Thursday, October 20, 2005

Tuition & Inflation: A Tale of Two Regents

by Kyle Michaelis
It always amazes me how some elected representatives actually understand the needs of the people, while others show almost no such understanding whatsoever. This latter bunch seem generally to depend on raw ideology and partisanship to fill in the gaps and decide their actions at the expense of real people and the common good.

Case in point, let's look at two University of Nebraska Regents' very different responses to the Board's decision to set targets for tuition hikes of 9-percent and 8-percent, respectively, over the next two years.

On one hand, we have "the Good": Regent Chuck Hassebrook of Lyons. On the other hand, we have "the Bad": Regent Drew Miller of Papillion. (We'll leave "the Ugly": degenerate Regent David Hergert out of things for once.)

In a Daily Nebraskan article reporting on the planned jumps in tuition rates - compounding upon what has already been a dismaying 64.1% increase since 2000 for Nebraska residents and a sickening 78.8% increase for out-of-state students - Miller responded:
"Overall I thought they were reasonable...they're really not much above inflation rates, which is nice, and they give us some money to put into quality education."

Hassebrook, our hero for the day, offered a different perspective:
"We act like increasing tuition at twice the rate of inflation is somehow a very modest increase."

More than just the ridiculousness of such thinking, however, Hassebrook showed even more understanding of the ramifications of these annual increases, continuing:
"If we're going to rasie tuition like our peers then we better get serious about getting need-based aid up there like our peers...It's also about working families who make modest incomes. They need aid, too. We've got to get serious about addressing this if we're going to serve all Nebraskans."

Contrast that view with Drew Miller's repeated, nonsensical calls over the years for abolishing need-based aid, erasing one of the great forces of equal opportunity that make a college education accessible to all who show the talent, commitment, and work-ethic to earn admittance.

Need I even mention that the National Report Card on Education has given Nebraka an F on its college affordability, ranking it as one of the worst states in the nation for its level of need-based aid?

Does Miller care? No...for ideological reasons he betrays his constituents - rich and poor alike - who benefit from a true society of opportunity. Does Hassebrook care? Damn right he does...and this state needs more leaders of his sort who hold sacred the promise of public education and our responsibility to see it became more accessible rather than evermore the domain of the wealthy, ruling elite.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Drew Miller's inability to understand the educational process should be of little surprise. This is a man who doesn't think libraries are an important part of education. Spending a little time on any of the UN campuses . . . in the library . . . would show him differently. Of course, facts are so troublesome!


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