Skubick: Supporting higher ed not a priority for Michiganders

Tim Skubick: Supporting higher education not a priority for Michiganders

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If somebody said you could add $22,000 a year to your income, would you jump at the chance to do it?

Not if you live in Michigan because it involves supporting higher education and in this state we don't.

Despite all the chatter from academia and politicians that a robust higher education system is key to the state's continued economic growth, the general population is ho-hum about the whole thing and this is nothing new.

Former Gov. Jennifer Granholm conducted town halls around the state asking common folks to suggest ways to cut the budget.  The shocking consensus was, cut higher ed.  And she did, only to come to the realization later on, that she made the wrong call.

The current governor is suggesting a 6% boost in higher ed this year and he may get it, but citizens don't agree.

Asked where the state's surplus should go, only about 2% said colleges and universities.

So what gives?

Turns out not enough families have an association with higher ed to bring them into the fold.  Despite efforts to boost the graduation rate in Michigan to 50%, the climb has been steep, slow and unsuccessful with  37% with at least a B.A. degree.  That's better than the national average of 28% but still not as good as Massachusetts with a whopping one out of two folks have a sheep skin on the wall.

In the Great Lakes region Minnesota ranks tenth in the nation in college grades and all the other neighboring states have more grads that Michigan except Indiana which is at 36%.

This anti-higher ed attitude is all pervasive according to a recent EPIC-MRA survey.  You name the category of voters and they are against more funding including every region of the state, all ages, all races, every income level, both sexes, and shockingly, even those with a college degree.

This despite the fact that those with a degree earn on average $48,300 vs someone with a high school education at $26,600.

Perhaps more persons would support more state aid to universities if it was earmarked for their football and basketball programs which as we know has a greater impact on society than grinding out engineers, teachers and what not.

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