Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

The King’s College is not Columbia

John Brademas, former President of NYU and former Congressman from Indiana, seems dead set on killing off The King’s College, a small evangelical school located in the heart of Manhattan. As a new member of the New York Board of Regents, Brademas is single-handedly threatening TKC’s accreditation.

Fortunately, some good people have come to the college’s defense, including Naomi Schaefer Riley and NRO’s Stanley Kurtz.

Here’s Kurtz’s explanation of the root of the problem:

The New York State Board of Regents, which controls public and private education in New York State, is appointed by the state legislature, not the Governor. What’s more, whenever the Republican controlled Senate and the Democratic controlled House disagree on their choices for Regents (i.e. pretty much all the time), the two houses sit together and vote as a unicameral body. Since there are many more seats in the Democratic State Assembly than in the Republican state senate, the Democrats in the lower house have effective control over the appointment of Regents. So although New Yorkers generally divide their government between Republicans and Democrats, the supposedly independent and politically neutral Board of Regents is completely controlled by left-leaning Democrats beholden to teachers’ unions and other liberal interest groups.

Governor Pataki has proposed a constitutional amendment that would allow the governor to appoint most of the Regents, while also giving a number of appointments to both the majority and minority parties in the legislature. In contrast, the current system allows for no party checks, and no electoral accountability. The entire process is controlled by one party, and no elected executive officer is answerable for the actions of his appointees. This bizarre institutional anomaly has led to abuse in the past. In 2004, under political pressure from liberal legislators (and ultimately, no doubt, from teachers unions), the supposedly independent Regents refused to accredit a qualified charter school that had been approved by their own education department. Some of less political regents were appalled, though most of them knuckled under. The Brademas outrage appears to be yet another example of what happens to an institution bereft of party checks or public accountability.

Kurtz also provides information about what New York State residents can do about it.

Hat tip:
Ken Masugi.

Update: Here’s more, including an indignant response from a Brademas spokesman.

Discussions - 3 Comments

Brademas was not only a Democratic congressman, but one of the top Democrats in the House. If memory serves, he was the majority whip in the late 70s, and could have become speaker.
He was washed out in the 1980 Reagan landslide, along with such patriots as McGovern, Church, etc., etc.

Just goes to show that elections don’t solve everything. Unable to impose his views from Congress after the good people of Indiana bounced him, he’s now bullying a small college.

One secret to the Left’s success is that it never, ever, ever gives up. Here we have a case in point.

That’s right: Brademas was one of those legislators (Chuck Robb and Tom Daschle also come to mind) who drift away from (in these cases, that means to the left of) their constituents and get bounced. After the Reagan election of 1980 knocked him from office, Brademas never ran for anything again IIRC, but instead moved around the academic and nonprofit worlds, remaining a fairly sharp-elbowed Democrat partisan the whole time. He’s also pretty old (78). Some of what’s going on here may show that he’s just kind of out of it (never read his briefing materials on the King’s College, for instance, and asked a pack of clueless questions). Perhaps he’s tried to hang on too long and is overdue for retirement. At any rate, I’m sure the NY State Board of Regents could do better than this leftist mossback, and should show him the door.

Yes, but all that is undoubtedly irrelevant to many NY Democrats. From their standpoint, sharp-elbowed Democratic politics is the point of EVERY public office. And thus, Mr. Brademas is simply doing his job.

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