Archive for January, 2014

More About Vanishing Transcripts
by Silence Dogood

Nearly two years ago, the faculty raised concerns about grades on transcripts that went “poof”, a term coined by Provost Devinder Malhotra in the fall of 2012. Essentially, a “poof” results in all record of a student’s registration disappearing from their academic transcript. Officially, it is called a “drop” but “poof” better describes what happens!

There are legitimate reasons for removing the record of a student’s registration. If a student has a demonstrated significant medical emergency, financial crisis or is called to active duty from the reserves, almost no one would question whether or not removing the record of registration was appropriate.

The data for the number of “poofs,” which comes from the SCSU Business Office, provides a potent visual image:

The data shows that SCSU has had a rapid growth in medical emergencies, financial crises and students being called to active duty that is clearly impressive! Please note that the plot shows only 368 for FY12 but this number reflects data for only the first 9 months of the year—an estimated number based on the same rate of drops for the remaining three months would be 490. However, it might also be expected that the rate of requests for drops might increase towards the end of the semester as well as just after the final date of the semester, so the actual number of “poofs” in FY12 might be even higher than 490. Even using the nine-month number (368) for FY12, the change from FY07 to FY12 is an amazing 2,500% increase!

Of course, there are other legitimate reasons besides medical emergencies, financial crises or military service for a registration to be removed from a transcript but the sheer growth in numbers is amazing! However, unless the number of medical emergencies, financially crises or students being called to duty has grown dramatically since FY07 and FY08 to match the increase in the number of “poofs”, something else must be going on.

The “poofs” also occur with a financial cost. Since the student was essentially never enrolled, a refund of tuition is automatically generated. The following figure created using data from the SCSU Business Office shows the tuition dollar cost of “poofs”:

In FY12 alone, the total amount of tuition refunded was $537,104 for nine months and a projected amount of $716,139 (if the data had been collected for the whole year). The total cost for tuition refunds from FY07 through FY12 is projected at almost two million dollars ($1,976,000). What is most disconcerting, at least to some faculty, is that the administration seemed to be more concerned about grades being removed from transcripts because it was costing the university money rather than being a matter of academic integrity!

From the report submitted May 10, 2013 by Associate Provost John Palmer of the subset of data analyzed, “there is no record of any contact with the faculty in at least 31% of the cases reviewed from the sample of cases analyzed from FY12 data.” The administration claims to have instituted new policies and procedures going forward to require faculty input. However, they have not admitted that there might have been a problem in the first place!

The data presented by Associate Provost John Palmer also shows that in 60.3% of the cases only a subset of courses taken by a student were changed. Clearly, if you are taking a class on bowling and you break your leg, it might be reasonable to drop the bowling class but stay in your history, English, and online psychology classes. I personally don’t remember seeing 221 students walking around in casts during the 2011-12 academic year so, again, maybe something else is going on. It also seems unlikely that someone who is called to fulfill their military commitment will drop only their one on campus class and remain in their three online classes, so military service is not likely a large percentage of the partial course drops.

With such a large number of cases of partial removals of courses, further analysis of the data is needed. Unfortunately, the person responsible for performing the data analysis has been reassigned and the administration views the issue of transcript adulteration closed. Additionally, no data has been presented for FY13, the last full year for which data would be available. It is data that the administration promised at Meet and Confer but has yet to provide. No one is holding their breath!

SCSU clearly wants students to do well and has recently revised its policy on academic forgiveness where a student returning to school after being gone for at least three years can choose to have the grades of courses taken earlier not count in their grade point average (GPA). It is important to note that the grades are not removed from the transcript, only a notation that before a specified time, the grades are not counted in the student’s GPA. The intent of this policy, which was openly discussed, was to bring SCSU into line with other MnSCU universities. It is also an attempt to recognize that a student in their first try at college might not be too successful and then upon returning to school later have them not be hurt by their first collegiate efforts. Clearly, this is sane and reasonable policy.

A video on Youtube has surfaced with an audio track of a meeting of the BSW Committee of the Social Work Department on November 2, 2011 as they were reviewing the credentials of students applying for admission to the social work major.

