When I posted yesterday’s blog entry, I realized that I had neglected to report on Governor Pat McCrory’s comments on higher education soon after he took office. Here’s the scoop:
North Carolina is one of the few swing states that turned red in the 2012 elections. The governorship, the General Assembly and the state Sensate all went to the Republicans, as Romney, by a narrow margin. carried the state. So North Carolina will be a good case of what Republican stewardship will amount to.
The new governor, Pat McCrory, indicated what that might mean for public higher education in a talk show appearance with Bill Bennett, ex-drug czar, and one time humanist. Some quotations, however, give a taste of it:
“[My funding plan for higher education is] not based on butts in seats but on how many of those butts can get jobs."
“I think some of the educational elite have taken over our education where we are offering courses that have no chance of getting people jobs…”
“….if you want to take gender studies, go to a private school and take it. But I don’t want to subsidize that if it’s not going to get someone a job.”
You have to hear the interview to believe it. Here’s the link: http://www.billbennett.com/michaelmedved/player.aspx?g=aHR0cDovL21lZGlhLnRvd25oYWxsLmNvbS90b3duaGFsbC9iZW5uZXR0L0dvdk1jQ3JvcnkxLjI5LjEzLm1wMw^!^^!^
The Governor clearly underestimated a potent force in NC politics -- the loyalty of NC citizens to the University of North Carolina’s long history of accessible, high-quality public education. By underesti8mating that, McCrory shot himself in the foot: he sounded as if he wanted to turn two hundred years of UNC excellence into a vocational training program. The reaction in the state and nationally was swift and strong – news articles, op ed pieces, letters to the editor etc. My own contribution, entitled “The Gold Standard, is at http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/02/10/2664770/w-robert-connor-gold-standard.html
Most dramatic has been the success of an electronic petition that at last count had over 12,000 signatures, and some sharply wsorded comments:P http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2013/02/01/hundreds-tell-gov-mccrory-to-respect-liberal-arts-education/
No doubt McCrory fans like his bashing of the “elites” but so far his plan for vocationalizing public higher education seems to have blown up in his face.