It's been heartbreaking to watch how higher education has been decimated during the Great Recession. The budgets of many colleges and universities had already been cut to the bone during the good times, especially teaching schools and community colleges that don't attract a lot of public or private research dollars.
Here in the US, education and training has served as a pathway to the middle class for people from all walks of life. It's part of what makes us unique - no matter what your parents and grandparents did for a living, you can get an education and within a generation make an enormous leap in economic status.
It's stunningly short-sighted and bad public policy to try to solve our economic problems by laying off teachers, overloading classes and cutting budgets for books and computers. Don't worry, the wealthy and advantaged will still be able to buy an education to maintain their status. It's everyone else who will lose the opportunity. Perhaps worse, we could end up with a system where the elites get classes with live instructors while those who can't pay as much get online-only classes taught from India or China.
Think that isn't possible? Some professors have already outsourced grading to Asia.
To track layoffs and other cuts, the Chronicle of Higher Education has launched the Campus Cuts blog. Search for your favorite educational institution on the site. They cover everything from major research institutions to teaching schools to community colleges.
This is just one of many online resources to track Great Recession layoffs, like this one for cutbacks in the news industry. This amazing map tracks the progression of net job gains and losses in major metro since 2004.
If you don't like what you see, the time to speak up for education is now.
Pre-school graduation photo by Gideon Tsang.