I’m Sure You’re Shocked That Patrick Jefferson Has Filed Another Grambling And SUNO Bailout Bill

Give State Rep. Patrick Jefferson (D-Homer) points, he won’t give up trying to bailout Grambling and SUNO. He already tried to file a bailout bill exempting historically black universities from out of state tuition requirements. Not only is this discriminatory toward other universities in the state, it is a rip-off of Louisiana taxpayers.

This is despite the fact that market is trying to kill both universities. Both universities have long-term problems and are losing students. Southern University in Baton Rouge is also bleeding students, but their situation is not as dire as Grambling and SUNO’s. Southern’s enrollment is down 1400 students from 2009. With alumni support and the closing of SUNO, Southern should be fine though, especially if they can increase enrollment.

But Jefferson’s newest bill is not the way to increase enrollment. Jefferson has filed HB 171, which would grant Grambling, Southern, and SUNO a special exemption from certain performance requirements and higher enrollment standards. Specifically, the bill would allow the three schools to continue to offer remedial courses, even if the Board of Regents shift remedial courses to two-year schools.

For starters, students who need remedial courses have abysmally low graduation rates. All three universities already have atrocious graduation rates (Southern tops out at 31.8%.) The last thing all three universities need are students unlikely to graduate.

Here’s another thing, we already have the ideal way to deal with students who need remedial courses, which is the community college system. If you’re taking remedial courses in college, then by definition you are not ready for a four-year school. The community colleges are a great way to address these students while transitioning them for tougher college level work. If they’re successful in community college, there’s nothing stopping them from transferring to a four-year university. Also, community college tuition runs about 1/3 less than a four-year school.

While this bill might increase enrollment at HBUs in the short-term, there will be long-term consequences. With lower graduation rates and a lower quality of students; students who qualify for TOPS, receive the G.I. Bill benefits for military service, or can otherwise pay for college themselves will choose better universities than the HBUs. The enrollment death spiral that Louisiana’s public HBUs are going through might slow down temporarily, but will accelerate as higher quality students opt to attend better schools.

Here are some exit questions about this bill. Why do we continue to subject black Louisianians to the soft bigotry of low expectations? How else would you describe Patrick Jefferson’s bill? What is the explanation for tolerating extremely poor graduation rates at SUNO? Why are we tolerating graduation rates at Grambling and Southern that are below not just the state average, but the rates of most other Louisiana public universities? Why are we telling black Louisianians that we expect them to be dumber than white Louisianians? 

This soft bigotry of low expectations is why Louisiana’s HBUs are struggling. If there’s any hope to save Southern and possibly Grambling (albeit as a private institution), we must stop tolerating low expectations and performance.




Interested in more news from Louisiana? We've got you covered! See More Louisiana News
Previous Article
Next Article
Join the Conversation - Download the Speakeasy App.

Trending on The Hayride