There has been a heated debate over President Biden’s student debt relief for low- and middle-income college borrowers. Discussions sometimes revolve around faculty salaries or the high cost of college, but the issue that gets the spotlight is America’s ambivalent sentiment toward education.
The severe national teacher shortage is a symptom of this. While people have become accustomed to expensive medical bills, which they believe will be paid by insurance or the government, they also believe that schooling should be inexpensive.
According to a 2021 Lending Tree study, university professor salaries, adjusted for inflation, have only increased by 9.5% over the past 50 years. The same study notes a 3.1% increase in salaries at publicly funded universities.
Most college costs have skyrocketed due to a skyrocketing increase in the number of administrators, reduced state funding (check out Penn State’s low percentage of state funding), and improved amenities, such as student fitness centers, designed to attract a dwindling number of college students in this competitive environment. (An educated population increases our tax base and reduces welfare.)
Meanwhile, after adjusting for inflation, teachers across the country have seen their salaries cut by 4%. At the same time, school shootings have increased; public school board meetings have become increasingly hostile; teachers face more family dysfunction; and debates rage about what teachers teach and how they teach it, usually without input from the teachers themselves.
Josh Shapiro knows that an educated population is crucial to Pennsylvania’s future and he supports fair and equitable public funding.
William J. Rothwell, State College, Pennsylvania.