One of the voices on the tape is Dr. Tracy Ore, Chair of the Social Work Department and former Interim Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education and Student Support Services, who, in that latter role, was responsible for reviewing petitions by students to have courses removed from their transcripts. The discussion on the tape was related to students whose GPAs were below the minimum to be admitted to the program. The solution to the problem was simply to have the students get the courses removed from their transcripts. And voila! Students now meet the admission standards to the program.

Clearly, the administration’s claim that the removal of courses from transcripts was not a problem either in the sheer numbers of “poofs” or the reasons accepted for granting a student’s request are again called into serious question by the revelations on the tape.

It is important to remember that the transcript adulterations were initially discovered because the Chemistry Department instituted a policy where a student taking a class for the third time had to have permission from the instructor to advance register for the course. During registration in the spring of 2012, two chemistry faculty members were reviewing the enrollment for an upcoming fall organic chemistry course and they recognized a student who was enrolled that each of the faculty thought each had failed. They wondered how the student could have registered without prior faculty approval. A review of the student’s transcript showed that the student’s enrollment in organic chemistry in the Fall of 2011 was erased (none of the other classes the student had taken that semester were removed—just the one chemistry course). The faculty member has a copy of the grade roster submitted to the Office of Records and Registration showing that the student had received a grade of F in the course so this is a mater of fact not just the recollection of a professor. The faculty member was also part of the 31% of the faculty who were never contacted before the grade and registration was removed from the transcript. Releasing identifiable information would violate FERPA but suffice it to stay the student completed the course including taking the final exam and received a grade of “F.” The grade and the record of registration for the course were removed. No explanation or justification has ever been given to the faculty member.

Clearly a process whereby students can simply have courses removed from their transcripts after the fact is insane and unreasonable. The fact the SCSU administration does not see this practice, “poofs”, as a problem reflects a disdain for faculty in general and academic integrity specifically. Just as the University of North Carolina’s problems with classes that did not exist has been referred to as phony classes and phony grades, SCSU transcript/grade problem can be called the phony transcript problem. Considering the large number “poofs”, it calls into serious question the integrity of the administration regarding the maintenance of academic records.

It isn’t exactly rare to see leftists misunderstand what the Constitution permits or limits. Still, this LTE shows the Left’s lack of understanding of the Constitution:

The Supreme Court decision called “Citizens United” is a gross misnomer. The court ruled corporations have the same rights as people when it comes to voting rights.

This decision allows corporations to spend millions of dollars to influence elections. This makes it virtually legal to buy elections.

The editorialist is right in that the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. the FEC decision said that corporations have the same right of free speech as citizens. That’s because corporations aren’t buildings. They’re a collection of citizens. As such, they have just as much right to expressing their political opinions as your next door neighbor.

The editorialist is wrong, however, in saying that corporations “have the same rights” as it pertains to “voting rights.” Corporations can’t vote. They can buy ad time to talk about the things that matter most to them. That isn’t the same as casting a vote.

Is this leftist going to argue that corporations aren’t protected by the Fourth Amendment just like a private citizen is protected by it? Where in the text of the First Amendment or the Fourth Amendment does it say that only individuals are protected by these constitutional amendments? Here’s the text of the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Here’s the text of the Fourth Amendment:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The Fourth Amendment at least mentions “people” being “secure in their persons.” The First Amendment doesn’t mention any limits to “people.” The fact that the text of the Fourth Amendment mentions “people” being “secure in their persons” hasn’t prevented the courts from rightly ruling that corporations and small businesses and nonprofits are protected from unreasonable searches and seizures. Apparently, this LTE writer doesn’t grasp the concept that the Bill of Rights applies to everyone, not just individual citizens.

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Yesterday, I wrote this post highlighting Paul Thissen’s reaction to my post about how unions didn’t build the middle class. The activists in the MOB, aka the Minnesota Organization of Bloggers, aren’t unlike NATO in that, an attack against one is an attack against all of us. When they saw that Speaker Thissen had taken issue with my post, Mitch Berg and the Lady Logician jumped into the discussion. Here’s how the Lady Logician responded to Speaker Thissen’s tweets:

You misrepresent the smaller gov’t policy stance to mean no govt & that is simply NOT what small gov’t ppl want. No one is arguing against roads & education but when govt gets in2 the minutia of telling ppl what lightbulbs 2 buy or what HEALTHCARE to buy or whether or not they can own a specific type of dog, then we are going to argue.

