Lousy, Ungrateful, Punk Kids!

Yes, the title sounds like a line from the crotchety old man in a movie, but somehow it just seems to fit. In Nevada, the college students have taken to the anger/dance party streets, outraged over a proposal to cut state higher education funding in the face of recession:

Before the rally got underway, students crammed tents to sign petitions and receive information on how to contact state legislators. Others waved signs of protest like “Impeach [Governor Jim] Gibbons” as a DJ spun music near the stage. During the event, students bristled with indignation at the mention of the cuts, while they wildly cheered calls demanding action.

Now, I believe the children are our future and all that, but let’s put this in perspective. First off, everyone has lots of things they think are valuable and for which they want to use their money. Why should they have to support UNLV, or any other college, rather than, say, buy a car? More concretely, as the attached chart from the State Higher Education Executive Officers shows, Nevada has pretty steadily increased public per-pupil expenditures on higher ed over the last few years and, indeed, kept funding pretty stable or growing over the last few decades. Meanwhile, the state’s kept net revenue from tuition pretty constant. Moreover, relative to other states, Nevada is extremely generous, with public per-pupil expenditures of $8,589 in 2007 (versus a national average of $6,773) and per-pupil revenue through tuition of only $1,798 (versus a national average of $3,845).

And so, I repeat the crotchety old man’s line — “Lousy, ungrateful, punk kids!” — with a warning that the Silver State is hardly the only place we’ll see such self-righteous student greediness in the coming months.