Notes on Higher Education Reform

Brandon Dutcher:

When accepting the Heritage Foundation’s 2024 Salvatori Prize on May 22, Chris Rufo remarked that state legislatures in red states such as Oklahoma need to start exercising oversight of their public universities.

He’s right. “There is an endemic rot of indoctrination, politicization, and intellectual intimidation,” Joel Gardner observed on this website in 2020, “that is eviscerating the historical purpose and nature of our institutions of higher learning.” This remains true today and not just in elite institutions. The rot is widespread even in public universities in Oklahoma, one of the reddest states in the nation.

Fortunately, with Republicans in possession of supermajority control of both houses of the legislature and holding all statewide elected offices, higher-ed reform is possible here, right?

The most effective reform would be for Oklahoma to reduce appropriations to higher education.Proposed Reforms 

The most effective reform, for starters, would be for Oklahoma’s political leaders to send a message to regents and college presidents by reducing appropriations to higher education. Unfortunately, Oklahoma’s legislative session ended on May 30, and higher education received a hefty funding boost.

Public choice theory provides a possible clue here: Soon-to-be-former lawmakers sometimes want “a cushy place to land.”