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Why the Legislature Should Support MnSCU.

From Beth:

A quality, affordable education is sometimes hard to attain and unemployment isn’t affordable in this economic climate. How is someone supposed to reeducate themselves with dwindling bank accounts when they lose their job? Many enroll in one of  Minnesota’s fifty-four State College and Universities; otherwise referred to as MnSCU.

MnSCU schools played a crucial role for hard-working Minnesotans who lost their jobs during the economic downturn. MnSCU serves as a valuable resource for non-traditional students–Minnesota’s unemployed workers among them–to quickly relearn and upgrade their skills or even learn a new trade. This opportunity means these workers can seek a higher paying job or break into a new industry.

One of the most remarkable non-traditional students is MnSCU’s 100,000th online student Rose Youngmark. She is a mother of six who uses every extra minute of her day to study. Without the availability of online classes, she would probably not have the option to pursue a career as a Spanish teacher.

“You try calling a babysitter and asking them to come watch six kids.”

Rose was one of the people who helped spread the news of MnSCU’s affordability, flexibility and effectiveness. Many are utilizing the services provided by the system. So many, in fact, that MnSCU has had to expand employment, programs and services. It is estimated that they have created, or soon will be creating, over 51,000 new jobs.

MnSCU has proven to the state that it is helping Minnesota’s economy recover. Even though they had a positive outlook at the beginning of the 2011 legislative session,  the outlook is grim now. The budget passed by the Republican-controlled legislature includes a 14% decrease in funding for MnSCU. They will compensate for the loss through a 5% tuition hike, cuts to liberal arts programs, and by laying off employees.

Investing in quality, affordable education for nontraditional students (students 25 and older) is just as important as making sure our youth right out of high school get a quality education. The MnSCU system ensures that our state has capable and efficient health care professionals, public safety workers and other highly trained workers, especially in greater Minnesota. Roughly 9,000 firefighters and emergency responders graduate from MnSCU every year. The system has graduated 85 percent of the state’s recent law enforcement members. There is still hope for MnSCU and its students since the budget has not yet passed. I hope that the legislature realizes in time that MnSCU doesn’t deserves these cuts; most of all, that an all cuts budget is going to hurt, not help, Minnesotans.

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