Inside Opinion

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Tag: Western Washington University


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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State colleges can’t afford bargain tuition

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

Make no mistake: No matter what the Legislature does this year regarding funding for Washington’s public universities, students will pay a price.

State coffers simply don’t have the money to hold higher education harmless. Lawmakers must decide between sacrificing bargain tuition or educational quality.

The right choice is clear. True college opportunity depends on strong colleges. Giving top schools more leeway to price themselves will help ensure that students continue to get the classes they need and the rigor they deserve.

Without that flexibility, universities are at the mercy of the state budget – and the outlook is alarming. Students once paid a third of the cost of their education; now they pay more than half. The current $2.8 billion shortfall is likely to further the trend of declining state support.

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