Saturday, February 07, 2015

Gov. Walker’s ‘Drafting Error’

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD, NYT, FEB. 6, 2015

It was not enough for Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin suddenly to propose a destructive 13 percent cut in state support for the University of Wisconsin’s widely respected system. His biennial budget plan, released Tuesday, reached gratuitously into the university’s hallowed 111-year-old mission statement to delete a bedrock principle: “Basic to every purpose of the system is the search for truth.”

The budget — patently tailored for the governor’s conservative campaign for the Republican presidential nomination — inserted language that the university should be more narrowly concerned with meeting “the state’s work force needs.”

Brazenly deleted as well from the mission statement, which is nationally appreciated in education circles as the Wisconsin Idea, were the far from controversial goals “to educate people and improve the human condition” and “serve and stimulate society.” It was as if a trade school agenda were substituted for the idea of a university.

But Mr. Walker badly miscalculated — in the state at least, and perhaps even with the national constituency he is furiously courting in campaign trips and in his fund-raising. The citizens of Wisconsin, clearly more appreciative of the state university than is their governor, erupted through social media and news outlets, sending Mr. Walker into retreat a day later. His office attempted the ridiculous excuse that the pernicious editing of the university’s mission was simply “a drafting error” in the budget text and that the Wisconsin Idea would be left intact after all. But a December email showed clear instructions from the administration to make the deletions.

(More here.)

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