Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Boom and Bust Cycles

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Boom and Bust Cycles

Article excerpt

America's public colleges and universities -- among the first to feel the effects of the cooling economy ...," writes Black Issues correspondent Page Boinest Melton in her article "What's Happening to the `Public' in Public Education?" She goes on to say that nowadays how well our public education institutions are doing may be the most accurate measure of a state's fiscal health (see page 26).

Too many times when state legislatures are looking to make cutbacks, they take it out of education's hide. Many of our state public colleges and universities are obviously the most vulnerable in these situations since they depend on a certain amount of funding from the state. "When the economy heads south, higher education is usually the component of the budget that suffers the most," said an education consultant quoted in the article.

I can only assume that although we hold education up to be the key to the American dream, we actually treat education like it's disposable, or at best, near to the bottom on this country's list of priorities.

In this Academic Kickoff edition of Black Issues In Higher Education, we're focusing on money -- from state budget cuts to college and universities' fund-raising efforts.

We take a national look at how budget cuts are affecting higher education in Page Boinest Melton's article, but we also take a more narrow view, looking at the states of Louisiana and Tennessee. And although there are problems unique to those two states, one could compare the attitudes toward education in Louisiana and Tennessee to the rest of the country's. For example, Louisiana Gov. Mike Foster says it is a constant straggle to appropriate funds for education in Louisiana because it "doesn't have that much of a constituency." According to the Southern Regional Education Board, Louisiana ranks last in the South in state funding per full-time student (see page 36).

In Tennessee, Gov. Don Sundquist has battled with the state's legislature for the last few years over his plan to increase taxes in efforts to better fund the state's 24 public colleges and universities. And each year, writes BI correspondent David Hefner, the governor has come away "battered and bruised in crushing defeats," with state schools forced to make due with "bare-bone appropriations" (see page 32). …

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