Sunday, April 15, 2007

What happens to Kansas when the state bails out on its own universities?

By Diane Silver

The lines tell the story. The green line represents state support of Kansas universities. The red lines represents the increase in tuition. Notice a trend? (Thanks to the Lawrence Journal-World for posting this chart.)

Or, put this another way: If the Kansas Legislature keeps ignoring its universities, what do you think will happen? Where will our smartest children go to get the preparation they need to survive in an age of globalization and outsourcing? And when they graduate, where will they go to live?

Who will reap the benefit of cutting edge research if Kansas universities don't have the facilities to that kind of work? How will our economy develop, and how will we grow new jobs if the state's universities fall into disarray? Where will our doctors and other professionals come from?

And most importantly: Just how stupid are the 165 members of the Kansas Legislature? Do they really believe this state can prosper economically if it fails to fund its universities?

Apparently lawmakers are pretty durn dumb because that is exactly what those folks in the Statehouse are doing.

And their latest idea... the idea that universities should be funded like community colleges and that university towns should pay for needed maintenance is self defeating to say the least.

Here's an idea, let's call it the University Town Fairness Act. You want to dump support for each of the six state universities onto the local population? Go ahead. Just make certain that students from outside those towns pay higher tuition than the kids who live in Lawrence, Manhattan, Emporia, Fort Hays and Pittsburg.

Check of the Journal-World article "Six Universities in Search of a State." That says it all.

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