The merger idea grew out of working group based on the 2007 "Tough Choices or Tough Times" report, which was commissioned by the National Center for Education and the Economy. However, the report says nothing about merging colleges and tech schools; it emphasizes remedying the woeful lack of preparation of high-school graduates to succeed in college.
This working group pushing the merger was appointed by the governor. Although the group had no representatives from any two-year colleges, it had several technical colleges represented by presidents or faculty. The working group included former state representative Dean Alford, who recently was rewarded with the chairmanship of the Technical College System of Georgia.
Although Chancellor Erroll Davis has suggested he opposes the merger, he's beholden to the governor and the state legislators, who have always been skeptical of academia. A merger would be a logistical nightmare because tech schools are still on the quarter system, whereas the University System is on semesters. Many students would be stranded because valued programs would be cut.
At a time when many more businesses and corporations are seeking creative people with a liberal arts background, why force students into a technical school program? Technical schools have an important mission, but why try and fix something that isn't broken?
We should focus on the true message of the "Tough Choices or Tough Times" report and do something about better preparing high school students for college. The people of Georgia should have a chance to speak to this issue, but this proposal has not been widely publicized. Call or write Gov. Perdue and tell him whether this is a wise choice for Georgia's higher education.
Greg McLean is a Georgia Perimeter College assistant professor of music.