OCAAUP Weighs in on "MBR" Bill
On May 19, Steve Mockabee, Chair of OCAAUP's Government Relations Committee and Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Cincinnati, testified to the House Finance Higher Education Subcommittee on House Bill 474.
HB 474, which is being called the higher education "mid-biennium review" (MBR) or "higher education policy update," proposes substantial changes to the trajectory of Ohio's college and university system.
In his testimony, Mockabee expressed concerns with the College Credit Plus Remediation Pilot Program, community colleges being able to offer baccalaureate degrees, as well as the state recognizing Western Governors University as a public institution of higher education and embracing competency-based education.
"We urge the General Assembly to be cautious that in trying to make higher education less expensive, you are not unintentionally cheapening it," he said. "There is so much emphasis on degrees and not enough emphasis on education. We want -- and the people of Ohio deserve -- opportunity and quality, not simply degree production. We hope that this committee critically reexamines this direction."
Prof. Mockabee answered questions from committee members, including from Chairman Mike Duffey (R-Worthington), who asked why the state shouldn't be promoting additional educational pathways. In response, Mockabee stated that "HB 474 would create a two-tiered system where the people who are wealthy enough to go to universities would get a first class education and those that are poorer are told, 'You can go get your bachelor's degree from WGU or a community college.'"
In addition, Rep. Kevin Boyce (D-Columbus) asked about the expansion of dual enrollment, to which Mockabee replied that it's too early in the CCP program to determine how such a major push to dual enroll students could impact the current education structure.
"I have yet to run across a study that demonstrates that less education produces more educated students. Streamlining for the sake of streamlining I would not support," he said. "We have different levels of education for a reason."
HB 474 is being tabled for now, but may resurface in the fall for further consideration. Additionally, certain aspects of the bill that the legislature is more intent on passing could be amended into other legislation.