Thursday, February 5, 2015

Scott Walker -- a comedy of “drafting errors”

Removal of Wisconsin Idea exposes the true light of Walker’s intentions

UPDATE: Records now indicate that there never was a "drafting error," and that Walker's budget team had indeed purposefully struck the Wisconsin Idea language out. Original post below.


In the proposed budget that was drafted by Gov. Scott Walker’s office, an unusual item caught the eye of University of Wisconsin System officials.

It was the removal of core tenets of the Wisconsin Idea, a philosophical belief that the purpose of the System was to “extend knowledge and its application beyond the boundaries of its campuses.”

That line, in fact, was crossed out. So were others, including “to serve and stimulate society” and “Basic to every purpose of the system is the search for truth.”

Put in place of these omitted sections was a simple line: “The mission of the system is to meet the state’s workforce needs” (words in bold added).

Universities and colleges serve a grander purpose than “meeting the state’s workforce needs.” They serve to foster societal growth, to conduct research, and to create an educated population that can better solve the problems of our state.

Their purpose isn’t to help an embattled governor reach a failed jobs promise.

Shortly after the social media uproar that occurred as a result of this edit, Gov. Scott Walker’s office insisted that it was a “drafting error,” a simple mistake that would be remedied.

A tweet from Walker included, “The Wisconsin Idea will continue to thrive.”

That’s all good and well. But calling the removal of key provisions of the Wisconsin Idea a “drafting error” is a misnomer. Those words were consciously struck out. New words were consciously put in.

Whether Walker knew about the edits, or if one of his surrogates changed things, is besides the point: the words were changed. That doesn’t happen by forgetting to turn “CAPS LOCK” off, or a slight of hand while typing.

It was a conscious decision. And the people of Wisconsin know better than to believe it was a simple, “ho-hum” drafting error.

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