Assessing Basic Academic Skills in Higher Education: The Texas Approach

By Richard T. Alpert; William Phillip Gorth et al. | Go to book overview

TASP: An Opportunity to Regain Opportunities Lost

William Sanford

A presentation on the policy issues underlying the development and implementation of the Texas Academic Skills Program (TASP) might best take as its theme a part of a poem by Augustus de Morgan titled "A Budget of Paradoxes."

Great fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite 'em. And little fleas have lesser fleas, and so ad infinitum. The great fleas themselves in turn have greater fleas to go on, While these again have greater still, and greater still, and so on.

Public policy develops on the basis of decisions made within a social context. For one to understand the choices we are making in Texas, I must begin with a brief summary of some of the historical, demographic, and economic elements that undergird the nascence and nurturance of the program.


Historical, Demographic, and Economic Elements Behind the TASP

Historians of the Southwest have suggested that the development of Texas can be summarized in this sequence of terms: the horse, the six-shooter, the windmill, the plow, the barbed-wire fence, and the oil well. It is our hope that the terms for tomorrow will be the computer, the satellite, and the test tube. A popular slogan during the last session of the legislature--which focused much of its attention on higher education--was "Brains are the oil and gas of the future."

The state's economic mainstays were first ranching and then farming, until oil was discovered. Until recently, Texas was a rural state. Now, it is in transition.

____________________
William Sanford is assistant commissioner of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

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