Monday, August 29, 2016

The Gentrification of Public Higher Education - Part 12


More Details About the Victims of PASSHE Gentrification



Last time we estimated that between 2002 and 2011, some 11,270 of PASSHE’s less-affluent (Q1 & Q2) students (who in 2011 accounted for two-thirds of all PASSHE students) were displaced by 11,270 of PASSHE’s more-affluent (Q3 & Q4) students (who then accounted for one-third of all PASSHE students).



The PASSHE universities include Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester.



During the nine year period, the percentage of less-affluent students in PASSHE’s total student body fell from 80% to 67%, as the percentage of more-affluent students grew from 20% to 33%.



These figures reveal what the rapid gentrification of PASSHE universities looks like in terms of numbers.   



The four Quartiles of annual family incomes of PASSHE students have the following ranges and averages:



Quartile 1 has a family income range from $0 to $40,000, with an average of $17,863.

Quartile 2 has a family income range from $40,000 to $69,999, with an average of $54,817.

Quartile 3 has a family income range from $70,000 to $99,999, with an average of $83,816.

Quartile 4 has a family income range from $100,000 or higher, with an average of $135,677.



Having already estimated the number of victims of PASSHE gentrification between 2002 and 2011, we will now estimate the racial and ethnic breakdown of those 11,270 less-affluent PASSHE students who were displaced by an equal number of more-affluent PASSHE students.



A Definition of “Poverty



While the terms “less-affluent” and “more-affluent” are very relative, the income ranges and averages for the four quartiles listed above allow one to connect PASSHE family income statistics with public data on National and State poverty rates by race and ethnicity. 



For example, according to an interactive U.S. Census Bureau website¹ entitled “Poverty thresholds by Size of Family and Number of Children,” the Federal “poverty level” in 2011 was defined by the Census Bureau in terms of a sliding scale of annual family incomes ranging from $17,916 to $43,487, depending on the number of adults and the number of children under age 18 living there.



Note that this poverty range overlaps the “above average” portion of PASSHE’s Q1 range!  This means that the “below average” portion of PASSHE’s Q1 range falls far below Federal “Poverty Threshold,” and yet in Pennsylvania, those students can’t go to college because of the PASSHE Gentrification Policy.



Recall that this policy is a direct consequence of the PASSHE Board of Governors’ Act 188-defying focus on the “lowest possible tuition” (i.e., sticker price), rather than on the Act 188-mandated “lowest possible cost to the students” (i.e., bottom line).



PASSHE’s Gentrification Policy is a cruel consequence of a lawless decision.  And because the Board of Governors refuses to follow the law, there is too little tuition discounting to save those students.   

Poverty Rate by Race/Ethnicity in America



According to a 2014 study² by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the United States had 47 million people (or 15% of the total U.S. population that year) in poverty.



Of those 47 million: 20 million (10%) are White: 10 million (26%) are Black; 13 million (29%) are Hispanic; and 4 million (15%) are Other.



The above poverty numbers add up to 47 million total people in poverty in the U.S., as they must.  But the percentages do not add to 100%.  The reason is that the individual percentages refer not to the size of the U.S. population, but rather to the size of the population of each racial/ethnic subgroup.

That is:



20 million Whites (10% of the White population in the U.S.) were in poverty in 2014;

10 million Blacks (26% of the Black population in the U.S.) were in poverty in 2014;

13 million Hispanics (29% of the Hispanic population in the U.S. were in poverty in 2014; and

  4 million Other (15% of the Other population in the U.S. were in poverty in 2014.



To see a more detailed racial/ethnic breakdown, click the attached link to a helpful pie-chart.³



Poverty Rate by Race/Ethnicity in Pennsylvania



The same Kaiser Family Foundation report cited earlier also lists the poverty rate data for all fifty states, including Pennsylvania.² That is:



1.6 million Pennsylvania citizens (13 percent of Pennsylvania’s total population) were in poverty in 2014;

900,000 Whites (9% of the White population of Pennsylvania) were in poverty in 2014;

327,000 Blacks (25% of the Black population of Pennsylvania) were in poverty in 2014;

267,000 Hispanics (29% of the Hispanic population of Pennsylvania) were in poverty in 2014;

99,600 Other (13% of the Other population of Pennsylvania) were in poverty in 2014.³



Racial/Ethnic Breakdown of PASSHE Gentrification Victims



Note from the previous discussion that of the 1.6 million Pennsylvania citizens in poverty in 2014:

900,000 (56.3%) were White;

327,000 (20.6%) were Black;

267,000 (16.9% were Hispanic; and

99,600 (6.3%) were Other.



