Scott Walker’s War on Higher Education

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Students at UW-Milwaukee gather in protest against Governor Scott Walker’s devastating budget cuts to their institution

For a minute, forget Scott Walker’s previous budget debacles.

Forget the fact that Scott Walker banned collective bargaining and passed Right to Work in his state.

Forget the union protests, the recall election, the capitol sit-ins, the riot police.

Forget the fact that under Gov. Walker, Wisconsin experienced the worst economic growth in the Midwest.

Forget all of this because Presidential candidate Scott Walker’s most recent budget is an insult to the people of Wisconsin. Not only did Walker craft a budget that will drug-test welfare recipients and eliminate the weekend, but the Governor crippled the one institution indispensable to the future of Wisconsin: The UW University System. Consistently rated among the top public universities in the country, the UW System (and its crown jewel at Madison) is at risk of not only losing its funding but its core values as well.  walker

Last Sunday, the state government in Madison passed a budget crippling the University of Wisconsin system, with Governor Walker and his legislative allies cutting $250 million dollars in funding. And by no means can these actions be written off as a “national trend”. Wisconsin’s spending on its public university system is already the lowest in the region, and Walker’s Wisconsin is one of only six states that plan to reduce higher education funding for the next fiscal year.

This loss of funding has led administrators and faculty to prepare for the worst, with schools like UW-Eau Claire preparing to lay off a quarter of its faculty and UW-Stevens Point eliminating entire departments while students are still enrolled in them.

On top of the cuts, the new budget curtails tenure rights for professors and ends autonomy from the governor-appointed board of regents protected in UW’s historic shared governance principle. The loss of tenure rights, which in Wisconsin was enshrined in state law, will also lead to the curtailment of the faculty’s ability to research, speak, write and teach freely about what is happening in our world, a main tenet of academic freedom which will hurt the university’s reputation across the globe.

Working Families stands united against Scott Walker’s university-crippling agenda, as well as his failed economic policies. Click here to pitch in $3 to help launch WI Working Families and bring the progressive fight directly to Scott Walker’s backyard.

At one point during the budget debate, Walker even proposed to change UW’s mission statement itself, seeking to delete the phrase “basic to every purpose of the system is the search for truth” from the Wisconsin Idea and replacing it with the mission of “meeting the state’s workforce needs.” It should come as no surprise that a Governor who denies climate change and is not capable of taking an affirmative stance on evolution wanted to strike a passage detailing the UW System’s “search for truth” from its mission statement.

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But perhaps the larger lesson that needs to be taken from this shoddy attempt to change the Wisconsin Idea is that the Walker administration has no clue of the true purpose of the public university. And drawing from his recent comments calling on university professors to “work harder” and “teach more classes”, Walker seems to hold the misconception that university professors are either lazy or underemployed. This makes him a very dangerous Republican presidential candidate, especially at a time when the state of higher education and student debt in America is at a important crossroads.

Meanwhile, the budget Walker signed Sunday announced that $250 million dollars (yes, the exact same amount cut from the UW System) in taxpayer money would go towards building a new basketball arena for the Milwaukee Bucks, a team currently owned by two men with an accumulated net worth of over four billion dollars. If anything, this act shows how little Walker truly really cares about the students of University of Wisconsin and what kind of people Walker is running for in the 2016 Election.

This is not a man we can let into the White House. Working Families stands united against Scott Walker’s university crippling agenda, as well as his failed economic policies.   

Click here to pitch in $3 to help launch WI Working Families and bring the progressive fight directly to Scott Walker’s backyard!