Rep. Larry Hosch, DFL-HD14B, has written an LTE criticizing the GOP legislature for MnSCU’s failures:

The budget agreement Republicans insisted on during our government shutdown levied huge cuts on Minnesota students. Their plan hit MnSCU campuses with a historic cut, scaling back funding to 1999 levels. That means our colleges and universities are being asked to serve 40,000 more students with the same funding that they got in 1999.

What this really says is that there are alot more students in degree programs that shouldn’t be part of any community college or state university. What this says is that alot of money could be saved by eliminating programs like the Social Responsibility Masters Degree program at St. Cloud State or the Ecotourism AAS degree offered at Central Lakes Community College in Brainerd.

Eliminating the Social Responsibility Masters Degree program would save St. Cloud State $1,218,000 in salaries alone.

That’s before questioning whether there’s a genuine need for multiple campuses at most of the community colleges or whether there’s a need for the teaching staff and administrative staff. That’s before questioning the justification of universities hiring lobbyists on the public’s dime. Why should taxpayers pay for lobbyists so they can tell legislators that they need more of the taxpayers’ money?

That’s before answering the question of whether MnSCU serves a useful purpose anymore. The chancellor gets paid $360,000 in salary per year. James McCormick, the man who just retired as chancellor, received a $50,000 bonus…after he retired.

Still, Rep. Hosch would have us believe that Republicans are to blame for higher ed’s problems. Republicans aren’t to blame. MnSCU’s decisionmaking has cost Minnesota’s taxpayers millions of dollars.

For decades Minnesota has been an economic leader in part because our students received a great higher education. Our best and brightest used their Minnesota degrees to get Minnesota jobs that drove our economy. That is a big reason why Minnesota has more Fortune 500 companies per capita than any state in the country.

Rep. Hosch’s comparison to the 60’s and 70’s doesn’t fit. Back then, higher education money was spent mostly on things that trained students for careers in engineering, medical research, technology, architecture and other highly needed scientific disciplines.

Those programs still exist. Unfortunately, they’ve been supplemented with programs that don’t prepare students for gainful employment in the private sector.

It’s real simple. If you invest in sciences, math, history and other programs of rigor, the state is rewarded. If the money is spent on junk like Ecotourism and Social Responsibility, taxpayers will get ripped off.

This paragraph is especially irritating to taxpayers:

The good news is we can make better choices. Area legislators insisted on a budget that did not ask the very wealthiest special interests to contribute a penny to our budget solution. Instead they gave our students a bill. This is neither fair nor wise. We need a balanced path forward that recognizes higher education in an economic priority for Minnesota students, families and our future.

What’s aggravating is that the DFL insists that higher education shouldn’t be accountable for their foolish decisionmaking. The days of writing higher education checks, then letting them do whatever they want with that money are over. This winter, the DFL will have a choice to make. They can either fight for the status quo or they can resist Republicans’ attempts to make universities more accountable.

The DFL better choose wisely. Minnesota is watching.

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6 Responses to “Rep. Hosch’s higher ed hysteria”

  • Alan says:

    Ecotourism A.A.S. Degree

    Career Description
    Ecotourism is a wide-open profession that offers the opportunity to travel the globe and explore, while serving to preserve both the natural and cultural integrity of the planet.

    Ecotourism is a career? Ahh . . . I thought this was called “retirement.”

  • Gary Gross says:

    Perhaps, it’s a retirement career for retired environmental extremist professors?

  • eric z says:

    Do you put a utilitarian measure on having roundly educated people? Would you eliminate English lit majors, because of job prospects. Is there more to it than bean counting?

  • Alan says:

    Is Eric talking about roundly educated graduates who have no job prospects? Does the UK college degree program in Beckham studies provide for “roundly educated” people? I think there is a difference between an English literature degree and a social responsibility degree.

  • Gary Gross says:

    Since English lit is useful in giving a person a better understanding of the English language, which is the core of intelligent, accurate communication, I’d argue that lit classes would be important.

    When America’s economy exploded, lots of people got educations. Some went to trade schools, others to tech schools while others went to college. They took that step so they’d be prepared for what was then called “gainful employment.” They didn’t go there to get a degree that would make them a better government bureaucrat.

    That’s what I’m upset about more than anything else. We don’t have an infinite amount of cash resources. We must prioritize wisely. Social Responsibility is a great way to accumulate student loan debt. It isn’t helpful in much else. Ergo, Social Responsibility should be at the top of the list of programs to eliminate.

  • Alan says:

    There is a difference between degree programs like English literature vs. junk programs like Bechman Studies, Social Responsibility, surfing studies (in Australia, see link), and ecotourism. Some current degree programs like social responsibility originally came from traditional credible academic programs (in this case, criminal justice). Most likely, ecotourism came from a traditional geography program (cultural geography emphasis) in travel and tourism which prepares students for economic event planning careers in large hotel and convention centers. If you truly want to study social responsibility, truth, and justice, then you should major in criminal justice. Higher education needs to start working with communities and businesses to prioritize academic programs with limited available resources.

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