Reflections on Leaving Wisconsin, or Ghosting UW, Heartbreak Edition

hollyjhassel

I have worked at UW Marathon County since 2002, when I first completed my PhD in English. I made my life here. My family is rooted here (my children were born here, my husband’s family lives here). Now I am leaving Wisconsin because of the ways that working in higher education in the UW System in this state has become essentially unbearable, at least for me, as a faculty member in the UW Colleges–the open access and local pathway to a UW degree.

I’m writing all this down because what I most wish is that the everyday residents of Wisconsin and the members of our communities understand what the costs of the decision to dismantle the UW Colleges are–what this will mean for our communities and for our state. The way stories are reported about this are usually shaped by announcements and press releases from the UW System. Or our…

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Statement on UWSP #SaveOurMajors Rally in Madison

AAUP Wisconsin

AAUP Wisconsin supports the students rallying in Madison today to save the liberal arts majors at UW-Stevens Point. We join students, faculty, alumni, and community members in expressing our dismay at the proposal to eliminate these programs, and we call on the Stevens Point administration to withdraw its plan from consideration.

AAUP proceeds from the position that academic program decisions must be based on educational considerations. We are aware of no sound educational consideration that supports the elimination of English, History, Political Science, Geography, Geoscience, Philosophy, Sociology, French, German, Spanish, Art, American Studies, or Music Literature as major programs of study. To our knowledge, the Stevens Point administration has not even attempted to offer an explanation on educational grounds.

UW-Stevens Point students have come to the right place today. Our UW System leaders in Madison have laid the groundwork for what is happening in Stevens Point. They have approved an…

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Eulogy for UWS

The Rebel Professor

I did not plan to be a college professor when I entered my PhD program in sociology. I was interested in more directly community engaged work and writing. I fell in love with teaching during my fieldwork at a movement run high school for adults in Buenos Aires, where I co-taught social sciences in a classroom populated primarily by young women who lived in the neighboring shantytown. But even so, I was highly suspicious that this experience could be replicated inside of a bureaucratic institution of higher education in any meaningful way.

It was only toward the end of my tenure as a graduate student when I saw one particular job listing that I decided to look for jobs teaching at the university level. The job was at the University of Michigan-Flint, a regional comprehensive university where my mom had graduated when I was a kid.

Looking at the posting…

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Ghosting UW: Why People Will Leave, Or, What if the Packers were a Private Good?

Ghosting UW: Why People Will Leave, Or, What if the Packers were a Private Good?

In Part 1 of this blog entry, we highlight the disappearing features of employment in the UW System that have created the kind of high quality state-wide resource that Wisconsin could be proud of. The public commitment and the state commitment to making the UW system–not just UW Madison, the flagship, but all the regional comprehensive, two-year colleges, and Extension sites in the state–have ensured our campuses are robust, integrated, and powerful resources for the state’s citizens. As “Ghosting UW: Why We Came Here” explains, the commitment to the UW system as a treasured, collective resource is rivaled only by the unique Wisconsin statewide commitment to the Green Bay Packers–the only publicly owned NFL franchise in the country (and it will always be the only one, as NFL has passed rules prohibiting this model for future teams).

What this has produced is a culture of shared ownership. Much like the Wisconsin culture around the Packers is unique because of the collective passion state residents have for the team (regardless of wins and losses or championships), the UW campuses have been the source of pride throughout the state, even among those who have no direct investment in or relationship with those campuses. Above Highway 29, you’ll find Badger hats and T-shirts and UW-Madison swag in as great a number as you will in Dane County. The UW has been a source of pride, reflected in the public commitment to supporting that treasured place where we were proud to send our kids, proud to advertise on our t-shirts and hats, and proud to work for.

As a point of contrast, what if we decided that instead of being a public good that all Wisconsinsites can be a part of, we decided to sell off the Green Bay Packers to a small group of investors or single owner. Instead of being supported by a collection of shareholders in Wisconsin, the team belong to one or two or three big-money investors. Would our state be the same? Would our Sunday afternoons be the same? Would our star players stay? Or would they avail themselves of the many, many opportunities that the national professional football market has to be lured elsewhere. This is similar, though it may seem a strange comparison, to the national market of higher education and the ongoing dismantling of the UW system. Our best people are going and gone, whether they want to our not.  Those who are place-bound and place-committed find themselves taking on more and more of the load of institutional citizenship than before (mentoring, program development, committee work and other service, assessment of student learning, etc), and with increasingly fewer resources and less job stability. We are effectively disinvesting in our public UW System, making it more and more vulnerable to the whims of a few shareholders with similar ideological views and the whims of the market of student enrollment declines and surges.

