What Defunding Looks Like: The Community College Edition

Recently, some asshole with a blog noted this about the whole defunding kerfuffle:

…when teachers have to go on statewide strikes to get better wages and living conditions, there’s the capacity to cut things, when we want to do so. After all, we managed to massively slash higher public education, which, at one point, would have been unthinkable, so let’s not dismiss it out of hand (oddly enough, this isn’t seen as radical).

Which brings us to what defunding looks like in practice. Off to Bunker Hill, MA, we go (boldface mine):

Bunker Hill, whose student body is more than two-thirds students of color and a quarter Black, has for years grappled with state budget cuts that have forced a growing share of the cost onto students who can least afford it, making it that much harder for them to achieve the social mobility that education promises. Over the past 20 years, the school has gone from being mostly funded by the state to mostly funded by students.

While most students at the many private, four-year colleges in Greater Boston will resume their studies this fall in one form or the other, that is not a guarantee at Bunker Hill, the largest community college in the state. Like Brea, many have lost jobs, family members, or housing as a result of the pandemic. Others lack a quiet place to study or a laptop and Wi-Fi. If circumstances become too difficult, they might never return…

In many ways, reopening in the fall is the least of Eddinger’s concerns. She is far more worried about something no one seems to want to talk about yet — the long-term economic fallout from the pandemic and how that will hurt the school’s ability to serve its marginalized students.

The real worry is the defunding of higher education, public higher education,” Eddinger said. “And ultimately, it is going to impact our communities of color.”

…“The idea that you can’t defund something — of course you can, they’ve done it to education. They have done it to community colleges,” said Sara Goldrick-Rab, a sociology professor at Temple University who studies higher education.

Over the past two decades, community college presidents have been forced to fund a growing share of their operating budgets with student tuition, as state support shrinks. In fiscal 2001, the state funded 68 percent of Bunker Hill’s budget, and student tuition (now about $2,500 per semester for a full-time student) funded just 32 percent, according to the college. Now those percentages have flipped. This year, student payments made up 66 percent of the operating budget and the state funded just 34 percent.

Anyone who says defunding the police is impossible just needs to talk to someone in public higher education. Given that local and state governments are not currency issuers–and most can’t legally deficit spend–something has to get cut. In some places, the police might have a very hard time defending their budget.

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1 Response to What Defunding Looks Like: The Community College Edition

  1. jmagoun says:

    From the department of clarification, Bunker Hill Community College isn’t in Bunker Hill, Mass., although that would be a pretty cool name for a town. It is in Charlestown, Mass. That’s the isolated neighborhood of the city of Boston that is across the Charles River from the rest of the city. The college is named for Bunker Hill, the site (more or less) in Charlestown of the famous battle at the beginning of the Revolution.
    Good points about how public higher education in Mass. has so much higher percentages of students of color and with lower incomes than the world-famous private-sector colleges in the same city.

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