Yesterday we learned of Florida State senator JD Alexander's proposed budget, which would cut USF's state funding by 58%.
Today I am asking all my readers to consider the following articles:
If so moved, then please follow this link to "urge your legislator not to enact massive cuts to higher education."
I would stress that the legislative branch already has enacted massive cuts to higher education; over the last three years, USF's operating budget has been cut by $100 million dollars. That's about 33% of its total operating costs. Massive increases in tuition have off-set some of those costs, but not all. Students are already outraged and feel over-extended. The only way these cuts help stimulate our economy is buy further entrenching our students in debt. This is not a long-term solution.
But there is a strategy to Alexander's madness. To set the discussion at 58% means that accepting a "mere" 25% deduction feels like a fair compromise. It isn't. The Florida system has taken massive cuts for 3 years. It cannot tolerate more, unless one doesn't care about crippling the quality and availability of education. How can you argue that education is central to the future of the economy and simultaneously gut funding to your education systems?
One might argue that education should be left to the free hand of the market. I would argue that the last few years has shown us the extent to which the private sector knows how to operate efficiently and ethically. If anything, investing in education should be seen as a presupposition to the idea of a "free market" because it at least ensures that everyone has equal access to the tools for success. But, again, the strategy here is called "positional bargaining," by setting the initial position at such a ludicrous extreme, it almost ensures that the opposition will have to compromise far more than they feel they should.
We can see Alexander's perverse strategy already playing out. Take, for instance, change.org's web petition to "Have equal budget cuts across the Florida State University System". This is not the argument to make--as one of my graduate students, Dan Richards, so keenly pointed out, we should not approve budget cuts for a fourth straight year that will leave all our Universities in deficit.
I am on my best behavior here. I am trying, very hard, to avoid any mention of a conspiracy theory, of considering what is happening in Florida across what is happening in other states, such as Texas, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Apparently, given those sentences, I can't quite try hard enough.
I remember a verse from my youth, one that helped get me interested in "critical" education in the first place. Zack de la Rocha:
They don't gotta burn the books
They just remove them;
While arm warehouses grow as quick as the cells,
They rally round the family,
With a pocket full of shells