What’s important for Wisconsin citizens and communities to realize is that the gradual gutting of all those qualities that made UW great means that the people, programs, and commitment that were attracted to a flyover state will be harder and harder to retain. That means that certain programs or opportunities that faculty and researchers have built here will be lured elsewhere, and our students will be poorer for those losses. Sara Goldrick-Rab, who researches educational policy, left in 2016 following the Board’s radical changes to tenure. During her time at UW Madison, she “brought more than $10 million in federal research funding to UW-Madison” and with her departure, “The HOPE Lab she founded will close in 2018, when a five-year $2.5 million grant from the Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation expires.”  A similar story is that of digital humanities scholar Jesse Stommel, who wrote in this blog: leaving Wisconsin is still hard. Some of the first words I wrote to a close colleague in May when the dominoes here began to fall: “I’m intensely loyal. I don’t abandon ship, but I looked around today and just saw water — no ship,” and, after his decision to take a new position out of state: “When I took this job, I thought I’d be here for life. I was born in this state, my closest mentor was born in this state, and I have some of the most daring and brilliant colleagues here. We have collaborated in spite of systems that have made that increasingly difficult. I remain awed by what we’ve built together.” These are not people who wanted to leave. But their absence, and the loss of what they built, will be felt for years, if not decades.  

And not every faculty member who works for the UW system is bringing in millions of dollars worth of federal grant money; faculty at the two-year UW Colleges campuses or UW Stevens Point or most of our regional comprehensive universities were not hired to do that. They teach four courses a semester (in contrast with the 1 or 2 that a research-intensive campus assigns), they engage in scholarship, and they build programs, mentor students, and work on their teaching. These faculty members were hired through a rigorous national search.  For many of these positions, they were chosen from dozens to hundreds of applicants vying for the same job. The decision to move to central Wisconsin was a deliberate choice that each of these faculty members made because they wanted to teach the students who live here in Wisconsin. A recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education speaks to diversity of students who choose accessible institutions; they are a population of students like those at UW Stevens Point, who are both challenging and rewarding to work with. They are the first in their families to go to college; they went to rural (or urban) high schools. They struggle financially. They expect to work hard. They are so many UW students.

The faculty selected from the rigorous national search process spend their careers learning how to teach these students and how to help move them through higher education successfully.   Last year, the UW Colleges lost the chair of women’s and gender studies to a Dean position at at Bay de Noc College in Escanaba. Dr. Amy Reddinger created and cultivated the UW Marinette LBGT Center, responding to the “overwhelming need for the resource.” As Dr. Reddinger stated, “There are no organizations or agencies that are dedicated to working with LGBT people in at least three counties in Oconto, Marinette, and Menominee.” The center also is a critical opportunity to combat the growing numbers of suicide among LGBT youth in the community. “The suicide rate for LGBT youth is four times higher than non-LGBT youth. We need to support kids who are coming out earlier and earlier,” she explained. So while the faculty members that we are at risk of losing may not be as well known as Sara Goldrick-Rab, they are much more like Dr. Amy Reddinger.  They are faculty members who are able to see the unique needs of the geographical area that the campus serves. They made a choice and a commitment to serve the students and the community. They teach our students English, History, Political Science, and Sociology, and they teach them well. They are highly desirable. And other institutions see their worth.

These are examples of people who already left the state. But remarks from current faculty who are dealing with the consequences of President Ray Cross’s reckless decision to dissolve the UW Colleges as an institution and reassign them as branch campuses and UW Stevens Point’s nationally embarrassing announcement of elimination of 13 majors, all in the liberal arts–have wrought. The University of Wisconsin System has invested millions of dollars in developing tenure-line faculty and academic staff who have become experts in their fields, and Wisconsin is losing (and will continue to lose) that investment as people take that expertise and exceptional credentials to other more stable jobs in other states.

