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How Defunding Impacts Faculty and Decimates Higher Ed

From AFT Voices:

Kim Rice, a political science professor, was awarded tenure in June 2018. She was thrilled: Western Illinois University’s political science department was exceptional, and her work with pre-law students was incredibly rewarding. She loved Macomb, a small town where her husband ran a new business and belonged to the chamber of commerce and the Rotary Club. Her mother had moved there to retire.

Then, less than a month after she was awarded tenure, Rice was laid off.

She’s moved out of Illinois and left academia. “With a 3-year-old, another baby on the way and an increasingly unstable environment at WIU, it was the best option for our family for me to apply for a private sector job,” she says. That “unstable environment” is one in which Rice and her colleagues are under constant threat of layoffs and where academic programs are disappearing due to state budget cuts. For adjunct faculty, who work with far less job security, the situation is worse.

This is what defunding public higher education looks like, and it’s not just happening at WIU. Faculty and staff are taking a big hit, but so is the entire higher education enterprise. Nationwide, 41 states spent less on higher education in 2017 than during the economic recession in 2008, and tuition has gone up — by 40 percent at four-year colleges — to compensate. A college education, widely regarded as essential for financial stability, is in danger of becoming a rare and expensive luxury.

To see the full report, go here.

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