The Arizona Desert Lamp

ASUA Senate Meeting, 4 November 2009

Posted in Campus, Politics by Evan Lisull on 5 November 2009

Agenda available here [PDF].

1. Consent Agenda. The American Medical Student Association (AMSA) got $864.95 for a benefit concert – $700 for audio/visual equipment, and $164.95 for “police security.”

More importantly for the author, the consent agenda also included a petition from a Young Americans for Liberty chapter. Unfortunately, they missed the meeting, and had their hearing for start-up funds tabled until they show up. It’s great to see that there’s a nascent YAL group on campus, but it be even better to see an active one.

2. Undergraduate Council. A year and a month ago, Professor George Gehrels came to the ASUA Senate to discuss course availability, GROs, class standing, and general education. Today, Gehrels came to discuss … course availability, GROs, class standing, and general education. Send in the snakes!

Anyways, Gehrels cited a few changes in his presentation [PDF] that have been implemented since then: the new class standing policy, the $25 drop fee after seven days, and extending WebReg through the eighth day of the semester.

Impact is “uncertain” for all these policies except for the class standing policy, which has boosted average semester enrollment for full-time students from 13.1 to 13.4 units – a fairly significant boost. It’s unfortunate, though, that Gehrels continues to sell the measure as a revenue-increasing one. Perhaps more units are being taken per semester, but, assuming that this policy does what it is supposed to, these students will stay in school for a shorter average duration. If the school really wanted to boost state funds, it could increase the total number of credit

Yet while this class standing policy encourages students to take 15 units per semester (rather than 12), another policy being implemented this spring will cap pre-registration enrollment at 16 units (Honors students get 19). Both policies are admirable by themselves, but together they serve to put students in a vise. Students taking a language class (i.e. 4 units) will be trapped into their schedule – anything outside of the most basic class shifts will become perilous.

Course shopping often gets demonized, but it ignores how useful it is as a hedge against uncertainty. The Senate rightly emphasized that this would become less and less of a problem as syllabi and book lists are made available online, but that’s hardly the only reason for a drop. Perhaps the professor rubs you the wrong way, or the 10-10:50 is too far away from your 11-12:15, or the class you really wanted just opened up.

Further, as Sen. D. Wallace pointed out, some kids are perfectly capable of taking more than 16 units. 18 units in particular is a fairly common enrollment trend. In fact, this new policy works against graduating kids in three – so basically, kids will graduate in four if nothing interrupts their “plan”; otherwise, they’ll be on the same five-year track that is the norm.

The UGC acts as a sort of de facto on-campus think tank, so it’d be nice for them to look at historical enrollment trends and drop rates across the university. With the right data, it seems that registration capacity could be inflated beyond enrollment capacity, allowing students a bit of flexibility as they perfect their schedule.

The other possibility, if the 16 unit restriction isn’t going away, would be to permit the buying/selling/trading of class seats. Of course, this effectively gives Honors students a 3-unit trading subsidy.

Gehrels “couldn’t believe” that he was discussing GROs again before the Senate, a surprising statement for a 24 veteran at the UA. The Senate deserves credit for pointing out – and this is the only time, I suspect – that there needs to be more “awareness” of the fact that GROs change nothing when it comes to graduate/professional school. Sen. Weingartner proposed putting an informational box on the GRO form, perhaps cutting down on unnecessary retakes.

Some other random, but very bad, ideas:

-A “general studies degree,” reflecting on the “interdisciplinary world we live in.” (/vomit) It wasn’t at all made clear how this would differ from the Interdisciplinary Majors that are currently offered. Sen. Weingartner offered the best hypothesis, contrasting the effective combining of three minors (ID) with course-by-course selection (GS). Yet Gehrels couldn’t say, saying that it was still in the works. Why this is deemed so necessary remains a mystery.

-Gehrels wondered openly whether the GenEd program should “do away with the writing requirement, and not have a writing component in the GenEd program at all.” One must wonder, if this holds, why we have general education in the first place.

-“Success Courses,” such as ‘how to find a major’ and ‘find a grad school for you’, presumably to be offered for credit.

Random notes:

-President Nagata will start discussions with President Talenfeld next week about the Get REAL initiative. Baseless speculation sez, “Get excited?”

-Without irony, we had back-to-back reports urging us to (a) vote for the homecoming royalty online, and (b) to go to a “mixer” with student regent finalists Friday after next, and then fill out a “survey” to indicate one’s preferences. Which is to say: UA students have a greater say over their homecoming court than they do over their representative on the Board of Regents. Can’t you feel the empowerment?


