Editorial: When looking at long-term, don't leave out educationThis is a time, particularly in the southwestern portion of the state, where many high school and college-aged residents are thinking, “Why go to a university when I can get a job right now that pays 80 grand working in an oil-related business?”
This is a time, particularly in the southwestern portion of the state, where many high school and college-aged residents are thinking, “Why go to a university when I can get a job right now that pays 80 grand working in an oil-related business?”
That’s why recommendations to cut funding for a number of higher education projects caught our attention earlier this week.
A legislative subcommittee approved changes to a university system funding bill that would raise tuition, remove $15 million in equity and performance funding and eliminate a priority building project, according to a Press article.
If the state isn’t willing to put its back into public institutions, we are really in trouble.
More than tuition, Dickinson State University benefits the city (and beyond) in so many ways, which includes creating diversity in an area otherwise off the beaten path, keeps a number of businesses’ doors open thanks to the more than 2,200 students who rely on them, provides resources for students and residents such as entertainment through plays and art exhibits, enables that needed chance to get loud at the numerous sporting events and allows for exploration of creativity at dozens of workshops held throughout the year.
It’s most certain that other towns that house universities experience the same.
Subcommittee recommendations include:
- Cutting $8.8 million for a DSU library renovation project.
- Removing $6.6 million intended to limit tuition increases, resulting in tuition increases of up to 4.1 percent. Gov. Jack Dalrymple proposed a tuition freeze for two-year schools and a cap on tuition increases of 2.5 percent for universities.
- Removing $10 million in equity funding. North Dakota State University would have received the largest chunk at about $4.7 million.
- Removing $5 million proposed for performance funding that would be allocated based on how campuses perform on certain measures, such as students graduating on time.
- Removing $8 million for the Valley City State University Rhoades Science Center.
North Dakota universities need to attract the best and brightest and not just our in-state best and brightest.
Legislators should think long and hard before approving what could mean a 4 percent tuition increase and ultimately a student decrease.
The subcommittee is recommending $10.5 million for a diesel technology building project at the North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton.
While that’s well and good and likely needed to keep up with oil activity, we hope resources are also set aside for green technology and studies regarding environmental impact.
This could be a blessing for western North Dakota where roads are destroyed, farmers worry about dust killing livestock and crops, water resources are running low and millions of gallons of oil flow below our feet — oil that could also have very real, hazardous environmental impacts, if mishandled.
Let’s look for the future and what could be. Thousands are heading to our state for the boom — a boom that could bust and leave vacant land and so many without jobs and many without educational back-up.
If a balance is not found now, North Dakota will sit with behind-the-time universities.
We ask that state leaders keep sight of what is good for North Dakota in the long-term while they strive for cost-saving measures and prepare for the short-term.
When you think of North Dakota’s future, don’t forget education.
The Press Editorial Board, Publisher Harvey Brock and Managing Editor Jennifer McBride, meets weekly to discuss issues of importance to the area.