The above percentages reflect the relative shares of Pennsylvania’s racial/ethnic minorities who are in poverty.  Those same percentages—applied to the total number (11,270) of less-affluent students displaced by PASSHE Gentrification between 2002 and 2011—should provide a good estimate of the impact of PASSHE gentrification on the various segments of the less-affluent PASSHE population:



Accordingly, of the 11,270 students displaced (a euphemism for students denied a PASSHE education):

6,334 of those displaced students were White;

2,320 of those displaced students were Black;

1,899 of those displaced students were Hispanic;

707 of those displaced students were Other.



Despite their racial and ethnic differences, all of those students had two important things in common: 1) They were college ready; and 2) They couldn’t afford a PASSHE education due to cruel, conscious and law-defying policy decisions made by the PASSHE Board of Governors.  



To be continued.



Monday, August 22, 2016

The Gentrification of Public Higher Education - Part 11


The Victims of PASSHE Gentrification



Virtually every word in the dictionary has “synonyms,” that is words that carry roughly the same meaning; but many words have few if any “antonyms,” that is words that carry an opposite meaning.



For example the word “victim,” defined as “someone or something sacrificed or preyed upon,”  has thirty-six synonyms but only two antonyms—“criminal” and “culprit”—according to Thesaurus.com



“PASSHE gentrification” has been defined as “the displacement of less-affluent students by more-affluent students in PASSHE classrooms.”  The existence of gentrification trends at public universities across America generally has been documented since the 1990s.²  The existence of gentrification at PASSHE universities was first documented by Chart 21 in my book, Privatization Without a Plan in 2013.³  
 

In previous blog posts we have focused primarily on the “culprits” behind “PASSHE Gentrification,” that is, the elected and appointed officials who control every aspect of the PASSHE system of 14 universities.



The PASSHE universities include Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester.

Synonym and Antonym



The words “benefit” and “detriment” form a perfect synonym/antonym pair:  Each is the antonym of the other!  Just as there must be a culprit for every victim; there must also be a benefit for every detriment.



Question: “Who are the victims of PASSHE gentrification?”  Or equivalently, “To whom is PASSHE gentrification detrimental?”



Answer:  A closer look at Chart 21³ by means of a small spreadsheet⁴ answers that question:



Between 2002 and 2011, the pace of gentrification at a typical PASSHE university (depicted by Chart 21) increased dramatically as seen from the following figures:



In the span of those ten years (with nine changes), the percentage of less-affluent PASSHE students (from the bottom two quartiles of annual family income) fell from 80% to 67%.



At the same time, the percentage of more-affluent PASSHE students (from the top two quartiles of annual family income) grew from 20% to 33%.    



A shift from 80%/20% to 67%/33% is clearly huge, but the true impact of what PASSHE gentrification is doing to the majority (67%) of PASSHE students is best seen in the dollars, rather than the percentages.



Quartile 1 has a family income range from $0 to $40,000, with an average of $17,863.

Quartile 2 has a family income range from $40.000 to $69,999, with an average of $54,817.

Quartile 3 has a family income range from $70,000 to $99,999, with an average of $83,816.

Quartile 4 has a family income range from $100,000 or higher, with an average of $135,677.



To get a sense of how many less-affluent students have been displaced by more-affluent students from 2002 to 2011, one needs to convert the percentages in Chart 21 into numbers by using total enrollment for each of the years.  An attached spreadsheet⁵ calculates those figures.  They are summarized below:  



1.       421 Quartile 1 students were displaced by more affluent students between 2002 and 2011;

2.       384 Quartile 2 students were displaced by more affluent students between 2002 and 2011;

3.       167 Quartile 3 students displaced less affluent students between 2002 and 2011; and

4.       639 Quartile 4 students displaced less affluent students between 2002 and 2011.



