Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:37 pm
The Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) is an indispensable 21st century resource for Wisconsin and our workforce. Yet, local employers are so desperate for workers they’re recruiting in Rockford, Ill., because MATC the school turned out only 14 welders in its Class of 2005.
Why did MATC fail to turn out many welders? The answer is simple: follow the money.
A recent University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee study says, “Unfortunately, Milwaukee’s workers’ skills are not what they should be, and the efforts to increase those skills are insufficient, uncoordinated, under funded and at times dysfunctional.” And, while no doubt somebody at MATC will seize this opportunity to again try to justify the 5 percent tax increase they’d like to collect from district homeowners, don’t buy it.
The technical education program is under funded, not the college.
There is plenty of money at MATC – they levied $125 million in taxes last fiscal year – more taxes than any county in the state except Milwaukee County, and more taxes than any city in the state except the cities of Milwaukee, Madison and Green Bay.
Their total operating budget is already well in excess of $160 million.
The problem at MATC is where this largess is being spent: on the wrong people and the wrong programs, and not on behalf of students who need technical education.
The school has lost sight of its mission, spending enormous sums of cash, usurping the role of our two-year University of Wisconsin colleges at the expense of the fundamentals of technical education.
Mike Rosen – in charge of the union that sees to it that MATC’s teachers make an average of $90,000 per year – routinely bills himself as “chairman of the Economics Department” at MATC. This begs the question: why does the technical college need an Economics Department, especially one chaired by someone who is himself making in excess of $140,000 per year?
For that matter, why does fully 18 percent of the school’s annual $160.4 million budget go for “college transfer” courses that have nothing to do with technical education? Certainly not because of Milwaukee’s crying need for courses like Introduction to Modern Cinema, The History of the Vietnam War Years or Music Appreciation.
Just follow the money. Take the $28.7 million MATC says it spent on college transfer classes available from no less than 3 other institutions in the district and spend it on technical education. Just take the salaries – MATC teachers are paid much more than public school teachers who spend far more time in the classroom and much more than college professors with far more education –- and bring them into line with the rest of the market.
Spend MATC’s money on the right people – the students – and the right programs – actual technical education – and there will be plenty of skilled workers right here in Wisconsin.
A. Paul Pedersen of Pedersen Associates Ltd. is a former Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) board member. His essay first appeared at www.wisopinion.com, a media partner of Small Business Times.