If We’re Consoldating Colleges, Why Do We Still Have 3 Education Departments?

By my count, we have three education departments in Georgia: the Department of Education (K-12), the University System of Georgia (colleges), and the Technical College System of Georgia (formerly known as the Department of Technical and Adult Education).  The TCSG/DTAE decided to collapse some of the schools under their domain, and the USG is considering doing the same with some of its member institutions.

I can understand the purpose of separate departments for K-12 education and college education, but would there be a benefit of placing the technical colleges under the jurisdiction of the university system?  There are 2 USG institutions that have a technical school/division on campus.  Those divisions have to play to two masters: the University System and the Technical College System.  It just seems to me like we’re involved in duplication.  If we place post-secondary education institutions under one umbrella, wouldn’t that increase the ease of someone who might start off at a technical institution to enroll at a state college or university?

Perhaps it’s time to take a serious look at our entire education infrastructure in Georgia.


  1. John Konop says:

    I have suggested for years once a student reaches high school level classes University System of Georgia (colleges), and or Technical College System of Georgia (formerly known as the Department of Technical and Adult Education) should create the requirements for students to graduate. They could also take over counseling, co-op placement and education via joint-enrollment. The classes could be on-line, at the high school and or at the higher education facility.

    Not only would this consolidate cost it would create a model that would make sure students graduate with a skill or an upper hand on their higher education direction post high school graduation.

    From what I read this is the direction the state is moving toward.

      • saltycracker says:

        As said many times – what looks good from 30,000 feet is not so good in reality.

        So will this selection be after a battery of aptitude tests ?
        Or after the parent or 14 yr. old has a dream ?
        Or after a bureaucrat pigeon holes the kid ?

        What options are there to change the path ?

        In a public system, children need a well rounded education. It is not in the cards.

        The drift seems to be for dumbing down equalization, specialization too early, bonuses based on subjective popularity…….a bureaucratic system focused on employees with great benefits.

        When the cry is “it’s about the kids”, it usually isn’t.

        • Calypso says:

          Good points to consider, salty, though I would imagine you’re not the first to put them forth. I don’t know the answers to your questions. Perhaps those implementing the plan do.

          What I do know is that in Gwinnett County, the lowest level in the high school curriculum is refered to as ‘College Prep’. The VAST majority of the kids in that level will never, and should never, see the inside of a college classroom and the ones that do will be in the classroom for remediation.

          Something needs to change. Not everyone is above average nor are they college material. Though J. Alvin Wilbanks wants you to believe otherwise, we aren’t Lake Wobegon.

        • Engineer says:

          I find it hard to expect a 14-15 year old to know right then what he or she wants to do with the rest of their life. I know of some people who didn’t find out what they wanted to do with their life until after they had retired (and they went back to college to follow their dreams).

    • rense says:

      Whoa partner. You and I usually agree on education issues (which is odd because you are a neo-liberal and I am a paleo-conservative) but I am very leery of promoting online education for high school students. Online education has its place, but most high school students need capable human instruction. It is so much easier to “pretend to know” in an online class and wind up with a good grade than it is with a teacher. One of the reasons why online classes are OK in a college setting is because at many large universities there are like 500 people in your class in your underclassman degree requirement courses, and even a lot of the upper division classes are handled by TAs and grad students while the professors are off doing their research. (Which is why I am glad that I went to a smaller college that focused more on undergraduate education than on some giant state university graduate programs or research. Would have never completed my engineering degree otherwise.) So, an online class might actually be superior in those cases. But in high school? Nope. Online classes should only be a resort for courses that a local high school doesn’t offer.

      But I agree with the general thrust of what you are saying. Check this out … an idea for charter or magnet schools to use the GED as an entrance test and then basically function as a community college:

    • rense says:

      For the millionth time, if Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Tennessee, Michigan, Ohio, Texas, Missouri, Alabama, California, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin, New York, Massachusetts, Louisiana, Arkansas, Colorado, Arizona, Utah etc. etc. etc. can all support engineering programs at multiple state institutions, Georgia can also.

      The reason why Florida, Texas, California, New Jersey and North Carolina have high tech corridors (meaning high paying jobs) is that all those states have SEVERAL engineering schools (public and private). And as Georgia lacks a large research private engineering school (like Duke in North Carolina, Tulane and Vanderbilt in Tennessee, Miami and FIT in Florida) it makes a second research engineering program vital. Alabama and Tennessee have more of a tech corridor than Georgia does (though NASA in Alabama and Oak Ridge in Tennessee have a lot to do with it, but still) and it is sad.

      Also, like it or not, it is in the state’s interest for Georgia to become an AAU school. That would mean hundreds of millions of research grants, better professors and administrators etc. which translates to JOBS JOBS JOBS.

      Look, I know that you Techies badly want to be the ONLY nationally respected research university in the state (next to Emory anyway, and the lack of an engineering program also keeps Emory out of the AAU) but Georgia shouldn’t harm its own economic growth, lose even more tech jobs to Texas, North Carolina and Florida, just so Tech can be #1 because of the lack of competition.