In total then, 805 (421+384) Q1 and Q2 students were displaced by more affluent students;

And 805 (167+639) Q3 and Q4 students displaced the less affluent students. 



Since these data represent the gentrification figures for just one PASSHE university whose size was intermediate among the other thirteen PASSHE universities, the total gentrification figures for PASSHE as a 14-university system would come to approximately 11,270 (805 x 14).  



From 2002 to 2011, some 11,270 less-affluent PASSHE students were displaced by an equal number of more-affluent PASSHE students.  Since it took place over ten years (nine changes), the average annual loss of less-affluent students (and gain of more-affluent students) was about 1,250 per year (11,270/9).



Between 2002 and 2011, some 11,270 of PASSHE’s less-affluent (Q1 & Q2) students (who in 2011 accounted for about two-thirds of all PASSHE students) were displaced by some 11, 270 of PASSHE’s more-affluent (Q3 & Q4) students (who in 2011 accounted for about one-third of all PASSHE students).



Who are the Beneficiaries of PASSHE Gentrification?

 

The beneficiaries are clearly the approximately one-third of PASSHE students who come from PASSHE’s more-affluent (Q3 & Q4) families, with average annual incomes of $83,816 and $135,677 respectively.



PASSHE’s gentrification policy—which is based on its Act-188 defying “low-tuition-for- all” policy, and which makes tuition-discounting impossible—is giving Q3 and Q4 students an unneeded  State subsidy!



While the Q3 and Q4 students are beneficiaries of the Board of Governors’ gentrification policy, they are not the culprits previously identified as one of the antonyms to the victims of PASSHE gentrification.  



Who are the Culprits behind PASSHE Gentrification?



The culprits are clearly the elected and appointed members on the PASSHE Board of Governors who since 2002 have ignored the Act 188 statutory purpose of the fourteen PASSHE universities which is: “To provide high quality education at the lowest possible cost to the students.”



Instead they have provided steadily eroding quality education at the “lowest possible tuition (sticker price)” rather than at the lowest possible cost to the students (bottom line), as per Act 188.



These culprits are also major beneficiaries of their own Act-188 defying PASSHE gentrification policy.  High elected officials get campaign donations from their political supporters, and in return, some political supporters get appointments to various State boards including the PASSHE Board of Governors. And as we saw last time, some of the highest ranking political appointees on the PASSHE Board of Governors have managed to “grab” multi-million dollar contracts with PASSHE universities, meeting or exceeding the definition of “Legal Corruption.”



A Word about the Victims of PASSHE Gentrification



Students from Pennsylvania’s least-affluent families are condemned to one of two terrible fates:  1) years of crushing student-loan debt for students lucky enough to gain admission despite substantial financial obstacles; or worse 2) the inability to even attend a PASSHE university because the BOG’s gentrification policy creates financial obstacles for them that are simply too enormous to overcome.



      Students in group 1) will have their lives and future prospects diminished, or at least postponed, by their student-loan debt, though in time they may be able to overcome such setbacks and achieve their dreams.  But the college-prepared students in group 2) who are being denied access to a college education—not because of academic deficiencies but rather because of insurmountable financial obstacles—will find their lifetime opportunities few, and their future prospects bleak.



To be continued.







Monday, August 15, 2016

The Gentrification of Public Higher Education - Part 10


The Connection between Pennsylvania Corruption and PASSHE Gentrification



Recent blog posts have focused on illegal and legal corruption in Pennsylvania as the source of the institutional corruption at the PASSHE system of fourteen universities.  However, the overall heading for our last ten blog posts has been “PASSHE Gentrification,” which is defined as the displacement of less-affluent students by more-affluent students, in PASSHE classrooms.



The PASSHE universities include Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester.



