Testing The ‘Wisconsin Idea’ Of Public Higher Education

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Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker — Republican Presidential hopeful — wants to cut deep into his state’s prized public university system, and maybe its vision. We’ll hear the debate.

In this file photo, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker gives a commencement speech at Concordia University of Wisconsin Friday, May 16, 2014, in Mequon, Wis. (AP)
In this file photo, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker gives a commencement speech at Concordia University of Wisconsin Friday, May 16, 2014, in Mequon, Wis. (AP)

Sometimes a state debate gets the whole country’s attention.  For Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, that seemed to part of the idea:  to take on Wisconsin’s public university system and its time-honored ideals as a sign to conservative Republican primary voters that he should be their hard-nosed man in the White House.  He proposed a $300 million cut to the university system, and draft language that would have cut the “search for truth” out of its mission statement.  Would gut, say critics, the “Wisconsin Idea” of great higher ed for all.  This hour On Point:  the battle over higher education and the Wisconsin Idea.
-- Tom Ashbrook


Karen Herzog, higher education reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. (@herzogjs)

Noel Radomski, director of the Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education. (@noelradomski)

Christian Schneidercolumnist at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. (@schneider_cm)

John Sharpless, professor of history at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Republican candidate for the United States House of Representatives from Wisconsin's Second Congressional District in 2000.

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times: 2016 Ambitions Seen in Walker’s Push for University Cuts in Wisconsin — "To his critics, Mr. Walker, in both his proposed cuts and in the discussion that arose over the Wisconsin Idea, is trying to capitalize on a view that is popular among many conservatives: that state universities have become elite bastions of liberal academics that do not prepare students for work and are a burden on taxpayers."

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel  Scott Walker's university budget cuts — how big? — "Walker’s budget calls for a cut of $150 million in state funding for UW campuses for both 2015-’16 and 2016-’17. And while the system’s total budget is $6.1 billion — when you factor in state aid, tuition, federal grants and all sources of income — only $2.4 billion of that can be shifted around to meet budget gaps. Using that $2.4 billion as the benchmark, the $150 million cut would be 6.25 percent."

POLITICO: Scott Walker attacks 'elitist' critics -- "Walker rejected concerns about his education level, which has come under increased media scrutiny over the last week. Walker dropped out of Marquette University in his senior year. 'That’s the kind of elitist, government-knows-best, top-down approach we’ve heard for years,' he said of the criticism, adding that President Barack Obama, who graduated from Columbia University and Harvard Law School, has done a 'lousy job.'"

Gov. Walker And The GOP Field In 2016

Chris Cillizza, editor of the Washington Post's the Fix blog. (@thefix)

Washington Post: Scott Walker never graduated from college. So what? — "Lots — and LOTS — of very successful people have never graduated from college. (There is a Web site called the College Dropouts Hall of Fame.)  And, no one likes the guy (or gal) who asks what you got on your SAT scores or what college you went to when you meet them. Elitism is rarely an appealing trait in a political party. Democrats would do well to remember that."

This program aired on February 19, 2015.


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