When the word "regents" appears in a headline, there's a good chance that “approve tuition increase” will be hitched to it.

Not many waves were made when members of the Texas Legislature “cried uncle” over public university budget requests. In 2003, they simply tossed the hot potatoes to university boards of regents.

Regents now have free rein to set tuition as they see fit. In the last century, the legislature successfully held tuition in check.

Folks keeping tabs on tuition increases over the past four years correctly believe that costs are running well ahead of inflation.

A few days back, University of Texas regents announced hikes of “at least 13 per cent” for the next two years.

No wonder students and their parents are sweating bullets, many of them already suffering from “mal-tuition.”

Ours is a culture where saying “no” comes across as a whispering dust devil in a tornado of “yeses.”

Universities have financial needs, of course. But the dollar crunch could be decimated by instructional accountability. For many decades, a common requirement for a teacher was five three-hour classes, or 15 hours of instruction per week. (Numbers of administrative personnel also need to go under the microscope.)

With the total cost for the average in-state undergraduate student now exceeding $20,000 annually at major state-supported institutions, it's time for citizens to come unstuck.

Our American dream still includes higher education for most of our children.

heard of a couple of UT alums who are expecting their first baby in a couple of months.

They've come up with a violin version of the UT fight song with a “lullaby touch” for beddy-bye time. The couple has painted the cradle in flaming orange. It has horns extended from the top and a floppy tail at the bottom. Press a button, and it provides a “moo-moo.”

But the “cake-taker” has to be the personalized bibs.

They've found a creative seamstress who turns them out in school colors, and orders are stacking up.

This couple chose the UT favorite. It reads: “I drool orange.”

As a four-year-old, Austin Roye was “ready to go” when the unit on farm animals came up at Sunday School.

Classmates had correctly identified a couple of animals and - as the kids put it - “what they say.” One pointed out a sheep that says “baa,” and another connected a horse with “neigh.” When the teacher, pointed to the bovine, Austin's hand shot up.

“That's a cow,” he exclaimed, “And it says ‘eat more chikin!’'”

(His folks, Jake and Shani Roye, have the Chick-fil-A stores in Waco.)

In Milwaukee, Rev. and Mrs. Jeremy Webb’s three-year-old Luke quickly spots an alabaster statue of Christ when they drive by a Catholic university. Invariably, he insists that the figure is Noah. (That’s his best frame of reference, since he has an ark play set with a white-bearded Noah. Besides, the pictures he's seen of Christ show Him with a dark beard.)

When his grandparents came to visit, they were ready for the usual vignette during the drive past the university. They asked him about the statue.

“That's Jesus,” Luke said, adding, “But it sure looks like Noah.”

Third-grader Taylor Hanson promised to “do his best” when he learned that his class would take the Iowa Test of Basic Skills.

He mentioned that he knows nothing about Iowa. His folks, Kevin and Buffy Hanson, assured him that it isn’t a test about Iowa and that he didn't need to worry. “Just in case,” he asked, “what's the capitol of Iowa?”

I am grateful for the Austins, Lukes and Taylors of the world, and hope that one day they get to go to college. They'll brighten up the place.

Dr. Newbury is a speaker and author in the Metroplex. He welcomes inquiries and comments. Send e-mail to newbury@speakerdoc.com or call 817-447-3872. His Web site is www.speakerdoc.com.