The source of PASSHE’s institutional corruption is found not in the 14 universities but rather in PASSHE’s  fifteen governance bodies—especially the Board of Governors and to a lesser extent in the fourteen Councils of Trustees—which operate principally to advance political rather than educational goals.



The connection between Pennsylvania corruption and PASSHE gentrification requires the establishment of two separate links: 1) the link between State legal corruption and PASSHE institutional corruption; and 2) the link between PASSHE institutional corruption and PASSHE gentrification.  We start with Link 2.



The Link between PASSHE Institutional Corruption and PASSHE Gentrification



This link is easy to establish based on the definition of “institutional corruption” which involves, as shown earlier, the presence of “a systemic and strategic influence that undermines the institution’s effectiveness by diverting it from its purpose or weakening its ability to achieve its purpose.”



PASSHE’s Act 188 statutory purpose¹ is “To provide high quality education at the lowest possible cost to the students.”  But compelling evidence, based on official PASSHE documents, shows that the PASSHE Board of Governors has utterly failed to deliver that statutory purpose to PASSHE students since 2002.²



That failure by the PASSHE Board of Governors establishes: a) that PASSHE meets or exceeds the definition of “institutional corruption;” and b) that the Board of Governors is the source of the influence that is diverting PASSHE from its purpose or weakening its ability to achieve its purpose.



With its January 2014 “Strategic Plan 2020: Rising to the Challenge,” the PASSHE Board of Governors has brazenly stated—contrary to law—that PASSHE is no longer about the Students, but about the System.³



Having replaced PASSHE’s student-centered purpose with its own narcissistic, system-centered purpose, the Board of Governors caused all sorts of abuses to follow—of which PASSHE gentrification is just one.



By ignoring the term “at the lowest possible cost to the students,” the Board of Governors opened wide the door to PASSHE gentrification!  Why?  Because if ‘lowest possible cost to the students’ is no longer a PASSHE goal, then PASSHE’s policies will automatically encourage enrollment from the more-affluent students (who can afford it), and discourage enrollment from less-affluent students (who can’t afford it).  



The Link Between Pennsylvania Legal Corruption and PASSHE Institutional Corruption



Recall the following definition⁴ from the Harvard report: “We define legal corruption as the political gains in the form of campaign contributions or endorsements by a government official, in exchange for providing specific benefits to private individuals or groups, be it by explicit or implicit understanding.”



Recall also that, when it comes to legal corruption,” Pennsylvania is one of the seven Most Corrupt States in America, suggesting at least some “government officials” in Pennsylvania are happy to “provide specific benefits to private individuals” in exchange for “campaign contributions or endorsements.”



Question: But how does that translate into institutional corruption at PASSHE? 

Answer: Metaphorically speaking, politics is the umbilical cord between State corruption and PASSHE institutional corruption.  That is, the same elected officials engaging in legal corruption at the State level are also appointing and influencing governance board members at all State agencies, including PASSHE.



While getting an initial appointment to a PASSHE governance board seat might be the quid pro quo for a first campaign donation, board members need to remain politically subservient to those same elected officials if they wish to be reappointed when their terms inevitably expire.   And the evidence shows that many political appointees remain at PASSHE for many, many, many years, suggesting that these board members are politically wedded to the elected officials who appointed and continue to reappoint them.



The political subservience that keeps PASSHE BOG leaders in their seats ensures that “what’s best for elected officials” will also be what’s best for the Board of Governors—and let the students be damned.



How else to explain the Board of Governors’ focus on lowest possible tuition (i.e., sticker price) instead of on the lowest possible cost to the students, (i.e., bottom line), a focus that guarantees gentrification?            



Governors of both parties since 2002 have enforced PASSHE’s “low tuition for all policy,” thanks to the political subservience of PASSHE BOG leaders who owe their reappointments to those same governors.



Governors from both parties endorse and enforce PASSHE’s low tuition-for-all policy for the best of all possible reasons; they benefit from it.



As shown in Privatization Without a Plan,² governors of both parties benefit politically from low PASSHE tuition rates, and their political appointees are eager to deliver below-market rates despite the negative consequences on PASSHE students—of which gentrification is just one of many.