ASUA Senate Report, 28 October 2009

Posted in Campus, Politics, Textbooks by Evan Lisull on 29 October 2009

Agenda available here. It’s a long one, so get comfortable:

1. Consent Agenda. We’re working on getting the official document, but there were some interesting issues pertaining to the ever-mysterious club funding process. Mock Trial withdrew their third request of the year, as they didn’t want to endanger their funding requests for next semester. Fostering & Achieving Cultural Equity and Sensitivity (FACES) was denied a request for $39, since the items requested were personal items (i.e. pencils). The Social Justice League (the folks that required $1600 to emulate homelessness) received funds to rent space on the Mall and to market their event, but were denied funding for food. Students for Justice in Palestine received somewhere in the neighborhood of $1,190 to pay for plane tickets to an event in Hampshire College, in Amherst, MA.

2. OASIS Bystanders. Sen. Quillin remarked, “All of my experiences with OASIS have been amazing,” and while my experiences have only been secondary and come word-of-mouth, I have to second this sentiment. Without getting into details, OASIS proved to be a godsend to a close friend facing some serious trouble, and its existence is an overall good for this university.

That having been said, their latest idea threatens to muddle their mission, turning an admirable cause into a nannying arm of Student Health. First, though, their mission statement:

The Oasis Program was established to provide a variety of services to UA students, staff, and faculty (men, women, and transgendered persons) who are impacted by sexual assault, relationship violence, and stalking. The Oasis Program is a unit of Campus Health Service and is an active partner with Tucson community service agencies. Together with our campus and community partners we strive to provide coordinated responses to, and work toward the prevention of, all forms of interpersonal violence.

In effect, the program helps women deal with sexual assault, and provides self-defense classes and other similar programs to this end; I suspect that the interpersonal violence line was added to generalize gender. What OASIS does not does not do is deal with other health issues that don’t involve “interpersonal violence” – until today’s introduction of the OASIS Bystander Program. This program, according to the presenter, is based off the STEP UP program run by UA Athletics:

STEP UP! is a prosocial behavior and bystander intervention program that educates students to be proactive in helping others.

A survey at three Universities (The University of Arizona, University of California, Riverside and University of Virginia), revealed that students are encountering multiple situations where bystander intervention would be appropriate including, among other things, alcohol abuse, hazing, eating disorders, sexual assault and discrimination. Almost 90% stated a problem could have been avoided with intervention and up to 85% of the student-athletes indicated they would like to learn skills to intervene. The bottom line is that many, if not most, unfortunate results are PREVENTABLE.

Similarly, OASIS Bystanders will receive 90-minute training sessions, teaching them how to act in the face of such “anti-social” behaviors. In addition to questions like, “Are there things I should be doing to help my friend who was recently raped?”, OASIS Bystanders will also learn how to answer questions like, “What do you do if you see someone really intoxicated? Do you call for help?” They will also offer sixty minute presentations to groups on issues like bullying, hazing, drinking, and eating disorders.

The presentation cited the “success” of STEP UP, but its hard to see any manifestation of this outside of administrative fauxtistics and collection of personal anecdotes (which go so far as to withhold the name of the athletes cited – what is this, Witness Protection?); if I remember correctly, it was one of our more famous athletes that could have used a bit of “intervention” of his own.

Yet worse than this is the effect that the Bystander program will have in distracting OASIS from its more important role in preventing sexual assault, and providing resources for its victims. OASIS has been admirable in honing in on this issue, and there’s absolutely no reason to think that there is need for greater focus elsewhere; Campus Health already caters to that.

There are ways to tailor this program to make it better hew to the mission of OASIS. The basic formula could be kept, but re-tailored with its main focus. In fact, the program could be used to reach out to males, a group traditionally and unfortunately uninvolved in such programs. The formation of a ‘Teal Shirts” division to enforce sexual assault laws might raise up the question of whether “good fascism” exists, but OASIS could train men to watch for examples of sexual assault, and encourage them to intervene. This might lead to more “interpersonal violence” overall, but I hope it is not to controversial to say that old-fashioned fights are preferable to domestic violence.

At any rate, the first information meeting/trial run will take place on November 4, 10 AM, on the third floor of the campus health building. Your author won’t be able to make it, but citizen journalism is always encouraged – so go.

