Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

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Tag: higher education

May
12th

Behind high tuitions, there’s $2.4 billion in financial aid

There’s bad news for would-be college students, then good news, then more bad news. Stick with us.

The bad – for most Washington students – is the new round of steep tuition increases headed their way. Earlier this month, Washington State University approved its second consecutive 16 percent increase, which will raise the price of next year’s schooling by $1,500.

The University of Washington also looks headed for a 16 percent increase; the UW and WSU will each cost something north of $11,000 in 2012-2013. Tuition will be lower at other public universities and lower still at community and technical

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May
3rd

PLU, community owe Anderson a debt of gratitude

PLU president Loren Anderson

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

In 1898, Pacific Lutheran University was in such dire financial straits that its first president – Bjug Harstad –  headed off to Alaska for a year and a half hoping to find enough gold to bail out the school. He found none.

Current president Loren Anderson, who is leaving at the end of May and getting a big all-campus farewell Saturday at PLU, also faced a deep financial challenge when he took the reins 20 years ago. But instead of panning for gold in Alaska, he set out an ambitious strategic plan for righting the PLU ship.

Today, he’s leaving the Parkland liberal arts and professional school in a far better place than he found it two decades ago. In fact, campus historian and retired professor Philip Nordquist says Anderson has been the most successful president in PLU’s 122-year history.

It’s easy to see why Nordquist thinks so.

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April
29th

America: From educational leader to underachiever

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

One of the strangest political utterances this year was Rick Santorum’s claim that it was snobbery – on the part of Barack Obama – to encourage all American students to continue their educations after high school.

America’s problem is not an excess of higher education. Just the opposite.

Today’s young Americans are increasingly less likely to earn diplomas than their parents; in fact, we will soon see the first generation that is less educated than the generation before it.

Why worry about this? The Wall Street Journal on Thursday described the real-life

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March
24th

Student loan crisis calls for mortgage-style flexibility

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

For a sobering observation about student debt, it’s hard to beat this:

“Bankruptcy attorneys from across the country . . . report that what they are seeing at the ground level feels too much like what they saw before the foreclosure crisis crashed onto the national scene: more consumers seeking their help with unmanageable student loan debt, and with no relief available.”

That line, from a February report commissioned by the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, echoes a growing concern among economists.
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Feb.
14th

Two-year colleges on the front lines of economic recovery

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

Tacoma Community College President Pamela Transue doesn’t mince words when she talks about how budget cuts are hurting her school and Washington’s other two-year institutions.

“We’re watching the destruction of the educational system in our state,” she told The News Tribune editorial board in a recent visit by the five presidents of Pierce County’s community and technical colleges.

Since 2008, state funding for the two-year colleges has fallen by more than $1,000 per student and will fall to $1,200 less per student by 2013. The schools have cut staff, frozen salaries for five years, eliminated programs, made other efficiencies – and still were able to serve 19 percent more students since 2008.
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Feb.
4th

Lawmakers: Stop the bleeding of college opportunity

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Higher education must bear its share of the pain as the Legislature squeezes another billion-plus dollars out of the current state budget. It should not bear more than its share.

It’s a longstanding legislative tradition to use the state’s higher education system – universities, community and technical colleges – as a rainy day fund when the economy turns bad and cash reserves run out. College opportunity isn’t protected by the Washington Constitution, though it should be, and it’s often the path of least resistance for lawmakers trying to protect their political darlings from budget cuts.

Over the last three years, the Legislature has already whacked its support for post-secondary education by a stunning one-third or more, depending on the school.

For the University of Washington, funding is down a staggering 50 percent. The state’s community and technical colleges are expecting to serve 10,000 fewer students this year.

At a town hall meeting in Seattle this week, Bruce Shepard – president of Western Washington University – reported that a brain drain has begun, with schools from other states cherry-picking from among this state’s top faculty members.

“No other state has found it necessary to slash higher education to the extent that the state of Washington has,” he said.
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Jan.
11th

Washington’s leaders flunk the higher education test

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

Lawmakers will rightly focus this session on shielding Washington’s public schools from the worst gales of the fiscal hurricane howling through the state.

But education doesn’t end with the 12th grade. The most lavishly funded K-12 system can’t guarantee students a future if there’s no place for them to go once they graduate from high school. The 21st century’s tech-intensive economy demands workers with technical, associate and bachelor’s degrees – and punishes job-seekers who don’t have them. Read more »

Dec.
6th

Remember Pearl Harbor; the rest of America’s past, too

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Pearl Harbor became history a long time ago – 70 years ago today, to be exact. The people who lived through it are now passing into history themselves.

According to CNN, the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association will disband as of the end of this month because of waning membership. World War II veterans in general are quickly disappearing.

“Remember Pearl Harbor,” was one of the rallying cries of the war. But the passing of “the greatest generation” means that the Japanese surprise attack – and the rest of the conflict – will soon exist only in mind, not memory. And only in the minds of people with at least some comprehension of American history.

Yet the evidence suggests that the United States generally does a mediocre job – at best – of teaching young Americans about the past.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress – a test with rigorous standards – reports low levels of historical knowledge among high schoolers. The Intercollegiate Studies Institute, an outfit that pushes for civic literacy, routinely gripes about students who know vastly more about video games and other pop entertainment than they do about the world they live in.

One survey it sponsored in 2007 – conducted by the University of Connecticut – found that at some elite universities, students were actually graduating with less historical understanding than they entered with. “Negative learning,” the institute called it.
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