Why Don’t Universities Receive More Funding?

It’s a funny
thing: the elementary and high school education centers across
California do not appear to be showing improvements, and yet
funding for public schools is at an all-time high across the state.

While the entire projected budget is just over $144.3 billion, more than $45.7 billion is going to K
– 12 education, more than $41 billion of which will be
coming from that state’s General Fund alone. Comparatively,
Higher Education (colleges and universities) will receive about $14.2 billion
of this coming year’s project budget, more than $11.7
billion of which will come from the General Fund. While state
colleges are taking leaps and bounds in research, the funding
allocated to these institutions is just over one-quarter of what is
being spent on K – 12 education.

So even with rising
tuition costs, and an incredibly competitive admissions process, why is the state only allocating a budget of
about one-fourth the size of K – 12 expenditures, to our
bastions of higher learning, the state colleges? Perhaps this is a
question better answered by vague accountability standards for K –
12 educators and unions that have been slow to accept sweeping
reforms.

Of course, plenty of
money needs to be spent on all education, from
kindergarten through college. However, isn’t it time
government officials truly took a look at fiduciary trends, moving
forward with what works, and fixing what doesn’t? Few can argue
believably that there is not a problem with the way California
currently funds educational institutions.

This year’s General
Fund provided $41,145,000
toward financing K – 12 Education, a drop of $1.362 billion
from last year’s $42,507,000. This constituted a decrease of
3.2 percent in spending by the General Fund for this particular arena.
Along with that cut came another decrease in the amount of money
provided for Higher Education by the General Fund. For the 2008 –
2009 project budget,the
General Fund will fund Higher Education 0.5 percent less than 2007 – 2008, for a decrease of $61 million or
a change from $11,819,000 to $11,758,000.

There have had to be cuts
across the board (except for Health and Human Services, which was the
one area with a budgetary increase of 0.2 percent, from $29,726,000 to
$29,800,000), so it was inevitable that Higher Education would be cut
as well. But why is the funding for our colleges still lagging so far
behind, while new technologies and viable research arises all the
time from our noted University of California, California State
University and California Community College systems?

As with any
household budget in decline, our state legislators need to take an
honest look, and here are some suggestions: Drop the funding for K –
12 by 1.8 percent (for an even 5 percent). If testing scores and school rankings stay
approximately the same, we can determine that massive funding
increases are not directly correlated to massive increases in school
performance. Set up greater accountability; only offer salary
increases/bonuses to instructors whose classes consistently show
improvement; for every 70 percent of their students who score at or above
their expected grade-level performance levels, give teachers a 1 –
5 percent salary bonus.

There are so many ways to reward good work, and
conversely, (and sadly) there are methods in place that still reward
those who go through the motions, rather than help educate minds.