Louisiana Voice’s excellent article on Moody’s warning that our state higher education cannot absorb further cuts argues that, “[t]he problem at this point is twofold: Gov. Bobby refuses to take steps to increase revenue and legislators lack sufficient backbone to face Bobby down for fear of losing precious projects in their districts by veto. The legislature always blinks first.”
Actually, there is a third aspect to this problem that Moody’s identified in their report: enrollment.
Now projected declines in high school graduates can’t necessarily be blamed on Bobby Jindal unless it’s because people are bolting John Galt’s Paradise on the Bayou. But one thing can be traced to him. According to Moody’s, “Increased admission standards for four-year public universities, implemented most recently in 2012, provide additional constraints to enrollment growth at four-year universities.”
Yes, they cited the admissions standards in their report… the ones that were announced with GRAD Act in 2010, first went into effect at “statewide” institutions in 2012, and were fully enacted at all other institutions in 2014.
But this is just policy, right? Can’t the Board of Regents just change the admissions criteria?
It’s in Jindal’s showpiece legislation for higher education: GRAD Act I.
In the law, postsecondary instituions which entered into agreements with the state (by the way, no one had any choice) were to “eliminate remedial education course offerings and developmental study programs unless such courses or programs cannot be offered at a community college in the same geographic area.”
This may not sound like a big deal. But this is huge.
Because most Louisiana high school graduates need at least one developmental course (as defined by state ACT benchmarks). It means that most students do not meet the four year admission standards.
So if fewer students meet the standards, you have fewer students.
And Moody’s gets it, even if no one else in this state does. The admission criteria, and Jindal’s law preventing our high school graduates from gaining four-year state college admission, are affecting our bottom line.
As I’ve said before, it’s hard to go to a more tuition-driven funding model when you allow fewer students in to fund you.