Whitesburg KY

Cutting money from community colleges is self-defeating

Kentucky’s entire public system of higher education is in trouble, not because it needs a plan for excellence, not because its campuses are poorly led and not because it lacks achievement on which to build. Indeed, House Bill 1 provided the right strategy. The current group of top campus leaders is maybe the best we’ve had in a long while. And they’ve overseen real progress in graduating a competitive workforce, and in developing more and better scholarship and research.

The big problem is money — not enough of it provided by the state and too much of it demanded from students and their families, in the form of higher and higher tuition. And nowhere is the money challenge more tortuous than in the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, whose latest money-saving proposal is eliminating tenure for new faculty and health insurance for new retirees.

Such cuts may be justifiable, but they’re self-defeating.

The state expects KCTCS (which includes college campuses in Whitesburg, Hazard and Cumberland) to be its primary mechanism for boosting the percentage of Kentuckians with post-secondary degrees. But that won’t happen if the system is so poorly funded that it has only second-rate or even shoddy faculties, facilities, programs and services to offer young folks who already are on the educational margins.

Eliminating security and benefits that faculty members can earn is no way to recruit and keep the good ones.

More belt-tightening is not the answer in a system that’s already been starved of essential support.

— The Courier-Journal, Louisville

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