Wednesday, February 11, 2015

NY Times drops ball about Walker, college and commitment

The New York Times columnist Frank Bruni wrote eloquently today about the transformative value of a university education and, naming Scott Walker, said there were politicians who questioned that premise.

Bruni built the column around the line "stay with me" - - an affirmation of what Bruni called "the rewards of close attention" - - he'd heard in a professor's powerful reading of Shakespeare at his alma mater, The University of North Carolina. The columnist then noted that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was among the politicians diminishing support for university education, but Bruni somehow missed an obvious and reasonable connection:

That Walker did not have that 'stay with me' dedication, so failed to grasp that "reward of close attention" by dropping out of Marquette University in 1990 thirty-four credits short of graduation.

Bruni could have made that point when he wrote about the:
seemingly growing chorus of politicians and others whose metrics for higher education are skill acquisition and job placement.  
Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin and a likely presidential candidate, signaled his membership in this crowd when he recently proposed a 13 percent cut in state support for the University of Wisconsin. According to several reports, he simultaneously toyed with changing the language of the university’s mission statement so that references to the “search for truth” and the struggle to “improve the human condition” would be replaced by an expressed concern for “the state’s work force needs.”
For the record, Walker did more than toy with rewriting the UW mission statement.

Wisconsin news media documented that senior Walker officials demanded the mission statement changes, and PolitiFact gave its most caustic rating of "Pants on Fire" to Walker's subsequent claim that the mission statement rewrite was a "drafting error."

Bruni's column was not a Walker investigation. But Bruni missed a chance to better educate his readers about Walker, and to explain that Walker, having failed to stick with it at Marquette, was more likely years later while Governor to misunderstand or disregard the full value of a completed university education.


Anonymous said...

You should email this post to Bruni so he knows for next time. One thing I'd really like to see come from Walker's increased prominence is a proper investigation into why he left Marquette. There must be plenty of current or ex administrators, faculty and classmates a good journalist could get some information out of.

William Wineke said...

Progressives make a big mistake when they disdain the governor's lack of a college degree. Lots of good people drop out of college before graduation.

The problem with Governor Walker isn't that he didn't graduate from college; the problem with Governor Walker is that he doesn't value public education.

William Wineke said...

The problem with Governor Walker isn't that he has no college degree; the problem with governor Walker is that he doesn't value public education.

James Rowen said...

@Bill - - I have said the problem is that it showed a lack of persistence, and does remove some of his moral authority to define what is a proper education for others.

Anonymous said...

It is a lack of persistence and a lack of curiosity. I hope some journalist asks him what magazines and newspapers he reads daily. I don't think he reads anything.