The Arizona Desert Lamp

Mid-Week Update: Bring Regents, Guns, and Stimulus Funds

Posted in Campus, Politics by Evan Lisull on 20 May 2009

Arne Duncan is Watching YouAll on board the omnibus!

1. Mo’ Regents, Less Problems? Via Student Activism, an rather sensible case for more student regents over at the Chronicle [$]:

Public universities now charge undergraduate students substantial tuition and fees because state support has dwindled. Students (or their parents) are required to make up that missing portion of those institutions’ basic operating budgets.

It is only logical and fair, therefore, that the method of selecting regents and trustees for public universities should change to reflect the new financial situation. I propose, following the old slogan of “no taxation without representation,” that the composition of those governing boards be modified in proportion to the new financial reality. If state funds now provide, for example, two-thirds of the core operating budget, with student fees providing one-third, then the composition of the governing board should directly reflect that 2:1 ratio of interests.

At my own University of California, for example, that would mean that six of the 18 seats on the Board of Regents now filled by gubernatorial appointment would be given over to appointees selected by tuition-paying undergraduate students and their families.

As the author Charles Schwartz points out, there is precedent for this in the CaPERS Board, where six of the members are public employee beneficiaries. Were this formula applied to the Arizona system, five of the ten ABOR seats would be tuition-paying representatives. I suspect, however, that this policy will not work out exactly as Dr. Schwartz envisions it. Simply putting students on the board will not change state funding one whit, and as we’ve already seen here, student regents can overcome their tendencies against tuition hikes rather quickly. However, it is likely that tuition-payers would push much harder for cuts and program reforms than those already enmeshed within the system; ironically, this would result in more cuts than we’ve already seen. (And yes, that’s a good thing overall.)

Besides all this, there is the issue of double representation: in-state tuition-payers are already represented (albeit indirectly) in the state legislature. Yet there is one group on campus that is paying a disproportionate amount of tuition revenue, a group that has no such representation – out-of-state students and their families. Forcing out one of the Council of Zion and replacing them with a student regent that specifically represents out-of-state students is an excellent intermediate step.

2. The Cato Institute highlights two more failures of gun-free zones around schools. Again, though, arguing through bizarre instances is no way to go about making this case. The Brady Campaign can run through a list of examples just as well as the NRA can. The broader point is that the number of gun owners within gun-free zones are statistically insignificant, neither posing a threat nor as serving as an effective deterrent. In this country, the presumption is liberty, until a strong case can be made to the contrary. Especially seeing how possession of firearms is listedexplictly between the right to speech and the right against forced quartering of troops, it’s hard to see the overwhelming case justifying these sorts of zones.

3. Every budget you fake, every bill you take. Arne Duncan, bored with kicking around inner-city children in D.C., has decided to turn his attention towards the orphan-children states at his feet:

“If folks are misbehaving, they won’t get Round 2,” Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said this morning at a Congressional hearing on President Obama’s budget for the 2010 fiscal year.

. . .

“I want to assure you that I will be scrutinizing how states spend their stabilization money to make sure they are focused on education,” he said.

Mr. Duncan also defended the president’s plan to end the guaranteed-student-loan program and said the “marketplace” would ultimately force colleges to hold down rising tuitions.

“This is the wrong market” for colleges to be raising tuition, Mr. Duncan said. Colleges that continue to do so, he predicted, “will pay the price” in enrollment declines.

You got that – if you don’t eat your meat, how can you have pudding? Ignore for your sanity his cognitive dissonance on marketplaces and choice – if Secretary Duncan is oh-so-wise when it comes down to each and every university’s tuition policies, why not just set them himself? Under the logic of Obamanomics, there’s no reason why Duncan can’t refuse to give the money unless states set an artificial tuition freeze. (As to the logic of federalism and the Constitution . . . aye, there’s the rub. But come on,  it’s a goddamned piece of paper – who’s got time for that when our children is not learning?)

Bonus Arne Duncan fun fact of the day: “Some of his childhood friends were John W. Rogers, Jr., CEO of Ariel Capital Management (now Ariel Investments) and founder of the Ariel Community Academy, Illinois Senator Kwame Raoul, actor Michael Clarke Duncan, singer R. Kelly, IBM Fellow Kerrie Holley and martial artist Michelle Gordon. Duncan’s spoken accent at this time led at least one college basketball coach to assume that he was of African-American descent.” [emphasis added – EML]

Arne Duncan AND R. Kelly Are Watching You

Much, much better.

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