A letter in the May 17 edition of the South Whidbey Record requested that someone in academia explain today’s high tuition costs. Though I do not meet the specified criteria, I would be happy to explain.
Tuition costs are dramatically out of scale with incomes for one reason: the abject failure of our state Legislature to adequately fund education. Early education, general education and higher education have all been left in the dirt so that our representatives can continue to add six to 12 new tax loopholes each year.
Many pundits enjoy arguing that if only the efficiency inspiring profit motive were present in our public institutions, those that govern our schools would be better at cutting costs. In reality, the cost of educating a student at the University of Washington in 2012 was $400 less (inflation adjusted) than it was in 1992. The reason? In 1992, 80 percent of the cost of a student’s education was covered by the state. In 2012, the state only covered 30 percent.
Why did this happen? Because the people who win elections answer to those that supported them when they ran. Right now, candidates are backed by banks and drug companies. We don’t need to overturn Citizens United to fix that. Just find the political party closest to your values and get involved. Volunteers are worth far more to a candidate than money. Be there for the people trying to represent you, and they might actually listen once they’re elected.