State Relations

March 6, 2011

State’s newspapers comment on higher ed crisis

The editorial boards of the state’s largest newspapers have commented recently on the crisis in higher education.

The Walla Walla Union Bulletin (editorial not available online) commented March 3, “Higher education in Washington state isn’t getting the respect it deserves nor the cash it needs from state lawmakers…. Lawmakers need to accept their responsibility as stewards of state-owned schools and make sure they are adequately funded and remain affordable.”

The Wenatchee World commented March 2, noting that the proposed budget cuts will mean loss of staff, higher tuition, and longer time to earn a degree. “We have engineered our budgets and are designing a system where acquisition of knowledge beyond the 12th grade is an unsupportable luxury. Avoidable or not, we will regret it.”

The Olympian editorial board on March 1called for the legislature to grant more tuition flexibility to the state’s universities in order to help them offset impending budget cutbacks, “As distasteful as the bills might be to students and their parents – the original legislation acknowledges that the state is not funding higher education at an appropriate level and if they hope to continue to serve as public institutions, colleges and universities need flexibility to make up budget shortfalls with higher tuition. It’s not ideal, but it is fair and equitable.”

The Seattle Times on Feb. 20 said “…the Legislature must get behind a road map charting a better course for universities struggling to pay for the level of access and academic quality state residents expect.”

In a Feb. 19 editorial, the Spokane Spokesman Review said, “Our leaders are great at selling the value of higher education and its importance to the overall health of national, state and local economies, but they fail in keeping the doors of public institutions propped open to qualified students. In fact, the rhetoric seems to rise in inverse proportion to the investment.”

The Tacoma News Tribune on Jan. 30 commented on the connection between higher education and jobs in Washington, “The Legislature this year doesn’t have the money to preserve college opportunity in Washington. It should at least get out of the way and let the universities do it themselves.”