Walker’s budget is unfair to Parkside

JOSEPH CANNING | canni001@rangers.uwp.edu

Wisconsin state Governor, Scott Walker, has recently unveiled his proposals for the 2017-2019 state budget. The proposals have proven to be divisive, with as many outspoken supporters as dissenters. The University of Wisconsin system is at the heart of much of the debate, and nearly all UW schools stand to gain or lose funding should the proposal go through.

A matter of metrics

Walker’s budget calls for a shift in how funding is allocated to state universities: in a method reminiscent of former United States President George Bush’s abortive No Child Left Behind, schools will be compared to one another based on a system of standards and will then be funded accordingly. Unfortunately—though funding for education is planned to be increased overall in Wisconsin and a $42.5 million performance incentive is being set aside—this is not a fair system.

While it is not yet clear exactly what standards UW schools will be judged by, metrics such as graduation rates, number of internships and average time to earn a degree are likely to significantly influence the amount of funding a university will receive. According to these metrics, UW-Parkside places dead last among the UW schools.  

UW-Parkside is not treated fairly

UW-Parkside’s chancellor, Debbie Ford, expressed worry about how UW-Parkside’s graduation rate will affect the school’s funding; she noted that a large number of the students that attend UW-Parkside are transfer students, many coming from community colleges in the area. Only full-time students who graduate from the school they started at are counted in the graduation rate metric, much to UW-Parkside’s disadvantage.

The new measures put forward in by Governor Walker are plainly made to benefit schools larger than UW-Parkside, such as UW-Madison. Small commuter schools whose students often work full-time, alongside trying to get their degree, do not benefit from the proposed changes in funding.

UW-Parkside stands to be wrongly punished for serving a different and broader body of students who would otherwise be left without any accommodating and convenient options. Additionally, schools that are performing poorly should not be punished by having their funding reduced: a school might be underperforming due to a lack of adequate resources or staff, and reducing the funding by which they could remedy these shortcomings is less than helpful.

Walker’s proposed budget poses some worrying issues for the future of UW-Parkside and the existence of any similar Wisconsin schools in the near future. Hopefully, the funding for UW schools will change to reflect the unique situation of UW-Parkside and to bring funding to the schools that need it the most.

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