June 12, 2007

Your Tax Dollars at Work

Today in the Tulsa World ('Colleges grapple with budget cut'), April Marciszewski reports that "colleges across the state are raising tuition and delaying purchases to weather a $6 million budget cut this month."
The money was taken from public colleges to fund monthly payments for higher education's 2005 bond issue for construction. The state lottery didn't make enough money to cover the full debt payment, and the Legislature did not allocate any money to make up the shortfall. ...

Brandon Dutcher, the vice president for policy in the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs Inc., which advocates limited government, said: "There's no shortage of money in higher ed. If colleges are feeling pinched right now, they should take this opportunity to economize." To save on labor costs, he suggested that professors do more teaching and less research and that colleges thin out "frivolous courses."
Indeed, how many professors have a teaching load of 15 credits these days? I don't think Oklahoma's hardworking taxpayers would have much sympathy for higher ed's budget crunch if they knew how few hours some of these professors actually work, and that our tax dollars are used to subsidize "research" such as Towards Queering Food Studies: Foodways, Heteronormativity, and Hungry Women in Chicana Lesbian Writing.

Moreover, colleges could cut back on the number of dubious courses offered. Oklahoma taxpayers may be surprised to know that institutions of, um, higher learning are offering courses like "Spelling and Phonics" and "Pre-College English." Taxpayers have already paid for elementary and secondary education once. Why should they have to pay for it again? And why should they have to pay for courses like "Badminton," "Principles of Floral Arranging," "Beginning Bowling," "Puppetry I," or "Billiards"?

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