ERIC Number: ED308748
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1989-May
Reference Count: N/A
The Political Meaning of Quality.
Mingle, James R.
AAHE Bulletin, v41 n9 p8-11 May 1989
Quality as a political goal for public higher education is discussed, and its fuller acceptance at the state over the federal level is noted. Federal policy is driven by values associated with access, need, and equity. State leaders are using a rhetoric of quality and excellence, incentives for high achievement, rigor, and merit. One reason the cause of quality has been taken up by people in higher education has been its extraordinary usefulness as a rationale for generating new income. In the 1980s, higher education institutions needed quality funding to move ahead. They had to act on three fronts to protect their resource base (market their products aggressively, diversify their product line, and convince patrons that added support was needed though workload declined). Quality funding has been added, but usually with prescribed state objectives (e.g. economic development). Today, institutions accepting state money must accept strings. Political roots of the quality movement are explained, noting this movement in its evolution over the past 10 years has developed certain articles of faith (e.g. the public sector should be stratified, and institutions should serve the cause of economic development). The political meaning of accountability is discussed, noting state accountability systems flounder due to inherent decentralization of the educational process. New mechanisms of accountability are noted. One strategy that states may use more aggressively in the future is public disclosure. The question that remains is whether this new wave of political interest in quality will fundamentally alter and improve higher education. (SM)
Descriptors: Accountability, Consumer Protection, Educational Improvement, Educational Quality, Excellence in Education, Federal Aid, Financial Support, Higher Education, Institutional Survival, Political Attitudes, Quality Control, State Aid
AAHE Bulletin, One Dupont Circle, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20036.
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A