3. Textbook Commitment Resolution. One might think that the ASUA Senate would start a discussion on textbook prices by wondering about the potential conflicts of interest in deriving almost forty percent of their total revenues from the ASUA Bookstore. Instead, the Senate presented a resolution [PDF] of this year’s ineffectual textbook program, led by ASA and based on a letter drafted by President Nagata (so that‘s why he hasn’t responded!):

UNDERSTANDING the rising cost of education at the University of Arizona, the Associated Students of the University of Arizona are asking a commitment from university faculty and department heads in regard to textbooks, with the knowledge that textbooks are a substantial associated cost in relation to attendance;

It’s a bit misguided to focus on textbooks in the context of overall rising costs of college education. Here, for example, is a chart depicting the cost estimates for an in-state student attending the UA, courtesy of the Office of Financial Aid:

Cost of UA Education, In-State

It’s not quite clear why travel is so high for in-state students – in fact, the estimate is almost $1,000 higher than the estimate for out-of-state students. Do in-state kids go back home that often? This is all incidental to the point that books aren’t really that great a cost, relative to other educational inputs (4.9 percent). It’s even less of a factor for out-of-state students:

Cost of UA Education, Out-of-State

The underlying data, with cool interactive graphs, can be had here. Rather than being a “substantial associated cost,” the real problem with textbooks is their relative expense – in layman’s terms, textbooks seem more expensive than they should be. Some of this is also a result of lacking market knowledge – hopefully, all students have bought books before, and know how much a “good” book costs. But for many, paying for housing is the first proper rent payment of their sentient lives, and tuition is a unique event. Not only are textbooks more expensive than average books, but they are also of lower quality (speaking in aggregate) – poorly written, uninformative, and filled with incidental material unrelated to the class.

Even though they don’t properly diagnose the problem, the resolution does hint at a better approach than years’ past:

UNDERSTANDING that it is incontrovertibly within their [the faculty and department heads’] power to aid and alleviate some portion of students’ financial burdens in relation to textbook costs

This site made such an observation in its second post ever, but it’s good to ASA moving in this general direction.  Here is what ASA/ASUA propose to do:

WHEREAS the Associated Students of the University of Arizona implore university faculty members to utilize textbooks for consecutive academic years, and within this commitment will allow said textbook to be enrolled within the textbook rental program.

UNDERSTANDING the faculty member or department head will also enter into said commitment with the agreement that faculty members will also submit textbook titles to the University of Arizona BookStores before the adoption from due dates preventing unnecessary costs of acquisition past that date;

The first clause basically means that instructors have to commit to using textbooks for two academic years in a row, and enroll in the rental program. The second clause is referring to an issue from the bookstore’s perspective: when professors submit their book requests beyond a certain deadline, fees are assessed, and the costs are passed onto purchasing students. There’s another clause asserting that textbooks are a “significant portion” of education costs, and then the operative clause:

THEREFORE this body endorses and advocates this textbook commitment campaign with the ultimate goal of lowering textbook costs for students and alleviate unneeded financial burden.

Sen. Quillin, who introduced and drafted the resolution, described it as “more of an awareness campaign,” but it’s even weaker than that. ASA is still a program under the control of ASUA – President Nagata appoints the entirety of the UA delegation; and in this case, directly inspired the campaign. If ASA were to do something contrary to Senate wishes, presumably they would make this known, and the policy would be modified. This resolution is basically one arm of ASUA endorsing the actions of another, an event that occurs countless times when the Senate offers “support” for ZonaZoo or a percentage night at La Salsa.

The program is a step in the right direction, but ironically enough it tries to do too much by sanctioning the professors. Instead, ASUA should revive that old canard of transparency, and apply it to the problem of textbooks. The program cites the problems caused by professors turning in their book requests too late – why not release a list of the professors who do so? Once that information is out in public, professors will be forced to defend their policies. If the professors have genuine reason for their expensive textbooks, then that will be apparent. If they don’t, such disclosure should serve as the pressure necessary to affect real shifts. In fact, the Associated Students Book Store has enough information to let us know the textbook prices of each and every class offered at the UA. It has historical data, too. There is nothing better that the Associated Students of the UA could do to have a long-term, genuine impact on textbook prices than releasing this information. More information will lead to more informed customers, both with students looking for classes and professors looking for books.

Another issue, relating to information, concerns professor involvement. Sens. Weingartner and Daniel Wallace asked how many faculty members were contacted before drafting this resolution/letter; and while the answers varied between one and three, they were are centered on how many Faculty Senate members were/should be contacted. This is the wrong approach, though – if you want to understand how a market works, you need to start at the bottom. Focusing on quantity, rather than administrative quality, reveals a larger sample of textbook approaches – and it might be argued that the faculty involved in Senate are less likely to pursue unconventional paths.

Instead, we get Sen. Quillin asserting in his report that the resolution is a “”feasible and tangible way to make a difference in the cost of higher education.” Usually, ‘tangible’ is referred to something real, an ill-fitting term for something like textbooks, where exactly no evidence has been presented showing the efficacy of its programs. Amusingly enough, ASA’s page on textbooks includes this excerpt:

In 2008 ASA worked to pass legislation that required textbook publishers to disclose their prices to professors.  Our research showed that this was one of the most effective ways to lower the cost of textbooks for students.

