To The Daily Sun,
The New Hampshire Community College system (CCSNH) is often called an essential component to our state's economic future. Several years ago SEA/SEIU Local 1984 supported CCSNH's break from being a state agency to becoming its own entity that, with support from the state, could better fulfill its mission as an academic institution that provides our residents with a quality, affordable, and accessible education. Doing so ensures we have a skilled workforce for our state's businesses and that our workers can compete in today's global economy.
This endeavor has been a tremendous success as CCSNH pursues the best options for the jobs of the future in that ever changing economy.
That success is largely due to the qualified and committed staff and faculty who make the Community College System work. They have kept up their end of the CCSNH mission by providing a high quality education to our residents.
The faculty educates students from the high school graduate to the mid-career changer. As instructors, they teach students with widely different levels of education, from non-traditional college students to traditional students looking to transfer to a larger college after two years, to older individuals looking to continue their education and gain new marketable skills.
Yet, as a state we are not fulfilling our part of the mission and are failing the students, faculty and staff. Our state leaders have been content with supporting our community colleges with the lowest level of state funding in the country, the highest in-state tuition and a faculty that sits in the bottom fifth of compensation nationally. Despite commendable efforts from Governor Hassan to increase funding for CCSNH, our Legislature has not responded well enough and we still languish near the bottom in state support and at the highest for in-state tuition costs.
While freezing or lowering tuition at our community college is critical for our residents to get ahead, it should not be pitted against being able to attract and retain a quality group of educators. While we attempt to hold down costs for our students, we increasingly shift toward utilizing adjunct rather than full-time faculty and the full-time faculty are seeing their workloads increase dramatically. All of these components threaten an institution that continues to deliver for our state, but over the long run will not succeed if we continue to place more strain on an overworked, under resourced staff.
The solution in not raising tuition, or continuing to do more with less. The path forward is one that holds up our end of the bargain and ensures the next state budget is one that can support a well-funded Community College system.
President SEA/SEIU Local 1984
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