Editor’s note: This letter was sent to Gov. Sam Brownback and posted on Facebook.
I have been teaching for 23 years in the School of Journalism at the University of Kansas. I have two degrees from K-State; I was an undergrad there when you were student body president. I grew up in Wichita. My father was an administrator for the Wichita Public Schools. I am a born-and-bred Kansan with love for this state.
I teach three courses in the journalism school, one with 100 students. I spend roughly 50 hours a week creating assignments, revising lectures, and, especially, grading. Good teaching requires good feedback. My colleagues work as I do, tirelessly to educate students.
Despite the popular perception that KU is full of trust-fund kids from Johnson County, many of my students come from financially strapped families and from small Kansas towns. They work sometimes full time while trying to take full course loads, often at the expense of their physical and mental health. I am devoted to trying to give them the best education their dollars can buy.
The message from this Legislature in its funding of higher education is, well, I don’t even have words for it. Hurtful. Depressing. Insulting. Hateful. It implies education is not important. I can’t wrap my mind around what outcome legislators are hoping for or their motives. To punish universities? Why? To punish students? Why? Do they hope for a less-educated state, a less-economically prosperous state with fewer accomplishments?
Some of the best professors will surely leave and take their research dollars where they are more appreciated. And the education of Kansans will surely suffer. By forcing universities to increase tuition to fund operations, the state makes a college education less accessible, less public. It limits the dreams and ambitions of young Kansans who want to go to college but cannot afford it.
I appreciated your efforts to resist budget cuts. Please veto this legislation and do what you know is right and fair and best for Kansas.
Carol Holstead is an associate professor of journalism at KU.