Informal surveying of current faculty responding anonymously illustrates these tragic losses. Explaining their desire to look elsewhere for academic employment, faculty stated they are looking “…anywhere more stable than UWS,” and “…anywhere other than UW.”  Many would prefer to stay, “If I could, I would. I just don’t think it’s feasible in the long-term. I can’t deal with the constant uncertainty” and “Not if these changes go through. I love teaching here, but this will change the entire mission of the University. We are here to serve the needs of the community, and that will no longer be possible.” One faculty member in an affected department wrote,

“It’s startling to have multiple interviews lined up already.  I have an interview scheduled for an out of state position that pays significantly more than what I make here. I was also offered an interview for a position outside of my field for a job that seems very exciting.  To have multiple organizations recruiting me is such a departure from my current situation where I am simply not valued… where my institution is trying to jettison me. I love my job; I work hard to serve my students well. I don’t want to move.  I wish I could stay here, where I have a community and a home, where my child goes to school, and where we have friends. But it’s clear that UWSP sees me as a liability rather than an asset.”

Another faculty member from one of the small, Central Wisconsin two-year campuses felt forced to go on the job market after the merger announcement, and will now leave the system for a position with a salary $30,000 higher than her current pay (in a liberal arts field); and will take with her several popular local continuing education youth outreach opportunities and relationships with local nonprofit organizations.

And what drives them to go elsewhere is the consequences of the public disinvestment in the system and concern for their families and students: “I’ve devoted nearly 20 years of service to this state, only to be repeatedly mocked and made to feel worthless. Even if I can personally absorb the stresses, I know my family cannot.,” and “The stress is unbearable. I find I have little time to concentrate on actually teaching. I can’t sleep and I am getting very sick.”  The stress of the restructuring and its poor execution as well as the relentless cuts, furloughs, and hostility from the governor, the legislature, and the Board of Regents has created “stress personally, physically, family, professionally… physically feel ill about it,” with another respondent writing “I’m not sleeping. My anxiety is through the roof. I can’t be the teacher I want and can be in total chaos all the time.”

And faculty and staff responding to questions are worried not just about their families and their health but the consequences to the system, and to their students. The concerns focus on what it means to hemorrhage our most committed and hard-working faculty, reflected widely by faculty considering leaving; we are losing the Aaron Rogers and Jordy Nelsons, the Clay Mathews and. yes, the David Bakhtiaris–who show up, do the job, and do it well, even if they aren’t the rock stars.

  • We’re going to lose a lot of talented, passionate educators, and the students are the ones who’ll suffer for it
  • The UW System is in danger of losing much of its talent.
  • The faculty who have left have been some of our best. Huge loss for students and colleagues as we lose opportunities to work with these talented faculty who take their abilities, knowledge, skills elsewhere.

So who benefits from this disinvestment? Who benefits from starving the UW of resources and insisting that the gap between expenses and revenue (largely tuition at this point) don’t line up. Who benefits when structural deficits force program cuts, faculty layoffs, and what eventually will be small campus closures. Student? Faculty? Staff? Our communities? Who benefits from these choices, when $100 million can be used to make our K-12 schools more prisonlike while the options for our local students seeking higher education become narrower and fewer? Ultimately, both people who are leaving the UW and the state and those who are staying feel pain. Our students will lose. The state will lose.  

As one faculty member wrote “I feel heartbroken that The Wisconsin Idea is dying before my eyes.”

 

Ghosting UW: Why We Came Here

1904 Wisconsin’s President Charles Van Hise stated unequivocally that he would “never be content until the beneficent influence of the university reaches every family in the state.” In that Progressive-era formulation, every citizen of Wisconsin would be able to benefit from the knowledge and discoveries created at the University, and, by extension, others in the nation and the world.

The UW System became the UW system in 1971, after several years of study and discussion by the Merger Implementation Study Committee. It merged two systems and created the UW Centers freshman-sophomore campuses throughout the state. Since that time, the UW System developed a reputation as a “world class university,” a phrase that is used regularly within the UW System, the state of Wisconsin, and throughout the country. Historically it has ranked as one of the top in the country on a wide range of metrics (UW Madison in particular).

How did a public state university in a midwestern state rise to the top of rankings? In academic circles (and others), we hear a lot of references to “flyover country“–places that you really don’t want to actually visit but that you have to cross to get to other, better places. Nonetheless, the UW campuses have attracted productive, nationally-known scholars to the state since the system’s formation.  

How did this happen–and how does the gutting of all those things that have successfully built the system set us up for a decline into mediocrity?

