2 + 2 = 2016 (maybe)

Two posts, when put together, suggest a possible connection.

First, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Craig Gilbert:

With so much media attention on Scott Walker’s college record and proposed cuts to the university system, we thought we’d look at Walker’s popularity in Wisconsin by education level.

Is there an “education gap” in voter attitudes toward the second-term governor and likely presidential candidate?

Are there any differences among high-school graduates, college graduates and voters with graduate degrees when it comes to their views of Walker?

It turns out there are some, but the pattern varies by political party, according to a review of three years’ worth of Wisconsin polling by theMarquette Law School, which has surveyed more than 22,000 registered voters since January of 2012.

For example, Walker’s favorability rating is sky-high among Republican voters across all education levels.  But it is slightly lower (85%) among Republicans with post-graduate degrees than among Republicans who have spent some time in college (89%) or have B.A.’s (91%).

Looking at independents, Walker’s popularity is also lower among voters with graduate degrees (41%) than it is among those at all other education levels (about 50%).

But the clearest pattern is found with Democratic voters.

Walker’s popularity is low across the board with Democrats.  But the more educated Democrats are, the more negative they are about Walker.

Since 2012, the governor’s favorability rating is 18% among Democrats with a high school education or less, 16% among Democrats with some college or an associate’s degree, 11% among Democrats with a B.A., and just 6% among Democrats with a post-graduate degree.

Charles Franklin, who conducts the Marquette Law School poll and provided the survey data, did a further analysis isolating the influence of education by controlling for race, age, gender and even ideology (whether a voter is conservative, liberal or moderate).

It confirmed that the education gap over Walker is biggest with Democrats, is smaller among independents, and is very small among Republicans.

“Among independents and Republicans, Walker draws support fairly evenly among (those with) high school, some college and those who completed four years of college. There is some drop-off among those with a post-graduate education,” says Franklin. “But for Democrats there is a steady decline of support as education rises.”

Next, Mark Cunningham:

The GOP 2016 pack is off on a 16-month war for the nomination, which means performing for the party’s base and the money men. Yet whoever comes out on top won’t take the White House unless he starts now on connecting with an entirely different class of people.

They’re the voters who didn’t come out for John McCain in 2008, and mostly not for Mitt Romney in 2012: They’re middle- and working-class — mostly men and mostly white, though some minority voters and women will respond to the same appeal.

When these voters have come out for the GOP, it’s seen congressional landslides like 1994, 2010 and ’14 — but no national Republican since Ronald Reagan has fully drawn them in.

In ’94, liberals sneered about “angry white men.” OK, but the anger is because these folks have seen their ability to provide for a family under assault for decades, by everything from economic change to politics.

They know they’re losing, not gaining, when Democrats “spread the wealth” — but they need reason to believe a Republican will fight for them. …

You’re all for college, but you don’t think the only good-paying jobs should be for college grads. Too many Americans are stuck with a choice between getting work as a Wal-Mart greeter or seeing if they can make a disability claim stick.

About college: Something’s badly wrong there. We’re graduating too many kids with $100,000 in debt and no skills to earn enough to pay it back. While the rest of America is busy doing more with less, these schools keep on paying way too much money to way too many people who don’t even teach.

It’s time to put strings on the billions Washington sends to higher education, demanding that these schools deliver value.

Blue collar? Working class? Well, consider that 73.2 percent of Wisconsinites, and 71.8 percent of Americans, do not have a four-year college degree, according to the U.S. Census.

Consider as well that the average teacher salary in Wisconsin (not counting the value of their benefits) is $53,797, according to TeacherPortal.com, while the median Wisconsin family income is $52,413, again according to the U.S. Census.


Walker’s political Ph.D.

Rich Lowry:

Scott Walker belongs to an embattled minority that happens to be most of the population. The root of this paradox is that Walker is an extreme outlier among top elected officials — and the journalists and consultants who surround them — in not having graduated from college, at the same time that a solid two-thirds of the country lacks a four-year degree.

Such is the domination of not just college grads, but specifically Ivy League grads and especially Harvard grads, at the upper echelons of our government that the nation’s political competition can be seen as one big intramural battle at the Harvard Club.

