Who needs higher education, anyway…

Actually, we do.

“The foundation of every state is the education of its youth.”

— Diogenes Laertius

In an interesting bit of news this week, Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin appears to be planning to eliminate $300 million from the state university system’s budget. Allegedly there will be a trade-off that will give the system more autonomy in how it budgets the money, but, realistically, $300 million over 2 years is a very large amount of money, and the loss will likely lead to layoffs within the system, and I would assume that tuition increases will also follow. But Gov Walker, noted for his previous union busting efforts, and the resulting unsuccessful impeachment effort, is also a proud non-college graduate. Should everyone go to college? Probably not. Does that mean that the state should not help fund higher education for those that do want to go? I realize that this is a contentious issue, but much like publicly funded elementary and secondary schools, I do believe that there should be publicly funded higher education opportunities available. As a compromise, perhaps the first two years free, and the second two at a reduced cost. At this point, state school tuitions in some areas of the country are creeping into the lower levels of private university tuitions. And that just seems wrong to me. Education is our best defense as a species, but there seems to be a movement in this country that loves to hammer the intellectual elite, and the ‘intelligentsia’ – as if knowledge was a bad thing. There also seems to be a bit of confusion at this point over whether he is also trying to change the mission statement to replace verbiage related to the search for truth, and extending the boundaries of education beyond the university with verbiage related to the building of the state’s workforce needs. Governor Walker is a likely Republican Presidential aspirant, and is already popular with the Tea Party members of his state. Let’s focus on creating more worker bees who won’t question the practices of their corporate overlords?

This comes two short weeks after Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, a man who has done profound damage to his state’s economy through a series of disastrous tax cuts, announced that he was planning to cut $300 million from Louisiana’s state university system. In Louisiana’s case, this may be inevitable unless the governor, and Republican-led legislature, choose to accept the fact that they’ve cut taxes to the point of having no money to spend for essential services. The irony here is that last week, Gov Jindal gave a speech where he stated that education is a fundamental pillar of democracy. Apparently, though, only for those Louisiana residents that can afford to go out-of-state, or to pay for private schools. I realize that the Governor is conflicted – how can he run for President as a Tea Party Republican if he has to admit to raising taxes?  So much better to say that he continued to slash them. And damn the consequences. All of this from the man who once cautioned the Republican Party not to be the ‘stupid party’. Maybe he should take his own advice occasionally.

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