Perry's op-ed: "The Big Lie"
Mon May 16, 2011 10:41 am

Governor Perry published an op-ed piece in the Statesman on Friday, which begins with Perry accusing critics of his higher ed reforms of dealing in propaganda:

One proven tactic of propaganda is that if you want to distract people from the conversation you should be having, don't be afraid to lie ... and lie big. [ellipses is Perry's]

He continues:

The big lie making the rounds in Texas is that elected or appointed officials want to undermine or deemphasize research at our colleges and universities. That disinformation campaign is nothing more than an attempt to shut down an open discussion about ways to improve our state universities and make them more effective, accountable, affordable, and transparent.

In the next four paragraphs, Perry reviews his support for university research through the Texas Emerging Technology Fund and the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.

Then he writes:

Placed against that long record of championing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of state-funded research, the claim that I or university regents I have appointed are against university research is obviously dead wrong and harmful to our state.

* * * *

Anyone who has followed the battle over the governor's proposed higher ed reforms knows that the conflict has nothing to do with the grants he cites. This is Perry's version of a disinformation campaign: In essence, he is saying that because he has given out hundreds of millions of dollars in research grants, he obviously is a supporter of university research. He has supported it, true enough, but the fight isn't over how much he has paid. It is over governance -- a proposed reform that would require universities to split their teaching and research budgets in the name of transparency. Here is the wording of the reform proposal:

Breakthrough Solution #3 establishes separate budgeting and
reward systems for teaching and research, making it possible to
reward exceptional individuals in each area. Recognizing and rewarding extraordinary performance will not only attract the best and brightest students, teachers and researchers, but also encourage more transparency and accountability by eliminating inefficiencies and hidden crosssubsidies.

The issue, from the universities' perspective, is that teachers do research and researchers teach, and to allocate the funding as if they were two different functions makes no sense. The reformers want to micromanage the university by dictating how budgets should be prepared. A major research university should be able to choose how it prepares its budget without interference from micromanaging politicians.

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