November 23, 2015

Life with a Strong-Willed Child

Today Susie found it necessary to have a little chat with four-year-old Oliver. "Ollie, sometimes when I say something you talk back," she explained gently. "You say it in a way that's not very nice. What you're doing is you're being sassy." She then cited an example of one thing he had done, and again explained that "that's just being sassy."

Oliver, to his credit, was looking at her and listening intently. "Mom ... mom," he said impatiently, waiting for her to finish. "Mom, I don't like that word sassy. Don't say sassy."

'Reproductive Justice' Conference Coming to OU

The Take Root conference, which is held annually on the campus of the University of Oklahoma, is scheduled for February 26-27, 2016. According to the conference website,
Take Root was created to educate people about reproductive justice, with a special emphasis on what it takes to promote reproductive justice in red states. We believe everyone has a role to play in this and welcome a diverse and intersectional range of voices, especially people working in reproductive health, rights, and justice issues in red states and rural areas; Native people and people of color; and LGBT, queer, trans*, and gender-nonconforming folks.

November 22, 2015

On College Campuses, 'Freedom Is Under Assault'

"Let’s be clear," William Kristol writes in The Weekly Standard ("The Self-Destruction of the American University"), "about what is happening at Yale and Missouri, and at colleges and universities all across the nation: Freedom is under assault." 
But things have gotten bad enough, the situation has become dire enough, the decadence is now obvious enough that civic and political leaders can no longer watch from the sidelines. It’s time to add the defense of intellectual freedom, of freedom of speech and of the mind, to the more familiar agenda—economic freedom, social and religious freedom, the defense of freedom abroad—that the party of freedom intends to place before the American electorate in 2016.
"For decades," Mark Hemingway adds in the same issue of the magazine, "the American university system has been creeping towards both moral and intellectual bankruptcy."
But the events last week at Yale and the University of Missouri suggest we are reaching a tipping point, and that campus culture is transitioning from painfully idiotic to wantonly destructive. Even at the height of the Vietnam war protests, administrators endeavored, with varying degrees of success, to keep the inmates from running the asylum. Now it appears that students can invent accusations for the sake of validating narcissistic identity politics and bring institutions to their knees.
As the transition "from painfully idiotic to wantonly destructive" continues, the least we can do is have a good laugh. And maybe lay down a wager on how long it will take before the University of Oklahoma gets rid of the title residential college "masters."

November 21, 2015

Cushy Landing Places

James Buchanan aptly defined public-choice theory as "politics without romance." With higher education much in the news lately, I was reminded of this timeless anecdote from law professor Andrew Spiropoulos.
My last year working for Todd Hiett, then state speaker of the House, I was involved in budget negotiations with Senate Democrats. We had massive revenue surpluses. Our priorities were cutting taxes and increasing transportation funding. We asked Senate Democrats to tell us their first priority. 
What do you think that was? Pay raises for hardworking and lowly paid state employees? Aid for the poor? Nope. It was more money for higher education. We were floored. Then we thought about it. Senate Democrats were facing a deserved political exile at the hands of the voters. They needed a cushy place to land and knew that higher education was insulated from political control. We are cursed with an antiquated and absurd higher education governance structure put in place to hamstring the Alfalfa Bill Murrays. This structure prevents the governor and Legislature from controlling the state regents’ budget. The soon-to-be ex-politicians and their senior staff decamped for the regents, where they are still on the public payroll.

November 04, 2015

Now This Is How I Like to Spend My Lunch Hour

And you better believe Oliver liked sitting up there in the upper deck.

A photo posted by Susie (@susiedutcher) on

November 03, 2015

Five of Six Top University Donations Go to Democrats

"As the higher education bubble bursts," Glenn Reynolds writes, "I think academia may want to reflect on the unwisdom of turning itself into an arm of the Democratic Party while treating Republicans with open contempt—particularly as Republicans take over more and more state governments. A less partisan posture would have been wiser, as well as more fair."

November 02, 2015

Tagged Out

Susie has had this personalized tag for more than 20 years. And though it's still as fitting as ever (she's still homeschooling three children, including four-year-old Ollie), she has decided to retire it. Kinda sad.