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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Gov. "Hidden Agenda" Walker - Public Authority: End of Public Higher Education in Wisconsin?

Manufacture a crisis and then use it to undermine "public goods".

From the Blog: Ragman's Circles

Public Authority: The End of Public Higher Education in Wisconsin?

... Most disturbingly, System President Cross has painted the proposal as something of a bargain or negotiation, in which the State gives the University System autonomy “in exchange” for rolling back state funding of the System to 1998 levels and providing guaranteed funding from sales tax revenue, albeit starting with a budget cut back to 1998 levels. Cross responded to the proposal to make the UW System a public authority in adocument from the Office of the President released on January 26. The document is full of unsubstantiated assertions about financial benefits gained from public authority status. There appears to have been no research conducted on whether this will indeed be true, no debate or discussion among faculty, staff, and students about whether this is a change worth pursuing.
In the document Cross begins by accepting the Walker claim that these budget cuts to the system have been “dictated” by the “large state budget shortfall.” He writes: “Looking ahead, a large state budget shortfall dictates that the UW System will be receiving a sizeable funding cut.  This follows significant cuts over the last three budgets as well as a continuation of the current tuition freeze for the upcoming biennium. The UW System expects a $300 million cut over the 2015‐17 biennium.” As I have noted, this shortfall doesn’t “dictate” a funding cut; Walker and his allies dictate that. The current budget shortfall is a direct consequence of recent property tax cuts that the state had no way to pay for.
In welcoming the new freedoms of a public authority, Cross then glosses over the hundreds (if not thousands) of people who will lose their jobs to accommodate these cuts as posing “difficult and significant choices” that will be compensated for in the long run by making the UW System “more nimble and more responsive,” demonstrating a true insensitivity to the people who make Wisconsin’s universities work and the students they serve: “To manage these cuts, the UW System and its institutions will be forced to make difficult and significant choices in the short term…. In the longer term, the flexibilities granted through the authority and the consistency generated by the dedicated, sustainable funding source will help make the UW System a stronger, more nimble and more responsive higher educational system for generations to come.”
His attempt to reassure system faculty, staff, and students that tenure and shared governance will be protected raises as many questions as it answers. He writes: “Shared governance and tenure–two principles that are critical to delivering a high‐quality education–will be managed by the Board of Regents through board policy rather than by the legislature through statute. This is the standard among many other state higher education systems.” Note that Cross does not say that tenure and shared governance will be “protected” but that they will be “managed” by the governor-appointed Board of Regents. This “management” by the Regents is fundamentally weaker than the current statutory protections in Wisconsin’s Chapter 36. What Cross (and all UW System leaders) should be advocating for, if the move to a public authority must go through, is that the statutory protections of Chapter 36 be imported into a new Chapter 37, which will form the basis of the transformation of the UW System into a public authority. Anything less makes such protections subject to the whims of an appointed, not elected, Board of Regents, which represents a de facto power shift from the legislative to the executive branch of state government, a de facto weakening of local control. (Thanks to Aneesh Aneesh for this observation.)
Finally, it is important to note that while Wisconsin may be the first state to corporatize its university system as a public authority, it is unlikely to be the last. In a Republican Party committed to privatizing education at all levels, from K-16 and beyond, what happens in Wisconsin will be closely watched—and if successful, emulated in statehouses across the nation. The clever combination of granting “freedom” and “autonomy” to University leaders while simultaneously slashing even further the obligations of state governments to fund public higher education, will be a centerpiece of Walker’s presidential campaign and a model for Republican governors nationwide to consolidate power in their states. ...

Gov. "Hidden Agenda" #Walker lost- #PublicAuthority: End of Public #HigherEducation in Wisconsin?  The Hand of #ALEC

"Hidden Agenda" #Walker lost - #PublicAuthority: End Public #HigherEducation in Wis.?  Tries to end #WisconsinIdea

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