George W. Bush (Harvard Business School, 1975) was succeeded as president by Barack Obama (Harvard Law, 1991), whose fiercest tea party critic is perhaps Ted Cruz (Harvard Law, 1995).

Should Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton get elected president she will at least provide a dollop of diversity (Yale Law School, 1973) and restore to New Haven what had once appeared to be its ascendancy, running from George H.W. Bush (Yale, 1948) to Bill Clinton (Yale Law School, 1973) to the double-credentialed George W. Bush (Yale, 1968).

For someone from a state school to try to break this glass ceiling would seem formidable enough, let alone someone like Walker, who dropped out of Marquette in 1990.

For all that we celebrate the do-it-my-own-way pluck and creativity of the nation’s great entrepreneurs who didn’t graduate, we tend to consider a four-year degree an indispensable stamp of respectability and capability. It shouldn’t be.

Walker’s example, as the man who has been elected governor of Wisconsin three times and is at or near the top of Republican polls for president, stands for an important point: Success in American shouldn’t have to go through a B.A.

This is something that the nation’s elite has trouble grasping. Howard Dean (Yale, 1971) expressed the liberal id on this question the other day on “Morning Joe.” Discussing the flare-up over Walker ducking a question on evolution in London last week, Dean said “the issue is how well-educated is this guy? And that’s a problem.”

When Joe Scarborough pushed back at him for calling Walker dumb, Dean clarified, “I didn’t say dumb, I said unknowledgable.” Oh.

The Washington Post ran a piece last week headlined, “As Scott Walker mulls White House bid, questions linger over college exit,” although no questions linger over his college exit. He left to take a full-time job with the American Red Cross. Mystery solved.

The dirt, such as it is, from the Post report is that Walker “had trouble showing up on time for French” and was completely bored in “a class on the politics of the Third World.” Can we at least contemplate the possibility that the class on Third World was genuinely boring? The Post characterizes Walker’s failure to graduate as one of “a string of defeats” he suffered at the time, yet the defeat was simply getting on with his life.

Do we really believe that Scott Walker would be any more or less impressive if he had — to choose from some of Marquette’s current course offerings — finished up his final credits by acing such classes as Economic and Social Aspects of Film, Sociology of Gender and Sex, and Principles of Peer Facilitation Among College Students?

Perhaps, if he had been more diligent in his studies, he would derive great pleasure from being able to read Flaubert in the original and discuss with fluidity the 1966 coup in Nigeria that brought to power Maj. Gen. Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi. But clearly none of this interested him, as indeed it wouldn’t interest anyone but the most devoted Francophiles or Africanists.

As a practical matter, Walker used college as vocational education for what was his true passion: politics. He told John McCormack of The Weekly Standard that attending Boys State and Boys Nation during high school fueled his interest in running for office. So he took up political science. But studying political science has about as much bearing on becoming a politician as studying marine biology does on becoming an Olympic diver.

There are professions, becoming a lawyer or doctor, that require years of postsecondary education. Being a politician — or, ahem, a journalist — aren’t among them. These are things you primarily learn by doing. Walker ran for student office repeatedly at Marquette, then for real office almost as soon as he left school, steadily building a career that has made him more successful and influential than world-class political science Ph.D.s.

We shouldn’t overlearn from Scott Walker’s example, of course. For many people, it’s better to graduate from college than not. But not for everybody. It would make more sense if we had a postsecondary system that had ways of training and credentialing young people that wasn’t so overwhelmingly dependent on a four-year degree, which is controlled by a lazy, inefficient and tuition-hiking academic establishment.

Walker’s proposed 13 percent reduction in funding for the University of Wisconsin system is being linked by some commentators to his own college experience, making him an “antagonist of the academy,” in the words of an article for Inside Higher Ed. But the Walker proposal should be viewed as external pressure to stimulate needful reforms that the university system would never undertake on its own.

About the 73.2 percent

The headline refers to the percentage of Wisconsinites 25 or older, according to the U.S. Census, who do not have bachelor’s degrees.

That number includes, as you well know, Gov. Scott Walker, who left Marquette University a year before his graduation. Wisconsin Democrats have been casting aspersions about Walker’s lack of college degree, which has hurt Walker so badly that he has won three gubernatorial elections since 2010 and, though he hasn’t announced yet, is considered a serious contender for the Republican presidential nomination.

