President Stokes speaks on Education, legislation

This year’s legislative push to improve K-12 education has the potential to impact higher education institutions in the future.

K-12 funding cuts back on the budget for colleges and universities, which will likely result in higher tuition and additional fees for students, said South Puget Sound Community College President Timothy Stokes.

Changes to K-12 education will be beneficial in several ways, said Stokes. “The students coming out of the K-12 will be more prepared for college-level work, so we will be able to reduce the funding for pre-college education programs and focus instead on professional and technical programs.”

Running Start students would also benefit because K-12 funding directly increases the college’s funding for Running Start students.

Higher education students may get lucky this year when it comes to tuition. Out of the three budget proposal plans for higher education, only the House’s budget plan calls for a tuition increase.

Even that increase is lower than usual, a three-percent increase compared to previous years’ 12-percent increases, said Stokes.

The other two proposals have no increase and actually restore some funding that was cut over the last two biennium, he said.

“As a system of all 34 colleges, we’re glad to see that it’s not the 12-percent increase that we’ve seen over the last few years,” said Stokes, “Tuition is already on the edge of affordability for students.”

According to Stokes, there is a direct correlation between enrollment and the price of tuition.
Potential additional fees to offset budget cuts are being discussed by the college faculty.
Stokes said he thinks technology fees are likely to be implemented. According to him, SPSCC is one of the only colleges in the Washington college system that does not charge technology fees.
“While the college understands students do not like additional fees, it is imperative that SPSCC ‘catch up’ in the technology suite of offerings we have for students. ” Stokes said, “Not doing so harms our ability to create a dynamic, technology-enhanced teaching and learning environment.”

“Technology fees could create a better and more-robust technology infrastructure at SPSCC: cross-campus Wi-Fi, more computers, greater bandwidth, a better network, and student support services.”

Student Mark Wunsch said, “I don’t feel that technology is something that should be charged because students use it so heavily, and it’s a necessity in education.”

Student Jacob Karpinski said if technology fees were “quietly added with a small disclaimer” to his tuition fees, he would not have a problem with them. “If I don’t know about it, I won’t be mad about it,” he said.

Technology fees are currently being considered and no cost estimates have been made yet, said Stokes. Soon college faculty hopes to talk with students about fee proposals, he said.

Students do not have to worry about parking fees coming back, though. According to Stokes, SPSCC does not feel comfortable charging its students for something it does not have enough of in the first place.

Any new state funds that come to the college will be allotted to various needs. A large portion of the money will go to hiring the 11 to 12 new full-time faculty we need, said Stokes.

The final outcome for Washington’s higher-education budget will be decided in the Special Session that commences May 13.

Technology fees or not, Stokes said he thinks students will see vast improvements in campus technology in the upcoming years. “It’s the direction higher education is moving,” he said.
“While our college will never be all-online, all-technology, our need to increase capacity, to get more students enrolled at a higher level of education, is naturally integrating more technology into the classroom,” Stokes said.

“To compete with other countries –– Brazil, China, India –– we need to continue to have high levels available and accessible to all people,” said Stokes.

“The unique niche we have in the world is our innovation and creativity as a culture, especially what is cultivated in higher-education institutions,” said Stokes, “We need to keep our education standards high to maintain this niche.”

“The new directions our education system is taking is the wind behind our sails,” he said. “We are moving toward individualized learning, enabling students to move at their own pace, and competency-based instruction, which allows students to prove they can meet the learning outcomes of the course for a credit instead of credits given out on the basis of ‘time spent in class,’” said Stokes.

Prior-learning assessments are also a big movement right now, he said. They enable students who already have certain skills to assess into higher-level classes or assess out of certain pieces of curriculum.

“Our goal with the education system right now is to make education accessible and efficient so that we can create prosperity in our own country and globally,” he said.
percent voter turnout- have all the power,” she said.

When young voters do vote, they make a difference: we saw that in Obama’s election and his re-election, Wyman said.

“Barack Obama was brilliant. He used the internet and social media in a way no had before in political campaigns,” she said.

It was his ability to connect with the young demographic that made the difference in his win, said Wyman.

Wyman also emphasizes the importance of participating in local elections.

“Most people focus on the presidential election because it’s really glamorous and it gets a lot of press,” she said, “But really, in your day to day life, President Obama doesn’t have as much of an effect on us here in Washington as our local government.”

“Many of the decisions that affect Washington residents on a day-to-day basis -the quality of our water, the books we see in schools, the time it takes for a response team to get to an accident site- are decisions made at the state or county level,” said Wyman.

“And yet, the local elections have the lowest voter turnouts,” she said.

SPSCC President Timothy Stokes, an attendee at the luncheon, said, “She gave our students great advice on how to get involved and how to pursue their passion.”

According to Wyman, people should find what they love to do, learn everything they can about their passion, hone their skills, and then do it.

“People should be mindful that money follows passion,” said Wyman.

“I started out wanting to be an audiologist but after working in the clinical field, I realized it was a bore to me,” she said. “I began looking for other things to do and eventually wound up working as the Election Supervisor and it was this ‘I am-meant-to-do-this’ feeling.”

“I felt passionate about my job and gained a sense of importance,” she said.

In 2012, Wyman got the opportunity to run for Secretary of State when her predecessor Sam Reed decided to step down.

“It was a lot of work and many people don’t even know who the Secretary of State is -most people aren’t even sure of what I do- but I had a conviction to protect every single person’s right to vote, to make sure that everyone who is eligible has access,” she said.

Wyman prides herself on being nonpartisan, “I avoid talking about my personal beliefs on political issues during campaigning because I believe it taints the way voters think I’m going to count their ballot.”

Luncheon attendee and political science major, student Andrew Burgess said it was great to talk with Wyman, “She’s very straightforward, she’s got a great sense of humor, and she’s very good at connecting with the younger population.”