02/17/2015 03:31 pm ET Updated Apr 19, 2015

Speaking of Measles, Scott Walker's Vaccine Against Education

There's been a lot of attention paid to the reason(s) Scott Walker dropped out of college. According to VOX's "Why Scott Walker's lack of a college diploma doesn't matter" (February 15, 2015):

As the Washington Post made clear, he doesn't lack a college education entirely: he went to Marquette and seems to have attended classes (although he sometimes showed up late to French) while being active in student government. Then he dropped out halfway through his fourth year in college. He was technically a senior, but the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported in 2013 that Walker hadn't earned enough credits to get his degree on time -- he was 34 credits short of a degree when he dropped out. That still puts about three years of college under his belt.


An average load per semester would be 15 so how he dropped out "halfway through his fourth year" is curious since he needed to take at least 15.75 credits per semester to graduate. According to the Marquette University's website in order to graduate, students need to complete 126 credits, which means Walker had only completed 92 credits or about 73 percent (about a "C") of the credits needed. In addition Marquette indicates "...students must declare a major before junior year or the completion of 60 credits. Failure to do so jeopardizes timely degree completion." Presumably, his major was marketing since that's what he did for American Red Cross subsequent to dropping out.Clearly, Walker would have had the number of credits needed for his major, but his failure to complete all requirements would coincide with his GPA, which was about 2.59/4 or a C+. I have no problem with his dropping out nor do I have a problem with his C+ average. I seem to recall David Letterman donating some money to Ball State University including a plaque that read something like "To all C+ Students" and Letterman has done quite well with that GPA. Clearly, one doesn't have to have graduated from college to become President of the United States. But it helps.

A glance at those who have become POTUS might be a good indication. For example, let's go back to Eisenhower. Obama graduated from Columbia; Bush II graduated from Yale; Clinton graduated from Georgetown; Bush I graduated from Yale; Reagan graduated from Eureka; Carter graduated from the US Naval Academy; Ford from Michigan; Nixon from Whittier; Johnson from Southwest Texas State; Kennedy from Harvard and Eisenhower from West Point. This list doesn't include any graduate or legal training any of them studied subsequent to receiving a B.A. One has to go back to Harry Truman to find a President who dropped out of college. As a matter of fact, only three Presidents have dropped out of college, the other two being Harrison and McKinley. But as far as Truman is concerned, one only need to paraphrase a line from the late Lloyd Bentsen, that we all know who Harry Truman was and Walker isn't Harry Truman. In that sense, Walker is more like Sarah Palin when it comes to dropping out of schools with the difference being that after five attempts Palin finally graduated.

But I'm not sure that's the real question and it doesn't have anything to do with financial success. It seems to me that there are two questions: 1) Does Walker's dropping out indicate a certain lack of responsibility on his part? and 2) Is his seemingly anti-education approach related somehow to his dropping out? I guess one could say that his lack of interest in completing his degree might label him "a quitter" in the same way Palin was labeled a quitter for resigning her governorship. In Walker's case, there didn't seem to be any mitigating circumstances surrounding his quitting college and choosing not to graduate. It wasn't as if he were an athlete and left for the NBA or NFL before completing his degree only to return, like Magic Johnson and Isiah Thomas or any other number of student-athletes who returned to their respective alma maters to complete their degrees. No, it wasn't as if he, like Clinton, were a Rhodes Scholar, so there doesn't seem like any mitigating circumstances, which leaves the reason for quitting somewhat murky though in an April 9, 2014 National Review article, Walker stated, "I kept thinking I'd go back, got married, had one kid, had another kid, next thing you know... you're worrying more about paying for your kids' college education than you are for your own." Fair enough, but in the same article one reads, "Governor Walker would like to finish his degree through the University of Wisconsin's FlexOption once they expand the degree offerings," his spokesman Laurel Patrick said this week." That was almost a year ago and it's not likely that Walker will ever return to college to finish 34 credits.

But his apparent antipathy towards education is what seems so irresponsible. A U.S. News & World Report survey conducted in December, 2013 indicated that the United States students ranked 36th in the world. According to the Huffington Post article "These Are The States With The Best And Worst School Systems" Wisconsin ranked 9th in the nation and the Aug. 20, 2014 Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel article indicated that "While Wisconsin's Class of 2014 posted scores good enough to maintain the state's No. 2 national ranking on the ACT college readiness test, the results released Wednesday suggest about half would struggle to succeed in a typical first-year college course in reading, math and science."

Given those kinds of positive results for Wisconsin, one could say that Walker has been rather pro-education. So, why has he suddenly decided to go on the offensive against education? The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported as recently as February 10, 2015 that "It's hard to believe that Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to cut $300 million from the budget of the University of Wisconsin system over the next two years would allow the school to maintain its quality. Walker, a Republican, would prohibit the university from raising tuition during that period but instead give university officials more flexibility in managing contracting and construction projects." They go on to end the article by stating, "...if Walker's proposals are carried out. The flagship campus at Madison was ranked 47th nationally this year by U.S. News. Anyone care to bet on where it will be in the 2017 rankings?"

Could it be that at the heart of eviscerating a state educational system that is and has been one of the best in the nation in favor of "managing contracts and construction projects" is the epidemic that one might call, The Koch Virus? Just saying. Only on February 15, Diane Ravitch's Blog states,

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker submitted a budget proposal that included language that would have changed the century-old mission of the University of Wisconsin system -- known as the Wisconsin Idea and embedded in the state code -- by removing words that commanded the university to "search for truth" and "improve the human condition" and replacing them with "meet the state's workforce needs."

Really? That's a bit like changing Harvard's motto, "Veritas," to, say, "Aviditas," sounds similar, more syllables. One doesn't really need to be Paul Krugman to see in what direction Walker's thoughts about education are heading. Certainly, as POTUS he would be less inclined to improve the status of education in America than he would be in improving the status of corporate profitability. How might one know that? To quote Dr. Phil, "The best indicator of future behavior is past behavior." And who wants to argue with Dr. Phil?