Dead before arrival: Higher Ed accountability proposal

by Billie Rodely

Published 02-Mar-2011

Among the measures you won’t find on the Oklahoma State House floor agenda this session is the “Higher Education Faculty Accountability Act”. The proposed legislation would have required The Oklahoma State System of Higher Education to implement a policy ensuring full-time faculty spend at least 20 hours per week teaching or meeting with students.

The House Higher Education & CareerTech Committee met Tuesday (March 1), and heard only three measures. House Bill 1610 was authored by Rep. Mike Reynolds (R-OKC). Following a 4-9 Committee vote to kill his bill, Rep. Reynolds told CapitolBeatOK, “I fully expected that. Whenever a committee chairman [Todd Thomsen R-Dist. 25] has no questions and votes ‘no,’ you can pretty much expect that’s going to happen.”

Issues raised by committee members during discussion included concerns that many professors have a heavier research schedule than teaching schedule, that the measure might affect accreditation in some areas of research, and whether the proposed 20 “contact hours” would be restricted to classroom time or could be applied to phone contact or office meetings with students.

Reynolds told the committee the 20 hour requirement would include phone calls and meetings and not just classroom time, although actual physical presence by the professor in classroom sessions would be the preferred “contact” with students.

The two bills which did get “Do Pass” approval from the Higher Ed. Committee and advancement to the full house included Rep. Jabar Shumate’s measure requiring the State Regents to adopt a policy for each higher education institution to require equal access for professional association to students. Shumate, a Tulsa Democrat, said Professional Oklahoma Educators Association asked him to sponsor House Bill 1854, as an assurance that the POEA would have the same access to campuses currently afforded to the Oklahoma Education Association.

House Bill 1930 “clarifies language relating to educational records”. Author Jerry McPeak, a Warner Democrat, told committee members his measure would, among other things, curb credit card companies’ access and contact with students.

Editor’s note: Rodely is a staff writer for CapitolBeatOK.