SHARE

08 debate

THE BLAME FOR SPIRALING HIGHER ED COSTS RESTS SOLEY WITH S.C. POLITICIANS

FITSNews – October 22, 2007 – It’s called “agenda-driven journalism,” and if you’re looking for a good example of it, check out this morning’s front-page story about higher ed costs found in La Socialista, a.k.a. The (Columbia) State newspaper. From reporter Wayne Washington‘s, um, article:

Paying for college is especially tough in South Carolina, where public universities are the most expensive in the Southeast.

Many think college affordability is an issue the candidates for president should address. Yet few candidates have offered plans to make higher education more affordable.

Tuition in S.C. has increased more than 72 percent since 1999. Over the same period, the state’s incomes have been stagnant, according to a congressional report released last month.

As much as we hate to let the current crop of presidential wanna-be’s off the hook for anything, South Carolina’s ridiculously sh*tty higher ed situation is by no means their fault. Furthermore, it’s crappy reporting like this that has people flocking to websites like FITSNews for the real scoop.

Higher ed costs in South Carolina are indeed spiraling out of control, but that’s because our state has a completely unsustainable number of schools, and the schools we do have are case studies in waste, ineffeciency and duplication. South Carolina has 33 state-supported colleges and universities at over 80 campus locations (ludicrous for a population of just 4 million), which is one of the reasons we spend 17% of our state budget on higher ed as opposed to the national average of 10%.

The other big reason is that we give our eleventy kabillion institutions of higher learning anything they ask for … especially if they’re located in State Sen. Hugh Leatherman‘s district, or if doing so secures enough votes for somebody to become Speaker of the House.

As for South Carolina’s “stagnant” income levels, that’s pretty simple to explain, too.

It’s tough to grow an economy when you’re depriving it of billions of dollars to build crap like a new Performing Arts Center at Francis Marion University, or dorm rooms at Greenville Technical College, or a new auditorium at Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College.

Or, for that matter, on the nickel and dime stuff. Like when the University of South Carolina blows $135,000 to purchase the manuscripts of an 18th Century Scottish poet.

And speaking of “gathering ye rosebuds,” when is somebody at La Socialista going to point out that the anchor tenant of South Carolina’s so-called “Innovista” research center (a.k.a. the University’s hugely-expensive excuse to gobble up half of downtown Columbia, S.C.) is basically a glorified insurance industry clerical service?

Whatever happened to the cutting-edge nanotechnology and hydrogen fuel cell research we’ve been hearing so much about? Not to mention spending mega-millions of taxpayer dollars to lure to the University?

Higher ed is definitely too expensive in South Carolina, people, but it’s not the fault of the 2008 presidential hopefuls. Like so much of what ails our state, this is pure homegrown ineptitude, courtesy of big government Republicans like Leatherman, Speaker Bobby Harrell and House Ways & Means Chairman Dan Cooper.

Want college costs to go down? Tell these politicians to exercise some long-overdue fiscal discipline with respect to funding our colleges and universities. Want income levels to go up? Then tell them to take those savings and invest them in South Carolina’s economy, specifically in the form of job-creating tax cuts.

Again, this stuff isn’t rocket science, people. It’s common sense.