Monday, February 16, 2015
Saving "The Wisconsin Idea" Is Like Saving America From The Barbarians At The Gate
The "Wisconsin Idea" was embedded in its mission statement which declared that it was "The search for truth". Scott Walker, the Republican Governor of Wisconsin, who owes his position to the support of the Koch brothers, attempted to change the mission statement. He changed it from the search for truth to "meeting the state's workforce needs". He was forced to reverse his decision in the face of protest, but his budget proposal calls for a $300 million cut in the state's spending on higher education. Walker, who considers himself a candidate for the GOP presidential nomination, is an enemy of the "Wisconsin Idea". He was unable to change the mission statement, but he can refuse to pay for the pursuit of truth. He has a lot of company in other states controlled by Republican governors. Many are eagerly cutting their funding for higher education and forcing universities to raise tuition and fees. This shifts the funding burden to families who have not experienced growth in their incomes. This has led to a rapid increase in student debt and it constrains the choices that students make in the careers. Meeting the needs of the workforce takes precedence over the "Wisconsin Idea" which is becoming an historical relic in America.