Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Steineke "arrogance" on UW shows why Bucky should fight WisGOP

Things are already heated on the UW-Madison campus, as the campus is grappling with numerous years of budget cuts and the dissolution of tenure in the last state budget. And the temperature got turned up even higher today, in light of the UW Faculty Senate's plans to pass a resolution of no confidence against UW President Ray Cross and the UW Board of Regents.
The resolution to be considered next week blasts the Regents for approving new tenure policies that weaken faculty layoff protections and accuses Cross and the board of damaging the reputation of the flagship campus.

Written by sociology professor Chad Alan Goldberg, who has been among the most vocal faculty members in calling for strong tenure protections, the resolution declares the Faculty Senate has no confidence in Cross or the Regents to “protect tenure and shared governance.”
Basically, the faculty Senate is saying that they've been pushed past the breaking point, and do not trust Cross and the Walker-stacked Board of Reents to act in the best interests of UW-Madison. Instead they believe Cross and the Regents are working on behalf of Walker and the WisGOP Legislature in allowing the defunding and reforms deforms happen to the UW System, and demand that UW System Administration actually stand up for the UW.

UW-Madison chancellor Becky Blank said she thought the resolution would lead to more turmoil for the university, as it could lead to revenge by the WisGOP State Legislature in the form of further damage.
“The backlash on this will be potentially very real,” Blank said, “particularly as we’re going into a budget year where the number of people who are looking for reasons to cut UW-Madison is uncomfortably high. This gives them those reasons.”

Blank said a no-confidence vote risks alienating UW’s potential supporters in the Capitol and the business community, groups with whom she said Cross is popular, and questioned what UW-Madison would gain from the resolution.
Very telling that Blank thinks the interests of "business community" is more important than the interests of the workers that produce the knowledge and goods that come out of the university that she heads up. That business community is better known Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce and other corporate oligarchs, who elected the Legislature that instilled the cuts in the first place.

And as for those "potential supporters in the Capitol", take a look at how a high-ranking WisGOP legislator reacted to the Faculty Senate's resolution against President Cross, and to faculty complaints over the new work conditions.
On Tuesday, Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna, defended Cross and the Regents, described the changes to tenure as "minor" and criticized faculty for bringing the no confidence vote.

“This action ... shows an arrogance that doesn't serve the university or its students well," Steineke said. "It’s a clear example of the complete disconnect between UW-Madison faculty who seem to expect their job to come with a forever guarantee and the average Wisconsin family struggling just to make ends meet.”
Now the Number 2 guy in the State Assembly would know, because after all he got a degree from the UW-Madison and he knows how different those professors view things vs the "real world.". I mean, just look at Steineke's bio. It screams "expert on the ins and outs of higher education."
Born Milwaukee, November 23, 1970; married, 3 children. Graduate Wauwatosa West H.S. 1989; attended UW-Milwaukee and UW-Oshkosh. Realtor, salesman.
Let me translate for you- "attended" college means STEINEKE DROPPED OUT WITH NO DEGREE. The only job skill he seems to have is convincing rubes to buy into whatever he is selling.

But Jimmy didn't stop there. Like the undereducated fool with multiple criminal convictions that he is, he felt the need to explain his comments to the public in a massive Twitter meltdown this afternoon, which included this gem.

There is so much wrong in those 140 characters. Here's just a couple of them.

1. Tenure is not a "guaranteed job for life." You can still be fired for misconduct (and rightfully so), and that's not it's main calling card. What tenure allows is intellectual freedom to carry out research and discuss ideas without fear of reprisal from ideological bullies. You know, like college dropout governors and legislators who warn that there will be repercussions taken against universities who have faculty organizations who call the UW System President to account.

2. UW-Madison is a research institution, who has most of its funding and mission be based on research which advances society, and whose findings increase quality of life outside the university borders. This statement comes directly from UW-Madison's mission statement.
The primary purpose of the University of Wisconsin–Madison is to provide a learning environment in which faculty, staff and students can discover, examine critically, preserve and transmit the knowledge, wisdom and values that will help ensure the survival of this and future generations and improve the quality of life for all. The university seeks to help students to develop an understanding and appreciation for the complex cultural and physical worlds in which they live and to realize their highest potential of intellectual, physical and human development.
Sure, there is a teaching element to things at UW (especially at the undergrad level), but the main focus of that university is research, and it's what separates it from the rest of the System. It's also a main reason that UW-Madison was a Big Ten school and a top 10 public institution in America (until Steineke and ALEC/GOP started messing with it) that attracted great minds from around the U.S. and the rest of the world. Steineke's comment is the logical offshoot of what Assembly Speaker Robbin' Vos's said after the 2014 elections about what the UW's priorities should be.
“Of course I want research, but I want to have research done in a way that focuses on growing our economy, not on ancient mating habits of whatever,” said Vos. “So we want to try to have priorities that are focused on growing our economy.”
And who defines what "grows the economy?" You got it- the Assembly GOP and their non-innovative WMC puppetmasters. In this mentality, there is no concept of public good or societal advance, just profitization for those who are in the inner circle.

