August 13, 2005
Way ahead of our time
By Bill Kraus
Back in the 1960s when the then-State University system and the University of Wisconsin were duking it out for state money to grow on and with, there was a serious possibility that Wisconsin would mandate 14 years, instead of 12, of free, basic education.
The community college movement, which started in California and which would provide the places for those extra two years, was all the rage, and both Gene McPhee, who ran the State Universities, and Fred Harrington of the University of Wisconsin were planning to add two-year campuses wherever they could as fast as they could.
And another option, a new, improved technical education system was being built, which also could serve this dream.
For reasons that are lost to memory, but probably had something to do with money, the dream turned into a pipedream.
Now, 40 years later, in his brilliant book The World Is Flat, Thomas Friedman is recommending that the whole country do what we almost did.
He, and a majority of enlightened business leaders as well, are more worried about labor shortages than outsourcing and job flight.
Education in general and the now merged University of Wisconsin System are our future. We need more of both. Does any politician understand this?
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