The Struggle for Public Higher Education in the State of Connecticut
CT Higher Education Matters is a group of citizens who are concerned about the future of Connecticut’s public state universities. We believe that all students in Connecticut deserve an affordable education that prepares them, not only for a career, but to participate as civically-minded members of society. We believe that public higher education is a public good, and it should not be treated as a business.
In October 2015, the Board of Regents (BOR) for Connecticut’s state universities and community colleges proposed a new contract for faculty at the four CSU campuses. This contract contained proposals that redefined university education, by undermining shared governance with the faculty, academic freedom and tenure, faculty research and development, and the mentoring relationship between faculty and students. These proposals indicated that the BOR wanted to follow national trends in which administrators and legislators change the core mission of universities by replacing broad knowledge and skills with limited, job-related educational goals. The BOR justified these proposals with phrases like “work force development,” “fiscal responsibility,” and “reasonable flexibility.” But there was no concrete evidence that remaking the universities in this way would save any money.
CT Higher Education Matters opposes the corporatization and privatization of public higher education, as well as state defunding of that education. Since 2008 the state funding of higher education per student has decreased 26%. Currently, the state legislature spends only 11% of its budget on higher education.
We believe that quality public higher education is essential for the future of the state of Connecticut. For more than a century, Connecticut’s state universities have been in the forefront of “workforce development.” Some 90% of the students who are educated at the state universities and community colleges stay in Connecticut. They produce for the economy, pay taxes, raise their families, and contribute to the fabric of Connecticut’s communities. The alums from Connecticut’s long-standing system of public education are your friends and neighbors. They are the people who contribute to your life on a daily basis. Providing the best possible education to these workers is essential at a time when educational quality is crucial to maintain global competitiveness.
Moreover, college-educated citizens save the taxpayers of Connecticut money in the long run. Recent studies have shown that residents with higher degrees pay more in taxes, use less social services, and contribute more to the income of their local communities than do those who have only completed high school. Those with advanced degrees also have significantly higher incomes, are healthier, live longer, and have more successful marriages. The children of Connecticut deserve the opportunity for this lifestyle, and the people of Connecticut need them for the future well-being of our state.
Please join us in defending the CSU system and public higher education in Connecticut.