Unlike Blank, another UW chancellor decided there is nothing to be gained by cowering to these anti-education thugs in the Legislature, and he went public with his concerns today. UW River Falls Chancellor Dean Van Galen released a statement illustrating how state support of his school has plummeted over the last 40 years, and how that reality not only threatens the university’s viability, but also business development and the quality of life in western Wisconsin.
At UW-River Falls, the 2015-2017 state budget approved by the legislature and Governor resulted in a $2.87 million base budget cut, representing an 11.2% reduction in base state support. Also, as part of the budget bill, undergraduate tuition was frozen for 2015-2017, extending the tuition freeze for a total of four years. The primary use of state and tuition funds is to support faculty and staff who work directly with students. At UW-River Falls, the budget cuts have resulted in a reduction of 55 state/tuition-supported positions, including 18 permanent layoffs or non-retentions. Since 1974-1975, the balance between funding of core educational costs at UW-River Falls has shifted from 79% state funds and 21% tuition, to 28% state funds and 72% tuition in 2015-2016….

UWRF is an extraordinarily student-centered university, has prepared its graduates well, and is deeply connected to River Falls, Hudson and the entire St. Croix Valley,” said Chancellor Van Galen. “Through initiatives such as the Hudson Center, the St. Croix Valley Business Incubator, and new academic programs in agricultural engineering, data science, and neuroscience, the university is striving to be responsive to the needs of our state and our students.”

“Our role, however, is not only to produce talent that benefits our state and region,” Chancellor Van Galen continued. “A UW comprehensive campus like ours is truly here to help prepare students to become engaged, ethical citizens for the entire course of their lives. State budget cuts, in conjunction with a tuition freeze, inhibit our ability to do this. We need our alumni and community members who care about education and this university to stand up and support us now, more than ever.”
Chancellor Van Galen recognizes the reality that these anti-education WisGOPs will try to cut and deform the university no matter how UW higher-ups treat them, so why not go over their heads and take the UW's case directly to the public? After all, removing anti-UW legislators like State Senator Sheila Harsdorf (who "represents" River Falls and voted for all of these cuts and deforms) is the only way that the UW System can stop the bleeding and start the recovery process from this destructive ALEC agenda.

Becky Blank should do the same at my alma mater in Madison, especially since Bucky has the donor and research base to "go it alone", and likely has a much higher level of respectability in the eyes of the typical voter than the sleazy ALEC crew at the Capitol. And if Chancellor Blank isn't willing to stand up for Bucky in the strongest language possible, tell UW grads all over the state that these destructive jackwagons in the Legislature can stick their anti-education attitudes up their backsides, and that they need to be replaced for the damage they have caused, then she's not cut out for the job and we need a UW advocate put in her place. Because the state's best resource and generator of talent can't afford to have timid, cowed leadership in this crucial time, and needs to understand that the ALEC crew isn't going to decide the funding of UW-Madison or the rest the System in good faith.

At this point, what do UW campus officials have to lose? The WisGOPs will cut and screw them over if they stay in power past 2016. And if you succeed in changing the current Legislature and its destructive attitude toward the UW System, that's quite a bit to win back.


  1. And here's a major tell on where the righties' endgame is. Charlie Sykes has a long article for the WPRI stink tank on how to "fix" higher ed. Mostly through online means.

    Which means the UW model of on-site campuses where you learn face-to-face and (just as important) peer-to-peer is being threatened. And no doubt, this Sykes/Bradley model would be turned over to profiteers

  2. If only the news media would look at what is happening in the same way you dissected it here. Jobs and innovation are about to take a hit again.

    1. This is an advantage of being an opinionated blogger- I can just cut to the point without fear of being called biased, like more "legitimate" media would. Plus, I don't rely on Jim Steineke for access like a media member would, so I don't give a crap what that Shrimpy dropout thinks.

      This reality between opinion vs. "news" is a big reason why this truth doesn't often get through in our paid-off corporate media.

  3. Sen. Steve Nass is already signaling that the "no confidence" vote will be used as a reason to further attack the UW system.

    Also, the GOP is already talking about closing one or two UW campuses behind closed doors. Don't believe me? Go ahead and ask your GOP legislator about this, and see if they give you a straight answer.

    1. Claim redundancies.
      Say the offered coursework is not providing the workers the WMC want.
      Online classes are better anyway.
      We are so sorry, we have no choice, our hands are tied.

  4. Jake--isn't the endgame here to have an uneducated, easily-led populace?

    1. With WisGOP, it's almost always money and power first, so I think the selling off is the first goal. But having a dumber population that's less likely to vote Dem is a nice side benefit, I suppose