Our view: La. needs to care about and vote for education

Former Nicholls president Stephen Hulbert once famously said that cuts to higher education had slashed his university’s budget to the bone.

Many years have passed since Hulbert’s proclamation, but officials keep opting to chop away more and more cash from higher education institutions throughout the state.

At some point, the question has to be asked – when will we reach the point where there’s simply nothing left to cut? When will we get to the time that the accounts are fully drained? Are we already there? Probably not. But we’re probably much closer than the average person realizes.

It’s time that folks wake up and realize that higher education is under attack in our state, and it’s approaching a point of no return – a time where immediate action to correct this measure is necessary.

Just talking about the issue is already commonplace. One can pick up most-any major newspaper in the state and find editorial fodder within its pages that suggest that something needs to be done to rectify the issue.

But the real change will occur when, and only when, voters stand up and show their power at the polls.

Simply put, talk is not enough.

Current Nicholls President Dr. Bruce Murphy said it best. When asked recently to address the current financial situation for higher education in Louisiana, Murphy said that he doesn’t blame Gov. Bobby Jindal for our state’s problems. Murphy said he doesn’t fault current politicians. The blame, he said, falls at the feet of the students of the system – current and former – who are all registered voters, but are not standing up for their beliefs at the polls.

The 18-24-year-old demographic is historically one of the least-represented voting demographics in our state. But their power was shown when they turned out in droves to help elect President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.

“I don’t blame the current governor,” Murphy said. “I don’t blame the current legislators. They respond to what the people say, so they respond to what people are interested in. … There are 237,000 students in our public education system. I don’t know a legislature in the world that can ignore 237,000 votes.”

Murphy is right. Students need to VOTE, and not just SPEAK out their concerns.

As cuts to education continue, programs and jobs are eliminated.

As programs and jobs are eliminated, the quality of the educational system suffers. You get what you pay for, right?

As the quality of the educational system suffers, so, too, does the quality of life within our community.

If teachers aren’t trained as well to teach, how should we expect our students to be well-trained to learn?

If there are fewer teachers than before because there are fewer universities with that program, then the teacher-to-student ratio will increase – a stat that has been proven to decrease the quality of learning.

If there are fewer students succeeding in school, there will be fewer children advancing their educational efforts past high school. That, of course, means that there will be fewer lawyers, doctors, businessmen and so-on and so-forth.

It’s a vicious cycle and a dangerous, slippery slope.

But it’s one that just may already be under way in Louisiana.

The time to stop it all is right now – there’s never a better time than the present.

Do we have a tough economic climate within the state? Sure.

But just hammering the most important segments of society are not the answer. Be creative, get rid of the cushy, money-grab projects within the state and do something to help our colleges and universities for a change. They need it. They’ve already been slashed to the bone.

There’s not much more left to be cut.