Rural Whispers, Noise & Rumors: June 29, 2020
UP’s Most Famous Coach and Distinguished Citizen Speaks Out—Iron Mountain Voices: Okay, Okay. So Mooch does not get mad at me, one of two most famous coaches from the UP. The Detroit Free Press reported on 6.25 that in a statement by Tom Izzo he said “How ignorant am I,” speaking about his past statements on the Colin Kaepernick protest. He said he recently talked to his players about this issue. Izzo said, “Listen, I learn lessons too. And what I realized is I wasn’t real happy with the Colin Kaepernick thing when it happened. I guess like a lot of people I looked at it as, what are we doing? The flag, all this stuff. And yet, as I looked back on it, how ignorant am I? Because it was a peaceful protest.” Lots more from Tom Izzo in the Free Press article. Lots of folks think Tom Izzo represents the best in leadership and strong character. Both good strengths and values learned in the UP.
NMU Educational Access Network (EAN) Internet System is Sloooooow: Noise around the Peninsula is saying that the NMU EAN system offered to folks around the UP is very slow and hard to connect. The system has received state and national recognition. Experts at NMU are saying that it is due to heavy usage in this COVID era. With more folks working from home and school kids home from closed schools they are seeing a lot more than usual folks trying to sign onto the wireless system. Whisperers are reporting that their friends are getting told by NMU they are working on it and hope to have it fixed soon. Not making folks happy in the short run, but…. Good news is that the NMU team working on this is one of the most talented tech staffs in the nation and they really know what they are doing. Let’s hope it gets fixed soon.
No Upper Peninsula or Rural Voices on State Board of Education (SBE): The Michigan Constitution (1963, Article VIII, Section 3) says the duties of the state board are “Leadership and general supervision over all public education…is vested in the SBE”. They have a lot to say about how schools are operated, supervised and funded. The members of the SBE are nominated by the political parties at their state conventions and they run for election by voters of the state.
All of the current members live downstate and are from urban and suburban areas. No rural voices. No voices from the Upper Peninsula. The children of the Upper Peninsula seem to have no voice on the SBE and in statewide policy on K-12 education. Same is true for downstate rural areas. The political parties this summer will be nominating people to run in this year’s elections. Elections matter. Whisperers have told us who runs and having a rural voice in public policy is important—especially true about educating our children.
Upper Peninsula Colleges and Universities Propose Budget Cuts: Escanaba’s Bay College, one of Michigan’s premier community colleges and one of three in the UP, this past week announced that it would implement $1.8 million dollars in budget cuts. State revenue losses and expected state aid cuts and most likely enrollment issues are directly related to these cuts at most colleges and universities—including those in the UP.
Northern Michigan University has been saying for the same reasons it expected budget reductions of approximately $8 million dollars next fiscal year. However, in meetings this week with faculty union (AAUP) leaders the university administration said it expects now to have to cut in the range of $21.5 million. That is a huge jump from $8 million in cuts. What happened? No word yet, but everyone is hoping for some transparency and details.
The legislature recently said not to expect state aid budget bills at the earliest in September (instead of usual June date). So we have no information on funding for higher education from the state and we still do not have final enrollment numbers for the colleges and universities. So what is causing the huge jump in budget cuts? More to come on this.
State funding and enrollment/tuition/fees make up a big part of college and university budgets. State tax revenues are down dramatically and not expected to rise anytime soon due to COVID-related issues. Whisperers are saying maybe we all need to be talking about new revenue sources—that it can’t always be about only budget cuts. Do we need to talk about changes in current tax policies and new revenue sources? Local taxes? Changes in state income and sales tax policies, as well as changes to the federal/state inheritance tax laws? Wealth taxes? You earn more, you pay more? No changes in taxes, just reduce the budgets? What else? Ideas? Suggestions? Send them to us and we will share them.
Quotes—Something To Think About:
General Stanley McChrystal: “Leadership is about character, second about competence, not just personal competence but about ability to shape and lead an honest, good team. Specific policies or politics are third most important part of leadership.”
Andrew Lang (1844-1912): “He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts…for support rather than illumination.”