How to make higher education out of reach for middle class students

This article is dedicated to my 12 year old daughter. She is an Honors student at Twin Falls Middle School in North Bend where she will soon be starting the 7th Grade. Her dream (and the dream of many of her classmates) is to graduate from high school in 2018 and go on to college. This article explains why the only way she will realize this dream is if the voters in Washington State wake up and kick out the corrupt occupants of our State legislature – whose corruption is so extreme that they are endangering an entire generation of children simply so a few billionaires can buy bigger boats.

Because of legislation passed by the State legislature in the past 2 years, college students in Washington State this coming fall will see the largest tuition increase in State history – skyrocketing nearly 20% in a single year. Annual tuition at UW this fall will be nearly $12,000. This does not include the cost of books, fees, room or board – all of which will push the annual cost to more than $20,000 per year. Many students are already being saddled with a lifetime of debt made even worse by the fact that there are no jobs for them when they graduate. But their life is about to get much worse.

According to a June 2012 study by the Washington State Actuary Office, tuition is expected to explode to more than $21,000 per year by 2020. This is 7 times more than it was in 1996 when annual tuition was only $3,000 per year.

Source: http://osa.leg.wa.gov/Actuarial_Services/Publications/PDF_Docs/Presentations/GET-Analysis6-28-12.pdf

The reason tuition is skyrocketing is because State support for Higher Education is plunging. It is currently at less than 20% of total cost and is likely to disappear completely in the next couple of years.

It would take an additional $2 billion per year just to restore State support for higher education to where it was in 2000.

This dramatic decline in State funding for higher education mirrors the plunge in State support for our public schools in this same time frame. Funding for public schools has fallen from 11th in the nation in 1980 to 45th in the nation today. Our schools are funded at $2,000 per pupil below the national average – forcing our children to attend some of the highest class sizes in the nation. It would take $2 billion per year in additional State funding just to restore public school funding to the national average.

The drop in funding for schools and colleges is also reflected in the drop of State funding for school construction and repair.

School construction funding has also disappeared – falling from more than 60% of actual cost in 1986 to less than 10% of actual cost today. School construction funding in our State is now more than one billion dollars per year below the national average…

One in ten of our children – or more than 100,000 children in our State – are attending school in inefficient and unhealthy particle board boxes. This is double the national average. While our State use to pay two thirds of the actual cost of building schools, it now pays less than 10% – leaving the other 90% of the cost on the backs of local homeowners – and causing more than one billion in school construction bonds to go down to defeat in just the past year.

Where did $5 billion per year in State funding go?

It summary, the State legislature is robbing about $2 billion dollars per year from higher education students, another $2 billion per year from public school students and another $1 billion per year from school construction and repair – for a total of $5 billion per year compared to what the State legislature. Where is all this money going???

The answer is that it is all going into tax breaks for wealthy multinational corporations who pay for the re-election campaigns of our corrupt legislature.  Tax breaks for these corporations have skyrocketed from $22 billion per year in 2000 to more than $45 billion per year today. Ironically, almost none of these massive tax breaks are being used to create jobs here in Washington State. Instead, these billions of dollars are being invested in sweat shops in China and therefore only serve to eliminate jobs here and outsource them overseas.

We will not be able to restore school funding, school construction funding or higher education funding until we boot the corrupt politicians out of the State legislature and repeal the billions of dollars in corporate welfare our legislature is giving away to their corporate benefactors.

Ironically, these same corrupt legislators and greedy billionaires now want to divert even more money away from our public schools. Bill Gates Junior is the chief beneficiary of this rapid increase in corporate tax breaks. He and his billionaire buddies have paid for a charter school initiative to be put on the fall ballot to transfer millions more dollars away from our public schools and into the pockets of charter school scammers.

A Simple Solution to the Higher Education Crisis

We can restore funding for higher education and funding for school operation, repair and construction to what they all were in 1996 – as well as restoring jobs to what they were in 1996 – simply by rolling back corporate tax breaks to what they were in 1996.

It would not harm our wealthy corporations to pay their fair share of State taxes because they could simply deduct their State taxes from their federal taxes. But it would allow our school children to attend much smaller classes and our college students to graduate from college with a much smaller debt and much higher chance of getting a good paying job.

How high does tuition have to go before parents wake up and realize that they and their children are being robbed? How many teachers have to be fired before we start to fight back? How many more children’s lives need to be destroyed with high debt, high unemployment and no hope for any kind of a happy future before we end the corruption in Washington State by rolling back these out of control corporate tax breaks?  

It is not our public schools or our colleges which are broken. It is corporate corruption of Olympia that needs to be fixed. Here again is the cruel hoax our current batch of legislators have in store for our kids:

Elections are about what kind of future our children will have. The current disaster in school funding and higher education funding is the result of corporations buying the past several elections – and transferring the tax burden from them to you and your children. Are we going to let them buy this election too? Or will we say enough is enough? My daughter’s future and that of all of her friends are in your hands.

(Originally published here.)

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