Faculty searches are national searches. Academics earn PhDs and, in a tight market, nearly always have to relocate to another part of the country or the world to find satisfactory and stable employment. That means that, with good working conditions, universities in a wide range of potentially not-so-desirable locations for folks with advanced degrees, cultured tastes, and often progressive views, can be lured to places that might not be aligned very well with those priorities. Wisconsin used to offer these things, all of which have been dismantled, diminished, or eliminated under the legislature’s and governor’s policy decisions since Act 10 in 2011:

Ironclad commitment to tenure: The definitions and conditions of tenure were, prior to 2016, enshrined in state statute, the only university system to have such a symbolic and strong commitment to tenure and shared governance for the university. This was a beacon to potential faculty, communicating the state’s value on these prized values in higher education, established many decades ago by the American Association of University Professors. Tenure guarantees academic freedom and the ability of faculty to support and advance brave, bold, and provocative areas of research and teaching that move knowledge forward within a field. It protected and encouraged innovation.

Commitments to Program Support and Continuation: Historically, faculty could be assured that their commitment to the system and the state would be equally vigorously exercised by their university workplace. With the passage of the Faculty Layoff policy by the Board of Regents in 2016, language that allows for market-based decisions that close programs and layoff faculty has reneged on this commitment.  

Robust shared governance: Faculty who are being recruited by the system look to see how effective the voice of faculty shared governance groups–senates or councils–as well as departmental committees and other university groups is in terms of managing the university’s curricular and personnel priorities.  Historically, the state statute language defining shared governance could assure prospective faculty that faculty are “active participants” in institutional policy development and “shall have the primary responsibility for academic and educational activities and faculty personnel matters.” The changed language in 2016 revised the language to reflect a “subordinate” and “advisory” role. Now, prospective faculty cannot be assured they will have a defining say over the quality or decisions of their programs.

State funding support to a public education system:  Two decades ago, the state provided a majority of the budget support to the UW System, ensuring that a stable foundation of resources was available to support courses, programs, and support for students. This is essential to quality because tuition is soft money that fluctuates depending on enrollment. That doesn’t, however change the fact that to offer quality services to students, you still have a required baseline of resources needed. The gutting of GPR support to the UW System means that faculty, staff, and students see a declining commitment to campuses.

Affordable tuition for students: It might seem like tuition freezes help students, but unless they are accompanied by an equivalent resource commitment from the state, all they do is erode quality.  Cutting funding from the state while not raising tuition means that there is ultimately what is called a ‘structural deficit’–a gap between what income is coming in and what expenses need to be covered. Tuition has been frozen–but students are getting less and less what they pay for. Simultaneously, the two-year college campuses that have previously offered students a low-cost option compared with the four years are now being merged with the four years. And it is unlikely that that lower tuition will be maintained as even now administrators at those four-year campuses are asking “How can we justify having students pay a lower cost for the same course we offer at another site?”  

A value system and philosophy that saw the university as an embedded, integrated, and respect of the state (The Wisconsin Idea): As the epigraph to this blog illustrates, the relationship between the UW System and the state has been reflected in what has been called the Wisconsin IDea for a century. It signaled to prospective faculty, staff, and students, that the relationship between Madison and the rest of the state or campuses and their communities was collaborative, productive, and important.   In 2015, though, Scott Walker tried to delete the language of the Wisconsin Idea from state statute/mission statement. And though it was ultimately retained, recent decisions to cut the majors and programs from the comprehensive program offerings at UW Superior and UW Stevens Point reveal that the language is hollow if the spirit and substance are gone.

 
An incredible benefits package that made up for a lower-than average salary scale:  It’s documented that UW campuses have significantly lower faculty salaries than peer institutions in other states. This has been true for a long time. What made up for that was a highly competitive benefits package that included zero premium costs on the part of employees and low co-pays. Since 2011, these have increased every year, with the sum total cost being a pay reduction of several percent, despite the very small increases that have taken place in the last 10 years (2 years of pay increase at 1%).

Coming soon: Ghosting UW: Why We Are Leaving Here

 

Laboratories of austerity

“The elitism underpinning this set of developments has not gone unnoticed. The Colleges’ predicament was accelerated by the 2015 regionalization of administrative services, taking advising and other support away from where it was most needed on the System’s open-door campuses. The UW-Superior administration struck a remarkably patronizing tone, suggesting that its many first-generation students might be overwhelmed by the range of choices available at a truly comprehensive university. And the UW-Stevens Point administration has spun a tendentious hunch about its students’ career planning into a suggestion that they seek fancy things like English and history degrees elsewhere. This is not a strategic retreat from the educational ideal so that the university might be saved; it is an abandonment of our neediest students, of entire regions in central and northern Wisconsin, and of the democratizing mission of the public university.”

