By Richard Vedder
A year ago, when new Ohio Governor Ted Strickland appointed a new Chancellor of the Board of Regents, most observers were hopeful some constructive change was about to occur. He talked about a "University System of Ohio" with seamless transfer of credits from one institution to another. He talked about accountability and transparency. He said a lot of the right things. He even claimed he wanted to meet with me, but then delayed and eventually canceled an appointment (rather rudely and unprofessionally, I might add).
Now a huge new master plan is out. I haven't read it, but have seen newspaper accounts. It is a disaster --unmitigated, total, complete. He wants to lower tuition costs to entice more kids to college. He wants to greatly expand enrollments in a state with a shrinking 18-22 year old population base. He specifically and clearly sets as a goal to increase spending to well above the national average.
In short, he emphasizes getting more inputs (money, and, for that matter, kids in college) and setting a mindless goal of educating more persons. This is in spite of the fact that:
* nearly half of existing college students don't graduate in a timely manner;
* there is a negative correlation between higher education spending and economic growth (something abundantly absent in Ohio to begin with)
* the correlation between appropriations and higher education attainment is not statistically significantly positive.
To compound things, the governor wants to promote a debt-financed plan of public works, university research, etc., to get Ohio going again, an old, tired idea that has failed everywhere it is tried. Ohio's Brain Dead and me-too Republican Party that controls the legislature seems eager to go along --there is no political competition in the state (the GOP House Speaker is an attractive young man, but lacking an IQ to match his looks).
Doesn't anyone read the evidence? What ever happened to the Age of Enlightenment? Special interests trump reason, ignorance defeats knowledge, and taxpayers and citizens lose. Significantly, Fingerhut does not propose what taxes to raise to finance this boondoggle (Ohio taxes are already amongst the nation's highest, one reason for its lackluster performance). Unfortunately, the Ohio blunder is replicated all over the country, while fundamental reform languishes despite nice sounding rhetoric to the contrary.