Follow the Money



Question: How do most PASSHE governance board members get their seats on the Board of Governors or on one of the fourteen Councils of Trustees?

Answer:  By giving political donations (money) to elected officials who control access to those seats.



Question:  What do the individuals seeking those seats want in return for their political donations?

Answer:  It can vary, but based on my 20 years working inside PASSHE, perks and/or money top the list.



Question: But how can political supporters who give money to elected officials get their money back or perhaps even better, get a more lucrative “return on their investment?”


Answer:  The same flawed and dictionary-defying definition of “conflict of interest” found in the Pennsylvania Ethics Act allowing “legal corruption” by elected officials is also available to enable the political appointees of those elected officials to engage in some legal corruption as well. 



If it exists, it is possible

         Anonymous



Clear evidence for legal corruption by two high-ranking members of the PASSHE Board of Governors appeared in a June 30, 2012 article⁵ in The Tribune Review with the following headline:  “Pa. university board members grab $14M in contracts.”  Mr. Pichini was then and remains today the Chair of the PASSHE Board of Governors, and Mr. Pennoni was then a Vice-Chair of the PASSHE Board of Governors.



To be continued.







Monday, August 8, 2016

The Gentrification of Public Higher Education - Part 9


Illegal Corruption, Legal Corruption, and Institutional Corruption in Pennsylvania


Recall that a recent (2014) Harvard University report¹ on corruption in the fifty states concludedthat, when it came to “Illegal Corruption,” Pennsylvania was one of the six Most Corrupt States in America.


When it came to “Legal Corruption,” that same report concluded that Pennsylvania was one of the seven Most Corrupt States in America.


According to the Harvard report, illegal corruption and legal corruption are examples and part of a larger form of corruption known as “institutional corruption,” (Emphasis added), which is defined as follows:


Institutional corruption “is manifest when there is a systemic and strategic influence which  is legal, or even currently ethical, that undermines the institution’s effectiveness by diverting it from its purpose or weakening its ability to achieve its purpose, including, to the extent relevant to its purpose, weakening either the public’s trust in that institution or the institution’s inherent trustworthiness.”



To say illegal corruption and legal corruption are examples and part of a larger form of corruption means that the “institution” in this case could only be the “Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” in the person of its Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches, each of which is separately ranked by the Harvard report.  



Recall that the essence of institutional corruption is the undermining or weakening of the institution’s purpose.  That is, the illegal and legal corruption ascribed to Pennsylvania suggests that Pennsylvania itself has had it its “purpose” undermined or weakened” by a systemic and strategic influence.



To complete the thought: To say that the institution known as the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is corrupt is to say that its leadership in the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches have permitted or enabled “a systemic and strategic influence” to undermine or weaken Pennsylvania’s purpose.  And that purpose is presumably the one specified in the Pennsylvania Constitution.



It is not farfetched to say that Pennsylvania’s leadership across all three branches of State government not only permitted or enabled a systemic and strategic influence to undermine/weaken Pennsylvania’s purpose; that leadership itself must be the source of the systemic and strategic influence in question.



This brings us full circle: Reports of Illegal and legal corruption in “Pennsylvania” place a stain on the State’s name when, in fact, it is the leaders of the three branches of State government who must share responsibility as the ultimate sources of Pennsylvania’s poor report card in the Harvard study.



Institutional Corruption at PASSHE



In recent blog posts, we chose the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as the unit of analysis for our look into illegal, legal and institutional corruption.  The reason for starting there is that a great deal of independent research has been conducted, and reports published, on corruption at the State level.



But to my knowledge, there has never been an independent or systematic study done with regard to institutional corruption at the level of individual universities, or even systems of universities.



But in the case of PASSHE, sufficient public information exists to support an overwhelming case to the effect that: 1) The institution known as the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) meets or exceeds the definition of “institutional corruption” cited above; and 2) The PASSHE Board of Governors—and specifically its Act 188-defying policy decisions—is the obvious source of the systemic and strategic influence that is undermining and weakening PASSHE’s purpose, which is “To provide high quality education at the lowest possible cost to the students.”