Here’s Mitch’s response to one of Speaker Thissen’s tweets:

The evidence is, in fact, that gov’t research *follows* corp. innovation. Ditto education. Not other way around.

Mitch wasn’t done schooling Speaker Thissen. Here’s the rest of Mitch’s tweets to Speaker Thissen:

So did gov’t build roads out of pure goodwill? Or did biz pay for them? You’re saying government is the only body that can give us clean water? Record shows that’s untrue. Most municipal water systems in the US *started* as private enterprises. Nearly a quarter still are. The “gov’t brings us all riches” argument is the black/white one. Markets, not politics, deal well with nuance. Either is “private enterprise is lost without government”. Or rather it’s a fallacious place to start the conversation. At best, it’s “assisted” by gov’t. But the idea that prosperity follows infrastructure is utterly ahistorical.

That’s a typical Mitch-slap. Spoeaker Thissen probably didn’t realize conservatives were this principled about free markets and limited government. The reality is that Speaker Thissen didn’t address why he thinks government is equipped to run a complex online health insurance business for the entire state. That’s essentially what MNsure is. (That isn’t just my opinion. It’s what Jim Nobles said on Almanac last Friday.)

Was government responding to free markets when they passed legislation that specified what types of lightbulbs could be used? Why did government inject itself into the discussion as to what dogs were legal in Minnesota? Was there an outbreak of dog violence against people? Or were they just inserting themselves into an issue because they were reacting to one of their special interest allies? I’m pretty certain it’s the latter.

Speaker Thissen’s tweet that questioned whether people could get to their jobs or companies could move their goods without public roads dovetails with President Obama’s now-infamous statement that entrepreneurs didn’t build their companies, that government did. That’s BS. Mitch is right in saying that government might assist entrepreneurs but government isn’t what makes businesses thrive.

The Anything But Affordable Care Act is a perfect example of how twisted leftist thinking is. I wrote here about how MNsure made things worse for one Minnesota family:

This Minnesota family is a young married couple with three children. Until ObamaCare and Dayton’s MNsure came along they shared the cost of their Blue Cross-Blue Shield family health insurance policy 50/50 with the father’s employer. Thanks to ObamaCare, the cost of that policy sky rocketed and is no longer affordable to the family. After endless hours of working with MNsure, here is what resulted.

Without the parent’s consent, MNsure jammed their three children onto government insurance. The children are now covered by Medicaid at no cost to the family or employer, but 100 percent cost to the taxpayers. The father had to go with a single insurance plan from his employer and purchase a separate new policy for his wife. Because of the confusion and disarray at MNsure, neither he nor his wife currently has health insurance ID cards for the insurance they have already paid for.

That’s why limited government conservatives complain about government overstepping their constitutional authority. Additionally, this shows government isn’t capable of running a business.

In other words, government should get its claws out of the things it isn’t qualified to do and focus on the things that constitutions limits it to. Limited government conservatives don’t hate government, even though that’s the propaganda that ABM and other leftist propaganda organizations spread. It’s that we understand that the best decisions for families happen at a family’s kitchen table.

It’s time Speaker Thissen figured that out.

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Earlier today, I wrote this post about whether unions deserve most of the credit for building America’s middle class. Apparently, the DFL is feeling more than a little defensive about what I wrote. It’s apparent because Paul Thissen, the Speaker of the Minnesota House of Representatives, responded with 3 defensive-sounding tweets to my post. Here’s Speaker Thissen’s first tweet:

Do innovative cos take advantage of govt basic rsch? Do business & employees benefit from a broadly educated populace?

Here’s Speaker Thissen’s second tweet:

do workers get to jobs and companies move product without public roads? Do middle class economies exist without clean water?

Here’s Speaker Thissen’s final tweet:

your black & white, either/or world view may serve you rhetorically but no one in real world operates by it.

First, let me address the subject of whether “workers get to jobs and companies move products without public roads.” They do in Indiana. While government funds the building of highways through gas taxes in Minnesota, it’s indisputable that that’s an archaic way of funding highway maintenance. Indiana, not Minnesota, is the future of highway funding. PS- Privatization works in improving highways. Indiana’s proof of that.