Though covering this beat for over a year (two, if you count the Wildcat), the author had no idea that ASA had a research arm! Perhaps these researchers would care to reveal themselves? Are there other reports, analyses, or even data? Could this specific ‘research’ be presented with the imminent media blitz surrounding the new textbook campaign? We wait in earnest, but on a serious note – if this research exists, please release it now, so we can stop making a joke out of it.

4. Club Triathlon/Senate Project Funding. What is the Club Triathlon? As it turns out, it’s not athletic, and there’s nothing tripartite about it. The program, brought to the Senate floor by Sen. Stephen Wallace the Elder, is a project of ASUA Community Development, and involves providing incentives to clubs to participate in volunteering. Don’t clubs already do a lot of philanthropy work, as Sen. Quillin pointed out? Yes, but let’s not get distracted here. The clubs are given a list of philanthropies that, according to Sen. S. Wallace, “we’d like them to participate in.” Suppose you want to volunteer at a non-listed philanthropy – do those hours count? Sen. S. Wallace doesn’t say, but the prospects aren’t promising.

A competition will commence between the twenty clubs (out of  “near 500” clubs = 4%+ of total clubs), who will keep track of all the hours volunteered by their members at the pre-approved charities. The competition will continue for an indeterminate period of time, at which point winners will be announced. The club with the most “volunteer credits” will receive $1,000; the second-place club will receive a $250 clothing installment from club funding; and the third place club will receive a catered event courtesy of ASUA.

So why is Sen. S. Wallace coming to the Senate for this funding? After all, Community Development is an arm of Programs and Services, and received $4,816 (including stipends) in the budget. Well, according to Sen. S. Wallace, this is a Senate project – even though he’s acting “in collaboration” on a event directly sponsored by an arm of Programs & Services. And according to Administrative Vice President Ziccarelli (the executive in charge of P&S), this was an “unforeseen event,” meaning that it wasn’t budgeted for.

Wait – “unforeseen event” sounds familiar. Isn’t that exactly the sort of expense that was supposed to be covered by the executive operations accounts? Sen. Daniel Wallace the Younger brought this issue up yet again, assuming in vain that the defense was more than a rhetorical trick to scam the Senate out of control over the ASUA purse. Instead, $500 came directly from Club Funding (which is open to all clubs, rather than just the twenty that were able to field a team in this ‘triathlon’); $250 came from Community Development, raised through percentage nights and sponsorships; and the final $250 is supposed to come from the Senate. Exactly $0 are coming from the executive operations accounts.

This is OK, though – the money is going to Sen. Stephen Wallace’s “senate project,” even though the project is being primarily carried out by a division of Programs & Services. Whatever. So what is the money going towards? It’s going to the prize, and it’s also going to running the competition. Unlike Sen. Weingartner, Sen. S. Wallace didn’t itemize the spending request, so it’s unclear exactly where this money will end up. Yet if it is being devoted entirely to the prize, this raises the question – why not just reduce the prize to $750?

Last year, the vote approving this spending would have been unanimous, so there’s solace in that. Unfortunately, the spending still passed, 5-3 with two abstentions. The complete vote breakdown:











Other notes (but actually somewhat important this time):

SSFAB Shenanigans. It should come as no surprise that the vice-chair of the SSF Board is Ryan Klenke – Freshman Class Council Alum, former ASUA Senate candidate, and current Diversity Director. It should be somewhat surprising that the board worked on a “program alteration request” relating to the Women’s Resource Center – and rarely are these “alterations” needed to reduce the allocated amount. More on this as soon as we can get information.

Freshman Fee. As if the SSF wasn’t enough anti-democracy for one day, Sen. Yamaguchi had to drop the bombshell that the Freshman Fee allocation process will be run by the Freshman Class Council. Not only does this give allocation power to a body whose previous main role was designing and requesting funding for a Homecoming float, but it also gives the power to the wrong people. The application for the council this year was due September 4 – literally two weeks after the start of classes, and long before any worthwhile understanding of the university was realized. Such a grant of power simply codifies the de facto elite class.

Student Regent Selection. As per student government tradition, the “student regent” is being selected in a manner that completely excludes any student body input. So far, we don’t even know the names of the candidates, but hopefully the pledge for transparency will extend to this process as well.

But, hey, don’t let this report get you down – after all, it’s your student government!