PASSHE is a system of fourteen universities which include Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester.



The Connection Between State Level Corruption and PASSHE Institutional Corruption



Metaphorically speaking, the connection between these two levels of corruption is “politics.”



That is, politics is the umbilical cord between State corruption and PASSHE’s institutional corruption.



Merriam-Webster defines “politics” as “activities that relate to influencing the actions and policies of a government or getting and keeping power in a government.”

The activities described in the first part of this definition refer to the role played by citizens trying to influence the policy choices which their government may require them to live and work under.  

But the second part of the definition refers not to citizens but to politicians and their political supporters who are well known to focus almost entirely on “getting and keeping power in a government.”

Question: And how do politicians get and keep power in a government?   Answer:  Follow the money!



Money is the Mother’s Milk of Politics

Jesse M. Unruh (1922-1987)



According to his New York Times obituary on August 6, 1987, Jesse Unruh was “a flamboyant Democratic politician who for a time wielded national influence from his base in California government.”



Although his famous quote about the powerful connection between politics and money was made fifty years ago, experience teaches that his insight has never been truer than it is today.



Interestingly, Unruh’s quote fits perfectly into the definition of “Legal Corruption” provided in the Harvard University report on corruption across America:        



Legal Corruption



“We define legal corruption as the political gains in the form of campaign contributions or endorsements by a government official, in exchange for providing specific benefits to private individuals or groups, be it by explicit or implicit understanding.”   (Emphasis added.)



Legal Corruption involves a conspiracy among elected officials that may span many years and involve many different elected officials along the way.  The essence of legal corruption is to “define corruption down” so that definitions of key terms such as “conflict of interest” in the law are very different from the dictionary definition of that term.  A good example might be the Pennsylvania Ethics Act² which first took effect on January 1, 1979, and was subsequently amended in 1989, 1998 and 2006.



For an analysis of the dictionary-defying definition of “Conflict of Interest” in the Pennsylvania Ethics Act, see the op-ed³ published in the Harrisburg Patriot News on March 8, 2013.   



Few if any of the politicians involved in passing that law back in 1979 are still in office or still alive today.  But today’s politicians, although not involved in writing that language, nevertheless continue to benefit from the language in that law, are not about to repeal the law, or even attempt to close its loopholes.



To be continued.



Monday, August 1, 2016

The Gentrification of Public Higher Education - Part 8


Institutional Corruption Defined



As we saw in last week’s blog post, institutional corruption…



“is manifest when there is a systemic and strategic influence which  is legal, or even currently ethical, that undermines the institution’s effectiveness by diverting it from its purpose or weakening its ability to achieve its purpose, including, to the extent relevant to its purpose, weakening either the public’s trust in that institution or the institution’s inherent trustworthiness.”  (Emphasis added.)



We will look at the PASSHE system of fourteen universities—and especially the governance of that system by the Board of Governors in Harrisburg and the fourteen Councils of Trustees at the individual PASSHE campuses—by focusing on Board of Governors’ decisions in light of the above definition.



The fourteen universities include Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester.

PASSHE’s Ability to Achieve its Purpose


The essence of the above definition of institutional corruption involves an institution’s “ability to achieve its purpose.”  To begin with, it goes without saying that, if an institution is actually achieving its purpose, its leadership could never be legitimately accused of engaging in institutional corruption.



But conversely, if an institution is clearly failing to achieve it purpose, its leadership can legitimately be suspected of engaging in institutional corruption.



As we will show, a suspicion of institutional corruption is clearly warranted in the case of PASSHE’s leadership decisions since the year 2002, and continuing right up to the present moment.



The Purpose of the PASSHE System of Fourteen Universities



The purpose of the PASSHE system of fourteen universities is specified in its enabling legislation, Act 188 of 1982, Section 20-2003-A, Purposes and General Powers, which reads¹ as follows:



“(a) The State System of Higher Education shall be part of the Commonwealth’s system of

higher education. Its purpose shall be to provide high quality education at the lowest

possible cost to the students.”   (Emphasis added.)



