The Pennsylvania Association of State Colleges and UniversitiesOctober 27, 2014
TO: The College Democrats and the College Republicans at the 14 PASSHE Universities
FROM: Angelo Armenti, Jr., PASCU President
SUBJECT: The Future of the 14 PASSHE Universities and the PASSHE Students who rely on them
(Continued from last week’s blog post)
A key goal of PASCU is to promote the legal rights of that segment of society which includes all students, parents and donors, primarily alumni at the 14 PASSHE Universities. According to published reports, 112,000 students currently attend PASSHE universities and 450,000 PASSHE alumni live in Pennsylvania.
PASCU seeks to represent and advance the interests of PASSHE students, parents, alumni and families.
There would clearly be no need for a non-profit organization of concerned citizens such as PASCU if, in fact, the PASSHE Board of Governors (BOG) had taken the necessary steps in recent years to provide high quality education at the lowest possible cost to the students, as mandated by Act 188.
But official data show that the PASSHE BOG has failed to deliver that promise to PASSHE students since 2002. Specifically, measures of educational quality which grew by 29% in PASSHE’s first 19 years of existence (1984-2002), fell by 14% in PASSHE’s next 11 years (2002-2013).
Even more troubling, a typical financial aid package for students at all institutions in America in 2011 consisted of 51% grant and 43% loan, while at a typical PASSHE university, that financial aid package consisted of 27% grant and 65% loan.
These facts show that both ends of public higher education's statutory purpose have suffered in recent years. Academic quality has been undermined, and twelve years of a politically expedient focus on the “lowest possible tuition,” i.e., “sticker price,” have failed to provide public higher education at anything like the “lowest possible cost to the students,” i.e., “bottom line”—as called for and mandated by Act 188. And, to make things worse, PASSHE’s errant policy focus on “lowest possible tuition” saddles poor students with punishing student-loan debt and foolishly rewards wealthy students with state subsidies.
Surprisingly, since 2002, there has been bipartisan support for this policy focus on the lowest possible sticker price (which few students pay), rather than a lowest “bottom line” (which every student pays).
PASCU’s Six Questions for Governor Corbett and Candidate Wolf
Perhaps even more surprisingly, neither Governor Corbett nor Candidate Wolf would agree to publicly answer PASCU’s Six Questions. The first three questions asked both candidates to publicly support and endorse (as a candidate and as governor), the Act 188 statutory purpose of the 14 PASSHE Universities.
The second three questions asked both candidates to support PASCU’s goal of changing the governance shares to more closely reflect the respective funding shares of the Majority and Minority shareholders.
Both candidates were given an opportunity to publicly endorse the Pennsylvania Promise of “High quality education at the lowest possible cost to the students. Both candidates responded with silence.
Both candidates were given an opportunity to endorse the idea that it is not fair for the Minority 25% financial stakeholder to control 100% of PASSHE’s governance seats while the Majority 75% financial stakeholder get to control 0% of the governance seats. Both candidates responded with silence.
Unfortunately, it is fair to conclude that the outcome of the November 4, 2014 election is unlikely to improve the situation as far as PASSHE’s Majority Stakeholders are concerned. The fact that neither candidate, nor their respective State-wide parties, were willing to speak out publicly on their behalf suggests that neither the candidates nor their parties see those 112,000 PASSHE students and their parents, and the 450,000 PASSHE alumni and their families, as a voting bloc to be courted or to be concerned about!
And that is why PASCU is reaching out to PASSHE's College Republicans and College Democrats.
As PASSHE students—who, along with thousands of others, are negatively impacted by the failure of the PASSHE Board of Governors to deliver the Pennsylvania Promise—and as College Democrats or College Republicans—who believe passionately that your political party endorses and supports policy solutions which provide the greatest benefit to our citizens and our communities—you are uniquely positioned to reconcile the following dilemma: Neither candidate for Governor, nor either Pennsylvania political party, has so far stepped up to represent the best interests of PASSHE’s Majority Financial Stakeholders.
Joint Meetings of College Democrats & College Republicans at the 14 PASSHE Campuses
PASCU would like to propose joint meetings of the College Democrats and College Republicans at each of the 14 PASSHE campuses during which the following two issues would be discussed and debated:
1) The best interests of PASSHE’s Majority Stakeholders: PASSHE students, parents and alumni donors;
2) An opportunity for each political party to champion the interests of PASSHE’s Majority Stakeholders.
In fact all PASSHE students, regardless of their political affiliation—not just College Democrats and College Republicans—have a huge stake in this matter. Since 2002, the Pennsylvania Promise of “High quality education at the lowest possible cost to the students” has become an empty promise.
PASSHE’s educational quality is under attack, and the PASSHE Board of Governors is not delivering your education at anything like the lowest possible cost to the students—resulting in crushing student loan debt for too many PASSHE students and alumni. I encourage all PASSHE students, parents and alumni to contact PASCU if you would like to get involved in making the Pennsylvania Promise real once again.
I invite you to participate in an internet conference call via GoToMeeting software at 8:00 AM on Thursday, November 6, 2014, by which time the outcome of the Pennsylvania Governor’s race will have been settled—but the future of the 14 PASSHE universities and the status of the Pennsylvania Promise to PASSHE students and parents, will still be in doubt.
Please reply to me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive an invitation to participate in the November 6, 2014 internet conference call.
Thanks and best wishes.
Angelo Armenti, Jr., Ph.D.
PASCU Founder & President