Opinion

Shalala: Students should educate themselves on Amendment 8

President Donna E. Shalala 

 

President Donna E. Shalala

Amendment 8 is a ballot initiative that allows Florida counties to seek voter approval on whether to raise taxes to support their community colleges. By passing this amendment, each county in Florida can hold a referendum at a later date to supplement state funding of their community college with a local tax.

The amendment does not levy a tax, it simply provides a democratic mechanism that allows communities to address future financial needs of their local community colleges.

So why should University of Miami students educate themselves on Amendment 8?

Well, the short answer is that everyone benefits when people have access to higher education.

Pursuing a college degree is a very personal choice that depends on each person’s unique situation. When you selected the University of Miami, you and your family made a very personal decision that we were the best fit for your needs. Major and degree selections, career expectations, and financial fit are a few of the most compelling reasons students choose a particular educational institution.

For more than 900,000 people their perfect option is one of Florida’s 28 community colleges. These special institutions provide a vital service to their communities by helping people to pursue two-year degrees that they can either use to continue their studies at a four-year university, like the University of Miami, or to jump straight into the workforce with the necessary skills to succeed in a wide variety of fields.

Community colleges also offer four-year degrees in select areas facing critical workforce shortages, like nursing, teacher education and public safety management. They help four-year institutions, like UM, in fulfilling the urgent needs of our community in these crucial areas that have an enormous impact on our quality of life.

And in today’s turbulent economy as the job market continues to transition from manufacturing and other industrial occupations to high-tech industries and information services, community colleges provide excellent training and certificate programs that allow workers to better meet emerging employment opportunities.

Community colleges need our support more than ever. In our own community, Miami-Dade College has experienced more than $32 million in budget cuts over the last two years. All this precisely when their enrollment has grown by double digits during the same period.

One thing is certain, when any of Miami-Dade County’s colleges or universities excel, the University of Miami benefits as well. Our community deserves access to the finest higher education available – we can only succeed when each of us can make the best possible choice for ourselves and our neighbors.

Visit www.voteyes8fl.org to learn more about Amendment 8.

November 2, 2008

Reporters

Donna E. Shalala

President of the University of Miami


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