Language Politics

UW-Stevens Point has attracted national attention for its administration’s plan to shutter the bulk of its majors in the humanities and social sciences. UW-Superior’s administration summarily suspended 25 programs in October, sidestepping the governance process and triggering a vote of no confidence in the chancellor. And the UW Colleges and Extension is being dissolved as a freestanding institution, its 13 campuses to be absorbed by nearby UW universities barely 9 months after UW System President Ray Cross’s surprise restructuring announcement last fall.

In other words, we are now seeing exactly the kinds of developments that were made possible by the statutory changes to tenure and shared governance in 2015 and the resulting Regent policies on faculty termination via program change, which triggered no confidence votes in Cross and the Regents across the System in the spring of 2016. The ideological vision behind those changes is apparent in the squeezing of…

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Ghosting the Region II: Rural Students Deserve Better

Ray Cross loves the humanities

In October 2017, UW Superior led the way in moving to withhold access to liberal arts major programs for northern and rural students, suspending majors and minors like journalism, sociology, history, geography, photography, art history, and an array of other majors and minors. Further evidence of the gap between northern Wisconsin and southern Wisconsin is to be found in UW Stevens Point’s recent announcement to close major programs grounded in liberal arts fields in favor of  ‘vocationalizing’. The rural/urban divide first described by Kathy Cramer in The Politics of Resentment: Rural Consciousness in Wisconsin and the Rise of Scott Walker is more starkly shown than ever in these university decisions that will eliminate accessible, affordable, and high-quality education throughout the state.

What public higher education has always done is make it possible for people without a lot of financial means to access the same kinds of quality programs that you can get at Lawrence University or Dartmouth or Harvard–curricula based on the liberal arts foundation. Gutting majors in the humanities and social sciences–programs that provide access to the people in a dozen counties in central Wisconsin–ultimately closes off choices for certain kinds of people and not others. Why should the student whose rural high school couldn’t offer AP Literature or Music or History or Sociology courses also be relegated to a local four-year campus that is now without a robust traditional curriculum and an array of fields led by faculty members hired to lead such departments?  Why should our local students be deprived of the same opportunities students in other parts of the state will have to explore possibilities and find their pathways? Why should our local students not be able to choose the areas of study that often lead to innovation, leadership, creative thinking, entrepreneurship?

Savvy colleges recognize that rural students are those being left behind–and they are reaching out to these students even if they are doing so with a recruitment mindset. Yet in Wisconsin, the two year campuses of the UW Colleges (the most efficient of all of our institutions in the state since buildings were owned by counties, and those poised to serve rural students in many corners of the state) were disbanded. Those campuses–which epitomized the Wisconsin Idea in bringing the university to the community–were seen by Assemblyman Dave Murphy as “an antiquated system that was originally designed for an agrarian economy.” But agriculture is not an antiquated part of Wisconsin’s economy or culture. Farmers and small business owners want their children to go to college–and not too far away so they can still contribute to and learn from the family’s trade, ready to return to it with their schooling complete. Murphy would benefit from reading “Where the Small-Town American Dream Lives On,” a recent article that investigates how Orange City, Iowa, has remained a growing and thriving place while other small midwestern cities struggle. The town’s success? Its young people are able to stay and pursue their training as teachers, lawyers, entrepreneurs and future leaders through the small liberal arts college in town.

Conversely, in Wisconsin, not only are our system leaders ignoring the potential benefits of recruiting from our heartland–our rural counties--they are ignoring the role our public institutions can play as hearts of those communities, circulating their life blood, their young people, within their system; keeping it alive.  As data from the UWSP office of institutional research data reveal, of the new freshman class at UW Stevens Point, 90% are Wisconsin residents; a closer look at the home cities of 2017 first-year students shows that students from the nearest four zip code clusters (544XX, 549XX, 547XX, and 546XX–or a rough analysis of students attending the campus from within 100 miles) make up 43% of the freshman class (944 of 2194).  Broadening out the analysis to two hours would certainly increase that number to at least half of UWSP’s student body. UW Stevens Point is an access point for our local students.

No doubt Republican leaders in the capitol will say rural students have access to any form of higher education they choose through the wonders of the Internet, but bring that argument with you on your next fishing trip north of Highway 29. People who live there year-round know what it’s like to try to run small businesses with spotty Internet signals, and unfulfilled promises from state leaders and telecommunications corporations (subsidized to expand their broadband in rural areas of Wisconsin). Students in the southern half of the state aren’t told their only option for the basics of a higher education is to go online–they have a plethora of brick-and-mortar choices as well as steady signals. It’s important to note that these same political leaders are the ones who insisted that dissolving the UW Colleges (the only institution with a mission of access) would actually increase access for students.