About that, Mike Rowe was asked:

Kyle Smith writes…

Howard Dean recently criticized Gov Scott Walker for never finishing college, stating that he was “unknowledgeable.” What would your response be on college as a requirement for elected office?

Hi Kyle

Back in 1990, The QVC Cable Shopping Channel was conducting a national talent search. I had no qualifications to speak of, but I needed a job, and thought TV might be a fun way to pay the bills. So I showed up at The Marriott in downtown Baltimore with a few hundred other hopefuls, and waited for a chance to audition. When it was my turn, the elevator took me to the top floor, where a man no expression led me into a suite and asked me to take a seat behind a large desk. Across from the desk, there was a camera on a tripod. On the desk was a digital timer with an LED display. I took a seat as the man clipped a microphone on my shirt and explained the situation.

“The purpose of this audition is to see if you can talk for eight minutes without stuttering, blathering, passing out, or throwing up. Any questions?”

“What would you like me to talk about,” I asked.

The man pulled a pencil from behind his ear and rolled it across the desk. “Talk to me about that pencil. Sell it. Make me want it. But be yourself. If you can do that for eight minutes, the job is yours. Ok?”

I looked at the pencil. It was yellow. It had a point on one end, and an eraser on the other. On the side were the words, Dixon Ticonderoga Number 2 SOFT.

“Ok,” I said.

The man set the timer to 8:00, and walked behind the tripod. He pressed a button and a red light appeared on the camera. He pressed another button and the timer began to count backwards. “Action,” he said. I picked up the pencil and started talking.

“Hi there. My name’s Mike Rowe, and I only have eight minutes to tell you why this is finest pencil on Planet Earth. So let’s get right to it.”

I opened the desk drawer and found a piece of hotel stationary, right where I hoped it would be. I picked up the pencil and wrote the word, QUALITY in capital letters. I held the paper toward the camera.

“As you can plainly see, The #2 Dixon Ticonderoga leaves a bold, unmistakable line, far superior to the thin and wispy wake left by the #3, or the fat, sloppy skid mark of the unwieldy #1. Best of all, the Ticonderoga is not filled with actual lead, but “madagascar graphite,” a far safer alternative for anyone who likes to chew on their writing implements.”

To underscore the claim, I licked the point. I then discussed the many advantages of the Ticonderoga’s color.

“A vibrant yellow, perfectly suited for an object that needs to stand out from the clutter of a desk drawer.”

I commented on the comfort of it’s design.

“Unlike those completely round pencils that press hard into the web of your hand, the Ticonderoga’s circumference is comprised of eight, gently plained surfaces, which dramatically reduce fatigue, and make writing for extended periods an absolute delight.”

I pointed out the “enhanced eraser,” which was “guaranteed to still be there – even when the pencil was sharpened down to an unusable nub.”

I opined about handmade craftsmanship and American made quality. I talked about the feel of real wood.

“In a world overrun with plastic and high tech gadgets, isn’t it comforting to know that some things haven’t evolved into something shiny and gleaming and completely unrecognizable?’”

After all that, there was still five minutes on the timer. So I shifted gears and considered the pencil’s impact on Western Civilization. I spoke of Picasso and Van Gogh, and their hundreds of priceless drawings – all done in pencil. I talked about Einstein and Hawking, and their many complicated theories and theorems – all done in pencil.

“Pen and ink are fine for memorializing contracts,” I said, “but real progress relies on the ability to erase and start anew. Archimedes said he could move the world with a lever long enough, but when it came to proving it, he needed a pencil to make the point.”

With three minutes remaining, I moved on to some personal recollections about the role of pencils in my own life. My first legible signature, my first book report, my first crossword puzzle, and of course, my first love letter. I may have even worked up a tear as I recalled the innocence of my youth, scribbled out on a piece of looseleaf with all the hope and passion a desperate 6th grader could muster…courtesy of a #2 pencil.

With :30 seconds left on the timer, I looked fondly at the Dixon Ticonderoga, and sat silently for five seconds. Then I wrapped it up.

“We call it a pencil, because all things need a name. But today, let’s call it what it really is. A time machine. A match maker. A magic wand. And let’s say it can all be yours…for just .99 cents.”

