“Don’t give them choices. Tell them what the hell to do!”

A stirring quote from our old friend Bill Hammond, head of the Texas Association of Business. Here’s more from the TCCTA Blog:

TCCTA Blog


“Don’t Give Them Choices”

Posted: 21 Sep 2015 02:57 PM PDT

The Texas Association of Business recently hosted an event to highlight the Coordinating Board’s sixty-thirty Texas plan—to have sixty percent of young adults with post secondary degrees or certificates, by 2030. Right now, it’s under 40 percent. The event was covered by KXAN TV in Austin.

You can access the entire plan here. Here’s a recent piece on the subject by Enrique Rangel, published in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.

Bill Hammond, who heads the TAB, gave up some choice quotes on one component of the effort to get more students through the educational pipeline:

CEO Bill Hammond says the key is getting students to leave college with marketable skills that will get them jobs.

“They don’t wind up taking the courses they need as freshman and then they get to their senior year and they can’t get into them. Structure. Don’t give them choices. Tell them what the hell to do,” said Hammond.

You may remember Mr. Hammond as the chief person responsible for posting billboards a few years ago, criticizing low graduation rates at local community colleges. He is an important figure at the Capitol.

No one wants college students to rattle around on campus directionless for years, and there are few human specimens more confused than the typical 18-year old college freshman. However, as we know, the core curriculum limits choices already, in the sense that certain courses are required, and some get left out, due most recently to mandated caps on classes that do not fall within stipulated fields of study.

The college experience traditionally involves experimentation and exploration. How many of us decided as teenagers that we wanted to teach at a community college? If you ask around, it is rare to find individuals who knew their chosen path at a tender age. Besides, education should prepare you for many paths.

Ironically, the present push for more conformity runs counter to another prevalent trend in higher education—inserting market forces and consumerism into the culture. Free markets purportedly offer customers more options, not the other way around.

Such policies, of necessity, involve balance and compromise. But we may be leaning too far in one direction, marching efficiently to the cookie cutter.

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