Friday, August 08, 2008

Higher Education Living Large

It seems that the university-provided home of the old University of Arkansas at Fayetteville President is not spiffy enough anymore. It will be put up for auction, minimum bid $400,000. The new one under construction (not pictured) will cost $7 million dollars!

The problem with higher education is not the amount of money we give them, it is the amount that they spend. Voters in Arkansas have been asked to pay higher taxes for higher education, and we have. We have been asked to go into more debt and we have. Now we are being asked to vote in a lottery, all of the profits of which will go to higher education. We shouldn't.

Right now we are throwing money at marginal students who would not go to college if they had to use more of their own money to attend and perhaps don't have the tools for college anyway. A lot of those students who never should have gone in the first place spend a year or two throwing taxpayer money away then drop out. Many of those who graduate have to move out of state to find work. We already turn out more college level graduates than the state has jobs that require a degree. To this extent our universities subsidize surrounding states at the expense of our taxpayers.

The lottery will drain money from some of the poorest, most desperate people in this state so that university presidents can have gold-plated faucets in their seven million dollar mansions. When it comes time to spend funds to clean up the terrible social costs associated with gambling don't expect the lottery that made the mess to chip in. The proceeds from the proposed lottery are 100% earmarked for higher education. The bill to clean up the mess will be passed to the rest of us.

This lottery proposal is rotten to the core. At a time when most of us are having to cut back, colleges are getting more cash than ever. If they lack funds, it is only because they manage to spend it even faster than we shovel it in to them. Universities don't need more money, and working families don't need less.


Blogger F. Prefect said...

Maybe they should send me some of that money.

11:32 AM, August 09, 2008  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

They expect you to send it to them for tuition, books, and mansion fees.

4:21 PM, August 09, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tuition? Perhaps, through scholarships; otherwise the students pay the tuition themselves. But books? Are you kidding? The State doesn't provide books. Students buy those themselves, via rip-off book publisher deals with the schools to "update" the books frequently so students must buy new ones every year. See Sue Madison, State Senator (UAF is in her district) for stories on that topic.
And mansion fees? College/Univ Presidents must have big mansions in order to properly entertain and kowtow to bigwig, rich alums so they can keep the donations (and the large living that comes therefrom) flowing. The problem is, at public schools, the mansions are paid for, at least in part, with taxpayer dollars, from a "building fund" or some other creatively titled accounting category.

8:42 AM, August 11, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Say, bub- you're awfully close to insulting an official state idol- the god of education.

12:58 PM, August 11, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree the social costs of a lottery will be enormous. I also agree that we are throwing vast amounts of money at marginal students who never should have gone to college in the first place. Where does the blame lie for those marginal students? With the K-12 schools? (Which gobble up 2/3 of the state's budget.) Or with parents? With the students themselves? I don't know, but either way, transferring more money from the private sector to the government won't solve the problem.
We're turning out more college level graduates than the state has jobs that require a degree? Really? I'd like to see some hard stats on that, b/c, currently, Arkansas is 51st (behind all 49 states & Puerto Rico) in the number of adults who hold a college degree, at roughly 17%. It may be, as you say, that many grads of AR schools are leaving to go where the jobs are. What should be happening is the marginal students perhaps should not even start college and instead start small businesses, but govt. red tape, bureaucracy and high taxes make starting and operating a small business a nightmare. A lottery will improve none of these things.

1:06 PM, August 11, 2008  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

See (or hear) the audio file I put up discussing that and the other findings of the Task Force Report.

6:32 PM, August 22, 2008  

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