Thursday, December 18, 2008

An Educated Electorate

In the realm of truly bad ideas in the world of government spending and education reform, Colorado state representative Don Marostica of Loveland has proposed cutting all state funding for higher education and privatizing all colleges and universities in Colorado. While this is a shocking statement for most educated people, it doesn't seem all that unusual in Colorado where conservatives are especially zealous in their anti-tax, anti-government crusade. This proposal was probably pretty well received by numerous Coloradans who oppose the idea that "government knows how to spend their money better than they do." This is despite the fact that Colorado has the distinction of being one the most well-educated states in the union while at the same time failing miserably at educating its own children. Though I am fiscally conservative, this issue is where I depart with the Republican Party in Colorado, as their support for TABOR (the Taxpayers' Bill of Rights) has severely curtailed higher education spending for a decade now, and the side effects are clear.

Regardless of most citizens' stances on taxes and government power, a majority of Americans have always accepted that funding of public education is a good investment for a state. The state mandates of free public education k-12 was a good idea. The establishment of state colleges and universities was a good idea. Public funding of the university system was a good idea. Despite all the criticism, much of it unfounded, the American public education system is still the envy of the world, and the U.S. educates a greater percentage of its population to the highest level than any other nation at any time in history. This serves us well, even as most other industrialized nations fund public education through college at a greater rate than we do. To consider moving in the opposite direction is, quite honestly, irrational, if not outright ludicrous. Yet, it just goes to show how blinding ideology can be.

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