Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Michael Lizotte's Letter

Dear Editor,

In your May 22 editorial, you play the old saw that university professors could teach more because they spend fewer hours in the classroom than public school teachers. No mention of UW Oshkosh class sizes (up to 210 students), everyone's expectation that college is more than grades 13-16, or the wonderful problem of challenging a more demanding group of learners. A professor's job is different from a schoolteachers, and the professors are not the only ones who appreciate the differences. If students wanted a college that gave them more state-dictated curricula, guaranteed that there will be no children left behind, or cost the least, I am sure that enterprising people would build it for them. (Perhaps they are, as for-profit colleges moving into local strip malls and setting themselves up on the Internet.) Yet applications and enrollments show that students value a UW Oshkosh education, and the competition gets stiffer each year. Meanwhile, Wisconsin falls below the national average in rankings for college degree attainment, one of the strongest indicators of lifetime earnings. This is a state problem, not one university's problem. The trend is not going to be reversed by political leaders who vote to continue decades of decreasing financial support, caps on enrollments, and tuition hikes. One sign of a faltering college is when they try to save money by hiring lecturers (teachers) to replace professors (teacher-scholars); this has been going on for years in the UW System. Your suggestion, that professors should put aside scholarly and community activities to teach more, would have the same effect. UW Oshkosh would become less capable and less competitive, which is a bad deal for our students and the families, organizations, and taxpayers who support them.

Michael Lizotte

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