A few weeks ago, new UNC president Margaret Spellings appointed her first partisan hack to a leadership position in the school system: Cecil Staton, who, as a Republican member of the Georgia Senate, introduced voter ID laws and pushed for police crackdowns on immigrants. Staton will be paid $520,000 as the new chancellor of Eastern Carolina University.
Last week, Spellings installed another loudly conservative voice in a top post. Andrew Kelly will be paid $245,000 per year to serve in a newly created position called “senior vice president for strategy and policy.”
How conservative is Kelly? He was a research assistant at the American Enterprise Institute from 2002–2005 and returned to AEI in 2009 as a research fellow in education policy studies. He is also the founder and director of AEI’s Center on Higher Education Reform. The AEI, of course, is the big conservative think tank in Washington, D.C., that generated many of the brilliant ideas that became the failed policies of George W. Bushin whose administration Margaret Spellings served as secretary of education. Time is a flat circle.
So what sort of policies will the new VP of strategy and policy push? Here’s a clue: in a policy paper Kelly authored in 2015 for the Conservative Reform Network, he argued that PAYE, the income-based student-loan repayment system, is an abject failure, and he thinks “conservatives should pursue reforms that expand career and technical options.” And he told NPR last year, regarding the University of Wisconsin’s move to cut $250 million from its system, that eliminating state funding in exchange for more autonomy can be a good thing for a public university. Ask your friends in Wisconsin how that’s going.
Kelly starts August 15.