Public Higher Ed Recap #4 & Action Alert!

We Can’t Get Enough of This Free Public Higher Education Talk

Vice President Joe Biden was never officially in the race for President, but as he told the world he was not running, he seemed to be reading from PHENOM’s talking points, making a strong argument for free public higher education. “We need to commit to 16 years of free public education for all our children,” he said.  “We all know that 12 years of public education is not enough….As a nation, let’s make the same commitment to a college education today that we made to a high school education 100 years ago.”

PHENOM has been putting free public higher education on the agenda in Massachusetts long before it was acceptable in polite company.  We are thrilled that the President proposed free community college, and that all of the Democratic candidates — even the one not running — have offered  plans for some form of free public higher education, just as we are thrilled that some states led by Republicans — such as Tennessee — have actually implemented a version of free public higher education.

Join PHENOM and help support our work of fighting for outstanding, free public higher education for all our residents.


ACTION ALERT: Tell the Massachusetts Legislature to Fund Collective Bargaining Costs for Public Higher Education

Right now, state legislators are voting on a supplemental budget that includes funding for staff and faculty raises for Fiscal Years 2015 and 2016.  Please use this form below to send a message to the your Senator and Representative as well as to the House Speaker (Robert DeLeo) and Senate President (Stan Rosenberg) to show your support for the state appropriations for these collective bargaining costs.

We know, if the campuses do not get adequate state funding to cover the collective bargaining costs, student fees will go up to cover the difference. Tell the Legislature that it is unacceptable to pit faculty and staff against the students. The State agreed to the terms of the contracts and has to ensure the campuses have the funding they need!


Affordability Forum a Success

PHENOM’s dual focus on short-term incremental improvements and real long-term solutions was on vivid display at PHENOM’s Forum on College Affordability, held October 14th at UMass Amherst. Congressman Jim McGovern and Chris Cappucci, aide to State Representative Paul Mark, presented honest appraisals of what was, what might, and what is not reasonable to expect through the legislative process in the next year.

Maggie Thompson, from Higher Ed Not Debt, and our own Natalie Higgins, discussed the growing movement for some version of free higher education. As Maggie said, we’re not yet at the point of choosing one over the other – we need to support any movement toward, free, debt-free or fully-funded 2 years or 4 years of higher education. As others commented, PHENOM’s talk about free higher ed was considered by many to be pie-in-the-sky just 2 years ago; now all the major Democratic Party candidates for President are singing this tune.


Coming Soon:  Expanding Access to Public Higher Education

While cost may be the biggest barrier faced by students and potential college students, there are others that must be addressed if Massachusetts is to be a leader in educating our entire diverse population. PHENOM’s 2nd Conference on College Access will do just that. On Saturday, November 7 at Mass Bay Community College, we expect over 100 people to join distinguished panelists in discussing obstacles related to transportation, trans and other GLBTQ students, disabilities, race, low income and 1st generation students, immigrant status, survivors of sexual assault, and students with families.

The goal of the conference is not just to broaden understanding, but to highlight best practices and explore systemic solutions. Registration is open.


Millionaires + Progressive Taxes = Funding for Public Higher Education

If you have not yet signed a petition calling for the legislature to support a constitutional amendment for progressive taxes that would in part go to making public higher education more affordable, or if you are ready to collect signatures in your town, your school, your university, the time is now!  Sign up with Raise Up Massachusetts or contact PHENOM.