Hi 81 / Lo 73
|Volume 70, Issue 130,
Friday, April 15, 2005
Tony Hernandez Jim Parsons
Federal government gets education equation right
Education is an investment.
That may sound like a cliché, but it's something that must be kept in mind when considering recent budget crises that have resulted in rapidly dissipating higher education funds.
It's also something some members of the federal government understand. The Math and Science Incentive Act of 2005, proposed by Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., would forgive the loans of math and science students if they agree to work in their field in the United States for five years.
The rationale behind the proposal is that, as the country falls behind the world in math and science, students should be given incentive to work in those disciplines. Consider it an investment in the nation's progress.
The same thinking should be applied to the state level, where lawmakers are searching for ways to trim the budget further through cuts to higher education funding.
Helping make sure college is available for all those willing and able to seek degrees (regardless of field) shouldn't be thought of as simply an expense with no return -- most of today's students will contribute to tomorrow's economy. Medical students will be tomorrow's doctors, journalism students comprise the next generation of reporters, and English majors will make sure restaurants always have a well-stocked labor pool from which to hire. (Just kidding, English majors.) But seriously, college-educated citizens are vital to an effective democracy and a prosperous economy.
In a situation like this, it does help to find ways to shift the burden of funding higher education -- perhaps creating more efficient programs or seeking out more private funding. That's easier said than done, though.
Nevertheless, anything that results in a loss of students who otherwise would have what it takes to make it through university, especially in a state like Texas where enrollment numbers lag behind those of the rest of the country, will ultimately be a disservice to society.
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