Hobby Calls For Reform — Or Else
Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby says
Texans will be unable to compete for jobs in the future unless community support for
public school reform continues.
"It is critical now to ensure
that our budget crisis doesn't
become an excuse to repeal
school reform," he told area
educators at the UH Hilton.
"Our state faces a $6 billion
gap between expected revenues
and proposed spending levels.
Public school spending is about
50 percent of our budget. Education may be expensive, but it
is not a luxury."
Texas needs strong support
for its universities as well as elementary and secondary schools,
"By the year 2000, almost
one-quarter of all jobs will require some college edcuation."
Hobby said in an interview
that UH shouldn't feel threatened by the Select Committee
on Higher Education's proposal
for regional university boards.
"There seems to be a level of
concern, (for UH's future) that
is out of phase with any realistic
problem," he said.
"I don't see any particular
advantage in having regional
boards, and it will certainly
The committee's recommendations would not change the
role of state universities, he said.
UH, UT-Dallas and other
universities have equal opportunity to become major research
institutions, because universities, not legislatures, determine
their own fates, Hobby said.
"UT-Dallas attracts an enormous amount of research dollars — perhaps more than UH
does — not because they are
treated differently by the appropriations bill, but because of
the excellence of the university," he said.
"UH is a major public institution in one of the largest metropolitan areas in the country,
and it will in time come to re
Hobby said the Legislative
Budget Board appointed by
Gov. Bill Clements has recommended a a $671 million education budget that would bring
education funds back to the
1985 level and repair the damage of previous cuts.
He said taxes will be raised
to fund the increase, but he declined to speculate on the type
or amount of tax that would be
Hobby said the select committee's recommendations
wouldn't change the status of
UT or Texas A&M because
only they have access to the
Permanent University Fund.
for higher education include
tapping the PUF for research
and other programs.
But Hobby said the PUF
battle was fought last summer.
"The attempt to raise the
funds didn't go anywhere," he
said. "Things haven't changed."
However, Hobby said,
"that's not the only source of
funds. UH's costs are offset by
the Higher Education Fund
(Proposition 2), and UH has
access to construction money
not available to A&M and UT.
"You can't have 37 world-
class universities. If UH wants
to become a first-class research
institution, it should attract the
researchers. UH or any other
institution has to earn the research fund," Hobby said.
A university must develop its
skills and excellence, and then
come the funds."
Hobby was at UH to address
a conference, sponsored by the
Center for Public Policy, on the
consequences of House Bill 72.
On that subject, he said he
regretted that the public school
reform got its impetus outside
the educational community.
"It is disappointing that the
initiative for HB 72 came largely from our business community," he said. "Our teachers and
administrators should be out
front demanding higher
achievement, rather than taking
refuge in the status quo."
Positive effects of school reform included better Scholastic
Aptitude Test scores, uniform
measures of academic achievement for students, evaluation of
teachers' performance based on
statewide standards, and increased state aid per student to
$1,579 in 1986 from $1,315 in
1983, he said.
"High school graduates are
not, however, prepared to compete with progressive countries
such as Japan or even old-fashioned Russians," Hobby said.
"Our dropout rate is far too
high when one-third of our
ninth-graders don't finish high
school and nearly one-fifth of
adults haven't finished junior
— James Millsap
"Lt. Governor Bill Hobby has taken a strong stand in favor of higher
education," UH President Richard Van Horn said. At left Hobby addresses
the special session of the legislature in Austin during the 1986 budget crisis.
The State's decision to cut 10.5 percent from its higher education budget can
mean big set-backs for UH, including vacant teaching positions, smaller
variety of classes and possibly the elemination of entire degree programs.
Photo by Dan Alder. Above Hobby discusses budget matters and reform
measures in the Hilton Hotel lobby with James Millsap. Photo by Michael