Saturday, February 21, 2015

Walker's Act Ten for the UW a Win-Win

Walker Reforms UW System

In his 2015-2017 budget, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker offers more autonomy to the University of Wisconsin system, in exchange for less funding from the state. Reminding critics that the state systems receives federal and other government grant funding, Walker insists that his proposal will answer the call for more power and authority, which university leaders have been demanding for years. Walker included in his budget the argument that UW professors should teach one more class per year, cutting human resource costs while giving students and faculty more face time.

This reform agenda is brilliant financially, morally, and politically.

From a financial standpoint, Walker is respecting the institutions as well as removing a fiscal burden from the state budget. Universities must grapple with their own fiscal supply and demand concerns. They can better judge and respond to students' needs, and with firm control over funding and revenue streams, they will have to make wise decisions about spending those monies in the best interests of students and staff.

From a moral perspective, universities should not be tied to any state agency, for the sake of freedom in both inquiry, research, investigation, and persuasion. Universities in mideval times challenged the status quo of both church and state not just for the sake of rebellion, but for clearer revelation of both God's will and man's willingness to understand. Faculty should be spending more time with their young charges. Research is not the only calling of a university professor. Students in state universities across the country complain that they spend time and money getting a college education, only to confront graduate students and post doctoral instructors.

From a political view, Walker is breaking the Democratic stronghold of unfettered, unchallenged, taxpayer-funded liberalism which indoctrinates students to reject capitalism, to dismiss the founding principles of this country -- legal, cultural, and political --  and the unjust partisanship which taps into student volunteers and unionized university employees. By requiring the universities and their progressive staff to live up to the statist principles which they purportedly espouse, Walker both frees and forces left-wing academia to live within its means and provide a good product. For the UW leadership to reject Walker's budget would force them to explain why they are running away from their prior yet consistent demands for more autonomy.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported the professors' response to teaching more hours:

Of those who responded, 96% said they teach, supervise and mentor undergraduate students and spend an average of 14.2 hours per week instructing undergraduates and an average 4.2 hours per week advising and mentoring.

All reported research activities as part of their work, with an average of 8.4 hours per week spent on research/creative work with students. The total time spent with research, scholarship or creative work was an average 21.3 hours per week.

Let's compare the university professor's workload with an average public school teacher, one who puts in forty-fifty hours a week on the campus, in the classroom, with colleagues, parents, and administrators. Those hours do not factor in the time spent planning and grading papers for 150-200 students per year. Professors hold an elite office in our communities, and the prestige and influence both make up for the higher demand on their time.

UW Whitewater Prof. Beth Lueck

If they do not like the idea of teaching one more class, then they should seek employment in other professions. One academic, Beth Lueck of UW in Whitewater, might fall on that short list, since she offered extra credit to her students if they protested Walker's budget at the state capital. Lueck was also a Democratic assembly candidate who lost in 2014. This is more than conflict-of-interest. This is an immoral exploitation of one's office and taxpayer dollars to advance a self-serving agenda.

Along with labor reforms, school choice, and tax reforms to benefit taxpayers, property owners, and small businesses, Walker has dubbed his push to turn UW into its own public authority "Act 10 for the UW":

Walker said making the UW System a public authority, rather than a department of the state, would free it up "to have total control of their budget. It's for purchasing, procurement, construction, compensation, governance — in many ways (it) will be like Act 10 for the UW."

Not forgetting the impact on the students themselves, Walker continued the tuition freeze in place for prospective enrollees too, a wise move which demonstrates that Republicans are not the Party of No, but the truth agency for Hope and Change which young people were promised but President Obama and his Democratic Party never delivered.

All throughout, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's Act 10 for the UW is a win-win for Wisconsin and the country.

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