Someone’s Not Listening…

April 6, 2011 | Blog


I have a four-year-old and a one-year-old so I’m used to people who don’t listen. I repeat myself, say it more firmly, and find new ways to express the same message.

So let’s try this one more time–

Governor Walker and the Legislature:
The State of Wisconsin is doing a very poor job of securing the future of its citizens by investing so little in public education at all levels, including higher education. However, if it has such poor judgment so as to slash education at this critical time, it is in the best interest of the state to give the institutions some additional flexibilities as outlined in the Wisconsin Idea Partnership (WIP). It is, however, not in the state’s best interests to allow UW-Madison to be swept from the UW System and placed under the direction of its own Board of Trustees.

Chancellor Martin:
First, what you have proposed in your new “compromise plan” is a scary version of the WIP. Why scary? Because now it’s just even more painfully clear: You seek to privatize UW-Madison, period. Why else would you seek to ensure it keeps all of its own revenue and is governed by a new board that is led by Scott Walker and his appointees as of July 1? Under the WIP you could get a nice set of flexibilities minus those that directly threaten Madison’s future as an accessible public institution: tuition-setting authority, full financial management, and the Board of Regents. In order to control tuition, keep all the cash, and install people appointed by Scott Walker, you are willing to divorce System. That’s it, I’m done wondering whether this could be about money. This isn’t about money nearly as much as it’s about power.

Second, your campus community has made it abundantly clear that we want to know what’s going on. Sending a letter proposing a compromise to other chancellors and the Legislature without bringing it to us first is not ok. Finding out in the newspaper–only after a reporter has to do some sleuthing — NOT OK.

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Compromise is a good thing. The Board of Regents has shown a remarkable ability to compromise by proffering the Wisconsin Idea Partnership to everyone, including Madison, while not simultaneously demanding Biddy Martin’s resignation. Can such a partnership be implemented with her present? I guess that depends on whether she starts following her own request for input and starts listening.

UPDATE: Biddy Martin tweeted this at me: “Not meant to be a compromise; a third option that adds, not subtracts.”

Does anyone see any value-added in this? I sure don’t.

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