Spellings Report

How to improve higher education was the topic of conversation at the University of Houston. The chairman of a commission on higher education discussed the controversial report. Houston Public Radio's Capella Tucker reports.

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Houston businessman Charles Miller chaired the U.S. Commission on the future of Higher Education. It touched on a variety of topics including access and affordability of higher education. Miller says the different education systems need to stop blaming the other.

"The K through 12 system blames the social standing of the community. The higher ed system says the K through 12 system sent me the poor kids. The business community says you're sending me kids are not what I want to have, what's the matter with you all. And what we need is the whole circle to close and everybody be involved in the solution."

Miller says the education systems need to take responsibility. He says higher education saying they are the best in the world shows complacency. Another recommendation is to align K through 12 education with colleges and universities. That's been a topic on the mind of HISD Superintendent Abe Saavedra.

"The idea of an education being K through 16 is something that we all need to embrace. For so long we really never have crossed the line between public ed and higher ed and now we are starting to break down those lines."

Another part of the report deals with accountability of higher education. This is the part that concerns University of Houston Economics Professor Stevens Craig who is president of the faculty senate.

"If you look at our educational system in the world, our elementary and secondary education are at the bottom of all the industrial countries. And our higher education system is at the top of all the industrial countries. So when you want to take attributes of the elementary and secondary education and apply it to higher education that sounds sort of inverted to me."

Craig suggests better measurements would be looking at how students do in life after graduation to determine how well a higher education institution is doing.

"I think you should measure our students one, five, ten and 20 years out and are they effective members of our communities, effective members of our businesses."

Part of the goal of the commission's report is to start a dialogue about higher education's future. The education secretary is expected to hold meetings and a possible summit early next year to discuss the ideas in the report. A link to the report can be found at KUHF dot org. Capella Tucker, Houston Public Radio News.

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