The timer read 0:00. The man walked back to the desk. He took the pencil and wrote “YOU’RE HIRED” on the stationary, and few days later, I moved to West Chester, PA. And a few days after that, I was on live television, face to face with the never-ending parade of trinkets and chotchkies that comprise QVC’s overnight inventory.

I spent three months on the graveyard shift, five nights a week. Technically, this was my training period, which was curious, given the conspicuous absence of supervision, or anything that could be confused with actual instruction. Every few minutes a stagehand would bring me another mysterious “must have item,” which I’d blather about nonsensically until it was whisked away and replaced with something no less baffling. In this way, I slowly uncovered the mysteries of my job, and forged a tenuous relationship with an audience of chronic insomniacs and narcoleptic lonely-hearts. It was a crucible of confusion and ambiguity, and in hindsight, the best training I ever had.

Which brings me to the point of your question, Kyle.
I don’t agree with Howard Dean – not at all.

Here’s what I didn’t understand 25 years ago. QVC had a serious recruiting problem. Qualified candidates were applying in droves, but failing miserably on the air. Polished salespeople with proven track records were awkward on TV. Professional actors with extensive credits couldn’t be themselves on camera. And seasoned hosts who understood live television had no experience hawking products. So eventually, QVC hit the reset button. They stopped looking for “qualified” people, and started looking for anyone who could talk about a pencil for eight minutes.

QVC had confused qualifications with competency.
Perhaps America has done something similar?

Look at how we hire help – it’s no so different than how we elect leaders. We search for work ethic on resumes. We look for intelligence in test scores. We search for character in references. And of course, we look at a four-year diploma as though it might actually tell us something about common-sense and leadership.

Obviously, we need a bit more from our elected officials than the instincts of a home shopping host, but the business of determining what those “qualifications” are is completely up to us. We get to decide what matters most. We get to decide if a college degree or military service is somehow determinative. We get to decide if Howard Dean is correct.

Anyone familiar with my foundation knows my position. I think a trillion dollars of student loans and a massive skills gap are precisely what happens to a society that actively promotes one form of education as the best course for the most people. I think the stigmas and stereotypes that keep so many people from pursuing a truly useful skill, begin with the mistaken belief that a four-year degree is somehow superior to all other forms of learning. And I think that making elected office contingent on a college degree is maybe the worst idea I’ve ever heard.

But of course, Howard Dean is not the real problem. He’s just one guy. And he’s absolutely right when he says that many others will judge Scott Walker for not finishing college. That’s the real problem.

However – when Howard Dean called the Governor “unknowledgeable,” he rolled out more than a stereotype. He rolled a pencil across the desk, and gave Scott Walker eight minutes to knock it out of the park.

It’ll be fun to see if he does.

Rowe studiously does not identify himself as a Democrat or Republican, or liberal or conservative. Rowe does, however, certainly exhibit and tout conservative values, particularly the value of work. That might be why the attacks on Walker for his lack of degree have had a notable lack of success.

Rowe’s Facebook post generated a long debate as well over whether military service should be a condition of elective office. The U.S. Constitution includes only minimum ages (25 to be in the House of Representatives, 30 to be in the Senate, and 35 to be president) and U.S. citizenship as the conditions for federal elective office. The Founding Fathers got that right. It should be up to the voters, and only the voters, to decide who is qualified or not for office.

As a member of Wisconsin’s 26.8 percent, and a graduate of Wisconsin’s world-class university, I think that a college degree is more a measure of accomplishment — doing the required work to get the degree — and less of a measure of intelligence than one might think, and no measure at all of sense or wisdom. (There’s an old joke that could apply to Dean, who supposedly is a doctor: What do you call the lowest-ranked graduate of medical school? “Doctor.”)

My UW degree helped me get my first job (though I was hired before I graduated; I suppose I could have dropped out of school six weeks short of graduation, though I’m sure my parents would have been most displeased). I don’t think my UW degree helped me get any job beyond that, because in my line of work you are judged on your demonstrable work, not on your degrees, or where they’re from. (Journalism remains one of the lines of work with a higher-than-expected percentage of non-graduates. You do not need a college degree to sell, for instance; you need work ethic first and foremost.)

