[StBernard] EDITORIAL: The Advocate supports a new drive for higher ed

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Mon May 21 22:55:55 EDT 2007

EDITORIAL: The Advocate supports a new drive for higher ed

Periodically, the press office will publish editorials and columns that feature Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco's work in various areas.

The Advocate: Our Views: A new drive for higher ed
Published: May 19, 2007 - Page: 6B
View article online <http://www.2theadvocate.com/opinion/7586082.html>

Just say "yes," Louisiana's higher education leadership is pleading to lawmakers this week.

They are asking for support for one of Gov. Kathleen Blanco's bigger policy recommendations in the 2007 session, a roughly $200 million infusion of new money into state colleges and universities.

For the first time in 25 years, the state would fully pay for the funding formula for the state schools. That commitment - and additional enhancements aimed at making colleges more affordable for students from poor families - would give campuses resources they need to do a better job for students, not to mention a better job of improving educational attainment in Louisiana, and the prospect of our graduates making substantially higher incomes and better futures for themselves.

Sounds simple enough, but it turns out there are a lot of moving parts to the Blanco proposals. Some of the money involves long-term recurring expenditures and some one-time money. New programs are involved. Some parts of the Blanco plan are sure to spark debate, and there appears to be some sentiment in the Legislature to shift more money into highways - another critical and popular need - or other places in the budget. Some legislators are much more enamored of tax cuts than investing in state institutions.

We're not going to say that every dollar in every university is well-spent, but on the whole we believe that investing in higher education is one of the best expenditures by state government in this or any other year.

The "knowledge economy" isn't an academic abstraction but a reality in the United States. Because of poor choices in the past, Louisiana has lower levels of college education. We know, and every expert in the nation will back up the assertion, that our state has little to look forward to without a large and continuing investment in higher education.

"A high school diploma is no longer sufficient in the 21st century," the National Conference of State Legislatures said in a report this year. "In order to be successful in today's global economy a person must receive some form of post-secondary education. And the economic stability of the state is tied to citizens who are employed and productive."

We believe Louisiana's university leaders know they will have to show results with these dollars. And while Blanco's plan might not be adopted in every particular, we hope legislators will take the attitude that what we're doing for students' minds is the most forward-looking thing the state can do.


The Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation
Louisiana's Fund for Louisiana's People

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