Public Purpose Magazine, Spring 2014
Public Purpose Spring 2014 - Cover

Core Values: Making the Case for the Common CoreIf they hope to reap its benefits for higher education, public universities need to help make the case for the Common CoreBy Stephen G. Pelletier

Looking at the educational standards known as the Common Core from the perspective of higher education, one might say, “What’s not to like?” The standards raise the bar so that more students will graduate from high school “college ready” in mathematics and English language arts. Assuming the standards are successful, that means that fewer students will need remediation in university-level courses—and that more students will succeed in college overall.

In the abstract, therefore, it stands to reason that colleges and universities ought to be strong supporters of the Commo Core. But colleges and universities live not in the abstract but in the real world. And the reality is that the Common Core has been taken up by some political circles as a wedge issue, and has thus become a flashpoint for sometimes rancorous political debate.

Look past all the shouting, though, and it remains clear that the Common Core advances educational quality in general—and offers significant benefits for higher education. A challenge for AASCU leaders, therefore, is to balance political considerations in their states with the potentially substantial benefits that the Common Core can bring to their institutions. In other words, in practical terms, how should AASCU leaders step up to help make the case for the Common Core?

Getting a Handle on Performance-Based FundingBy Michelle R. Davis

Putting students on a faster track to graduation, boosting degree completion rates, and accepting low-income students are all metrics many states are now scrutinizing as they decide where to funnel valuable public higher education dollars.

Across the country legislators are looking for a return on their investment in higher education by setting tangible goals for colleges and universities that often dovetail with state educational objectives. These performance-based funding models, sometimes also called outcomes-based funding models, are spreading from state to state and becoming part of the landscape of higher education financial support.

According to the September 2013 report “Performance- Based Funding: The National Landscape” from the Education Policy Center at the University of Alabama, 22 states had some form of performance-based funding in place at that time, seven states were transitioning to such a policy, and 10 states were having formal discussions surrounding the possibility. Only 12 states had no formal activity in the area.

University and college presidents need to be both aware of this funding model and proactive on this front, said Daniel J. Hurley, AASCU’s associate vice president for government relations and state policy.

“If performancebased funding has not yet come to your state, chances are good that it may be coming in the near future,” Hurley said. “It’s best if the higher education community Getting a on Performance-Based Funding By Michelle R. Davis Handle Spring 2014 n Public Purpose 13 takes the lead on it and helps craft it, as opposed to having state lawmakers and officials dictate the funding formula.” 

The Important Work of Keeping Guns Off CampusBy Andy Pelosi and John Johnson

Colleges and universities are charged with providing a safe environment for students, faculty, staff and visitors. Accordingly, nearly all colleges and universities—public and private—have adopted policies that prohibit or severely restrict firearm possession on their campuses.

These gun-free policies have helped make postsecondary education institutions some of the safest places in the country. According to the U.S. Department of Education, the number of homicides on U.S. college campuses is typically less than 25 deaths per year. Additionally, the department has placed the overall homicide rate on college campuses at .07 per 100,000 persons. In comparison, the homicide rate in the United States for persons aged 17 to 29 is 14.1 per 100,000 persons, a rate 200 times that in the college population. 

EndSights: Celebrating CitizenshipHow Public Universities Can Strengthen Citizenship and DemocracyBy William V. Flores and Noël Bezette-Flores

Public universities have a special mission. We not only educate tomorrow’s leaders in society and prepare students for future careers, we create citizens who are educated and engaged.

Indeed, the founders of our nation, including Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, felt that an educated and engaged citizenry is essential to the preservation of the fragile fabric of democracy. So, how can we engage students to participate in the broader society as we educate them?

We can begin with the foundation of service as espoused by historian William Cronon, who said that education should “aspire to nurture the growth of human talent in the service of human freedom.” Cities are best served when their residents actively participate in issues that affect their lives, improve living conditions and build connections with others. Individuals gain by volunteerism—by helping others, we help ourselves.