It is my opinion that the proposed budget cuts to New Mexico public and higher education are ill-advised for the following reasons:
For the past decade our learning institutions have been warned about a fundamental shift in what is called “the workforce of tomorrow.” No longer is a high school diploma or the equivalent going to be a sufficient first step toward employment that will provide not just a living wage but one which allows for a productive career, a successful family life, and the wherewithal to provide the next generation with the tools they need to strengthen families and communities throughout New Mexico.
There is always a certain amount of fat that can be trimmed from major institutions in order to improve their efficiency. But make no mistake; recently proposed draconian cuts to resources for public and higher education will inevitably lead to negative impacts in classrooms around the state. This, in turn, will guarantee that New Mexico will continue to struggle economically.
Consider a parallel situation where a marginal agricultural community is suffering in a protracted and bitter winter. To stave off widespread starvation among the most vulnerable, they are forced to consume every resource, including the seed they have set aside for planting. Their immediate problem is solved – but what happens in the springtime? What happens to the next generation, and the one after that?
Our students – the workforce of tomorrow – are our most precious resource. Putting pressure on them to foot the bill for a fiscal downturn now will have catastrophic consequences for the future of our state. It is a short-sighted remedy with dire consequences.