Make plans to be at the State House on March 2
Speak up for the public colleges and universities our students deserve at Public Higher Education Advocacy Day, which will be held on March 2 at the State House. Every MTA member — from preK to higher ed, active or retired — has a stake in seeing a significant state reinvestment in our public colleges and universities.
Following up on the tremendous success of winning $2 billion in funding for preK-to-12 public schools, it is time to claim a similar victory for our colleges and universities. Legislators have disinvested in public higher education for decades, setting up our campuses to struggle and contend with forces promoting privatization. Compared to 2001, state spending on public higher education has decreased by about 30 percent per student.
Compared to 2001, state spending on public higher education has decreased by about 30 percent per student.
Spending cuts to public higher education have created a crisis with many faces:
- The cost to attend public colleges and universities has shifted unfairly onto students and families. Not that long ago, students could graduate debt-free from our public colleges. Now students attending public colleges and universities in Massachusetts are incurring nearly as much debt as those attending private colleges — at the same time that our campuses have been forced to cut faculty, staff, programs and services. This has had a devastating effect on our early-career educators, who are shackled by loan payments, and on our high school graduates — especially students of color — who often don’t see college as an option because they can’t afford it.
- To educate a majority of their students, many campuses have turned to poorly paid adjunct faculty and part-time staff who have no access to health insurance or other benefits. Adjunct faculty members are highly qualified, yet have almost no job security, resulting in many needing to work on multiple campuses to cobble together a living. Shockingly, there are increasing reports of adjuncts using services such as local food pantries to make ends meet. Our fellow educators are being grossly exploited.
- The state no longer pays for capital costs such as building maintenance and repairs. Instead it shifts the costs to college operating budgets. This has led to layoffs, program cuts and, in some cases, unsafe and outdated facilities, undermining public higher education’s mission.
- Higher ed members deserve fair, fully funded contracts as every MTA higher ed local heads to the bargaining table this year.
The MTA and its partners in the Fund Our Future coalition have launched the Cherish Act campaign to address these issues. The campaign confronts chronic underfunding by demanding that lawmakers increase state spending on public higher education by $600 million over the next five years, starting with a $120 million reinvestment in fiscal 2021. These investments will move us forward in making public higher education more affordable, achieve a measure of justice for adjunct faculty and staff, and free up money from capital expenditures so that more full-time faculty and staff can be hired.
Please register today and join hundreds of students and colleagues from across the state in advocating for public higher education. Transportation is being arranged for those who need it and lunch will be provided, as well as training on making legislative visits and a special program for MTA members.
March 2, 9:30 AM to 2:30 PM
Massachusetts State House
24 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02133
Advocacy Day is an annual event to highlight the pressing issues facing public higher education in the state. All MTA members are encouraged to participate either in person at the State House or via outreach and visibility activities being organized.