Friday, August 27, 2010

 

Counties

As regular readers know, I’m kind of obsessed with questions of structure in American higher education. I’m working on a book on the subject now, and I keep bumping into a series of suspicions that I can neither prove nor disprove.

I don’t know if anyone has done a serious study of this. If someone has, I’d love a reference. But if not, here’s an idea for an enterprising Ed.D. student looking for a dissertation topic...

Nationally, there are two popular funding models for community colleges. (Yes, there are infinite minor variations within them, but in general terms, this is true.)

1. The state provides a subsidy, and tuition/fees provide the rest.

2. The state provides a subsidy, the county or other local entity provides a second subsidy, and tuition/fees provide the rest. (Sometimes a service area will comprise multiple counties, but the concept is the same.)

Based on my admittedly limited observation and experience, I have a couple hypotheses about differences between the two systems.

1. All else being equal, cc’s in state-funded systems are likelier to add bachelor’s degree completion programs than cc’s in county-funded systems.

2. All else being equal, cc’s in county-funded systems will be funded at higher levels than cc’s in state-funded systems. Although there are several reasons for this, competition will be a major one.

3. All else being equal, cc’s in county-funded systems will have much more highly-charged debates about the residency status of undocumented students than will cc’s in state-funded systems. (This is because of the tuition premium for out-of-county students.)

4. All else being equal, credit transfer between cc’s and four-year state colleges will be smoother in state-funded systems than in county-funded systems. (That’s because he who pays the piper calls the tune.)

By “all else being equal,” I’m referring primarily to the population density and wealth level of the area. In other words, the relevant comparisons would be between cc’s in demographically similar areas. Such distinctions as rural/suburban/urban or wealthy/poor will obviously swamp the more subtle differences I’m trying to isolate.

Does anyone know of any good empirical work already done on any of these questions? Alternately, does anyone have some good counterexamples?

Comments:
Great suggestion!

Having seen both, I think some examination of "origins" might be important as well. This applies particularly to your hypothesis 4.

In this state, a few CCs existed with 100% local funding before they were absorbed into a state-funded system. Because the few were swamped by the many, I doubt if imposing uniform articulation rules hit any state-level political roadblocks. In addition, I suspect that state-level articulation rules for the state universities also made this easier to sell.

Where I grew up, the CCs were 100% locally funded and the state universities had no consistent transfer rules or even consistent calendars. Articulation was local, and would have remained local even if the funding all came from the state. Even today they have only the weakest possible statewide articulation scheme.

I don't think you can look at the CC system in isolation regarding hypothesis 4.

Your funding hypothesis #2 is also interesting. Property taxes can be voted down, but state funding can also change abruptly. I'd suggest a related study into the volatility of CC funding during the Great Recession across those different funding models. Our local schools (state plus local property tax) seem less stressed than the CCs are.

There is also a corollary to hypothesis #3, because local funding reduces mobility due to increased cost, even in the same state. If you live in a district articulated with State U #3 but want to go to State U #1, you face tough choices that are not encountered in a state funded system.
 
Do you know if there's a good source for data on this? Questions 3 and 4 seem a bit subjective but at least 1 and 2 should be answerable with the right dataset. Perhaps this?
http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/datacenter/
IPEDS seems like it could answer at least question 2, though there are many similar-sounding variables in the "finance" category... If I knew exactly which of their variables indicates whether a school is county-funded or state-funded and what the relevant total funding level is, it wouldn't be too hard to run a basic regression analysis.
 
Texas has a county funding model and an legislation-driven articulation agreement between CC and four-year state schools. The articulation is solid.
 
Oregon also seems to have county-funded schools (based on the name) but pretty smooth state-mandated transfer agreements (vague recollection of newspaper article). My impression is California does as well.
 
Those sound like the kind of hypotheses you could test fairly easily with a basic stat package. What you need is the dataset. Lemme know if you'd like to work together.
 
Hello, Dean.

I have a question that's kind of irrelevant to this post but relevant to the duties of the dean, and I don't have a way of emailing you (I at least looked).

I failed a class (obtained an F), and was planning to retake it based on the rules of the university. I did, and I received B. However, I was unaware that the retake policies changed (they changed after I entered the university my first semester). The retake policies changed to enable a person to drop a bad grade from a transcript and retake the class.

If you want to see the website, it is this:
http://www.uic.edu/depts/oar/student_records/course_repeat.html

However, I didn't know this was possible (and I was suppose to do the paperwork during the first week to enact this policy for myself). I was unaware and ignorant the policy had changed. I would really like to have my grade changed, though.

I feel as though I've been wronged, because I came in with knowledge of the policies when I first entered, which was the Fall of 2009. I failed the class in the Fall of 2009, and retook it during the summer of 2010.

I have talked to my advisor (and I'm 23 going on 24 soon), and he said it's not people's responsibility to be hand-holders and notify people. Of course, this was an insult, because I've helped raise children. It seems like he is implying that I'm a child. He also claimed it was my fault to not have done something. I keep thinking that these are arguments that assume I have free-will. Fact is, though, I did not have any determining factors that lead me to reading about the policy changes, as such, I didn't enact upon them.

