Kentucky is headed in a very dangerous direction. I want to use this collection of Notable Notes to share important information concerning the impact of Kentucky’s proposed budget on every level of education from preschool to post-secondary.
First of all, Gov. Bevin’s proposed budget cuts funding for education at every level from preschool to higher education – and these cuts will affect the programs that serve our most vulnerable populations including underprepared preschoolers and other high-risk students. This despite numerous studies which report such interventions are not only the right thing to do as humans, but are also fiscally responsible because they save us money down the road. For example, studies of the impact of preschool education show: “that every $1 the government invests in high-quality early education can save more than $7 later on by boosting graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancies, and even reducing crime.” As a parent, educator, and citizen, I am very concerned about the proposed cuts to P-12 education for the reasons that Jay Brewer describes in his article “Superintendent: Bevin’s cuts will hurt kids.” Education is the future. While a commonplace saying, it is still true. The measure and proof of every civil society is the education of its people. P-12 education is the framework upon which everything of value to our Commonwealth is built – a civil society, a participatory democracy, and a vibrant workforce.
However, I am even more concerned about the cuts to higher education (as I wrote about in Don’t Fail My Students). State funding for higher education has been cut every year since 2008 and Gov. Bevin’s budget is forcing another cut on top of the hit state universities already took for this budget cycle as well as forcing still more cuts next year. This trend is going to make Kentucky less competitive in the national marketplace and will hurt our population by putting college out of reach for many students. Many states cut college funding during the recession, but in recent years most states (37 according to a 2015 report by the Center on Budget Policy and Priorities) have reversed that trend. According to the report, while funding continued to fall in 13 states, only three states — Kentucky, Oklahoma, and West Virginia — cut per-student higher education funding for consecutive years. This is not the direction we want to go. Post-secondary education is the engine that will drive the Commonwealth forward in this decade and in the future. From today’s classrooms will come the hands, the minds, and the hearts that serve us from our hospitals to our concert halls; from our museums to our constructions sites; and from our manufacturing facilities to our bookstores.
Education will drive Kentucky’s future and we need to do more if we want to do better.
If you think Kentucky can and should do better then contact your state legislators using the Fund The Solution email form (created by Morehead State University Foundation) or contact Gov. Matt Bevin directly. You can also contact the members of the 2016 Interim Joint Committee on Education and the 2016 House Standing Committee on Appropriations and Revenue (here is a handy spreadsheet with all the Committee members email addresses) to urge those legislators to think about our kids and our future.