      Competition – and collaboration – with UGA’s engineering school will be as good for Tech as is the same with the University of Texas and Texas A&M’s engineering schools. Or with Pitt and Penn State engineering schools. Or with Michigan and Michigan State. Indiana and Purdue. UCLA and Cal-Berkeley. Or the University of Florida, UCF, USF, and FIU engineering schools.

      By the way … Georgia Southern is going to be offering engineering too. But you Techies aren’t crying over that, are you? Why not? Because (the other) GSU isn’t a threat. You guys also felt that if GSU got an engineering school, that would prevent UGA from claiming that there was a state need in getting one, so you supported Georgia Southern’s adding those programs. But UGA outmaneuvered you by tacking on their request to GSU’s. Dirty politics, sure, but it is a good result for the state. Just as was UGA’s jumping ahead of GSU (the one in Atlanta) to get that joint medical program with GHSU. I like GSU but let’s face it: with Emory and Morehouse in Atlanta, the city didn’t need a third medical school. Plus, GSU could get that medical school and still be decades away from top research school status. UGA is practically there already and only need medical and engineering research to push them over the top.

      And no, I am not a UGA fan. (Quite the contrary … I love it when the Dawgs go down in flames. That SEC title game was good, clean wholesome fun!) I am just someone who gets frustrated when I compare our antiquated higher education system to much better ones in other states.

      • Rambler1414 says:

        Which do you think is more efficient and a better use of taxpayers $?
        Increasing resources at GA Tech & Southern Poly to pump out more engineers,
        or creating a brand new department at UGA?

        It’d be great if Mercer could fill that void of a privately funded engineering school.

  2. Ed says:

    Considering the three handle vastly different types of education, and AFAIK, that’s the universal model (in the States at least) that probably shows its the best practice of running things.

    Does the state need more CE, EE and MEs? If so I understand the need for another program.

  3. ricstewart says:

    Good points, Nathan. Georgia is consolidating colleges but we haven’t even started with the easy consolidations: each state agency still has its own HR department, IT department, etc…

  4. rense says:

    Uhhh … because we have 3 levels of education maybe? K-12, university system, and trade school system? With 3 different roles that serve 3 different populations? Look, small government advocate, consider yourself lucky. Some states also have a separate entity to manage junior colleges also.

    If you want to root for “small government/lower taxes/more freedom/free market” stuff, then maybe you could root for staff reductions at those agencies. Otherwise, if we are going to have public education, then we are going to need government agencies to oversee and govern them.

    ” If we place post-secondary education institutions under one umbrella, wouldn’t that increase the ease of someone who might start off at a technical institution to enroll at a state college or university?”

    That is actually a horrible idea. Vocational/technical training should be for the large portion of the population for whom higher education is unattainable or undesirable for a number of reasons. College education is – and should be – for a small percentage of the population. The situation that we have now – where lots of people are earning unmarketable degrees and employers are using possession of a college degree merely to thin the applicant pool for work that doesn’t require a colleg education – is exactly what we should be trying to address.

    Community college should be the jumping off point, not vo/tech school. And community colleges and vo/tech schools should be closely aligned to a degree. If Georgia has an issue, it is not utilizing community colleges as well as California, Florida and a number of other states.

  5. saltycracker says:

    Three departments for K-12, college & vocational is a good structure, if managed properly. The educational system today appears to be a large bureaucracy for employees/professors/administrators that retire early around peak potential years on more pay than they were working for.

    Technology can solve a lot of current educational issues. One method could be larger classes with interactive teleconferencing professors. Who says a really good professor at GA Southern – Statesboro couldn’t lead a large class at GA State – Atlanta via teleconferencing ? Or even a physics teacher in Valdosta leading a large high school class in Rome ?

    Unfortunately technology that reduces employees while improving the quality of education will be resisted.

    • Engineer says:

      The problem is, there will be students with my mindset, and that is, I like to speak with the professor in person about problems or questions I have.

        • Engineer says:

          I speak to friends around the world on skype daily, but when it comes to a teacher or professor, it isn’t the same experience as talking to them in person. Admittedly for something like a digital art class or a computer science class, I could see that done online, but for traditional sciences and medicine, online classes are awful. Past experiences between myself, my fiancee, and several friends who’ve taken online classes have seen professors that are unresponsive, incompatible file types (New versions of MS Word that don’t work with older versions), professors uploading the wrong assignments and not realizing it until it is due, and an unwillingness by the professor to work with you during family emergencies.

          • saltycracker says:

            Not online to virtual uninspiring antisocials….- teleconferencing…. with more competent teachers than possibly found locally – fewer employees, increased production and quality….

                • saltycracker says:

                  Can’t argue with that.
                  I had already stated my point and responded to confusion of “online” with “teleconferencing” and the probable personalities involved.

                  Technological advances in education, not more teachers with smaller classes, must be a key element to get to where we need to be.

                  Some would tease Engineer as holding his position until they pry the slide rule from his staff’s cold dead fingers.

                  A first rate educator should be given the opportunity to motivate multiples of pupils vs. the more available second rate educators in multiple classrooms.

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