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Posts published in “Day: February 19, 2013”

First take: Insleeisms

news

INSLEEISMS The Seattle Times has pulled together (and did it really try to trademark the term?) a collected quotes of Governor Jay Inslee, who threatens to become a highly quotable governor. Some are a little odd, like this little-noted line from 2011: "“A transportation package is going to be difficult because there is a tooth fairy but there is no transportation fairy.” One that may seem odd but isn't necessarily: “I’m pretty sensitive to small businesses. I was one.” (If he was a sole proprietor, then he was precisely accurate.) The Times suggested #Insleeisms as a has tag.

Getting real on college costs

Menzel TOM
MENZEL

 
Washington
My Home

You can’t miss the headlines:
“Tuition to Spike Third Straight Year”
“State Support of Higher Ed Continues to Plunge”
“Student Debt at All-Time High”

Meanwhile, we hear the incessant drumbeat of despair from business and industry that our schools aren’t producing the right kind of workers to feed the hungry beast of production and growth, even though a record 21.6 million students are attending American colleges and universities this year.

The Washington Student Achievement Council (http://www.wsac.wa.gov/KeyFacts2012) paints a bleak picture: “At a time when we should be educating a much greater percentage of our citizens to higher levels we are instead making it increasingly difficult for tens of thousands of potential students, many of them from our state’s most economically disadvantaged households, to gain the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed. We have done this especially over the last three years through deep cuts in student funding … Worse yet, these cuts are almost certain to continue this decade, accompanied by corresponding steep increases in tuition that threaten to place higher education beyond the reach of many middle-class families.”

Not a pretty picture. So, what’s a good Washington leader to do in the face of ever-rising costs, seemingly insurmountable K-12 funding mandates and stingy taxpayers? First, we need to jettison the myriad of Band-Aid proposals to increase revenue for our colleges and universities. Instead, I offer below a few radical ideas that are likely to go nowhere, have little basis in research or data, and would likely elicit chuckles from hallowed halls in both Olympia and academia. But here goes anyway:

CUT COSTS

· It’s time for our colleges and universities to cut costs, starting with the heavy load at the top of the food chain – school administration – and continuing on through every line item of every budget of every department. It’s interesting that we hear so little about cutting costs at our universities while every other level of government is cutting staff and services. I understand that the state’s share of funding has dropped precipitously in recent years to levels where some public universities advocate going private, but I have some solutions for this.

· Stop punishing our students and their families with outrageous tuition and fee increases year after year – a 42 percent increase nationally at public institutions over the last 10 years. We all know that college grads fill the needs of business and industry, so let’s stop charging students and their families – yes, I mean a free education – and start sending most of the bill directly to the businesses that benefit. (OK, I can hear the howls of laughter on this one.) And while we’re at it, let’s outlaw unpaid internships, also known as slavery. (more…)

More challenges in Indian country

trahant MARK
TRAHANT

 
Austerity

Later this morning President Barack Obama will make yet another pitch, calling on Congress to stop the sequester with a balanced approach. Of course nothing will happen today. Congress is not even in town. Congress being Congress took the week before the sequester off.

But before I get back to writing about the politics of the sequester, and, more important, the longer impact of austerity on Native American programs, I wanted to add my view of two recent books: “Iveska,” by Charles Trimble, and “This Indian Country,” by Frederick E. Hoxie. I read both of these books through the filter of Indian Country’s current challenges.

A little background. A couple of years ago I wrote, “The Last Great Battle of the Indian Wars.” In that book I made the case that the self-determination era was different because it ended the debate about whether tribal governments should even exist in this century. (It’s about Forrest Gerard and how Sen. Henry Jackson went from championing termination to sponsoring the self-determination act in Congress.)

My title was too optimistic and wrong; there are many battles left to fight.

Indian Country has had a run of some forty years where Democrats and Republicans have pledged their support to the idea that tribal governments are best equipped to solve the problems of Indian Country. But over the last couple of years that has started to change. There is growing number of politicians, who, in the name of austerity, are proposing radical ideas that are essentially a reprise of the termination policy of the 1950s. Want proof? Look no further than Sen. Rand Paul’s plan to balance the budget in five years. The Kentucky Republican’s proposes economic termination.

That’s why Trimble’s book is worth reading now. The former executive director of the National Congress of American Indians looks back at several challenges that Indian Country faced during this modern era, including termination and the 1970s backlash. I am always inspired after reading accounts of the Colville Tribe’s rejection of termination and the leadership of Lucy Covington. Trimble was recruited by Covington to start a newspaper, “Our Heritage,” as part of that effort.

A few years later, in the 95th Congress, Trimble writes about another challenge to Indian Country, the backlash. There were fourteen pieces of legislation that would have reversed tribal hunting and fishing rights, court victories, terminating federal-tribal relations, and abrogating Indian treaties.

The way forward was for a grand coalition, an action coalition, that worked together to limit and then reverse the dangerous ideas that were coming from Congress. “NCAI pulled Indian Country together and the backlash was defeated, including every piece of anti-Indian legislation that came out of the movement,” Trimble writes. “It was interesting to note that the principal sponsors of those pieces of legislation were also defeated in their bids for re-election.” (more…)