We Don't Need No Education | WisCommunity

We Don't Need No Education

I am a native Wisconsinite who currently lives in Wisconsin and works overseas as a higher education consultant.  I have worked with ministries of education in developing nations throughout Asia and have regularly used the University of Wisconsin System as an example of an outstanding public university that serves the population of the state.  In 2009 while serving a consultancy with the Asian Development Bank in Vietnam I made a point of illustrating how the traditions in a state like Wisconsin with a population of less than 6 million people could have supported a major research university like the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which at that time was ranked as the number seventeenth Research University in the World. 

My work in higher education in developing nations involved developing and implementing policies and strategic plans that would move these nations ahead by developing World Class Universities in the region.  These involved plans that were over twenty years long and included an entire rethinking of university governance. The World Bank consultants agreed that a World Class University needed the following;

Concentration of talent

The concentration of talent involves not only the best teachers and researchers but also the best students.  World Class Universities must plan to attract both.

Abundant resources

World Class Universities require significant resources from multiple sources. These include, but are not limited to, public budget resources, endowment revenues, tuition and fee income, and research grants.

Favorable governance

World Class Universities require not only a leadership team that has a shared vision and a developed culture of excellence, but also, the autonomy and academic freedom for the faculty that enables ongoing independent research and scholarly inquiry.  Faculty governance is a prerequisite for a World Class University. 

In the four years since Scott Walker has been governor each of these three critical areas has been attacked in some way.  The most outragous attack on the University of Wisconsin system is the current proposed reduction of $300 million in the next budget cycle while changing the system to a Public Authority.  This, in one act, can damage all three of the above prerequisites for a World Class University in Wisconsin.  Doing away with faculty governance will move control of the curriculum to a more central authority similar to what I have experienced in countries like Vietnam and Mongolia.  These countries, by the way, are moving in the opposite direction as Walker’s Wisconsin. 

So it is clear that Scott Walker is either very ignorant, or is deliberately trying to damage the reputation and effectiveness of the University that has consistently been ranked in the top 17 by the Center for World-Class Universities at Shanghai Jiao Tong University.  The Center for World Class Universities produces an annual ranking of the top 500 universities in the world based on transparent methodology and reliable data.  The ranking for the last four years of Governor Doyle’s term and the first four years of Governor Walker’s term are listed below;

Year     Ranking of UW-Madison              Governor 

2007                 17                                 Doyle

2008                 17                                 Doyle

2009                 17                                 Doyle

2010                 17                                 Doyle

2011                 19                                 Walker

2012                 19                                 Walker

2013                 19                                 Walker

2014                 24                                 Walker

This is only the beginning as Walker continues his assault on education. I am sure that none of the 23 World Class Universities currently ahead of UW-Madison are experiencing the assault that the UW system is experiencing.

In 2007 I was Vice Chair of the WASC Accrediting team for the University of Guam and the team members were stunned because the legislature of Guam did not fund the university adequately because tax receipts were below expectations.  At that time I never dreamed that the same embarrassing situation would be taking place in Wisconsin seven years later.

Since Walker has become governor were are experiencing a kind of anti-intellectualism that has only occurred below the Mason-Dixon line in the past.







January 31, 2015 - 10:41pm