Why students should speak out about budget cuts

Home Archived Opinion Why students should speak out about budget cuts

Staff Opinion

On March 3, about 200 students and faculty members of Washington High School staged a protest over proposed budget cuts to education that attracted both Pensacola Mayor Mike Wiggins and Escambia County Superintendent of Schools Malcolm Thomas to attend. Also, in Tallahassee, students from FSU, FAMU, and Tallahassee Community College have also all recently staged protests.

Meanwhile, PJC is facing its own budget cuts, so far $1.4 million and many suspect millions more will be cut at the beginning of the next fiscal year in July. But where is the uproar from the PJC students?

It’s time for the students to rise up and let their voices be heard!

We at The Corsair would like to see more conviction from the student body concerning these budget cuts. We would like to see more students display the same “can do” spirit exhibited by the students at Washington High. Simply put: we need more “fire in the belly” and less apathy.

These cuts directly affect everyone at PJC; we all have a stake in this process.

So far the budget cuts have trigger increased class sizes, the cancelling of low-enrollment classes, and a hiring freeze in some departments. And this could just be the calm before the storm.

If indeed more cuts are coming, PJC could see the elimination of classes not required for degrees (such as creative writing), entire programs eradicated, the downsizing and reduction of administration and faculty members, an across-the-board salary reduction for the faculty, and the possible laying off of full-time faculty members.

All of this will adversely affect the quality of education administered at PJC.

This very real danger at hand arises from a possible additional 10-15 percent cut in the 2009-10 budget for PJC, which could result in over $5 million lost for the start of the next school year – that is, if something is not done to stop it.

And while it would certainly be nice to see more concern over the budget cuts, we at The Corsair also feel such concern should be directed appropriately from both students and faculty alike.

It’s easy to get upset with the administration and Dr. Ed Meadows; however, the real culprits responsible for the slashes in the education budget are in Tallahassee.

Dr. Meadows is dealing with the hand he has been dealt, but the ones shuffling and handing out the cards are the state legislators.

Many productive things could be done by the students and faculty to show their dismay with these budget cuts.

For one, we could take a cue from the students at Washington High School. The Student Government Association at PJC could help organize a student protest to be held on campus – not directed at the administration – but directed at the budget cuts themselves. If coordinated well, a protest could generate some real media attention.

Also, starting on March 31 the Florida Junior/Community College Student Government Association is organizing the “Rally in Tally,” a campaign in Tallahassee to directly lobby the state legislature on issues of great significance to students. Anyone interested could attend this important event.

And if you cannot attend the “Rally in Tally,” why not write or call your legislators directly? The more people who make their voices heard, the more chance there is to stop to budget cuts. Listed below is the contact information for the state legislators for our districts.

Getting a quality education is the most important thing one can achieve in order to compete in the market place.

President Obama in his recent speech to Congress stated, “In a global economy where the most valuable skill you can sell is your knowledge, a good education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity – it is a prerequisite.”

It’s time for the apathy to end! If you don’t want to see vital funding stripped away from PJC, and if you value the quality education PJC has maintained for 60 years, then we should all help do something about it!

Rep. Dave  Murzin
204 House Office Building
402 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1300
Phone: (850) 488-8278

Rep.  Clay  Ford
322 The Capitol
402 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1300
Phone: (850) 488-0895

Senator Durell Peaden, Jr.
406 Senate Office Building
404 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1100
(850) 487-5000

Senator Don Gaetz
320 Senate Office Building
404 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1100
(850) 487-5009

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