BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - A panel of college leaders says Louisiana will fall further behind if it fails to shift its priorities and restore financial support for higher education.
At the same time, The Advocate reports (https://bit.ly/1Llt4KQ) the leaders say the state, particularly Baton Rouge, is well-suited to spur future economic growth if it can substantially increase the number of students who not only make it to college but go on to complete two- and four-year degrees.
Already near the bottom when it comes to adults earning college degrees, Louisiana will fall further behind if it fails to shift its priorities and restore financial support for higher education, a panel of college leaders said Thursday.
LSU Chancellor and President F. King Alexander says higher education has sustained some of the steepest cuts in the nation in per capita funding during the past several years, yet Louisiana spends among the most per capita in the country on its prisons.
Alexander warned that drastic cuts some have called for, including closing state colleges, would make things worse.
“We should reframe the debate about higher education from it being a cost center to an investment,” said Ray Belton, chancellor and president of Southern University.
Speaking before about 70 people at Baton Rouge, the leaders were nevertheless bullish on the possibilities if the state increases higher education funding. They focused in particular on current and future partnerships with public school districts such as East Baton Rouge Parish, the second-largest in Louisiana.
Alexander said Louisiana has an opportunity to not only help more children attend college but to help more make the transition from two-year colleges such as Baton Rouge Community College to four-year colleges such as LSU. Currently, only about 6 percent of two-year college students in the state successfully make that leap, he said.
“I could easily see that going from 6 to 20 percent,” he said.
The prospect for even more cuts to higher education, however, might upend all that, something that clearly worries the three leaders. They said the Oct. 24 elections will be key and urged people to scrutinize the candidates closely.
Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com
Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.