Television Debate: Milk For Kids And University System Chancellors


During my television segment last night on Valley News Live with Chris Berg and High Plains Reader publisher John Strand we talked about “milkgate” as well as the turmoil over Chancellor Hamid Shirvani:

Valley News Live – KVLY/KXJB – Fargo/Grand Forks

On the chancellor issue, Mr. Strand’s contention is that the legislature is overstepping its bounds and micromanaging the university system. I’d point out that the university system is being so poorly managed by the State Board of Higher Education – from scandals such as the “diploma mill” problem at Dickinson State to their lack of diligence in vetting Chancellor Shirvani – that the legislature really has no choice but to step in.

The North Dakota University System will more than likely, in the next biennium, cost the taxpayers directly close to $1 billion. Our elected leaders in the legislature have a duty to exercise some sort of oversight for the system, though I’d argue that they need to move beyond food-fights over the chancellor to fundamental reforms in how the system is governed.

As to the milk cartons, it seems the arguments coming from many boils down to this: “It’s milk for kids. Q.E.D.”

But few seem to be talking about the fact that nobody from the school districts showed up to testify in favor of the spending. There’s a lot of heated rhetoric about children going without nourishment during the day, but there’s no testimony or data indicating those claims are actually true. And in the absence of that sort of information, the Republican House majority made the right call. They chose not to spend tax payer dollars on something that, from their perspective, wasn’t necessary.

Just because something is “for the children” doesn’t mean we should just throw money at it. We elected our leaders to make decisions with reason and logic, not emotions.

That Democrats turned that common-sense decision into a political stunt, and fundraising scheme, the sort of antics a thoroughly marginalized minority get up to for attention. They’re like toddlers acting out to get attention from mommy and daddy.

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • Kevin Flanagan

    No other animal continues to consume milk after they are weaned. Follow the money on this one.

    • Rob

      Well of course kids get milk. That’s not the issue. They’re already getting plenty of milk.

      And i don’t even think this is a money thing.

      This is politics. This is Democrats trying to cast Republicans as not caring about children, and it’s exactly the sort of finger-pointing and stupidity that is eating our country alive.

      • Kevin Flanagan

        It’s politics; it will never change.

  • Rick

    Rob, if they were really interested in the kids, they would be complaining about SB 2208 being voted down. This is clearly grandstanding to gain seats in the next election. If they wanted to make sure our kids don’t go hungry, they would sponsor a bill to opt-out of the ridiculous nutrition policy that is making kids go hungry!

    • Rob

      No kidding, and good point!

  • zipity

    If John Strand is a “Libertarian”, then I’m an umbrella. John Strand is one of those who would spend every last dime we have on “education” because it’s “for the children”. Even if the spending is for additional bloating of the K-12 administration and /or favored Liberal indoctrination curriculum promotion.

    A prime example is people (including ND Legislature) falling all over themselves to drop another couple of BILLION dollars into the demonstrably ineffective Head Start Program.

    A recent study was done by the Health & Human Services administration on the ultimate outcome of the programs participants (which they tried to bury)

    “Since 1965, taxpayers have spent more than $180 billion on Head Start.[1]
    Yet, over the decades, this Great Society relic has failed to improve
    academic outcomes for the children it was designed to help. The
    third-grade follow-up evaluation is the latest in a growing body of
    evidence that should urge policymakers to seriously consider Head
    Start’s future.”

    “HHS was trying to bury the findings in the report, which shows, among
    other outcomes, that by third grade, the $8 billion/year Head Start program
    had little to no impact on cognitive, social-emotional, health, or
    parenting practices of participants. On a few measures, access to Head Start had harmful effects on children.”

    This, of course, will have absolutely no effect on education “leaders” such a Super Libertarian John Strand, and we taxpayers will continue to be shaken down for tax dollars to pour down this ineffective at best, damaging at worst black hole of a program.

  • guest

    If it is THAT big of a deal, why dont the local school boards provide milk?

    • Rob

      Great question.

    • sbark

      but, but but………..that would keep it local………that was only good when money to the govt was the issue, not when State money going for free stuff is an issue

      ….and besides between the property tax for the school system and the recent windfall from the state every school can now put up an electronic sign on each side of the school to announce when a basketball game will be played.

  • borborygmi

    The milk bill is probably one of the most important bills from a conservative standpoint

    1. Less gov’t spending

    2. Program is not needed “water is free”Even if the other kids have some Life isn’t fair

    and you had better learn it at a younger age then later in life. Just because others have doesn’t mean you should too. That should send them on the road to achievement and self sufficiency . Your future Republican Base.

    3. The camels nose is swatted. 1st milk, next obama phones and then Democratic voters.

    4. A great way to balance the budget. By eliminating this program or not letting it get started they will make up for the revenue lost when the taxes for the large oil corporations are cut. Smart very smart.

    5. With the oil companies making more this will trickle down like p!ss on a rock island to the masses so even the ones making minimum wage (an increase in minimum wage would net them about $30 which they can buy milk with) will make more and thus afford their own milk.

    6. Milk is not a Constitutional RIght. Remember that and you will be all right.