Ed. Schools Coping Poorly With Fiscal Trouble, Study Says
Teacher-training programs are suffering serious, widespread fiscal difficulties that "could very well result in the elimination of education programs in some universities," and, in general, the leaders of these programs have done little to assess the effects of their financial problems or to find ways of lessening their impact.
These are among the findings of five former education-school deans who have spent several months studying the fiscal well-being of many of the nation's largest education schools--those housed in the state, land-grant, and major private universities.
Their draft report offers an unusual "inside" appraisal of the impact of the budget cuts and enrollment drops that these schools have suffered in recent years and of how the schools are coping with them.
The report was commissioned for consideration at the annual meeting in St. Louis this week of the Association of Schools and Colleges of Education in State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges and Private Affiliated Universities, an organization of the deans of many major education schools.
It was written by William G. Monahan, a professor at West Virginia University's College of Human Resources and Education and a past president of the deans' group, in collaboration with four other education faculty members who have recently served as deans of their institutions: George Denemark of the University of Kentucky, Robert Egbert of the University of Nebraska, Frederick Giles of the University of Kansas, and Donald McCarty of the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
The conclusions presented in the study, Mr. Monahan said, are based on a survey of the 119 members of the "land-grant deans' association" and on interviews with a number of deans. Only large, doctorate-granting schools were included, he noted, and no interviews were conducted with heads of schools in the Deep South or Sun Belt.
Of the 81 schools that responded to the survey, 14--or 18 percent--said that significant reorganization involving elimination, consolidation, or transferral of programs is in process or under consideration.
The schools in this category include Michigan State University, the University of Michigan, the University of Minnesota, the Indiana University, and the State University of New York at Buffalo.
Another 26 schools--or 32 percent--said they have suffered budget cuts that are curtailing programs and services.
However, in what the report terms an "unexpected state of affairs," 19 schools--including Ohio State University, the University of Oklahoma, and Northwestern University--reported that they are expanding their programs and budgets.
Richard M. Brandt, president of the
deans' group, noted that "in several cases" these budget increases follow sharp budget declines over the past several years.
Among the committee's other findings:
Education schools and their universities have done little planning "and practically none that impresses [us] as sophisticated and useful" in forecasting their fiscal difficulties. "There are some notable exceptions, but not many," the report says.
Few institutions have taken steps to "revitalize" undergraduate teacher-preparation programs, and instead have focused on the survival of graduate programs.
"Impression has it," the report says, "that much of this kind of consideration is not well conceived or necessarily helpful in the solution of resource problems. On the contrary, probably the opposite is more likely."
There is "almost universal" interest on the part of education schools in countering declining enrollments by training people to teach in ''human-services fields," or settings other than schools. "These considerations seem not to be very well conceived," the report notes, "but reflect, instead, a kind of grasping for life."
"In almost any academic corner of any major university, whether in the business schools or the humanities and the sciences, there is a substantial opinion that the preparation of [educators] is not warranted as a function which requires so much of the university's resources," the report says.