So the economic downturn is having its effect on higher education in the US. Private and public universities are both getting hit. Both have seen their endowments shrink with the stock market decline. Public universities have the additional problem of being targeted by state legislatures looking for ways to balance state budgets without raising the taxes they cut so enthusiastically in the previous decade or cutting funding to their favored programs - like prisons. The worst stories are coming from Florida and Arizona, two states with large elderly populations (who don't care about education for fairly rational reasons) and Republican majorities (who actively oppose education because their right wing populist ideology has a profoundly anti-intellectual component). But there are rumors of entire departments and programs being shut down wholesale.
Friday, January 30, 2009
Now, I sympathize with people who have lost their jobs in downsizing who might say, "good, you egg heads need to suffer with the rest of us." But from a policy perspective, savaging the universities will have negative ripple effects for years to come. Universities produce highly skilled workers for an economy increasingly dependent on the service sector. Using them as a kind of budgetary piggy bank will degrade the future productivity of the workforce. The kinds of businesses that hire people with little or no education (or a poor quality one) do not generate as much tax revenue as they might otherwise.
I'm curious what our friends overseas have heard about budgetary problems for higher education abroad.
Posted by Raised By Republicans at 4:14 AM