Next, Speaker Thissen apparently thinks, like many leftists, that Republicans oppose all forms of government. That’s silliness. They’ve read too many of ABM’s smear campaign messages for their own good. (Then again, the DFL are puppets. ABM is their puppeteer.) Minnesota’s Constitution requires funding of public schools so there’s no question about whether taxpayers will fund government schools.

Third, isn’t it possible that Speaker Thissen is living in an either/or, black or white world? Based upon his past actions, there’s no question that Speaker Thissen thinks that the nanny state isn’t intrusive enough. He’s voted for higher taxes on the richest of the rich. He’s voted for middle class tax increases, too, as recently as last May. Those are indisputable facts. He’s voted for legislation that would prohibit people from owning certain types of dogs in Minnesota.

It isn’t that Republicans hate government. It’s that we’ve seen government expand into areas that government shouldn’t intrude into. We’ve seen the DFL elitists in the Twin Cities tell people in northern Minnesota that they don’t have the right to make a living even if they live by Minnesota’s environmental regulations. Yes, that’s what Conservation Minnesota is pushing. Here in central Minnesota, another of the DFL’s environmentalist allies, the Sierra Club, is pushing for shutting down of the Sherco power plants.

There’s no question whether Speaker Thissen will defend these special interest organizations. There’s no question because he’s defended them in the past. Considering his ambitition to succeed Gov. Dayton as governor, and his need for substantial campaign contributions from environmentalists, there’s no question Speaker Thissen will continue defending these black or white organizations.

Finally, let’s cover Speaker Thissen’s question about whether middle class economies exist without clean water. Not that we’d want this but yes, middle class economies have existed without clean water. Ohio’s and Pennsylvania’s middle class thrived with some of the nastiest water in the nation.

Like I said, however, that shouldn’t be the goal we shoot towards. The linkage between clean water and robust job creation is questionable at best. There’s no disputing whether those things can co-exist. They’re co-existing right now. What’s equally indisputable is that the DFL’s special interest allies love moving the goalposts on industries, especially the mining industry, by increasing the regulatory restrictions on Minnesota’s biggest industries.

Last year, Speaker Thissen didn’t hesitate in pushing a bill that limits silica sand mining even though it would kill Minnesota jobs. Here’s what Rep. Pat Garofalo said about the bill:

You’re gonna actually tax an industry out of existence with a tax on silica mining. I actually had a liberal activist say to me they thought that by raising taxes on silica mining, they would somehow impact the fracking in North Dakota. (Laughter in background) Spoiler alert. They’re gonna get the sand from other states. Doesn’t matter. It’s gonna have no impact whatsoever on other states’ ability to do fracking of natural gas and oil but it will kill jobs here. And it’s not business groups saying that. It’s not small businesses saying it.

We’ve heard from the local 49ers. We’ve heard from the local unions. In fact, members, this is how totally delusional this tax increase is: Mark Dayton actually labeled the House DFL silica sand tax “ridiculous.” So when a tax increase is so high that Gov. Dayton labels it ridiculous, you know you’re checked out for lunch.

Speaker Thissen, the question isn’t whether government will exist. The question is whether the DFL will continue to insist on limiting Minnesota’s economic growth through their abuse of Minnesota’s regulatory system. At this point, there’s little disputing whether the DFL will tell the environmentalists no every once in awhile. They won’t.

The only question is whether Minnesotans will reject the DFL’s vision of ever more intrusive government. Let’s hope they answer that question with an emphatic yes this November.

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Jeb Bush’s education reform agenda, outlined in this article, starts with the declaration that “The best solution to our nation’s failing educational system is empowering parents.” I don’t disagree with that. It’s that I can’t figure out what empowering parents has to do with implementing Common Core School Standards. Gov. Bush is a big proponent of CCSS.

Consumer choice created the most innovative and powerful economy in the world. Choice makes computers cheaper, images sharper, cars safer, and services faster.

Choice rewards success and weeds out stagnation, inefficiency, and failure.

This is why school choice is critical to the education-reform movement, and why National School Choice Week, which began this Sunday, January 26, is more than just a proclamation. It is a call to action for one of our most cherished principles.