Tim Nerenz has a radical thought:

Not that I support Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s bid for the Presidency, but if the snobby academic elitists who have their thongs in a twist over him only attending 3 years at Marquette really believe that you only receive an education in that one final year that he skipped to go to work, then why don’t they offer a one-year degree program with only the magic stuff in it, and cut everybody’s college bill by 75%? At least Walker can remember what he did that fourth year, which is a lot more than a lot of my degreed friends who came back to campus in the 1970’s for a final round of frat parties, intramural sports, and skirt chasing can say.

A commenter makes this perceptive point:

What I find interesting about paying for college (as a parent with two kids in high school and preemptively clutching my wallet for coming college costs) is that it’s really the only last year of college which pays for the degree. Wage studies show that a high school degree plus 1 yr of college adds negligible wage increases over just a H.S. diploma. H.S. + 2 yrs of college, the same. H.S. + 3 is a bit more. It is only after completing the degree that the ‘value’ of a bachelors appears in data.

Bottom line: the job market doesn’t reward you for what you learn year by year in college.

Bottom line: the kerfuffle over Walker’s lack of degree has nothing to do with his lack of degree. The Walker-haters hate Walker because Walker is politically effective despite the fact he doesn’t share their political beliefs, and liberals today annihilate anyone who doesn’t share every one of their political beliefs. The Walker-haters haven’t been elected governor three times in four years, either, and so the Walker-haters hate not just Walker, but all of us who voted for him. Call it Reagan/Thompson/Bush/Walker Derangement Syndrome.


Obi-Wan Walker

No, Scott Walker doesn’t look anything like Obi-Wan Kenobi, but they do have a similarity …

… pointed out by the Washington Post’s Nia-Malika Henderson:

Whether it’s unions or universities, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) has waged a number of huge fights — symbolic and otherwise — with liberals. So far, the fights have only served to bolster his credentials among national conservatives who like nothing more than a Republican willing to poke liberals in the eye.

And now New York Times columnist Gail Collins has thrown Walker another hanging curveball by which to bash liberals and shine in the eyes of conservatives.

In a recent column widely derided as a “hit piece” by conservatives, Collins centered on Walker’s breakout speech in Iowa, declaring that it was “his moment.”  Known for her stream-of-consciousness writing style, Collins sets herself up as a kind of fact-checker of Walker’s record. She blames the governor for cutting state aid to education that led to teacher layoffs — particularly in regard to one teacher who had been honored.

But there was just one big problem with that assertion: Walker wasn’t actually in office when said cuts were made.

The headline — “Scott Walker Needs an Eraser” — pretty much said it all, except it wasn’t Walker who needed one.

The correction, which came two days after the column was posted, said: “An earlier version of this column incorrectly stated that teacher layoffs in Milwaukee in 2010 happened because Gov. Scott Walker ‘cut state aid to education.’ The layoffs were made by the city’s school system because of a budget shortfall, before Mr. Walker took office in 2011.” …

It all goes back to the 2012 recall effort, in which unions and liberals overstepped by seeking to remove Walker as governor because of his decision to roll back collective bargaining rights for public-sector unions. They lost, and suddenly they had created a world-beating conservative hero who just won another election in a blue-leaning state. He has won three races in four-plus years — a fact he will remind crowds of often, and one that wouldn’t be true without that overreach.

Now, with another defeat of Collins and the “liberal media,” the legend of Walker — slayer of all things liberal — continues to grow. In a crowded field in which everyone will clamor for the conservative label, Walker has that distinct advantage.

And liberals largely have themselves to blame.

Stewardship of finances instead of vacant land

As regular readers know I have been a critic of the state Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund, which spends tens of millions of dollars every year to buy land to take it off the tax rolls.

Gov. James Doyle spent $86 million a year on buying land that, according to the Department of Natural Resources news releases I used to get at my former employer, is restricted from use by those paying for it to “low-impact recreational activities.” In other words, your tax dollars have been paying for decades for activities you can’t partake in — sometimes fishing, often hunting, and never anything that involved internal combustion engines — unless the DNR approves.

In part because of Stewardship Fund purchases, units of government owned, the last time I checked (and I’m sure since then the percentage hasn’t decreased), 16 percent of all the land in Wisconsin. In some counties that number is far greater — 36 percent in the Grant County Town of Millville, for instance, which means that all land-related government services are paid for by 64 percent of land-owners.

