Higher Education

Free Market Friday: Prioritization, not politicking

October 28, 2016

Jonathan Small

Black Lives Matter student-activists recently staged a “die-in” at the University of Oklahoma.

I think you’ll agree, nothing says “we shall overcome” quite like (significantly taxpayer subsidized) 19-year-olds with hand-held supercomputers lying on the ground posting selfies on Instagram.

After some of these protesters complained that OU president David Boren didn’t participate in the die-in, OU diversity vice president Jabar Shumate assured them Boren was with them in spirit but couldn’t be there physically because he was in Alva politicking for State Question 779, “to raise $100 million for higher education.”

It’s true: Nearly 20 percent of the revenue from SQ 779 would go to higher education – without any accountability for how it’s spent. Only 39.8 percent of the money would go toward (or “is earmarked for”) salary increases for K-12 classroom teachers.

Mr. Boren had a distinguished career in politics. And it seems he can’t let go of it. He has also traveled to McAlester, Ardmore, Wilburton, Stillwater, Enid, Lawton and elsewhere encouraging Oklahomans to raise their combined state-and-local sales tax rate to the highest in the nation.

You may recall that in 2014 Mr. Boren wrote op-eds and placed expensive full-page newspaper ads arguing against income-tax relief for Oklahomans. Higher education scholar Richard Vedder, who helps compile the annual college rankings for Forbes, said at the time that it was inappropriate for a university president to “enter the political fray on such tangential issues as the progressivity of the Oklahoma income tax.”

Read the rest over on The Journal Record.