Slashing the Ladder of Higher Education

By: Daniel Nardini

Last weekend, my wife got a phone call from a college she is attending. She was informed that two summer classes she had registered for were cancelled. To put it mildly she was disappointed, and I immediately got on the phone with her academic advisor. For the sake of all involved, I will not name the academic advisor nor the school she is attending. The advisor told me that due to a couple of their teachers being retired early, several classes had to be cancelled.

From my days in college, classes being cancelled is not unusual. A whole list of reasons can be given. Not enough students for a class. Professor suffering from chronic sickness. College unable to secure the books for the class. I have heard so many reasons given. This reason was different. The State of Illinois has cut back on the amount of funding for a number of colleges. This means that those professors who would have retired in a few years are now being forced to retire early. Part-time instructors are being cut out altogether.

What does this mean for the college? It means they had to cancel classes. It also means they are in a bad situation in trying to find new professors who have been forced to retire early. If some of their teaching personnel were still allowed to teach then this would have helped the college to deal with finding and hiring the personnel they need to replace those who are retiring more efficiently. But the worst part of all this is what this does to the students. In my view any person who goes to college to learn and get a certificate and/or diploma is a good student. It tells me they are serious about doing something to improve and change their lives for the better.

But now the state government undercuts the very higher education these people need all in the name of “saving money.” All I can say to these sick and demented politicians is that this is not saving money. You cut out the education young people so desperately need to succeed in this tough and uncertain economy you might as well throw them out of work or tell these hardworking students that they have no future. Without higher education, many students—especially low-income students—cannot complete the required classes they need or will take that much longer to complete them.

It seems too many of our “elected officials” are more out of touch with the people than ever before. Of course with the fat paychecks the state legislators get in Springfield they do not have to worry about sending their kids to costly private schools. But for many low-income young people I know things are just getting harder and harder for them to succeed in life. As Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley said in a conference a long time ago, “higher education is the key.” Apparently the politicians have no problem cutting out the rungs of the ladder for higher education for those struggling to afford it in the state’s colleges and universities.

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