Educators to testify for higher ed funding and affordability

Educators to testify for higher ed funding and affordability

MTA members and leaders will be testifying on Tuesday in support of three bills aimed at adequately funding public higher education, ensuring that students can attend public colleges without incurring debt, and creating safe and healthy campuses.

The Legislature’s Joint Committee on Higher Education will be hearing testimony on these bills and others starting at 10 a.m. Tuesday’s hearing will be held remotely and will be viewable online.

“The Legislature must commit to confronting the structural racism of disinvestment in public higher education in the same way it did for preK-through-12 education with the Student Opportunity Act,” said MTA President Merrie Najimy. “We are calling on the Legislature to properly support public colleges and universities, as they are vital to having a just and equitable economic recovery.

“We are witnessing alarming numbers of students of color and working-class students leaving public colleges and universities during the pandemic,” Najimy continued. “These bills address important issues of social, racial and gender justice as well as economic and education issues.”

MTA members will be testifying in support of:

  • The Cherish Act (An Act committing to higher education the resources to insure a strong and healthy public higher education system). This bill addresses two decades of declining per-student spending by the state on public higher education by adopting the recommendations of the 2014 Higher Education Finance Commission report.
  • An Act to ensure safe and healthy public higher education campuses. This bill will establish new ventilation requirements for campus buildings and make future funding for safe buildings the responsibility of the state and not individual campuses. The bill also addresses planning for future public health crises.
  • An Act to guarantee debt-free public higher education. This bill makes public higher education a right accessible to all students and creates a grant program to pay tuition and fees for eligible students.

“Having debt-free, high-quality and safe public colleges and universities is not just an issue for the MTA’s 18,000 members working in public higher education, but is a priority for our entire 115,000-member union,” said MTA Vice President Max Page. “Supporting public higher education is central to protecting the public good, and this work has even greater urgency as families and communities recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”