How is it that parents have a say over every aspect of their children’s lives, yet often must delegate the critical decision of where they go to school to political boards and government bureaucracies? This has created an education monopoly that spurns accountability, views innovation as a threat, and prioritizes the job security of employees over the learning of children.

School choice won’t matter if CCSS is adopted because everything will be written at the national level. That means a one-size-fits-all curriculum from coast to coast and border to border.

Text books are already getting ‘adapted’ to fit CCSS. In Bill Gates’ and Jeb Bush’s worlds, adapting text books to that day’s prevailing political correctness is more important than publishing text books that teach students the truth about American history. History books that fit into CCSS’s accepted category preach victimization, not American exceptionalism.

I’m not advocating for only teaching students that America is exceptional. My first criteria is that the truth be told, warts and all, in as great of detail as is applicable to the students’ grade level.

CCSS proponents repeat the mantra that it’s been adopted by state governments. That’s misleading at best. In most instances, it’s been implemented without legislative approval. It was adopted when the executive branch applied for Race to the Top (RttP) funding, effectively bypassing the other political branch of government.

Without people providing checks and balances, systems get corrupted. If you doubt that, how’s working out for you? This George Will column highlights why CCSS must be rejected:

At any time, it is more likely there will be half a dozen innovative governors than one creative federal education bureaucracy. And the mistakes made by top-down federal reforms are continental mistakes.

Universalism should be rejected ASAP. That’s because one-size-fits-all approaches a) don’t work and b) aren’t what the people want.

I agree with Gov. Bush that school choice is imperative to improving this nation’s educational system. Unfortunately, his advocacy for CCSS is as counterproductive to school choice as it is detrimental to students.

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Ken Braun’s article contains a history tutorial that questions whether unions built America’s middle class. Here’s the heart of Mr. Braun’s argument:

Criticizing highly paid union officials for taking lavish trips on the backs of their dues-paying members is often met with a predictable counter-criticism about supposedly “overpaid” CEOs. But there’s an important difference: Unlike labor leaders, the jobs of workers don’t exist without the CEOs.

Executives are necessary at any large corporation. They are either the actual owner (and sometimes founder) of the company, or they are the representative of the ownership (shareholders.) Whether an outsider agrees or not with CEO pay is immaterial. The pay is set by the ownership and based on the creation of profits which make jobs possible. No profits, no company, no jobs.

The UAW doesn’t build cars, and it isn’t necessary to build cars. As recently as 2007, the Michigan Senate Fiscal Agency reported that non-union Americans working at U.S. assembly plants owned by foreign automakers built more than one-third of the planet’s American-made cars.

UAW president Bob King recently proposed a hefty 25 percent dues hike on his members. Unlike the financial decisions made by the CEOs of the Detroit Three automakers, King’s plan isn’t going to improve profitability, build a single car, or create auto jobs.

This post isn’t an attempt to vilify unions. It’s putting things in the proper historical perspective. Certainly, there isn’t a credible argument that people, acting in their own self-interest, can’t determine their financial course through life. They’re the people that think they’re commodities, important assets that can market themselves as people who can change the financial trajectory of a business.

People who think like that attract higher wages. The key is whether they create products that add value to society. If they don’t, the market will tell them. If they’re creating things of value, the markets will reward them for their ingenuity.

Here’s another important part of Braun’s argument:

The War itself substantially blasted away the manufacturing spine of the rest of the globe, leaving American manufacturers and their workers in an historically absurd position of super-dominance. With or without a UAW, disproportionate prosperity was going to flow to American workers for decades afterward as the rest of the world recovered from the rubble.

As a result of WWII, the US, specifically Detroit, had the industrial infrastructure to build products that the world needed. Russia, Germany, Japan and other nations simply didn’t have that infrastructure. Industrial infrastructure, skilled labor and a strong work ethic build things. Good intentions don’t. Eventually, Japan rebuilt. After they rebuilt, they became competitive on the world stage again.

Unions didn’t have anything to do with Japan rebuilding. Now that they’ve moved parts of their operations stateside, they’re locating in right-to-work states. Predictably, right-to-work states’ populations are growing. That’s because people love a) the stability of never going on strike, b) lower state income tax rates and c) warmer climates.

