested parties to discuss the matter further.

During that time, the regents also should have some discussions of their own about the remote programs being offered by both community colleges and state universities who are under the board’s umbrella.

On Tuesday Regent Ed McKechnie took what many people would consider a well-deserved shot at KU, saying “The criticism of KU is they only teach what they want, when they want, where they want with no concern for the student.”

If the KU School of Education tried harder to accommodate students from the Kansas City area by offering more night classes in Lawrence or additional classes at the Edwards Campus in Johnson County, there might have been less of an opportunity for Emporia at JCCC. Complaining about Emporia coming into KU’s “geographic” area seems a little childish.

Nonetheless, KU’s argument that they hadn’t pursued such opportunities because the Kansas City market is over-saturated with teachers programs should give the regents cause for pause.

Over the years, the regents have repeatedly expressed concern about program duplication at state universities, asking whether the state really needs, for instance, law schools at both KU and Washburn or duplicate engineering programs at different universities. At the same time, however, they’ve allowed community colleges to set up all kinds of remote programs that reached far beyond their campuses. Those schools have spent considerable money offering classes and building new facilities in cities that are hundreds of miles from their home campuses. In many cases, those cities already had similar programs either in their city or within a reasonable distance.

Making education convenient for students is one thing, but the proliferation of competing programs across the state involves the kind of wasteful spending that should concern the regents. In fact, it was noted at Tuesday’s meeting that Emporia already operates a program at Kansas City Kansas Community College that’s similar to the one proposed at JCCC. Why do they need another program just a few miles away?

KU should try harder to address the criticism cited by McKechnie, but the regents also should be concerned about state universities and community colleges spending state resources to extend their reach into areas where their services aren’t really needed.


Kookamooka 7 years, 8 months ago

Competition is good for the student. More affordable choices. KU is a research institution. Most education professors leave school districts after a few years in the field. Most will tell you, point blank, they didn't like teaching children. They are poor teachers in general but like research. So...they are charged with preparing our future classroom educators? Go figure. What if that were true in other fields. "I don't like practicing law-I'm not good at it, so I'll teach other people how to practice law." Its ridiculous.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 8 months ago

"At the same time, however, they’ve allowed community colleges to set up all kinds of remote programs that reached far beyond their campuses. Those schools have spent considerable money offering classes and building new facilities in cities that are hundreds of miles from their home campuses."

Hundreds of miles? Community Colleges have very well defined areas of service. I believe Lawrence and Douglas County are included in the area of Highland Community College. Perhaps in western Kansas, community colleges are establishing programs 100's of miles from their campuses, but that's kind of to be expected.

average 7 years, 8 months ago

KS CC map:

Douglas County is not officially tied to a CC, which is why programs from JCCC, KCKCC, and Highland all occasionally show up here. Same with the Barton outreach in Junction City. But Neosho CC would raise a mighty stink if JCCC started offering classes in Ottawa.

areyousure 7 years, 8 months ago

There are engineering schools at more than one university because there are students to fill the classes. Having only one engineering school at one of the state's universities won't allow that same number of students to earn a degree. The number of instructors and classrooms required won't develop overnight. Limiting the number of engineering students won't help with the shortage of engineers.

And what programs are offered at a school directly impacts the endowment funds of a university. Graduates from engineering and business donate a lot money than graduates from teaching or social sciences.

Universities offer a range of courses so students have choices. How many freshmen graduate with the same degree that they thought that they wanted as a senior in high school? The more programs offered on a campus, the more exposure students have for options for this decision. If KU became the university for engineers and business in Kansas, ESU for teaching and K-State for sciences, doesn't that just move us closer to that place where students are earning a degree rather than than getting an education as was in the editorial over the weekend?

And what concern would the Regents have with the law school at Washburn? I don't believe that university is under their sphere of influence.

JayCat_67 7 years, 8 months ago

Actually, that particular criticism of KU's education program has been around for a long time. A friend of my wife (a dyed in the wool, crimson and blue bleeding KU fan) ended up getting her ed degree from K-State back in the early 90's, just because getting the degree at KU was an unnecessary pain in the rear. Looks like it hasn't changed any. If ESU, which has an excellent reputation in education, can offer a quality program at JCCC... too bad for KU.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.