Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Cutting Funding to Higher Education—what is wrong with this picture?

If you listen to conserve groups, they will tell you to spend less money that comes from the general fund. The lion’s share of money for higher education in this state does not come directly out of the pockets of taxpayers. Either conserve groups fail to understand that fact or they just want to misdirect you in knowing that the money for higher education, which raises our children out of poverty, comes from taxing gas and oil companies in this state. We call that fund the general fund and it is allocated through the direction of our state legislators.

Do we spend too much money on educational administration in state? Yes, there is no question about it but we are a poor state and it takes money to attract skilled workers to our higher educational institutions. I would rather see that money spent on students and classroom supplies. We do not spend enough of that money on support services such as tutors to help students that did not get the right support to prepare them for college courses in the first place.

The average age of two-year college students in this state is twenty-eight. This says that many individuals are coming back to school to better their lives and those of their families. They need the training to keep a current job or to retain for a new job after losing their old job.

Money should be spent to assist these students in buying their textbooks. Textbooks have become far too expensive in the last ten years. At one time two-year institutions checked textbooks out to students each term. The students only paid for the books if they decided to keep them. Such a program would go a long way in reducing the uncovered cost to students. Many students fall behind in the first few weeks of their courses because they are finding it difficult to afford the textbooks. A textbook can cost as much as one hundred to three hundred dollars for just one book.

Funding should also be directed at courses that require printing of homework. The colleges are attempting to limit expenses by requiring that students pay out of pocket for printing. While this does save trees, in the end it can harm students with limited financial resources. As anyone who has ever attempted to proofread on screen knows, it is easier to proofread from a sheet of printed-paper.

Continuing education funding should be directed at front line workers and not the administration of Higher Education institution. Quality comes from learning new skills and expanding old skills when it comes to working with students. Administrators are happy to take long trips that simply do not benefit the quality of training for frontline workers. Educational workers can learn a lot by sharing their best practices with colleagues from around the country. These benefits were the first to go when budgets became tight. Still administrators did not limit their own travel.

So the next time someone suggest the cutting of Higher Education funding explain to them that it will cost this state far more in the future if such a practice was followed.