(Mark Feest) – I am running for the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents District 8 seat – which includes Churchill, Elko, Esmeralda, Eureka, Humboldt, Lander, Lincoln, Mineral, Nye, Pershing and White Pine.
This is not only a large district to spread my message across in the next eleven weeks, but I am also facing two opponents from Elko. My opponents have something else in common, which is their backgrounds in public education administration. One is a Dean at one of the institutions governed by the very board she is running for. The other is a retired K-12 administrator.
These types of backgrounds are common on the Board of Regents, and frankly it seems as if the fox is watching the hen house.
My background is not in school administration, rather I hold an MBA and a JD. I have children who someday might attend the institutions covered, and like most in the state, I subsidize education through taxes. In a nutshell, I believe the state plays an important role in ensuring qualified students who diligently seek higher education have a reasonable opportunity to do so.
As an aside, I was primarily raised by a single mother of four in Long Beach, CA. Her job as a customer service rep (at a non-union cable company) covered a two bedroom apartment, but was not going to cover college. So I served five and a half years in the US Army for a GI Bill and got two years of college out of the way while in.
I then worked fulltime in a paper plant, switching from swing shift to graveyard in order to attend afternoon physics study sessions with TA’s. I did this so that when I went to graduate school I would have enough money saved up for costs not covered by scholarships and loans (food, rent – no cable).
Nevertheless, I understand that I directly benefited from the system of public subsidization. I recognize that the system is in place because we believe that there is a public good that comes from an educated populace. Like communism, theory sometimes diverges from reality. I believe that we can do a better job of maximizing the return on investment that we are making via the public higher education system.
Three Stakeholders: Students, Institutions, and the Public at Large (Taxpayers)
It appears that the third stakeholder has largely been ignored despite providing nearly $600 million of public money to the system (source: State Higher Education Executive Officer’s Report, 2009).
These past two years we have seen Regents resist any cuts due to “every expenditure being critical.” I reject the notion that fiscally conservative values are at odds with a vibrant and valuable well-functioning public higher education system.
Nevertheless, the taxpayer funds are neither charity, nor are they fees for direct service (many will never use the system). Thus, the public at large receives its value only when the system is a value driver. I do not believe that value drivers include funding Culture of Pizza and Transgender Depictions in Film, or administrators purchasing $16,000 desks for their offices and constructing new buildings to ease congestion in Monday through Thursday classes because students do not like to attend on Fridays.
I need your help getting my message out across eleven counties to people who are generally apathetic to the Board of Regents. You can visit my website www.markfeest.com to learn more about my positions, plans and background.