Letter to the Editor: Kavanagh’s comments sell higher education short

Yesterday’s Higher Education

As students we expected to hear that State Rep. [John] Kavanagh [R., District 8] feels Arizona spends too much money only to educate students for the workplaces of tomorrow. It is yesterday’s thinking. Fortunately, it is up to state representatives, senators and the governor to decide whether to invest in Arizona’s children or to bet against their futures. We believe that representatives have the wisdom to make the difficult but necessary changes in order to fund education in Arizona. We listened to a State of the State address in which Gov. [Jan] Brewer acknowledged the importance of higher education for Arizona’s future — a future in which 3 out of 5 jobs in 2018 will require a post-secondary education. In fact, higher education is known to increase civic participation, encourage a more politically-informed population, and produce higher voter turnout.

Is this the future Kavanagh is afraid of?

Kavanagh asks why Arizonans should invest money in a research university degree. As students we think it is nice to have doctors, nurses and teachers stay in the state of Arizona and who are able to go shopping and buy homes. Many Arizona students would be happy to “end up” as real estate agents to sell the virtues of living in Arizona and we are more likely to “end up” in Arizona if there are the right jobs to keep us here. Otherwise, Arizona students will leave to find jobs elsewhere. Yesterday was nice. Tomorrow will be nicer and we want to be here with Kavanagh and others. By dismissing higher education, Kavanagh will help guarantee yesterday at the expense of tomorrow.

Nobody knows today where a graduate will “end up” or what job he will have when he retires. This means that nobody can predict the kind of college education a graduate will need (or never need) to succeed or innovate in her unanticipated future. To deny more people a fair shot at an affordable education today is to pretend to know more than one possibly can about the future.

It seems to have become acceptable in Arizona to defund education with an unspoken shrug that students and their families, desperate to compete in an economy that demands college degrees for more people every year, will have no choice but to pay up and make up the difference. Rick Myers, Chair of the Arizona Board of Regents, responded to Kavanagh by noting that an Arizona with a more educated workforce would have fared better in the last recession. Investing in education is necessary to climbing into Arizona’s future as a business and technology leader rather than loosely clinging to Arizona’s past.

Zachary Brooks, PhD Candidate
Graduate Student Body President – University of Arizona
Board member – Arizona Students’ Association

Anthony Hessel, PhD Candidate
Vice Chair / Legislative chair
Arizona Students’ Association

Jason Kordosky, Masters Student
President – Graduate Student Government of NAU
Chair / Graduate Student Affairs – Arizona Students’ Association

Megan Fisk, PhD Candidate
President – Graduate and Professional Student Association of ASU
Board member – Arizona Students’ Association

Adam Monroe, PhD Candidate
Director of Legislative Affairs – Graduate and Professional Student Association of ASU
Board Chair – Arizona Students’ Association

Lysette Davis, Masters Student
Graduate Professional Student Council, College of Education Representative – University of Arizona
Board member – Arizona Students’ Association

Arizona Students’ Association Board Members