Saturday, September 02, 2006

Mitt Romney's Disdain

Did I call it or what? Mitt Romney is no friend to public higher education.

Fehrnstrom said the governor had sought new appointees with the hope of seeing ``excellence promoted at all five campuses of the university, with a particular focus on the flagship at Amherst."

He added that the governor ``would like to see the flagship become one of the finest institutions" of learning in the country.


Tocco also is president of ML Strategies, a lobbying arm of a law firm that has performed bond-counsel work for UMass in the past.

Fehrnstrom said Tocco could hold both his lobbying job and his UMass position and not be in conflict of interest.

``It has not been an issue during his service on the Board of Higher Education, and we don't expect that it will be an issue on the UMass board," he said.

So, we're putting a paid lobbyist who has done work with UMASS Dartmouth into a powerful seat... and kicking out all the people that were in favor of the law school merger. Anything smell fishy here?

Mitt Romney's wrong. Public Higher Education is one of the best investments this state can make: people who have college degrees make hundreds of thousands of dollars more than those who don't over the period of their lifetime. UMASS Dartmouth clearly makes this state millions of dollars every year because, for decades, we've provided people affordable access to a college education - and they pay more taxes.

Mitt Romney has no interest in the advancement of college access or affordable education. Here's what Mitt Romney does favor: the bottom line. It's cheaper to have one good school - UMASS Amherst - and a bunch of other sucky ones than having a quality UMASS system, but that completely ignores hindsight. Republicans are like junkies: they get their fix to make them happy, but can't see how it leads to depression and their destruction. Instead of drugs, though, Republicans slash taxes and services. They don't see how it worsens the country or how it will eventually destroy us because they're addicts who need help.

While there's always room for improvement at UMASS Amherst, especially in infrastructure, UMASS Amherst already has programs that compete at a high level nationally. Why should Willard bother having more than one good school? After all, there are only so many upper class white kids willing to go to public college.

You won't hear this out of his mouth, but people like Mitt Romney think that only some people are worthy of a college education - the people who can afford it. Everyone else should be poor and work at Walmart, happy to just have a paycheck of any kind. Or they should work with their hands and hope to find some kind of manufacturing or janitorial job - jobs that are quickly paying less and less, while also becoming rare. Just look around Fall River and New Bedford: there are no more manufacturing jobs left. So people are forced to work at low-paying service sector jobs like Walmart.

But, Willard doesn't care about that. To him, there's no use in investing in other schools because then you'd have to educate other people, people who don't have 130 IQs, wealthy parents or a trust fund. Then you'd have to educate Latinos, African Americans and other minorities. Then you'd have to give people an actual chance - and the Republicans in charge definitely don't want to do that.

They don't want to give out college loans, people should either pay their full way or work at McDonalds. They don't see it as an investment, or maybe they do and they're just too afraid that elites will have to worry just as much about their kids getting jobs as everyone else in this country. The same people who trumpet the free market are terrified of competition. They see that Harvard graduates aren't getting jobs that are any better than people who graduate from Northeastern or UMASS - and don't want the added competition. The Mitt Romneys of the world want what's akin to a suedo-democratic aristocracy: the kind where if regular people want to participate, they're forced to do it in Tennis Courts.

Maybe I'm reading too much into this? Maybe it's just Mitt Romney ignorance. After all, affordability is something that's never been something Mitt Romney could relate to - after all, he's been able to afford everything all his life. He came from wealth and privilege - what's he know about struggling to afford something?

But I do know what that's like. Every day it's becoming less and less affordable. My mother wears socks with holes in them just paying the interest on half of my college loans (the others I don't have to pay till I'm out of school). But Mitt Romney and his Republican friends (including Kerry Healey) don't care about that.

With only so many bodies that can fit in Amherst, Massachusetts can't afford one "flagship" University and a bunch of other lowsy ones. Universities prop up entire regions, providing the people who live in the area affordable access to education. Graduates are our teachers, our engineers, our nurses and our parents.

Children of college graduates tend to become college graduates. Graduates of public universities in Massachusetts tend to stay in Massachusetts. Investing in UMASS Dartmouth - as well as Lowell and Boston - is just as critical, if not more so, than investing tens of millions more in UMASS Amherst, especially at the sacrifice of all our other schools. The fact is that this state won't survive - at least as a place people want to live in - without a resurgence in public higher education funding. If that's going to happen, people are going to have to stand up to our Part-Time Governor, our Disaster-in-Chief, Mitt Romney.


Anonymous said...

Don't kid yourself, Ryan, they're just blowing smoke. They can talk about "flagship" all they want, but they're still going to squeeze Amherst as hard as the rest of UMass, and we haven't even mentioned the state colleges. If they're shifting money out there, you can bet it's going to go to some crony scheme because they have no interest in maintaining the quality of education on campus, forget improving it. It's the same everywhere.

The only thing Amherst really has in its favor is that the western part of the state in general is more progressive, and there is a larger population of graduate students, and they have a union and in the past couple of years they and undergraduate activists seem to have been active together in a social justice coalition with other groups out there. Still, the state isn't playing favorites with Amherst and handing out a blank check, they have to fight for everything, and it ain't easy without any real leverage, and anything that's agreed to out there will be stripped away on Beacon Hill anyway.

All the state colleges and universities are in the same boat here, everybody's on the same side. The state, as usual, is playing divide and conquer.

Ryan Adams said...

Aye, don't get me wrong about UMASS Amherst - I think it should be a great school in Massachusetts. My only intention was that UMASS Darmtouth (and boston and lowell) can't be left behind. Obviously, they can't all be left behind either.

The sooner Romney is gone and (hopefully) Patrick is in, the better.

Anonymous said...

I know what you're saying, Ryan, but there's a perception out there that Romney only cares about UMass Amherst, to hell with the other schools. The truth is, Romney doesn't care about any state school, and even though they point to Amherst as if they're committed to it, they're really not. It's all a distraction and a smokescreen, everybody is on the chopping block, it's just a question of when. I'd love to see more coordination/support between campuses. I know people from Amherst were travelling to NYU/Columbia/Yale to support their grad unions, we need to do the same for each other in MA.

What I find ironic is that if there's a Republican school in MA, it's Mass Maritime, so how does Romney pay them back for their support? By calling them a "niche" school and basically threatening to throw them out of the public system. I believe there are only 6 Maritime Academies in the country, and all of tehm are state supported, none of them are private because they'd have to charge so much tuition to maintain their training ships that nobody could afford to go there. If MMA got thrown out of the public system, it would have to close.

If Romney doesn't even support a Republican school, that tells you how he feels about public ed.

Ryan Adams said...

There's some definite food for thought. I wasn't aware of Mitt's disdain for MMA.

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