This paragraph is a fitting finish to Mr. Braun’s article:

From here forward, middle class jobs will come from smart decisions made by the leaders of American free enterprise – entrepreneurs and executives at companies large and small. Exploitation of workers is most likely to happen when Big Labor bosses cash in the dues money and go to Disney World.

In other words, free markets will reward great ideas.

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Glenn Reynolds’ latest USA Today column highlights why the Anything But Affordable Care Act, aka the ABACA, is destined for failure:

In his excellent book, Two Cheers For Anarchism, Professor James Scott writes:

One need not have an actual conspiracy to achieve the practical effects of a conspiracy. More regimes have been brought, piecemeal, to their knees by what was once called ‘Irish Democracy,’ the silent, dogged resistance, withdrawal, and truculence of millions of ordinary people, than by revolutionary vanguards or rioting mobs.

Simply put, people, making decisions based on their own self-interests, are saying no to the ABACA. They’re saying no because it’s a rip-off. It’s a rip-off because it was designed by politicians, whose highest priority was passing a bill, not cutting families’ health care costs.

While the political class worries about ‘the art of the possible’, families worry about doing what’s right for their families. The fact is that politicians ignored their constituents when they wrote this bill in Harry Reid’s and Nancy Pelosi’s offices. By making this federal legislation, President Obama eliminated the states’ experimentation, which is the strength of the US’s federalist system.

Top-down, government-centric systems don’t work because they implement a system that isn’t individualized. Does anyone think that a nation that loves its iPhones and individualized apps would accept a system where their health insurance and health care choices are made for them?

It’s possible that something called the Affordable Care Act will still be in place a decade from now. If it still exists, which isn’t guaranteed, it won’t look anything like the system that’s currently in place.

That’s because Americans aren’t satisfied with accepting conventional wisdom. When we see difficulties, our initial instinct is to fix them.

Now, as February draws near, things don’t look much better. Far fewer than half the number needed by March 31 have signed up. And, as it turns out, most of the people signing up for Obamacare aren’t the uninsured for whom it was supposedly enacted, but people who were previously insured (many of whom lost their previous insurance because of Obamacare’s new requirements). “At most,” writes Bloomberg’s Megan McArdle, “they’ve signed up 15% of the uninsured that they were expecting to enroll. … Where are the uninsured? Did hardly any of them want coverage beginning Jan. 1?” It looks that way.

Based on public sentiment, this would’ve been the right time to let a good crisis go to waste. It’s pretty apparent that the people are speaking with a loud, passionate voice that they want this system scrapped. They aren’t sending mixed signals on this. They aren’t sounding an uncertain alarm. They’re saying that a) they don’t want to return to the previous system and b) they’re rejecting President Obama’s top-down system.

What they’re saying with exceptional clarity is that they want to design a system that a) puts them first, b) puts doctors, not politicians and bureaucrats, in charge of the health care system, c) lowers health care costs and d) lets them create their own network of health care providers.

The Anything But Affordable Care Act is 0-for-4 on those merits. That’s why it’s destined for failure.

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Looking Good Compared to Wisconsin: Not!
by Silence Dogood

The University of Wisconsin System maintains an excellent set of enrollment reports that are available online to the public.

The data lists 10-year histories for Headcount, New Freshman Headcount, Undergraduate Headcount, Graduate/Professional Headcount, and Full-Time Equivalent Enrollment. Shown in the Figure below is the data for the past seven fiscal years for the eight largest comprehensive universities in the University of Wisconsin system. UW-Green Bay, UW-Parkside, and UW-Superior were omitted because their FTE enrollments are below 5,000. Including them would compress the graph, making it harder to interpret. Readers are encouraged to go to the source data to verify the data presented.

A cursory inspection of the figure for the UW system shows that all of the universities have higher FY13 enrollments than their FY07 enrollments. From the data presented, it is clear that La Crosse, Oskosh, Stevens Point, Whitewater and Platteville are undergoing substantial, nearly continuous, year-to-year growth. Eau Claire, Stout and River Falls are showing total declines over the past two years of 2.16%, 1.92%, and 7.31%, respectively.

