Wednesday, July 26, 2006


One proposal which has qualified for the November ballot is the so-called K-16 initiative. It would mandate increasing spending by the inflation rate for government schools and colleges.

The WMU College Republicans oppose this initiative. It is a dangerous measure that would have many unforeseen consequences.

Everyone wants to improve education. However, is increasing spending the way to do it? There is no evidence supporting this notion. In fact, since the 1970s, education spending has roughly doubled (adjusted for inflation), while performance has remained about the same.

The problem is not that schools don’t have enough money. The problem is that they don’t wisely use the money that they have. Schools don’t need more spending, they need more effective spending.

Government schools regularly misuse money. For example, WMU gives $6500 per semester scholarships specifically for illegal aliens, so that they pay the equivalent of in-state tuition. Western also has pledged to give free room and board to full-ride Kalamazoo Promise scholarship recipients who already live in Kalamazoo.

Government schools need to be held accountable so that they will not waste your money. But mandating spending will make them even less accountable. If spending increases are guaranteed every year, what reason do schools and colleges have to spend money wisely? If the K-16 initiative passes, we can expect even more spending on education fads and liberal propaganda that disserve students.

Where would the money for more spending come from? There are only two possibilities. The first is significant tax increases. The second is cuts in state spending in other areas, including road construction. The legislature should have the flexibility to decide whether spending increases or cuts are necessary in response to changing economic circumstances.

The K-16 initiative would be a disaster for both students and taxpayers. We urge you to oppose it in November.


Dan Roth said...

My problem with the K-16 initiative lays in the 13-16 range. I've recently come to a conclusion of how dangerous universities are becoming. Ask yourself why our tuition is going up. My answer: because they can! So many students have had the notion ingrained into them that they HAVE to go to college if they want to have a good life. So the demand for a 4 year degree is going up. And transferring becomes harder and harder the further one gets into their college career as fewer and fewer credits transfer. After one's sophomore year, they're pretty much stuck at whatever university they're at (because if that wasn't the case, I sure wouldn't be at Western right now). So lately I've become quite angry with universities.

But I do see a benefit for K-12 institutions getting more money. When they face budget issues, usually the first thing to go is extra-cirriculars. Then when they start cutting classes, it's usually vocational classes that go first (lending more strength to universities as kids won't get any real job training in HS). So I'm all for giving more money to K-12. But I don't want universities getting any more cash from the state than they already do.

Conservative First said...

That's a classic example of the "Washington Monument" strategy. That is, when forced to make cuts, bureaucrats cut popular programs rather than waste. We need more accountability to force cuts where they are really needed, but the K-16 initiative would mean less accountability and more waste.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree here. Jack Hoogendyk has a great piece of legislature that puts more money into school classrooms without shelling out more tax dollars to greedy school staffs.

Manditory increases in funding give schools no incentive to be fiscally responsible with the funds they get, knowing they'll continue to get more and more. When will people learn that the solution to every problem isn't "throw more money at it," and that we need to take a long look at why, if school are recieving double the inflation-adjusted funds they did in the 70s, scores aren't improving and US high schoolers rank well-below average globally.

The answer is to give incentives to schools to teach their students better, and this is done through vouchers. A voucher system creates a market where parents and students can vote for which school is the best by going there (or which is the worst by not). It gives a strong incentive for schools to clean up their act and appease the students, because if they don't, they lose them (not that they'd care, but they'd also lose that student's money, which they might take issue with).

The one part of your post I did take issue with is the fact that Promise students get free room and board. I think that was a necessary step to stay competitive with all the other Michigan universities that are doing the same. You have a huge block of students that, until last year, didn't give much thought as to where they're going to college. We need to stay competitive with the other schools and get them to come to WMU. Western makes enough off their tuition to where we can pay for their room and board and then some. I think to counteract what would ammount to a serious brain drain if the Promise students all went elsewhere, we need to at least match the offers other Michigan schools are giving for these students. Kalamazoo has its problems; crime, poverty, etc, are a major issue. However, increased productivity through education is a primary way to achieve higher wages and a higher standard of living, which builds the entire community up. I think the Promise is a great way to improve Kalamazoo, but to do that, we need to keep the fruits of the Promise in Kalamazoo.