Rural Communities Need Arts and Culture

The lurking argument here, of course, is that the north half of the state doesn’t need the humanities–Art or English, History or Philosophy. A visit to Bayfield or Door County, though, or these days even Rhinelander or Hayward, shows just how clearly the arts are connected to tourism. A 2016 study concluded that “The arts and culture – the creative industries – mean jobs for Wisconsin…this new study underscores the importance of the creative industries’ return on investment, through the many jobs in the arts, and the important role they play in creating the vibrant communities necessary to retain and attract the entrepreneurs and skilled workforce Wisconsin needs in order to compete in the 21st century.” The economic impact of arts education and its related economic impact on our state’s tourism industry is undeniable: local nonprofit arts organizations generate $657 million in economic activity annually, resulting in nearly $75 million in local and state tax revenues, 26,695 in full-time equivalent jobs and $555 million in resident income.”

Where there are arts organizations, there tend to be businesses that have innovative products or practices.  Rural counties that host performing arts orgs tend to have greater population growth and residents that are better educated and earn higher incomes than residents of other rural counties. Further, between 2010 and 2014, when the average population growth in rural counties was 391 people, those counties that hosted performing arts organizations saw an increase of 2,096 people. Rural communities in particular benefit from access to creative thinkers, educated people who have the ability to think innovatively and imaginatively, to make creative use of what’s around them, and who reflect in their creativity the life and heart of the place from which they come. There’s a reason Bon Iver’s (a Wisconsin-born band in the national spotlight) album won Grammys–frontman Justin Vernon was from a town of 1315 people and that authenticity spoke to hundreds of thousands of album buyers and music downloaders. (Also worth noting: Vernon majored in Religious Studies and minored in Women’s Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire). If we want the future of Wisconsin to include growth in the burgeoning creative economy (and creative industries)  and the knowledge economy–the sector of the economy requiring education and training; information infrastructure, and support for innovation and ideas–the worst thing we can do is close off access to those fields that will allow the next generation of Wisconsinites to lead the way.

The same folks who don’t think the Northwoods is rich with arts and culture and that we don’t know how to make use of art in the community are also those who question why Central Wisconsin kids need political science, geology, or philosophy. That way of thinking suits those who look north and only see metals to extract or timber to fell, inland lakes they don’t need to bother to protect, or Great Lakes water rights to sell. For people who don’t hunt or fish, who don’t ski the Birkie or snowmobile, it’s easier to imagine their own uses for the land and resources if fewer local kids are ever going to be judges or ecologists, conservationists or activists. If there are going to be any local kids around to say something at all.

The truth about higher education and Wisconsin may be that Wisconsin leaders don’t want it. It’s not valued by employers who want to build FoxConns. A true higher education is valued, though, by employers who want to pay professional salaries, by entrepreneurs who want to go into small businesses for themselves, and by families who want their children to return from college to apply their skills in the family-owned business or farm. People who see how fast the world is changing know that a university education can’t be about training for the jobs that exist this week, but about developing critical thinking skills, adaptability, and the broad base of skills that can later be applied to lead in the coming decade–and to develop new kinds of jobs that don’t even exist yet. Further, why can’t students and their families be trusted to choose their own career paths? State (taxpayer) support for the UW System has fallen from 50% of the of the institution’s budget to just 13%. Legislators are no longer willing to pay to support our children’s higher educations–and yet they still want to dictate what they’re allowed to study when paying for it themselves?

Your Kids Deserve More

The people making this decision know how power works and how you limit access to opportunity and choices. In fact, they themselves–or their children– have availed themselves of opportunities to study history, political science, sociology, and philosophy. For example, UW System Regent John Behling and Drew Peterson hold degrees in history. Regent President John Behling and the Education Committee chair and recently appointed Regent Gerald Whitburn both studied political science, as does the student representative, Ryan Ring, at UW Eau Claire and Regent Tracey Kleine. President Ray Cross regularly refers in meetings to his two sons, holding doctorates in philosophy and professorships in that field, at elite liberal arts colleges. UWSP Chancellor Bernie Patterson studied Criminology, generally considered a branch of sociology, a degree pathway being eliminated, while the UWSP Provost has multiple degrees in history. If it’s good enough for them, why isn’t it good enough for central Wisconsin’s kids?