Finally Republicans are doing something to at least stop more state land-gobbling in the future. The Daily Reporter reports:

Two Republican legislators are looking to restrict state land purchases beyond the limits that Gov. Scott Walker has proposed, circulating a bill that would allow local government officials to veto stewardship acquisition deals.

Reps. Joe Sanfelippo and David Craig’s bill would bar the Department of Natural Resources from making payments to local leaders to compensate them for property taxes lost on land that enters stewardship after June 30. The locals would be allowed to veto any stewardship purchase. Without the compensation payments, land buys would look much less attractive to local officials.

Sanfelippo, R-New Berlin, said he believes the government has taken too much land out of private hands and the acquisitions are too costly. The bill gives the locals more control, he said.

“My personal opinion is I think we own enough land,” he said. “(The bill) just brings more local control into the process. They’re no longer forced to have land in this program.”

Kevin Binversie adds:

This bill would be in addition to Gov. Walker’s budget proposal of a purchasing moratorium on the stewardship program until 2028. It faces an uncertain future in the legislature since continued maintenance of stewardship funds was part of a legislative plan unveiled by Assembly Republican leadership last October.

Until a cut the MacIver Institute termed “modest” in the 2013-15 budget, the state was projected to spend more than $91 million in debt service on Stewardship Fund purchases in 2014 and 2015. That’s each year. That is as insane as spending eight digits every year to write checks to take land off the tax rolls.

Nearly every time I write about the Stewardship Fund I am attacked by some lefty environmentalist (but I repeat myself) who accuses me of not thinking about future generations, or being wasteful or greedy or selfish, or something else. At no time have any of these disciples of Gaylord Nelson ever proposed funding Stewardship Fund purchases that would take money out of their own pockets — for instance, an excise tax on the products used for those “low-impact recreational activities,” such as bicycles or canoes. They don’t want you to use what they think is their land, but they want you to pay for it.

Another critic accused me of not caring about one of the state’s big business three, tourism. We are to believe that before the DNR and the Department of Tourism came into existence, and before the state started gobbling up land like Pac Man, no one was smart enough to figure out that Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, the Wisconsin River, the Mississippi River, the Driftless Area, the forested Great White North and most other areas of this state were worth driving to see.

Simply put: Buying land with no possible return should not be a core function of government. At what level is government land ownership enough?

Walker vs. the elites

University of Tennessee Prof. Glenn Harlan Reynolds says that if Scott Walker runs for president and wins …

He’ll lay to rest the absurd belief that you’re a nobody if you don’t have a college degree. And he might even cut into the surprisingly recent takeover of our institutions by an educated mandarin class, something that just might save the country.

Though Walker attended Marquette University, he left before graduating, which has caused some finger-wagging from the usual journalistic suspects. After all, they seem to believe, everyone they know has a college degree, so it must be essential to getting ahead. As the successful governor of an important state, you’d think that Walker’s subsequent career would make his college degree irrelevant, but you’d be wrong.

And that’s why a President Walker would accomplish something worthwhile the moment he took office. Over the past few years in America, a college degree has become something valued more as a class signifier than as a source of useful knowledge. When Democratic spokesman Howard Dean (who himself was born into wealth) suggested that Walker’s lack of a degree made him unsuitable for the White House, what he really meant was that Walker is “not our kind, dear” — lacking the credential that many elite Americans today regard as essential to respectable status.

Of course, some of our greatest presidents, from George Washington to Abraham Lincoln to Harry S. Truman, never graduated from college. But the college degree as class-signifier is, as I note in my book, The New School, a rather recent phenomenon. As late as the 1970s, it was perfectly respectable for middle-class, and even upper-middle-class, people to lack a college degree. And, of course, most non-elite Americans still do: 68% of Americans, like Scott Walker, lack a college diploma. But where 50 years or 100 years ago they might not have cared, many now feel inferior to those who possess a degree.

But without much reason, as many college degrees don’t signify much besides a limited ability to show up on time most of the time, and avoid getting so falling-down-drunk that you flunk out. Nor does attendance at college necessarily even produce a leg up economically. Some studies suggest that attending college can actuallyincrease economic inequality, as graduates emerge with no better prospects of employment, but heavy student loan debt. Many students also don’t learn much: InAcademically Adrift, a study by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa, researchers found that 36% of students “did not demonstrate any significant improvement in learning” over four years of college.

