Monday, October 25, 2004
On this day:

Where is Alabama's Higher Ed Money Going?

State funding for higher education in Alabama is wasteful and embroiled in litigation and politics. This Birmingham News article provides a good analysis of the situation. Its focus is on UAH and Alabama A&M, located only 8 miles apart here in Huntsville.

War Liberal has a post about this story, also:

1. Alabama public colleges have some of the highest tuition in the region.
2. Professors are among the least qualified (on average) in the region.

The problem, in part, is that they're spending money on programs that are duplicated at other schools.

Take, for example, my alma mater, the University of Alabama. Why does it need an engineering program? There's a good one at Auburn, another at UAB, and another at UAH. But Alabama has one, too, one that spends a lot of money to educate students not quite as well as the one at Auburn.

Typically, there is a racial angle. Heck, why does UAH exist at all, when there was already an engineering-oriented school, Alabama A&M, in the same city? It seems that the Legislature was asked by Wehrner von Braun -- it seems particularly apt in this case to point out, as I always do, that he was a Nazi -- to set up a white university to "service" the Space & Rocket Center.

Sounds like a pretty good argument, for the most part (perhaps minus the swipe at von Braun). Alabama taxpayers are wasting tons of money supporting duplicative programs in colleges and universities across the state. One big reason is due to the "original sin" of segregation and the subsequent failure to deal with its aftermath. For example, there are two 4-year universities (UAH and Alabama A&M) offering programs in many of the same engineering disciplines here in Huntsville. Alabama A&M is the older, "traditionally black" institution. UAH came to town in the early 1960's. UAH and A&M are only eight miles apart. They maintain two separate administrations, waste taxpayer money independently of each other, and both have opposed measures to consolidate. Whenever Alabama's colleges and universities come screaming for more money, keep this in mind, because its only the tip of the iceberg.