MnSCU maintains similar enrollment reports that are available to registered employees that can be accessed from university servers, which means that the data is only accessible when you are on campus. The figure below shows comparable data to that presented for UW schools for the seven MnSCU universities.

A cursory inspection of the data for the MnSCU system shows that five of the seven universities have higher enrollments in FY13 than in FY07, although Bemidji’s growth amounts to a miniscule growth of 5 FYE. Southwest appears to have the most stable enrollment of any university in the system with a slightly upward trend. Clearly, the only university in MnSCU that is growing strongly is Metro. Moorhead and SCSU are the only universities that have a lower FY13 enrollment than FY07.

Looking a little more closely at the data, the enrollment at Winona and Mankato show a one-year drop from FY12 to FY13 of 1.0% and 1.7%, respectively. Moorhead and Bemidji show an enrollment drop for two years in a row dropping a total of 9.5% and 7.8%, respectively. In the same two-year period SCSU’s enrollment is down 12.8%. However, SCSU is the only university in the MnSCU system to show a drop in enrollment for three years in a row. The total three-year drop amounts to a decline of 13.5%.

If the enrollment is only down 5% as predicted by President Potter, SCSU’s FYE enrollment for FY14 will be 12,400. In FY10, it was 15,096 so in four years there has been a drop of 2,695 FYE corresponding to a decline of 17.8%!

Minnesota State University—Moorhead has experienced a two-year drop of 645 FYE, which corresponds to a drop of 9.5%. They are reducing their faculty by 10% through early separation incentives and retrenchments. Moorhead isn’t losing $1,000,000 on a managed apartment complex. It’s not hard to predict that the other shoe is going to drop at SCSU, the only question now is when. What seems clear is that the administration at Moorhead was trying to get out ahead of the decline while SCSU seems to be denying that there is an enrollment decline. And reversing a decline is hard but it’s doubly hard to reverse a decline if you can’t even admit that you’re in one!

Some have argued “its demographics.” However, can someone explain how the UW system is showing strong gains in enrollment at almost every university? Compared to the UW system, the enrollment at MnSCU’s universities looks a bit anemic.

Mankato and SCSU are the two largest universities within the MnSCU system and both have similar histories. Some call it a rivalry. The data for Minnesota State University-Mankato shows growth in enrollment while SCSU is declining significantly. Data for FY14, the current fiscal year, is not final, but including the spring enrollments that are available on the MnSCU website, Mankato is projected to be down 0.5% for the year while SCSU is projected to be down 5.8%!

Unless SCSU has a lot of senior-to-sophomore students not yet registered, the enrollment is not likely to be down by President Potter’s predicted 5%. But even with the optimistic presidential prediction, SCSU’s decline will be double the largest decline of any of the other MnSCU universities. The three-year decline in enrollment at SCSU will likely top 18% and confirm SCSU as the leader by a wide margin in declining enrollment among both Minnesota and Wisconsin comprehensive universities.

Should the SCSU community start to worry? Or should they wait for greater decline before responding? How much does enrollment need to be down, 20%, 25%, or more before the community acknowledges it has a problem? Being an outlier by leading in a negative indicator is never a good thing. Leading in enrollment decline means less revenue and budget reductions, both things healthy organizations try to avoid.

It should be mentioned that the enrollment decline has been good for one thing—reducing the number of parking complaints as it has become easier to find parking on and around campus. This good news has a downside, less revenue from parking tickets.

The Obama administration appears intent on causing another showdown because it’s insisting on another my-way-or-the-highway bill:

White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer told “Fox News Sunday” that President Obama will “not pay ransom” for getting Congress to fulfill its duty to increase the ceiling and that members should “spare the country the drama.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said later on the show that Obama’s demand for a no-strings-attached deal to raise the debt ceiling, now at about $17 trillion, in the coming weeks is “irresponsible” and that demands from Congress have been the pattern for 50 years. “I think the president is taking an unreasonable position,” the Kentucky Republican said.

It’s astonishing that Pfeiffer would characterize negotiations as Congress holding the nation ransom. Where in the Constitution does it say that presidents always get their way right down to the tiniest detail?

If President Obama wants to fight for bailing out health insurance companies, then let’s have him state that, along with vulnerable Senate Democrats, bailouts of health insurance companies isn’t negotiable. I triple dog dare this administration and Harry Reid to fight over that.

