Northwest Voices | Letters to the Editor

Welcome to The Seattle Times' online letters to the editor, a sampling of readers' opinions. Join the conversation by commenting on these letters or send your own letter of up to 200 words

November 18, 2011 at 4:00 PM

Just Fix It: higher education

Posted by Letters editor

Drop tuition rates for lower-income students

First, those students whose families make more than $250,000 should pay more in tuition. There needs to be some type of sliding scale.

Second, eliminate aid and grant money, because it is too difficult to apply for and receive. Instead, use this money to lower tuition for all middle- and lower-income students.

Third, there is too much fraud and corruption in college sports. We give more money and place a greater emphasis on sports than we do academics. We are going to give each athlete $2,000 in addition to their free tuition, room and board.

Let’s think outside the box and come up with some way to raise money for students other than taxes. If we can raise money to renovate the stadiums at UW and WSU, we can raise money for academics, it is a matter of priorities.

— Michael Dougherty, Bellevue

Goals of education should be economic growth and well-rounded citizens

Economic growth is the main reason we subsidize higher education. Yet, there’s another competing goal: to shape well-rounded, thoughtful citizens.

So we over-subsidize some degree programs and limit the number of students that can enter high-demand fields like nursing. Only allow degrees for each program proportional to the number of jobs requiring that degree.

Also, change from four-year degrees to three. This works in other countries. Less time, less money, more focused, more intense.

For K-12 education: fewer teachers, the best teachers, some larger classes and pay them more. It’s achievable because there’s not a limited supply of talent. By focusing on talent, you create a culture, it motivates and it brings the best out in everyone. It creates momentum.

K-12 education needs to teach basics, but also needs to develop the whole person, which is a large task. Our universities shouldn’t have to do that. Our universities need to be powerhouses of economic growth, and training a highly skilled workforce.

The superintendent of public instruction should oversee both K-12 and higher education to ensure coordination of educating the whole child and shaping well-rounded and thoughtful citizens, but also preparing them to be productive members of the workforce.

— Kevin Wright, Shoreline

Reconsider Running Start

I would immediately look at the Running Start program. I do not know how much this costs the state/taxpayer, but I do know that there could be changes.

Running Start is for high-school students who would like to accelerate their education and receive two years of community-college credits which will be transferred to a four-year institution. It is a good plan for students who are advanced in school and don’t seem to get much out of the social arena.

However, many of these kids come from affluent families. So I would establish a tuition fee or entrance fee on a sliding scale. For those who truly need the help financially, I would give them the free tuition. But the children of well-heeled, affluent parents should pay.

[Radio host] Brian Thomas once said to me when I told him what my concerns were, that “we promise them 13 years” and so we give them this.

For gosh sakes, put it in Head Start where it really helps.

— Sally Montgomery, Issaquah

Support the Student Relief Act

During the past three years, tuition at the University of Washington has increased by 55 percent. During the same period, the Washington state median income for a family of four has increased by 12.2 percent.

Soon, Washington’s middle-class kids will not be able to attend a public college or university without accumulating a crushing debt load.

Our legislators have steadily withdrawn support from our public colleges, while maintaining that allowing the universities to raise their tuition is the same as maintaining a stable funding level.

The Washington Student Relief Act of 2012 will help. It provides for a flat tax of $25 per year on every property tax parcel, with the proceeds earmarked solely to reduce the aggregate tuition paid by Washington state residents at our public colleges and universities. This is not “just another tax.”

— It doesn’t increase funding for higher education; just spreads the burden in a way that’s a little more evenhanded.

— It’s easy to administer; it won’t require a top-heavy administrative structure to collect and distribute the funds.

— It’s affordable; $2 per month is not going to push anyone over the edge.

Friends, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Please join me in supporting this legislation.

— Eric Nordlof, Kennewick

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