Compelling evidence for PASSHE’s failure to achieve its statutory purpose since 2002 may be seen in the two attached charts: The first chart² shows that during the first thirty years of PASSHE’s existence between 1984 and 2013, PASSHE’s educational quality has been steadily declining since 2002; the second chart³ shows that a PASSHE education is not being delivered by the Board of Governors to PASSHE students at anything like the lowest possible cost to students.



Detailed discussion of the evidence behind these assertions is found in Privatization Without a Plan: A Failure of Leadership in Pennsylvania Public Higher Education.


A Systemic and Strategic Influence



The above definition of institutional corruption also includes reference to “a systemic and strategic influence…that undermines the institution’s effectiveness by diverting it from its purpose.”



In PASSHE’s case, the BOG’s Act 188-defying decision-making since 2002 has been providing the “systemic and strategic influence that undermines PASSHE’s effectiveness by diverting it from its purpose,” which is to provide “high quality education at the lowest possible cost to the students.”



The Board of Governors exerts absolute control over the PASSHE system of fourteen universities in ways that are both “systemic and strategic.”



BOG control is systemic in that the fourteen PASSHE presidents report on a daily basis, not to their local Council of Trustees, but to the PASSHE Chancellor—who reports directly to the Board of Governors.



BOG control is strategic in that the overall direction of the PASSHE universities is dictated by the Board of Governors, who directs the Chancellor to direct the presidents to follow the BOG’s strategic plan.
 PASSHE’s History Regarding Strategic Plans



For PASHE’s first 25 years of existence (1984 to 2009), the Board of Governors operated with a series of strategic plans that were sufficiently detailed to provide all PASSHE stakeholders with guidance as to where PASSHE was headed, and what everyone’s role in that ambitious educational journey would be.    



But as described in previous blog posts, the PASSHE Board of Governors then operated for some five years (2009 to 2014) with no strategic plan whatsoever!



During those years, the fourteen universities experienced a period of organizational “drift” during which the PASSHE presidents, I included, were left with little idea of what direction we were to pursue or which major goals we were to achieve. 



Then after five years with no strategic plan, on January 23, 2014 the PASSHE Board of Governors suddenly announced its new 16-page plan⁵ entitled “Strategic Plan 2020: Rising to the Challenge.” 



PASSHE’s New “Purpose” Defies Act-188 and Espouses a Totally Different Direction and Set of Goals



Recall that PASSHE’s statutory purpose from Act 188 is to provide “high quality education at the lowest possible cost to the students.”  Recall also that there is compelling evidence that the Board of Governors has failed to deliver Act 188’s statutory purpose to the PASSHE students since 2002.



Prior to 2014, all of PASSHE’s previous strategic plans, including “Leading the Way” which expired in 2009, were faithful to Act 188’s purpose of “high quality at the lowest possible cost to the students.”



But the Board of Governors’ new “Strategic Plan 2020” avoids any mention of those ten words!



PASSHE’s Strategic Plan “2020: Rising to the Challenge” portends a future more sinister than drift alone—this plan ignores Act 188’s statutory vision and replaces it with its own narcissistic vision:



“The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education seeks to be among the nation’s leading systems of public universities recognized for (1) excellence, relevance, and value in education; and (2) responsiveness to regional, state, and national needs through its programs, service, scholarship, and research.”²



Note that the word “student” never appears in the PASSHE Board of Governors’ new Vision Statement!



The Board of Governors has made it official—the fourteen universities are no longer about the PASSHE students; they are about the elected and appointed officials who control them.



To be continued.







Monday, July 25, 2016

The Gentrification of Public Higher Education - Part 7


Illegal and Legal Corruption


As stated in last week’s blog post, Pennsylvania is often ranked in the top ten of the most corrupt states in America!  At least two surveys¹ rank Pennsylvania as the fifth most corrupt state in the fifty states.²

A particular in-depth study³ by the Harvard University Ethics Center entitled “Measuring Illegal and Legal Corruption in American States: Some Results from the Corruption in America Survey,” is most revealing. The Harvard study includes the following definitions:  

Illegal Corruption

“We define illegal corruption as the private gains in the form of cash or gifts by a government official, in exchange for providing specific benefits to private individuals or groups.”