Anonymous said...

You Eboard fools have got to stop making decisions like this without consulting the members first. How do you know that the CRs all oppose this? I don't remember voting on this. Did the Eboard vote on this? Most likely not, I'll bet. I'm sure it was just the top two or three people in a smoke filled room who made the decsion, right. Remember why we elected you- not to tell us what we think, but to tell others what we think! Speak for us, but let us tell you what we want to say, and if we even want to say it! WHY AREN'T WE VOTING ON THESE RESOLUTIONS?

Dan Roth said...

I thought we already had this discussion a few months ago. The E-board is within the Constitution doing this. They're not allowed to declare an endorsement for a candidate without approval by 3/4 of the WMUCR's. If you've got a problem with it, propose an amendment at the next CR meeting. Amending process is in our Constitution if you want to know how it's done. And that can be found on our website.

Plus, as far as I can tell, this endorsement has only been published here on the blog (it's not even on the website). So you can post your support or disapproval here if you want for everyone to see. I hate to be so blunt about this all, but I've recently run to an end with people complaining but not doing anything.

Dan Roth said...

Oh, and to address Matt's comments:

I'm against the offering of free room and board to the promise people. Yes it does put us at the same level as many other Michigan universities who are also offering it. But I would hope we would convince these students to come to Western via other means. Mainly stuff we all could benefit from. Like longer library hours, better classrooms (ask Devon Beck about one of the lecture halls in Sangren), and that sort of thing. What good is free room and board to these students if they're going to a university that's not up to par with the others?

Anonymous said...

I suppose it comes down to figuring if we can get enough additional students to enroll who specifically would NOT have enrolled regardless of the waived R&B fee, then the move has positive expected value. And you could even argue that although if it is slightly unprofitable to do so, it may still be correct to do if you can expect that Kalamazoo naitives that graduate from WMU will stay in Kalamazoo, donate to WMU, and have their kids go to WMU as well.

Building up Kalamazoo and the WMU community may be a wise investment if all we have to do is take a slight hit on room and board, which we may not even be losing money on regardless. Yes, WMU is a great school and people SHOULD come here because of the particular benefits the school offers and not just to whatever school gives them the best deal, but I think you're being naive if you think people always do what's in their best interests long-term.

Futhermore, I'm not saying this is necessarily the thought process Bailey used, however she may have accidentally come to the correct conclusion on this one.

Anonymous said...

I think the Kalamazoo promise is going to kill WMU for two reasons:

1. All of the housing that was previously occupied by students will be purchased by families who are looking to get the promise money.
2. The students previously occupying the homes in the area will be forced to be in the dorms, however, the dorms will be filled with Kalamazoo students. Therefore not allowing students from outside of Kalamazoo to live there. As a result, WMU will be forced to build more dorms and therefore raise tuition and room and board for those of us not from Kalamazoo.

Thats my two cents.

Dan Roth said...

The dorms being overfilled shouldn't be too much of a concern. Two years ago they almost shut down Hoekje Hall due to lack of people living there. I think the top floor(s) of that building still aren't used. And I guess Matt and I have different perspectives here. I'm looking short term (as in between now and when I graduate in April hopefully) because that's all that matters to me really. Matt's looking more down the road.

Unknown said...

Well, Matt told me to read this, so I did. I just wanted to point out a few things.

If I recall correctly, the "illegal alien" scholarship that you speak of came out of funds donated to be used at the president's discretion, not from tax dollars. So that argument isn't necessarily a good one. Something may have changed, but I haven't heard anything about that.

Second, I believe that the residence halls are self-sustaining, if I remember correctly. The policy of giving away housing to KP students just reduces the Res-Hall budget, it doesn't affect the overall University budget outside of residence life. Again, that may not be 100% accurate, but I think it is.

Second, I absolutely agree that educational institutions, and Universities in particular, need to learn to exercise fiscal caution and accountability in their spending. However; I don't see increased funding as a bar to this. Perhaps a plan which rewards Universities for spending wisely by increasing funding would be appropriate? Maybe there should be tighter guidelines for the use of state funding? As a student, I like to see more money directed toward Universities, but I am not so naive as to assume that increased funding will always be spent appropriately.