I rebutted saying that I would have done something if I had known, for I wouldn't have wanted to do something as self-destructive as not filling out the paperwork (which would have helped me in this case to remove a bad grade from my transcript).

He told me to go to the Office of Student Affairs. I've been around that place, and I've been told about how inefficient it is at getting things done. My general belief is that they are going to deny me the ability to fix my grade. Why? I don't know. Life is cruel and society is out to get people, which is something I have come to believe as I get older.

As the Office of Student Affairs will most likely ignore me, turn me away, and call me a fool, I've considered talking to the dean. He seems to be a pretty high-up guy. I'm not sure how feasible it is to visit and directly talk to him. However, I am starting to feel that is what I have to do.

How do you think I should approach the dean about my issue? How can I persuade the dean to allow me to have my grade changed?

I put in the hardwork for the class. I don't know why they won't be kind enough to change the grade.

What do you think I should do?

Thank you for reading.
 
Hello, Dean.

I have a question that's kind of irrelevant to this post but relevant to the duties of the dean, and I don't have a way of emailing you (I at least looked).

I failed a class (obtained an F), and was planning to retake it based on the rules of the university. I did, and I received B. However, I was unaware that the retake policies changed (they changed after I entered the university my first semester). The retake policies changed to enable a person to drop a bad grade from a transcript and retake the class.

If you want to see the website, it is this:
http://www.uic.edu/depts/oar/student_records/course_repeat.html

However, I didn't know this was possible (and I was suppose to do the paperwork during the first week to enact this policy for myself). I was unaware and ignorant the policy had changed. I would really like to have my grade changed, though.

I feel as though I've been wronged, because I came in with knowledge of the policies when I first entered, which was the Fall of 2009. I failed the class in the Fall of 2009, and retook it during the summer of 2010.

I have talked to my advisor (and I'm 23 going on 24 soon), and he said it's not people's responsibility to be hand-holders and notify people. Of course, this was an insult, because I've helped raise children. It seems like he is implying that I'm a child. He also claimed it was my fault to not have done something. I keep thinking that these are arguments that assume I have free-will. Fact is, though, I did not have any determining factors that lead me to reading about the policy changes, as such, I didn't enact upon them.

I rebutted saying that I would have done something if I had known, for I wouldn't have wanted to do something as self-destructive as not filling out the paperwork (which would have helped me in this case to remove a bad grade from my transcript).

He told me to go to the Office of Student Affairs. I've been around that place, and I've been told about how inefficient it is at getting things done. My general belief is that they are going to deny me the ability to fix my grade. Why? I don't know. Life is cruel and society is out to get people, which is something I have come to believe as I get older.

As the Office of Student Affairs will most likely ignore me, turn me away, and call me a fool, I've considered talking to the dean. He seems to be a pretty high-up guy. I'm not sure how feasible it is to visit and directly talk to him. However, I am starting to feel that is what I have to do.

I put in the hardwork for the class. I don't know why they won't be kind enough to change the grade.

What do you think I should do?

Thank you for reading.
 
sorry for the double post; there was a bug
 
Anonymous -

According to that UIC posting of what is presumably the content of their current catalog

"The new Repeating a Course and GPA Recalculation policies apply to all undergraduate students entering UIC in Fall 2009 or later. Continuing students who entered UIC before Fall 2009 may select one of two options. They may either follow the old Grade Forgiveness policy found under University Degree Requirements in the Undergraduate Catalog in effect at the time of their admission to UIC."

You entered in Fall 2009, so this policy applies to you.

HOWEVER, if you were given a copy of the 2008 catalog when you enrolled rather than a copy of the 2009 catalog and this policy is not in what you were given, I would recommend filing a written appeal through formal channels (office of student records) documenting such details as the date when you were admitted and went through orientation and the version of the catalog you were given at that time.

If you were given the 2009 catalog that contains this statement, you have no basis for appeal.

BTW, an adviser is the wrong person to talk to about this. The registrar may also be the wrong person to talk to about this. Admissions (which seems to be the same office) might be a friendlier place to start IF it was their mistake in the first place.

PS -
If you were to attend my CC and transfer to some third school, that F grade would vanish. It might even vanish if you transferred back to the same school with an AA. I've yet to see an ad that says "We launder transcripts" as a pitch to reverse transfer students, but we don't really need to tell them that.
 
Just to set the terms of the debate, I view "strong" articulation as the situation where a student at any CC anywhere in the state can transfer to ANY state university with an AA and have every one of the freshman and sophomore requirements met for ANY major offered in that state. No extra general education classes, no need to take "their" organic chemistry or major's biology or engineering physics classes or a special humanities course; you just jump right into the junior-level courses for your major. The only drag on the AA transfer student is that some "native" students start taking junior-level classes as a freshman or sophomore.

Our state comes pretty close to this with only a few exceptions.
 
@Anon: play the game, or don't. The cost to you of filing the petition and following channels is trivial.

Separately, colleges listen to lawyers. If it's a big deal, hire one.
 
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