Legal Corruption



“We define legal corruption as the political gains in the form of campaign contributions or endorsements by a government official, in exchange for providing specific benefits to private individuals or groups, be it by explicit or implicit understanding.”



Institutional Corruption



According to the Harvard study, illegal corruption and legal corruption are examples and part of a larger form of corruption known as “institutional corruption,” which Lawrence Lessig⁴ has defined as follows:



Institutional corruption “is manifest when there is a systemic and strategic influence which  is legal, or even currently ethical, that undermines the institution’s effectiveness by diverting it from its purpose or weakening its ability to achieve its purpose, including, to the extent relevant to its purpose, weakening either the public’s trust in that institution or the institution’s inherent trustworthiness.”



Though we will focus today on Harvard’s rankings of illegal and legal corruption in Pennsylvania, we will soon return to the more relevant issue of institutional corruption at the PASSHE system of fourteen universities, which include Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester.

We will then explore Lessig’s definition as it applies to the institutional corruption that is undermining PASSHE’s effectiveness by diverting it from its Act 188 statutory purpose(essentially by ignoring it), or weakening its ability to achieve its purpose, which is to provide “High quality education at the lowest possible cost to the students” (by espousing and brazenly pursuing a totally different purpose in its strategic plan, which focuses on the system rather than the students, as called for by law).

The source of PASSHE’s institutional corruption is found not in the 14 universities but rather in PASSHE’s  fifteen governance bodies—especially the Board of Governors and to a lesser extent in the fourteen Councils of Trustees—which operate principally to advance political rather than educational goals.

Corruption Begins With Conspiracy

As noted in the Harvard study, it is difficult to even measure corruption—much less prosecute it after the fact or prevent it before the fact—because by its very nature it is always conducted in secret! 



But even before corruption can occur, the individuals involved must first engage in a “conspiracy,” which is also conducted in secret.  Findlaw.com defines conspiracy by saying that it exists “when two or more people agree to commit almost any unlawful act, and then take some action toward its completion.”



If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”

                                                                                                                    Anonymous



Because of the inherent difficulty in documenting something which those involved in conspiracy and corruption are taking great pains to keep secret, a number of different measures of corruption have been implemented over the years to produce the various published rankings of State corruption.

 

One measure of corruption used by the Department of Justice is the number of national prosecutions. The DOJ reports that “in the last two decades more than 20,000 public officials and private individuals have been convicted for crimes related to corruption and more than 5,000 are awaiting trial.”



The number of corruption convictions, based on a “beyond-a-reasonable-doubt” standard, would seem to account for only the tiny tip of a very large iceberg, meaning that the 25,000 figure cited by the DOJ might actually imply that the number of actual corruption perpetrators who remain un-convicted, or even un-prosecuted, could easily be 100 times larger, amounting to 2.5 million individuals or more.



A better measure of corruption may be obtained from surveys to reporters who cover the institutions and the officials who are in a position to engage in corruption.  The Harvard study was done by means of such a survey for the reason that “Reporters have a better knowledge of state governments and spend a great deal of time observing the state officials and interacting with them.”



The Harvard Study “Corruption Report Card” employed a five-point scale as follows:  1) Not at all common; 2) Slightly common; 3) Moderately common; 4) Very common; and 5) Extremely common



Pennsylvania’s “Corruption” Report Card



Illegal Corruption:  Executive Branch (2.5 - Between slightly common and moderately common); Legislative Branch (4 - Very common); and Judicial Branch (2 - Slightly common).



Legal Corruption:  Executive Branch (3 - Moderately common); Legislative Branch (4.5 - Between very common and extremely common); Judicial Branch (3 - Moderately common).



Summary



The Harvard Study concludes with listings of the “Most Corrupt” and “Least Corrupt” states in America.



When it comes to Illegal Corruption, Pennsylvania is ranked as one of the six Most Corrupt States.



When it comes to Legal Corruption, Pennsylvania is ranked as one of the seven Most Corrupt States.

To be continued.