March 16, 2012

PA: Penn State denies privatization, despite talk
Though Penn State insists it is not looking to become a private institution, education experts aren’t surprised the school is considering its options in light of state funding cuts that have led other public universities to the same types of discussions…Penn State’s public financial support has been steadily eroding. Most recently, Gov. Tom Corbett proposed cutting $64 million in aid to the university next year, which would come on top of a $68 million cut this year…Going private would be complicated, said Tanner, of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. One major issue is ownership of facilities, since public money bought the land on which such colleges sit and paid for many of the buildings and infrastructure, he said. But perhaps the bigger question is about mission, said Tanner. Land-grant schools have a commitment to providing educational opportunities for a broader range of students, including those with the most financial need….” No state has formally privatized its public higher education system, but some have been given more autonomy in the face of declining public support, said Julie Bell, education program director for the National Conference of State Legislatures. Gary Fethke, a professor of management sciences and economics at the University of Iowa, said that higher funding levels are never coming back. Public universities would be better off accepting that and planning accordingly, he said.
“We are evolving toward privatization whether we want to or not,” Fethke said. The Tribune-Democrat

LA: House panel clears school charter, voucher bill as teachers pack Capitol
After a marathon hearing amid a circuslike atmosphere at the Louisiana Capitol, Gov. Bobby Jindal’s allies on the House Education Committee gave their blessing Wednesday to a sweeping proposal that would expand charter schools and launch a statewide program that directs taxpayer money for schools to private school tuition vouchers. The Times-Picayune

ID: Idaho bill on education company oversight dies
Legislation aimed at bringing more oversight to private education companies receiving Idaho tax dollars failed Wednesday amid concerns it was too broad and that adequate transparency measures were already in place. The Idaho Statesman

ME: School choice, public money for private religious schools draw public to hearings
Bills on school choice and government funding of private, religious schools that are part of Gov. Paul LePage’s education package proved to be controversial for the public, which had its first chance to comment on the measures Thursday. Bangor Daily News