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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Stop The Money Bleed in Publicly Funded Schools

I've been a little AWOL lately from the blogging world.  Let's just say I've been super busy.  I bet you have too, so maybe you haven't had the chance to read lately and maybe we are on the same page.  If you haven't been as busy as me I apologize for the extended absence.

I recently read an article in the New York Times about spending inequality in colleges.  Apparently private research colleges have increased their per-student spending by nearly 5 times in the last ten years, while community colleges have been spending about the same amount of money as ten years ago per student.  This is mostly because state and local funding has dropped significantly for public colleges and universities.  This stagnation means that real dollar values for expenses related to running these colleges and universities have decreased.

So how does this affect your ability to pay for school?  Well, every time your public universities, colleges, and community colleges lose funding revenue from the state, local, or federal government one of two things happens. Either programs are cut, or tuition goes up.  Many times both tactics are used to keep the school running.

How can you, just one person, make a difference in this area?  There are many things that you can do, all of which require you to become more active in your community and even in politics.  First of all you need to write every politician that serves your district.  That includes your mayor, state and federal senators and congressmen, your mayor, and the President of the United States.  You need to ask what is being done to promote equal opportunities in education.  You need to ask why funding is being cut. You need to offer alternative solutions to funding.

As a college or university student you also have the benefit that you can organize at your school.  Start a club or organization to promote better funding of public institutions.  You can do this through peaceful and lawful demonstrations, letter writing campaigns, community events, etc.   There is no limit.

You can also turn to local corporations and business. Quality education is important to them because they can't have the sorts of qualified employees they need without excellent and well-funded schools. Ask for their political support, or (if you work with your school) try to get them to set up endowments which will help pay for facilities or programs, ask for donations of items that will benefit a specific department related to their area of business, etc.

Speak up and speak loudly.  The trend these days is to slash and burn taxes and spending.  Let's remind everyone, especially politicians, of what Derek Bok said, "If you think education is expensive, try ignorance."
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