But the college degree — especially a degree from an elite school — has become an entry-level ticket into the educated mandarinate. In his important book, The New Class Conflict, Joel Kotkin calls it the “clerisy” — that now dominates government, journalism and academia. And as a result, an America that once prided itself on real-world achievement and practical good sense now runs largely on credentials.

Today, the Supreme Court is composed entirely of Ivy Leaguers: five from Harvard Law School, three from Yale Law School, and one, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, from that scrappy Ivy League upstart Columbia Law School.

All this credentialism means that we should have the best, most efficiently and intelligently run government ever, right? Well, just look around. Anyone who has ever attended a faculty meeting should recognize that more education doesn’t produce better decision makers, and our educated mandarinate doesn’t seem to have done much for the country.

Already people can point to tech pioneers like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs as evidence that a college degree isn’t essential to getting ahead. But just as electing America’s first black president had a resonance that no other achievement did, so, perhaps, electing America’s first non-college-grad president in many decades will serve to remind people that a college degree isn’t the be-all and end-all, and that accomplishments and practical skills are, in the end, more important than credentials. It would be educational.

According to the U.S. Census, 26.8 percent of Wisconsinites 25 or older have college degrees. Which means, according to the educational elitists, 73.2 percent of Wisconsinites are nobodies.

I will repeat the last part of Reynolds’ next-to-last sentence for emphasis: “A college degree isn’t the be-all and end-all, and that accomplishments and practical skills are, in the end, more important than credentials.”

Walker meets the news media, such as it is

Scott Walker is discovering what happens when you (appear to be about to) run for president — you become target number one of the political news media.

That includes the media that can’t shoot straight. Gail Collins of the New York Times decided to rip on Walker:

Mainly, though, The Speech was about waging war on public employee unions, particularly the ones for teachers. “In 2010, there was a young woman named Megan Sampson who was honored as the outstanding teacher of the year in my state. And not long after she got that distinction, she was laid off by her school district,” said Walker, lacing into teacher contracts that require layoffs be done by seniority.

All of that came as a distinct surprise to Claudia Felske, a member of the faculty at East Troy High School who actually was named a Wisconsin Teacher of the Year in 2010. In a phone interview, Felske said she still remembers when she got the news at a “surprise pep assembly at my school.” As well as the fact that those layoffs happened because Walker cut state aid to education [emphasis added].

Actually, Wisconsin names four teachers of the year, none of which has ever been Megan Sampson, who won an award for first-year English teachers given by a nonprofit group. But do not blame any of this on Sampson, poor woman, who was happily working at a new school in 2011 when Walker made her the star victim in an anti-union opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal. At the time, she expressed a strong desire not to be used as a “poster child for this political agenda,” and you would think that after that the governor would leave her alone. Or at least stop saying she was teacher of the year.

So what’s wrong with Collins’ First Amendment-protected opinion, you ask? John McCormack is happy to tell you:

First, she accuses Walker of dishonesty, but she’s just quibbling over semantics. Is it really inaccurate to describe someone named an “outstanding first-year teacher” by the Wisconsin Council of Teachers of English as a “teacher of the year” for short? I’ve never seen much of a difference: In the headline of this 2011 piece, I described Sampson as a “teacher of the year,” but in the body of the piece I precisely described her award. Walker has been telling this story for four years, and no one thought his description of Sampson was dishonest until Gail Collins heard about it.

But the big error in Collins’s piece is her claim that “those layoffs happened because Walker cut state aid to education.” As you can see in the excerpt above, Collins is talking about teacher layoffs that occurred in 2010. Walker did not become governor until 2011.

The truth is that Walker’s reforms actually saved teachers’ jobs. Right before the 2012 Wisconsin recall election, Walker’s Democratic opponent Tom Barrett couldn’t name a single school that had been hurt by Walker’s policies. When Walker’s 2014 Democratic opponent Mary Burke was asked to name any schools hurt by Walker’s collective bargaining reform, she relayed an anecdote she’d heard secondhand about one school. Burke’s story didn’t check out, and the superintendent of that school wrote a letter telling Burke she didn’t know what she was talking about.

That’s a good reminder for Gail Collins (and the rest of us): Always check your facts.