MADISON — U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson has an idea for making colleges cheaper — ditch the instructors and start playing online videos for students.
The Republican senator from Wisconsin floated the idea during a question-and-answer session in Milwaukee.
He called higher education a "cartel" and suggested colleges could cut the number of instructors and increase use of online videos like Ken Burns' 11½-hour documentary on the Civil War.
Johnson, of Oshkosh, is locked in a tight re-election battle with Democratic challenger Russ Feingold.
Below is a statement from Johnson's office:
Ron Johnson talked about the need for both good teachers and greater use of technology to educate our students and bring down the cost of higher education – while Senator Feingold shows he’s part of the problem, earning nearly $8,000 per class as a high-paid lecturer while claiming to care about students.
Check out what Ron had to say about this to reporters at Nucor Cold Finish in Oak Creek, as well as what the media is reporting about Senator Feingold’s hypocrisy:
“You have an explosion in cost, which allows a university like Stanford to pay a guest lecturer like Senator Feingold $8,000 per lecture. …
If you’ve got a fabulous lecturer on any subject, put that person on video tape and replay it. That’s the whole advantage of things like massive online open courses. You don’t need individual professors for everything when you find an excellent professor.
Put them on video tape and let that individual be the lecturer for a host of other people.
And then let other teachers, other professors go off of that and expand on that. It could just so dramatically improve quality of education while you’re lowering the price.”
The Capital Times reported on Senator Feingold’s $8,000-per-class salary as a high-paid lecturer in California: “’When you’re part of the problem and have been a high-paid lecturer at nearly $8,000 per class like Sen. Feingold, all you have left is to lie about your opponent’s record,’ said Johnson spokesman Brian Reisinger. ‘The fact is, Sen.Feingold backed the big government programs that have driven up college costs, failed to fix this problem during his nearly two decades in Washington, and then lived off of high college costs. Ron is working to make college affordable and accessible for everyone, which is why he supported the Perkins loan program and voted twice for legislation to stabilize and lower interest rates.’ Reisinger was referring to the money Feingold has earned in salaries and honoraria from colleges and universities since he left office. According to financial disclosure records, Feingold earned at least $450,000 teaching classes at Lawrence, Stanford and Marquette universities and giving speeches at colleges including Arizona State University, Brown University, Kansas State University and others.”
The Associated Press reported on Feingold's hypocrisy on yet another issue in light of the $8,000 he earned per class: "Johnson's campaign noted that after Johnson defeated Feingold in 2010 he earned $450,000 from 17 different schools, the bulk of which came from his teaching stint at Stanford University. 'The fact is, Senator Feingold backed the big government programs that have driven up college costs, failed to fix this problem during his nearly two decades in Washington, and then lived off of high college costs,' Johnson campaign spokesman Brian Reisinger said. 'Ron is working to make college affordable and accessible for everyone, which is why he supported the Perkins loan program and voted twice for legislation to stabilize and lower interest rates.'"
The Washington Examiner broke news on Senator Feingold earning a total of $450,000 from universities, including stints on the paid-speech circuit he used to criticize: “’Sen. Feingold can't have it both ways, and his record places him firmly on the wrong side of students,’ said Pat Garrett, spokesman for the Wisconsin Republican Party. ‘While Feingold talks about making college affordable, he hypocritically spent years cashing in— taking in hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees and salaries.’ … A search of those records dating back to 2013 show he collectively received $450,000 between 2012-15 from 17 different schools, the lion's share coming from Stanford, where he was on staff.”