Students from all over the state will be in Carson City Monday to speak to legislators about the importance of adequate funding for higher education. You can help. Please find time Monday to make eight calls on personal time, using personal phones.
Targeted legislators phone numbers and emails:www.tinyurl.com/NVLeg2011
Talking points and script for the calls: www.tinyurl.com/Faculty-calls
Cuts alone are no solution. We need to let our legislators know that we expect more from them than just simple slogans. All NV legislators should come to the table prepared to find a balanced solution to the economic crisis. We have had enough of boom-and-bust cycles every few years that leave us vulnerable as a state to such crises as the one we are in now. We need broad-based, stable and fair revenue policy so that we can plan a secure future that offers real opportunities for ourselves and our children.
Higher Education has been part of the solution. We have cut administrative costs and faculty salaries and benefits (with more cuts to come). We have cut low-yield programs and with them more than 100 faculty lines and 500 staff jobs statewide. We have increased class sizes and faculty course loads. Students have paid significantly more in tuition (with more fee hikes likely to come).
Higher Education is how we get out of this crisis. It's how workers train and retrain for new jobs. It's how we diversify our economy from its current third-world model of resource extraction (i.e., mining) and tourism. Its how we reverse Nevada's currently hostile business environment which drives away innovative employers and talented workers. It's how we improve our quality of life and inform our citizenry that a better future is possible.
But according to 2010 census data, Nevada currently has the lowest rate of college participation (college degrees plus those enrolled) in the country. We also have the lowest ratio of degree offerings in proportion to college-eligible population in the country. (Note that our neighbor, Arizona, has the highest ratio of degree programs to college-eligible population, and that as a result, it will likely have twice as high a college participation rate as Nevada by 2020.) Cutting more programs and raising tuition, in short, will make it harder to go to college in a state that desperately needs to improve its participation rate to compete in the 21st century.
Investment in higher education returns at a high rate. A recent study showed that, for every public dollar invested in Nevada's colleges and universities, the state economy grew by $2.50. So by cutting public investment in higher education, we are leaving money on the table at a time when we badly need to find better bets than what we've been laying our money on in the recent past: mining, tourism and real estate development alone.
Can you give thirty minutes of your own phone time on Monday to make eight calls that can help save higher education – and everything it represents: our hope for a different, better future in this state?