Grassroots and “Grasstops” Step Forward to Support Higher Education

Policymakers who support higher education have told universities that we need more friends. When the legislature cuts K-12 programs or health services, there are demonstrations, phone calls and emails, and perhaps even cranky faxes. Not so when they cut higher ed. The reaction is the proverbial chirping of crickets.

This year three new groups have emerged to promote policy and budgets that are good for public universities.

The Higher Education Funding Task Force appointed by the governor last summer, is a group of about 20 business leaders from throughout the state. Members included representatives of Microsoft Corporation, McKinstry Company, Alaska Air, Battelle and other leading northwest firms. President Gaudino, trustees, and Public Affairs staff met with most of the members of the task force last summer and fall to describe CWU’s unique role in Washington’s higher education system. The task force spent about six months trying to come up with a way to change the terms that define higher education funding in Washington and announced their recommendations on January 3. The group are committed to advocating for these proposals throughout the legislative session and have the support of…..

The Prosperity Partnership is a coalition of over 300 government, business, labor and community organizations from King, Kitsap, Pierce, and Snohomish counties dedicated to long-term economic prosperity for the central Puget Sound region. The Prosperity Partnership worked with higher education in 2005 and helped produce good budget results. The group is now working with baccalaureates to develop compelling communications strategies. Click here to read more about the group and check out their legislative info materials and to find the proposals of the Higher Education Funding Task Force

A yet-to-be named, privately funded group also is engaging all six baccalaureate institutions in reaching out to Washington families to let them know how state budget cuts are affecting higher education. Spearheaded by a Seattle public affairs firm, the initiative is trying to reach everyday citizens who don’t normally pay attention to state government, but who may expect their children to be able to attend a public university. When this group gets a name and materials, I’ll be sure to post them.

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About Linda Schactler

Linda is the former Director of Communications for the Washington State Senate, and former deputy director of the Washington State Higher Education Coordinating Board. From 2000 through 2010 Linda was the proprietor of Schactler Communications, an Olympia-based public affairs business. She holds a master of arts in English literature from Washington University in St. Louis. Linda can be reached at her Ellensburg office schactler@cwu.edu, 509-963-1384, or on her cell phone, 509-607-4103.
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