Profitability takes priority over community needs

Proposed budget reflects growing disdain for social sciences

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Cynta Camilla / The Torch

Lane Community College’s budget for 2018 proposes draconian cuts to the social sciences, including the full termination of the early childhood education program, while adding huge sums to more “profitable” fields such as nursing, aviation maintenance and flight technology.

At last week’s budget meeting, board member Gary LeClair declared that the school needed to be “run like a business.” This statement is fundamentally wrong. A national network of community colleges was created by the federal government in the 1960s to offer the opportunity for all American citizens to pursue an education in a field of their choosing, to provide an affordable and balanced alternative to private universities.

Community colleges are funded by the government to be able to provide courses in a wide variety of subjects, and are designed to be responsive to the needs of the community. What could be more important to our community than the study of social problems, and competent child care providers? This is just to name a few of the many services provided by these disciplines.

The social sciences, and, in particular, childcare programs, are vulnerable to cuts like these because, first of all, the benefits they provide the community cannot be easily quantified in terms of monetary value, and secondly because they are female dominated, according to a study published by Statistics Canada. Is it really surprising that when the school needs money the first things to go are the programs run by women, centered around childcare? At this point, it shouldn’t be.

The continued discrimination against women in the United States is well documented. According to the AAUW, (American Association of University Women) women in the U.S. make a wage of about 80 percent of that of men working in the same field. In a 2009 study published in the Oxford Academic Journal, it is proven that the number of females in a profession can actually lower pay, “owing to devaluation of work done by women.”

These statistics show that not only is sexism still prevalent in our society, it is so prevalent that the influx of women into a field can lower the pay within said field across the board. Take for example the salary of janitors, an overwhelmingly male dominated job, to those of maids and house cleaners, which is on the opposite side of the spectrum. Janitors make about 22 percent more on average than maids do, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Considering this data, when we see programs like early childhood education being completely terminated to help “pay for the deficit,” while simultaneously the flight technology and aviation maintenance department are receiving additional funding equal to nearly two times the costs required to maintain the ECE program, we have to question the logic, and bias of this budget.

We need to reevaluate the board’s definition of profit to encompass more than just monetary gains. The early childhood education program is filled with some of the most passionate students and staff we have here at Lane. To suggest that this department is merely an expense that can be eliminated is insulting not to just these faculty members and their students, but to all of the children in Lane county.