To the editor:
Sid Cassese’s article, “No Tuition Hike in NCC Budget” (Newsday.com, June 19, 2012), requires clarification. While Mr. Cassese quoted accurately from our statement regarding Nassau Community College’s 2012-2013 budget, the article as a whole misrepresents our position by failing to note that we did not urge the legislature not to pass the budget. Nor did we ask for a tuition increase. Rather, we acknowledged that the budget would be “difficult…to vote against” because “students and their parents will, reasonably, celebrate” the flat tuition it contains. Our hope in asking the legislature to reflect on the cynicism and short-sightedness enshrined in President Astrab’s budget was to engage them in a conversation about the value Nassau Community College brings to this county and how to sustain that value over the long term.
Whatever our problems with President Astrab’s vision may be, however, we are sure that we agree with him on one thing: the budget he proposed would have looked very different if Nassau County and New York State had lived up to their legal funding obligations—something they have not done even in strong fiscal years. This failure on their part leaves tuition as the only potentially increasing source of revenue the college can count on, which is why we pointed out that next year’s flat tuition, no matter how financially and politically attractive, “is not part of a rational fiscal policy that takes the college’s financial needs into account in a predictable way.”
This is a difficult thing to say and, we know, a difficult thing to hear. As we said in our statement, though, a vision for Nassau Community College that sees cutting the full-time faculty by 15% as a viable, long-term solution to our fiscal difficulties is simply not a vision that “puts students first, no matter how good the words ‘no tuition increase this year’ may sound.” Nassau Community College earned its reputation as one of the finest two-year colleges in the nation because of its dedicated full-time faculty, its low faculty-to-student ratio (and correspondingly small class sizes) and its commitment to providing students the highest quality support services outside the classroom. President Astrab’s vision of austerity education puts all of that in jeopardy.
The taxpayers of Nassau County and the current and future students of Nassau Community College deserve better. That is why we ended our June 18th statement by inviting the legislature to work with us to preserve the strengths that have earned our college its national reputation. The invitation still stands. We hope they will take us up on it.
Thanks for your time and your consideration.
Richard Jeffrey Newman, Communications Coordinator
Nassau Community College Federation of Teachers
One Education Drive
Garden City, NY 11530
O: (516) 572-7198
F: (516) 572-7342
C: (718) 757-6934