As many readers may know, I am a former student body president at the University of South Florida and higher education policy has been an interest of mine ever since. As reported by a number of media outlets, House Speaker Dean Cannon would like to reform our higher education system:
From the Florida Current:
House Speaker Dean Cannon used his speech at the opening of the 2012 legislative session on Tuesday to warn that the state university system is “racing toward mediocrity” and to announce that this session will be the time to start at least laying the groundwork for changes.
From the Orlando Sentinel:
Cannon, a term-limited Winter Park Republican who has secured tens of millions in funding for the University of Central Florida over the years, including a new medical school, said part of the problem was that lawmakers had for decades acted parochially to support their hometown schools.
“We have a Board of Governors unsure of how to exercise its authority or execute its mission,” Cannon said. “And we, as a Legislature, and I freely include myself in this critique, have contributed to the problem by parochially advancing the interests of our local university or college at the expense of the system as a whole. If left unchecked, we will continue to have a higher education system that is aggressively racing to the middle.”
However, vast changes will take time. The Miami Herald reported:
Speaking to reporters later in the day, Cannon said he would like to see lawmakers take on “strategic, big-picture issues” in higher education — but said he did not have any specific reforms in mind.
He also didn’t have a clear timetable.
“My goal… is to start the conversation,” Cannon said. “It may or may not see legislation this year.”
I will be watching this issue during the 2012 session and beyond.