Friday, July 24, 2020

Higher Ed is Being Starved, Redux

I had a few words over a year ago, when a global pandemic was not even something I was contemplating. If anything, the situation has deteriorated. The pandemic decimated state budgets in the US. Many of us are facing budget cuts that vary from bad to draconian depending on the state. Those of us who serve students who are first-generation and who are considered "essential employees" have been hit the hardest. Look. I'm just old enough to remember when students did not need to take out tens of thousands of dollars in loans in order to benefit tangibly or benefit on an intellectual level from higher ed. For those who are still curious about the tangible benefits? Those with at least some higher ed experience or who earned a 4-year degree are faring better during this particular pandemic-induced recession/depression than those without. What we offer is still an equalizer. Heck, it was a means of allowing one of my family lines to dig their way out of poverty. My dad was a first generation college student, college grad, and Masters student. He had one heck of a career. He had his challenges, but by the time he was finally willing to retire, he could do so in comfort. All of us deserve that. If this pandemic has taught me anything, it's that we need to go back to a model of colleges and universities as public goods, as utilities of a sort. We provide critical thinking skills, a knowledge base, and some very specific skills, and our students do the rest. How it was supposed to be all along.

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