Whatever happened to doing what’s right for the nation? This administration hasn’t shown proof that they care about that. There’s tons of proof that they’re only interested in winning ideological fights. If this administration wants to fight for bailing out the insurance companies, they’ll all but guarantee Republicans taking control of the Senate.

That’s a dangerous position for the White House to put itself in because it means Republicans can pass their agenda at will. With the majority in the House and Senate, President Obama won’t be able to pretend that Republicans don’t have a set of solutions. He won’t be able to tell voters that Republicans are the ‘party of no’ or the do-nothing party. He won’t be able to do that because he’ll be busy vetoing bills landing on his desk.

Republicans in the House and Senate will be able to make a powerful argument that we shouldn’t raise the debt ceiling while promising to give health insurance companies multi-billion dollar bailouts. That’s a principle people would quickly understand.

Finally, I’d love hearing Democrats accuse Republicans of being for Wall Street fat cats while giving health insurance companies a massive bailout. Good luck selling that one.

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One of the highlights of my week is waiting for the information contained in Salena Zito’s weekly article. This week’s article doesn’t disappoint because she paints a picture of America outside the DC Beltway:

Nothing better crystallizes the deep disconnect between Washington and Main Street America than the peculiar narrative surrounding Nick Rahall’s re-election bid for a U.S. House seat.

West Virginia’s 3rd District congressman faces the most important challenger of his 37-year career — himself.

On paper, Rahall has everything going for him: He lives in a state where Democrats hold a huge voter-registration advantage over Republicans; as an 18-time winner, he has the built-in protection of incumbency (statistics show incumbents are more than 80 percent more likely to retain their seats); he is running against a Democrat-turned-Republican state senator, and voters sometimes view a party switch as suspect.

But that is all on paper.

The reality is that Rahall has become a creature of Washington. And Washington, despite its geographical proximity to West Virginia, has a Versailles-like lifestyle and progressive mindset that is far removed from the values of most West Virginians. So, Rahall might as well govern from a palace.

Rahall suffers from what Midwesterners call Tom Daschle Disease. Sen. Daschle earned the reputation of sounding like President Bush’s best friend when he visited South Dakota, then plotting liberal strategy with Chuck Schumer, Harry Reid and Dick Durbin. Rep. Rahall’s other, bigger, problem is that he isn’t listening to his constituents anymore:

His voting record against his state’s economic interests is astounding, beginning with his 2007 support for cap-and-trade and his repeated support of progressive climate policies during the first two years of President Obama’s term, when Democrats still controlled the House.

And his 2010 vote for ObamaCare, followed by his vote against its repeal last year, only adds to his complex re-election bid.

Apparently, Rep. Rahall hasn’t learned the first rule of holes:

What made his support for this budget so jarring is that it contained a carbon tax that would impose a $25-per-ton price on carbon dioxide (increasing 5.6 percent a year) and a rollback of more than $100 billion in fossil-fuel subsidies over 10 years — all while spending more money on renewable energy.

Not a particularly wise vote for a man who lives in a district where nearly 20,000 folks are employed by the very coal industry that would be devastated by this tax.

The question is whether Rahall’s constituents will do to him what miners did to Jim Oberstar: throw him out for voting against mining. If they vote for someone who will fight for their interests, Rahall’s toast. Simply put, he isn’t paying attention anymore. It’s like he’s living in a bubble.

Finally, check out Salena’s newest venture. Salena is now the co-host of a new talk radio show called Off Road Politics:

I have had the honor of interviewing three presidents, two vice presidents, four speakers of the House, two U.S. attorney generals, two secretaries of Defense and State, and hundreds of representatives. But the most incredible interviews have always been with generals or soldiers returning from war and regular folks in coffee shops, on streetcorners and farms, at factories.

Their question has always the same: Why can’t Washington do a better job?

There is a natural bubble that forms around any governing body, from school boards to county councils and state legislative chambers. The branches of the federal government are no different. It is as frustrating to those outside of the bubble as it is for those on the inside, albeit for very different reasons. Our job at Off Road Politics will be to jab that bubble and tell the real story.

That sounds like a fascinating show, one I’m sure I’ll try listening to on a regular basis.

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