Stockton?s spending pleases politicians, hurts students

Stockton?s spending pleases politicians, hurts students
By Seth Grossman, Political Columnist

(Reprinted from July 7, 2010 Current-Gazette Newspapers of Atlantic and Cape May Counties, http://www.shorenewstoday.com/index….-students.html)

?Richard Stockton College in Galloway Township is in negotiations to buy the nearby Seaview Resort, area officials confirmed Friday. . . State Senator Jim Whelan (D) said he was aware of the negotiations and thinks it?s a great idea. . . The hotel complex is assessed at $16.2 million.??

? Press of Atlantic City, July 3, 2010

Are these people out of their minds? How many things are wrong with this picture?

My family and I could afford college in the 1960s. I chose Duke University, an ?expensive? private school that cost roughly $3,000 per year for tuition, room, meals and books. At that time, a taxpayer-supported school like Rutgers cost roughly $800 per year.

Every student I knew could earn at least $1,200 working a summer job at the shore or mountains. Most hotels housed you, and every restaurant fed you. It was easy to bank $800, even after paying for a summer of beer, music, and movies. If you lived home with your parents, you did even better.

I went on to law school. But most knowledge that made me a good lawyer came from those summers in kitchens, arcades and taxis ? not from books and professors.

My guess is that if they didn?t have to compete with thousands of students from Eastern Europe, and millions of illegal Mexicans, most college students today could earn $3,000 to $4,000 in a summer.

But today, tuition, room and board at Duke University costs $50,000 a year. State schools like Rutgers and our own Stockton (which gets $23 million of state taxes each year) charge about $23,000 per year.

Of course, only chumps pay full tuition today. Roughly 83 percent of all Stockton students get some student aid. How much they get, and what they have to do to get it, is way too complicated and subjective for me to figure out.

According to students and parents at budget hearings, kids from high schools with the most expense sports and performing arts programs get the best college scholarships.

But even most scholarships don?t make college affordable. In 2008, nearly two-thirds of four-year college students graduated with an average student loan debt of $23,186 ?and no job with which to pay it back.

If college summer earnings only went up about 350 percent in the past 40 years, why did the cost of a private college like Duke go up 17 times (1,700 percent)? Why did New Jersey?s taxpayer-funded schools such as Rutgers and Stockton go up almost 29 times (2,900 percent)?

The short answer is that we asked government to ?fix? the high cost of college, the same way we asked it to ?fix? the high cost of housing, health care, and property taxes. And so federal and state politicians taxed and borrowed billions to pour money into private and government-run colleges.

Where did the money go? More pay, pensions, and benefits for professors and administrators? Lavish spending on programs for sports nobody cares about ? then even more lavish scholarships to attract students to use them? Teaching basic reading, writing, and arithmetic skills that were once mastered in the eighth grade?

At one time, college students and professors did research and gave the public answers to these questions. But now most colleges like Stockton are too hooked on government welfare. They only do research that helps the politicians who dish out the money.

That is why Stockton sponsors a propaganda machine named after ex-Democrat Congressman Bill Hughes. It only recommends more government spending, borrowing and taxes for every problem we have. Groups like LibertyandProsperity.com have no place at Stockton.

Stockton?s history of big spending to please politicians makes me wonder what this Seaview Resort buyout (or bailout) deal is all about.

Stockton gave ex-state Education Commissioner Leo Klagholtz a high-paying job when the NJEA forced ex-Republican Gov. Whitman to dump him. It took over the obsolete and useless Carnegie Library Center in Atlantic City, rebuilt by the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority at great expense. It spent $700,000 to transplant trees, rather than challenge an idiotic decision by the state?s Department of Environmental Protection. It spent a million bucks to bail out the Noyes Museum. It is building a new facility in Hammonton. It is after a slice of the $4.6 billion federal NextGen Aviation pie.

Stockton College has put itself in the middle of New Jersey pay-to-play politics. It has strayed far from its prime mission ? to give New Jersey students a quality education without crushing them and their parents with debt.

Somers Point attorney Seth Grossman appears live on WVLT-92.1FM, heard throughout South Jersey 8-9 a.m. every Saturday. For information see www.libertyandprosperity.org, email grossman@snip.net or call (609) 927-7333. Breakfast discussions are held 9:30-10:30 a.m. every Saturday at the Athena Diner, 1515 New Road, Northfield.

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