Last week, we examined several issues relating to the education and training associated with the traditional vocational/technical post-secondary schools.

Today, we’ll focus on two ultra-important issues that are beginning to infect some of our traditional colleges and universities as politicians are attempting to change the focus of higher education and limit access at the same time.

“For the first time, students in more than half of all U.S. states are paying more in tuition to attend public colleges or universities than the government contributes.

 The privatization of public education has been under way for decades but this inflection point was hastened by deep cuts states made to their higher-education appropriations after the 2008 recession. Funding levels since then have only tepidly recovered, according to a report released Thursday by the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association.”  (March 29, 2018 – Wall Street Journal)

And, then came even worse news:

The University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point has proposed dropping 13 majors in the humanities and social sciences — including English, philosophy, history, sociology and Spanish — while adding programs with “clear career pathways” as a way to address declining enrollment and a multimillion-dollar deficit.

 Students and faculty members have reacted with surprise and concern to the news, which is being portrayed by the school’s administration as a path to regain enrollment and provide new opportunities to students. Critics see something else: a waning commitment to liberal arts education and a chance to lay off faculty under new rules that weakened tenure.

.  .  .

 The plan to cut the liberal arts and humanities majors  is in line with a failed attempt by Republican Gov. Scott Walker in 2015 to secretly change the mission of the respected university system — known as the Wisconsin Idea and embedded in the state code  — by removing words that commanded the university to “search for truth” and “improve the human condition” and replacing them with “meet the state’s workforce needs.”  (A University of Wisconsin campus pushes plan to drop 13 majors — including English, history and philosophy by Valerie Strauss,  The Washington Post)

An advanced democratic nation must provide for its citizens equal access to affordable post-secondary education, be it a voc-ed track or a traditional college.  Each choice should reflect the wants of its individual citizens and each of the two tracks should be equally respected.  And, behind that choice is a long standing commitment to make the choice affordable for all.

Politicians who continue to weaken the nation’s future by pandering to the voters with ill-advised tax cuts and under-funding of higher education have become the enemy of our young citizens right to a “better world” than their parents have enjoyed.

Congressional spending combined with trillion-dollar tax cuts is piling huge debts on their backs, a burden that older generations are passing along to them.

 And the lack of congressional and White House commitment to environmental reform and serious efforts to combat global warming will have a negative, perhaps even devastating, impact on their lives and on the lives of their own children.”  (“Don Walton: Good things happen when kids take to the streets,”  Lincoln Journal-Star)

Parenthetically, the actions being taken by K-12 public school teachers in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona and Kentucky only underscore the damage being done to education at all levels.

“The cuts in Oklahoma also had dire consequences for schools. Districts have not been able to maintain buildings, so students shiver through the winter in classrooms with faulty heating, share long-outdated textbooks and become accustomed to a rotating cast of teachers. Many school districts have moved to four-day school weeks because they cannot afford to keep the lights on for five days.

 Adjusted for inflation, the amount the state spends per student has fallen nearly 30 percent over the past decade  .  .  . “  (“Fed up with school spending cuts, Oklahoma teachers prepare to walk out” by Moriah Balingit, The Washington Post)

Politicians in our Congress and State Legislatures are failing the nation.  In their single minded emphasis on their own reelections they have turned their backs on education at all levels.  Instead of investing in the nation’s future, they are needlessly cutting taxes for the most advantaged Americans in order to secure personal funding for their own reelection campaigns.  Shame!  The nation’s youth will not forget their politics of greed.

And, as for the unfortunate situation at The University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point, it’s students will have been betrayed by its president, as well as by the Wisconsin governor and its legislature.

A traditional college degree should have a liberal arts underpinning behind whatever field of study the student decides will be her major focus.  Only then, upon graduation, will she and her peers be prepared to intelligently participate in discussions with individuals who majored in other fields of study.  And, those interdisciplinary discussions are the major reason why world advances in all specialized fields moves forward century by century.  It’s known as lateral thinking.

I’ll be leaving for a short holiday on Wednesday.  My next post will be on Monday, April 16.  Enjoy this beautiful time, the Spring awakening  –  –  –

   — Bill Walton, co-Founder, ITC Learning

 April 2, 2018  (Mondays & Wednesdays)



(This is a personal blog.  Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner,, an independent consultant.  They do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in a professional or personal capacity.)