Misinformed and distorted observations

Raymund Paredes

The April 4 editorial titled “A Lack of Coordination” misrepresents the recent review of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board by the state Sunset Commission and makes some observations about the THECB’s work that are misinformed and distorted.

For example, your article claims that the THECB was “skewered” in the Sunset review. As Sunset Commission staff readily acknowledge, their job is to identify weaknesses in state agencies, not to offer a balanced assessment of strengths and weaknesses. The Sunset Commission identified five issues or areas for improvement in its report. The THECB has challenged one finding. Four uncontested findings for a state agency with the range of responsibilities the THECB has hardly constitutes a skewering.

Your representation of the Sunset Commission review of the THECB is highly selective and misleading. For example, you cite the claim that institutions of higher education expressed a “fear of retaliation” by the THECB but omitted the comment in the same sentence that no evidence of retaliation was provided. In the report, the commission questions the THECB’s “overarching focus” on our “Closing the Gaps” initiative: In your rendering of the report, the focus on “Closing the Gaps” becomes “near-obsessive,” which is a bit like saying that Aung San Suu Kyi is near-obsessive about establishing democracy in Burma. The fact is that “Closing the Gaps” is nationally recognized as a model strategic plan for higher education. It is not too much to say that reaching the goals of “Closing the Gaps” is vital to the economic future of Texas and to its quality of life.

Your editorial notes the THECB’s regrettable miscalculation of Texas Grant allocations last fall, which resulted in a $3.2-million shortfall for UT. But you leave out that the THECB discovered the error and restored the lost funds to UT. You then note several problems with the B-On-Time Loan program, presumably attributable to THECB mismanagement, when in fact they are mostly due to statutory provisions and federal tax and student loan policy.

Your editorial was a shoddy piece of journalism, unworthy of a great student newspaper and a great university.

Raymund Paredes
Commissioner, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board