Education loses when ideologues hold up budget

June 19, 2013 

The issue with ideology is that one can become trapped in its doctrine.

Take the issue of two-year colleges and the budget. The Republican state Senate wants to insist that two-year institutions target their training to help the business community fill the jobs of tomorrow; perhaps a little ham-fisted micro-management, but mostly a reasonable thought. However, ideologues in its own membership ask, “Should the public train employees for companies? Why doesn’t the company pick up the cost of training? And that’s the problem; when ideology runs head-long into who will pick up the check.

Two-year colleges are perhaps the best investment on the block. Focusing on marketable skills, a two-year institution can quickly pivot into an educational arena and provide students with a quick return on their investment by facilitating a speedy avenue into the job market. However, none of this can occur when ideologues storm the castle and take the budget hostage.

The present ideological war in Olympia is anathema to the community and technical college tenet — to educate and training without regard to political skew. Imagine the nightmare if ideologues took over trustee boards and senior staff positions. Decisions would be made to the betterment of but a few, exclusivity would be the norm and doctrine would subjugate academics.

Washington’s community and technical college system deserves better.

Presently, each community and technical college is pondering its short-term future. wondering whether to temporarily shutdown July 1 or use whatever is left under the mattress to keep the doors open. Olympia’s perpetually callus disregard for higher education has left little choice for many institutions. Community and technical colleges take in only 10 percent to 15 percent of their revenue during the summer quarter, thus making a fiscally difficult situation worse.

A possible shutdown is only the most recent assault on the education community. The state Senate wants to order four-year institutions to reduce tuition by 3 percent; in reality, it is but a forced budget cut. The state Senate also wants to eliminate $50 million from OSPI’s Career and Technical Education budget, not understanding that this program is a coordinated feeder to exactly the programs that community and technical colleges offer, and, that the business community wants.

The incongruent pattern of cuts and wanton ignorance of programs only show the siege mentality of ideology. In the end, when the ideologues storm the castle and take the budget hostage, education loses.

Bruce Lachney of Eatonville was a 2012 candidate for the state Senate in Legislative District 2. He is a trustee of Clover Park Technical College.

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