Right now the weakling, lockstep legislators in Tallahassee are preparing to consider changes to higher education. These would mirror those done to K-12, and those changes already in place in the Republic of Texas.
Texas Governor Rick Perry is the paragon of higher education, let’s learn from him. Sure. Because that makes sense.
You have to ask yourself why Rick Scott, a man not known for his deep and probing intellect, nor even his ability to successfully string words together, simply must-must-must meddle with higher education in our state?
Koch is the answer.
A major Koch agenda is to reign in one of their perennial night terrors: an independent academia, higher education. They give seminars on morphing higher education to suit their needs at their conferences.
The BP oil spill is a perfect example of the benefits of an independent system of higher education.
USF is to be commended for their work using oceanographic research vessels to find the missing oil on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. They, along with Woods Hole Oceanographic and the University of Georgia were all instrumental in telling BP, NOAA, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the world, “no, the oil is not gone. Not by a long shot. Most of it sunk to the bottom.”
If they hadn’t been diligent in their work, we’d all be swallowing the line of filth from “officialdom” that matter can simply vanish.
This group of universities was also instrumental in challenging the laughable flow rate estimates from BP, the ones that sought to minimize the volume of oil coming from the end of their busted pipe at the bottom of the ocean, in order to save themselves from heavy, deserved fines.
Or how about the USF researcher who found more contaminated beaches despite the assurances of BP, and state and county officials, that there were none to be found west of Destin?
Try all of this without an independent academia. People get tenure at universities precisely for this reason, so that research can remain pure; untainted by corporate pressure and influence. Whether through the arts, science or math, so that inquiry can be something that benefits all of us.
The Kochs want to end all that of course.
One of their programs is reigning in higher learning. They are going after EPA internships
for example. They want to stop that. You know that radical agenda to protect the water supply?
Their attempts to infiltrate FSU are now famous. In case you hadn’t heard, Charles Koch provided millions in charitable donations this past March to the Florida State’s economics school through his foundation. But, the money comes with a hitch.
The foundation’s advisory board now has control over hiring decisions in the department. Those using the grant money must submit applications show that their research meets with the goals of the foundation, which obviously will follow along the lines of Friedmanian laisseze-faire , “pay more to the rich” cruelty, no doubt.
Sadly FSU took the money.
What’s sort of odd is, the money also came with another little hitch: the new hires taking advantage of the charitable donations for their salaries, would come into their new jobs with tenure! Their hiring also would be approved by the trust’s advisory board.
In essence, the Kochs are hiring, nay, installing, teachers in the economics department at the oldest state university in Florida. Tenure was key. They had to have tenure going in.
Who gets tenure on day-one? How is it we allow billionaires to install their operatives at a public university in our state?
So here’s our new governor fresh from his meeting with the Kochs during their “come to Muhammad” summit in Vail. You remember? The one our governor tried to sneak off to, but was only caught in the act by an enterprising reporter for St. Pete Times, otherwise we would never have heard a thing about it?
As said earlier, documents obtained in previous seminars, show that changing how universities think, how they do things, is a top priority for these Kochs. They give seminars about it at their functions. (See the link at the first reference below)
Right? So, here he is, Rick Scott come down from the mountain and all the sudden, university professor tenurship is the new target. It’s the greatest threat to freedom since the Cuban Missile Crisis! Sure! Didn’t you know that? What’s wrong with you?
Once that tenure is stripped, gone is academic independence to do work that might help write laws to protect us from corporate predators.
Soon a newly installed Koch professor is telling us that not only are there billions and billions of gallons of oil to be had in the Everglades (there aren’t) but drilling in the Everglades is actually good for our environment.
And that’s why Ricky is so damned interested in destroying tenure in our university system: because the Kochs told him to.
But the caveat for the FSU case will be framed as follows: in those cases where corporate donations are used to fund tenure, tenure can remain. The public taxpayer cannot fund university professor tenure.