Public colleges and universities across the country are under the gun as state budgets face huge shortfalls. NPR reports that “Universities are now ending low-enrollment programs and increasing class size.
“The State University of New York has had to cut $640 million from its budget, and the president of its Albany campus recently announced the suspension of five humanities programs, including French, Italian, Russian, classics and theater.
“Although there have been cuts at SUNY Albany in everything from journalism to business, the fact that five humanities programs have been suspended has resonated with the public and the press.Upon learning about the suspension of the foreign language programs, David Wills, a professor of French, was shocked at first, but then he was angry.
“None of us accepted that it was something that a university could do and still call itself a university,” Wills said. “This is not a university if you only have one non-English European language program left standing.”To be fair, students can still take some classes in these subjects. Suspension means new students will not be able to major in these areas, at least for now.Juniors and seniors at SUNY Albany will be able to finish their majors in French, Italian, Russian, classics and theater. But most freshmen and sophomores will have to choose alternatives.
Alexandra Cialeo, a sophomore majoring in Italian, transferred to SUNY Albany a few months ago. Noting that SUNY Albany’s slogan is “The World Within Reach,” Cialeo asks, “How is the world within reach when a school is going to take away the foreign language department so you can’t communicate around the world?” She says the program suspensions sadden her because she wants to be a teacher and has a passion for Italian.
SUNY Albany Provost Susan Phillips says up until now, cuts in the humanities have been 4 percent — less than in other areas. She says there have been more faculty losses in the social sciences and in the professional schools. And she emphasizes that no decisions have yet been made to close down these programs permanently. Continue reading “On the humanities meltdown”
Today the Obama administration announced reductions in the proposed budget of the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) from $154-million to $146-million.
Writing in the New York Times, Patricia Cohen discusses this historical role in light of a new study on the NEA’s impact:
“Ever since the late 1980s, when the performance artist Karen Finley started playing around with yams and chocolate, the National Endowment for the Arts has come under fire from some conservative lawmakers. Back then the agency was castigated for giving grants to provocative artists like Ms. Finley, whom some critics called obscene.Now House Republicans charge that the endowment supports programming primarily attended by the rich, causing “a wealth transfer from poorer to wealthier citizens.” A new study to be released on Wednesday challenges that assertion, however, and concludes that federally supported arts programs attract people across the income spectrum; the wealthy, yes, but also many below the poverty line.
“The study, by the National Center for Arts Research at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, was specifically intended to test lawmakers’ propositions about arts funding. Last year the House Budget Committee, led by Representative Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, issued a proposed budget for the 2014 fiscal year, which eliminated all funding for the arts endowment as well as the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Continue reading “Oops, NEA budget to be cut”
The Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA), a bill spelling out specific groups of the student population currently victim to bullying and harassment, of which LGBTQ youth is one, has reached record support in Congress, with 176 bipartisan cosponsors in the House and 43 bipartisan cosponsors in the U.S. Senate.
Part of the larger Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) that is currently up for routine reauthorization, the solid support for SSIA increases its chance of passage and would mandate that all 50 states not only recognize LGBTQ youth as vulnerable, but report all recorded incidents of bullying and harassment, so state and federal agencies can accurately measure the extent of the problem.
“We are extremely encouraged by the increased support for the Safe Schools Improvement Act, particularly among our Republican friends who recognize that all students deserve to be safe in school regardless of who they are,” says Eliza Byard, executive director at the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), the organization consulted for the wording of SSIA.
As bullying is not an LGBTQ issue alone, SSIA addresses harassment for all victimized students, with race, color or perceived race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion and disability marked as identifiers. States are free to add to this list as required – Illinois already enacted a similar law, and includes military families/status among the afore-mentioned categories. Continue reading “Congress weighs in against bullying”
The Obama administration budget released Wednesday emphasizes drug abuse punishment and interdiction over treatment and prevention, despite recent rhetoric from the Office of National Drug Control Policy on a “21st century” approach, reports Huffington Post
“The White House budget proposal for fiscal 2014 devotes 58 percent of drug-control spending to punishment and interdiction, compared with 42 percent to treatment and prevention. The drug control spending ratio in this year’s budget is even more lopsided, 62 percent to 38 percent.
“The administration deserves some credit for moving this ratio slightly in the right direction over the years, but a drug control budget that increases funding for the DEA and the Bureau of Prisons is simply not the kind of strategy we need in the 21st century,” said Marijuana Majority spokesman Tom Angell. “At a time when a majority of Americans support legalizing marijuana, and states are moving to end prohibition, this president should be spending less of our money paying narcs to send people to prison, not more. If, as administration officials say, ‘We can’t arrest our way out of the drug problem,’ then why are they continuing to devote so many resources to arresting people for drug problems?” Continue reading “Obama budget: Jail before drug treatment”