The student news site of Saint Anselm College

The Saint Anselm Crier

The student news site of Saint Anselm College

The Saint Anselm Crier

The student news site of Saint Anselm College

The Saint Anselm Crier

Left Hook, Right Jab:

Educational funding, public oversight, and loans
  1. In New Hampshire, local districts pay the large majority of K-12 education costs, while in Massachusetts, the state provides a larger proportion of funding. Is one system superior to the other?

R: I believe that the idea of local districts paying for K-12 education costs is superior to greater financial assistance by the state. The latter may provide more money, but the former is less prone to ridiculous stipulations about how money must be spent and will be chartered better towards the specific goals of the local community. One of the biggest problems with education in this country has been the outsourcing of authority to higher levels of government, in which bureaucrats dictate the outcomes of local communities. I am not calling for the abolition of the Department of Education or no state funding of K-12 education. Still, when there is an opportunity for local involvement and control of education, that is, of course, the most ideal solution.

L: As a product of New Hampshire public schools and someone who served on a school board of a district with over 15,000 students, I can definitively say New Hampshire’s public school funding system is not only flawed and unfair, it is the antithesis of an adequate education and is actively a detrimental impediment to student outcomes. Expecting local districts to shoulder a majority of the costs is untenable; it leads to an inequitable distribution of funding and inequitable outcomes for K-12 students. Cities and towns sometimes have property tax rates of thirty percent or more to pay for local and state education taxes, as well as municipal and county taxes. A system can only be described as indefensible when property taxes range from just five percent to more than thirty percent. Massachusetts’ system appears to be superior to New Hampshire’s backward and misguided system. 


2. How much control should elected officials exercise over public (SAC is not public) institutions of higher education?

Story continues below advertisement

L: The status quo of control elected officials can exercise over public institutions of higher education is sufficient. Taxpayers fund public colleges and universities, which owe some level of accountability to the taxpayers. In New Hampshire, the Board of Trustees for the University System of NH (the collection of public institutions of higher education in the state) is appointed by the governor with approval from the Executive Council. The Board is composed of students, alumni, administration, and elected officials. While this system may not be perfect, it acts as an appropriate and adequate method of public oversight.

R: Elected officials should exercise authority over public institutions of higher education. This control should not infringe on an institution’s educational mission or reduce its academic freedom but should serve as a vanguard for these principles. In the late 1960s, California conservatives (led by then-Governor Ronald Reagan) objected to the reappointment of the radical professor Herbert Marcuse at the University of California, San Diego. While I am not a zealot of socialism, I do not believe that the conservatives should object to Marcuse’s appointment simply for being a socialist, for this would seem to contradict academic freedom. However, the proof is in the pudding. The problem was not Marcuse himself or his personal beliefs but the fact that he pushed these ideas. They were not merely heterodox but attacks on actual academic freedom entirely. Thus, government officials should not suppress ideas simply because they disagree with them but if they threaten the very notion of truth and academic rigor itself. In brevity, I would turn to the English writer G.K. Chesterton, who remarked, “There is a thought that stops thought. That is the only thought that ought to be stopped.” 


3. Should the federal government continue to provide loans for low-return majors? 

R: Yes. The government should provide loans for low-return majors because the government should not be in the business of telling people what to study. However, society should stop telling people they must go to college to be successful and encourage alternatives to the collegiate experience.

L: The federal government should continue to provide student loans regardless of major. Whether or not something is “low-return” does not matter– every field has meaningful returns. It falls to the individual to seek and achieve those returns. A degree in physics may have an almost opposite path when compared to an international relations degree, but that does not mean that either field is better than the other nor that one deserves more funding than the other. In terms of monetary returns, both fields have individuals in low-return jobs and some in high-return jobs. Both fields have those that are happy, those that are miserable, and those that do not care. If the federal government is dictating what fields of study students should pursue, that is a slippery slope. What’s next– will the federal government tell individuals how many pieces of toast they can eat for breakfast?

Leave a Comment

Comments (0)

All The Saint Anselm Crier Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *