The headline reads: “State of the Standoff: In Budget Inaction, Illinois Has No Peer.” The article written by Dan Petrella tells the awful tale of the budget impasse currently going on in Illinois. It discusses the loss, the disappointment, and frustration that many people are feeling.
It is now clear to me that all over the state, higher education has been left to wither and die on the vine.
What took a century or more to create, in the case of some public universities like the University of Illinois and half a century in the case of Parkland College, is now being destroyed. The lack of state funding in the last two years is systematically destroying one of the states’ greatest assets.
In a time when a college education is necessary in the current job market, slashing state funding has crippled Parkland’s ability to attract students. Parkland has never been in competition with the University of Illinois. U of I is the golden jewel of the state.
What Parkland does is provide opportunities for students who cannot attend the U of I right away. Parkland’s open door policy means we take all-comers with a high school diploma regardless of reading, writing, or mathematical ability. We provide opportunity for students with a wide variety of disabilities. We meet students where they are and try to take them wherever they want to go. But without proper funding, we will be forced to narrow our focus to inexpensive programs and students who are college-ready right out of high school. We will begin to walk, talk, and act like a small private college.
I choose to teach at a community college. I choose to teach developmental students. I believe in the power of education and the mission of the community college. I have dedicated my professional life to it. However, all around me students and colleagues are leaving Parkland and the state for better opportunities.
Sometimes is it especially difficult to fight off the desire to curl into a ball or the intense desire to vent my frustration. It causes to me to question whether the budget impasse has been specifically designed to destroy public higher education and social services in the state of Illinois.
I try to remember that the students sitting in my classes did not have a hand in creating the current mess. Like all my students before them, they deserve the best education possible. I focus on that.
In my private time, I focus on pushing for a state budget. Parkland College needs a state budget–now. We cannot wait another two years for the leadership in the legislature or the governor’s office to change. The decisions we are being forced to make today will have long term repercussions that we may never recover from.
Please, take a moment to call your state representatives and tell them, “Parkland College needs a state budget. Pass a state budget–now!”
Who are my state representatives?