Today is Huskies on the Hill Student Lobby Day. It’s a day when University of Washington students rally together and head down to Olympia to help fight budget cuts in education.
Why is education funding being cut and what does that entail? The nation-wide recession combined with Washington state citizens voting down any new taxes has left our state government in a difficult place. The governor faces the challenging task of having to cut $4.6 billion from the state budget.
So where are these billions of dollars going to come from?
They’re coming out of funding for state parks, health care subsidies; and unfortunately for our youth, education spending.
To be more specific, teachers’ salaries will be frozen, the Student Achievement Program will be suspended (which pushes for smaller classes, extended learning hours for students, and professional training for educators) and class size reduction funds will be eliminated.
As far as the UW goes, there will be a $100 million reduction in state funding for the university. Students will feel this through higher tuition, fewer class options, and a potential loss of world-class faculty members.
But students aren’t going to accept these cuts lying down.
They’re voting with their feet by demonstrating at the Capitol to try and preserve as much funding toward their education as possible. The Huskies on the Hill Lobby Day is set up so students meet and talk with legislators, rally at the Capitol building, and draw media attention to the issue.
I understand that as a young person we can feel marginalized by our government because we’re not the primary target constituents in our political system. But this rally shows that where there’s a will, there’s a way and even youth can have a political voice if they choose to use it.
Even if you didn’t make it to Lobby Day, you can still make your voice heard by writing the Governor Chris Gregoire. Express your concerns as a student (or an empathetic citizen) of what these drastic cuts in education will mean for our future, both personally and as a nation.