The Oasis Program was established to provide a variety of services to UA students, staff, and faculty (men, women, and transgendered persons) who are impacted by sexual assault, relationship violence, and stalking. The Oasis Program is a unit of Campus Health Service and is an active partner with Tucson community service agencies. Together with our campus and community partners we strive to provide coordinated responses to, and work toward the prevention of, all forms of interpersonal violence.

Putting the “student” back into the “student regent”

Posted in Campus, Politics by Evan Lisull on 13 October 2009

The deadline for submitting your student regent application is less than a week away – have you sent in yours yet? Of course, you haven’t – unless, that is, you’ve been in the thick of student government. Of the last ten regents, nine of them have spent time in student government prior to their appointment (the exception is the current non-voting regent from NAU, Jennifer Githner, who is a Ph.D student).

Perhaps this isn’t that surprising. After all, only the best and brightest are able to scale the lofty heights of student governance. And perhaps it takes a certain type of congress-critter to strive for such offices.

But perhaps it has something to do with the way student regents are selected. In spite of the fact that they represent the entire student body, the nominees for regents are ultimately chosen from a small cabal of high-ranking students. The members of the selection committee are listed here, but this is the breakdown:

Vice President Fritze – ASUA Executive Vice President

Nicole Pasteur – ASA Director

Tyler Quillin – ASUA Senator

Ryan Klenke – ASUA Diversity Director, ASUA Senate Candidate

David Lopez-Negrete – GPSC Vice President

Mary Venezia – Former ASA Director, Former Student Regent

Ruben Aguirre – Staffer for President Shelton

J.C. Mutchler – Token Prof

Frankly, it’s a bit offensive to have a professor sitting on the student regent selection committee. Otherwise, you have:

ASUA – 3

ASA – 2

GPSC – 1

Unaffiliated students – 0.5 (because, really, working for the President’s office hardly counts as any sort of “voice of the people.”)

But as my colleague asked two meetings ago, “Why is ASUA still a middleman when selecting student Regents? How about direct election?” It’s ironic that an institution so fervently holding onto non-representative, campus-wide elections for Senate (defying the standard set at virtually any other campus across the country) is so insistent that approving the student regent – the position that literally is supposed to represent the student body – should be such an oligarchic process, removed entirely from any sort of plebiscite.

Instead, after interviews and reviews of the applications, the regent selection process proceeds as follows:

Thursday, November 5

Selection Committee Meeting-Semi finalists selected

Week of Monday, November 9

UA Student Regent interviews and reception with ASA Board of Directors

Monday, November 16

Selection Committee Meeting-Three finalists selected

Wednesday, November 18

ASUA Senate confirms three finalists

Thursday, November 19

Three finalists sent to Governor’s office for nomination selection

This sort of process is absent of any outside student input. Take something like signature requirements. While this site has argued for reducing such standards for ASUA elections, there’s still a very strong case for their existence. Beyond pragmatic concerns about dealing with hundreds of candidates, making potential candidates collect signatures is a way of demonstrating that they really are serious about reaching out to the student body.

Unfortunately, no such provisions exist for regent applicants. Those student regents who rose to prominence through ASA have quite literally claimed to represent the “student voice” without ever having to reach out to students outside of the student government circle.

Instead of an admissions that resembles the election of a homecoming queen more than the student representative to the Board of Regents, the student government’s sole responsibility would be ensuring that candidates (a) had enough signatures, and (b) had all their paperwork in order. An election would be set (although ideally this would occur at the same time as the other elections), and would proceed as any other campus-wide election. In adherence with currently standing laws, the student government would submit the top three vote-getters to the governor as the three nominees, and the governor would “choose” from these – almost certainly, the one with the most votes.

From a statutory perspective, students can’t directly elect the regent – the Regent is ultimately appointed by the governor from a list of three names. Yet such statutory provisions also exist when it comes to fees, which can only be implemented or modified by the Board of Regents. Nevertheless, this campus has recently held plebiscites relating to KAMP and ASA fees (which passed), and a PIRG fee (which failed). There was nothing that prevented the Board from approving the PIRG fee, while nixing the KAMP and ASA fees – but regents respected the legitimacy and gravity of such a campus-wide election (with the glaring exception of the Student Services Fee).

Such a de facto approval would similarly exist in the governor’s office. The inevitable outcry that would emerge from a governor overriding a student vote would be far more trouble than its worth for such a middling position. For the governor, this is hardly worth more than ten minutes of his or her time.

Yet for students, it is immensely important. The student regent is quite literally the only representative they have in the tuition-setting process. Attention, ASA: here’s a reform you could push for that actually increases student power. Yet given their privileged role in the process, the odds of any push for this are effectively nil.

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.