Continuing Ed. Cuts Make Sense

As readers at this space undoubtedly know, we at the Rio Grande Foundation have argued for cuts to higher education. One area we neglected to mention is continuing education. These are basically classes that are not taken for credit and often involve yoga or tennis classes and a variety of things like couples counseling that are offered in the private sector (check out a UNM Continuing Ed catalog here).

Well, as part of Martinez’s efforts to eliminate the budget deficit, there will be cuts to continuing education, including a very generous benefit of free classes which is enjoyed by university employees. This is a good move, but according to the Journal article “Continuing Education sent a mass e-mail Friday asking students and supporters to contact university officials, including President David Schmidly’s office, to oppose the recommendation.”

I for one am sick and tired of government employees who ostensibly serve the taxpayer lobbying against cuts to their own departments or agencies. It would seem that using university resources for this purpose should be a firing offense. I hope UNM will put Joseph Miera, associate dean for Continuing Education, or whoever was responsible for the email under scrutiny for this.

Heaven forbid, taxpayers no longer have to subsidize someone’s tennis lessons or yoga classes (these classes are offered at campuses across the state).

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3 Replies to “Continuing Ed. Cuts Make Sense”

  1. It seems to me that focusing on yoga and tennis might be designed to get sympathy for your point of view. Never mind that helping people live a healthy life style is good for a variety of reasons, including reduced health care costs which are much larger than continuing eduction expenses. Of course that is long-term thinking which is involves delayed gratification.

    However, forget tennis and yoga. What about math, computer science, writing, or accounting classes? Welding, carpentry, or other trade related skills are other possibilities.

    As to university employees that take classes, have you considered that those classes may benefit students? I am a member of the mechanical engineering department. Before getting extra duties, I planned to take a graduate engineering class. I know this would help me devise more relevant and interesting projects in a course I regularly teach. As a side note we must pay federal and state income tax on these ‘free’ classes.

    Finally, the idea that since we are government employees we are somehow totally beholding to tax payers, seems a stretch. I might ask which taxpayer should we listen to. Perhaps you could first get a consensus. After that, not only could you dictate which classes are taught, but the very content of those classes. While this might be a warm thought for some, it probably wouldn’t be practical.

    1. Sure, there are a variety of classes offered, some of which are more career-relevant than others. Nonetheless, tuition is extremely low and many of these courses are offered by the private sector. With a $400 million deficit, reducing these expenditures is a good idea.

  2. It would make sense for university employees to get continuing education in the same way private employers provide tuition aid to employees: with the requirements that courses be job-related, approved by management and completed with satisfactory grades. If UNM has been doing this and can justify the expense, the budget should be reinstated. If UNM has been giving employees unlimited access to continuing ed without accountability, cutting the budget was a good idea.

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