Proration ‘crisis has a human face’

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 13, 2001

To the Editor:

This letter is in response to: "Higher Education can afford cuts; K-12 can’t" (March 10, 2001).

I’m an Associate Professor of English at Troy State University, and I would like to respond to a recent letter critical of my institution. In light of the education funding crisis in our state, I’ve thought hard about what we do at Troy State-and I like what I see.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Let me give you just a sampling of the university’s commitment to the young people of this state and community.

The last time I was at the athletic fields at Troy State in the fall, I was dragging barely conscious, vomit-strewn high school runners out of the way as they collapsed at the finish line of the 1A-4A State Cross Country Championships. I didn’t mind. Like the big brother said to Father Flanagan at Boys Town: "He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother."

The championships are held annually at Troy State, and I like to serve as a volunteer official along with many of my professorial colleagues. We are joined by dozens of Troy State’s own athletes who volunteer to keep the event running smoothly and professionally.

The next time that I’ll be in the "million-dollar" Troy State stadium will be as another volunteer official for the Alabama 1A-4A High School Track and Field Championships. Again, I’ll be joined by dozens of my colleagues and students who gladly give their time and talents in this celebration of our youth’s athleticism.

The last time I was in the "million-dollar" Crosby Theater last week was at a public performance of a Russian choral group. And don’t mess with my funk because as a result of Claudia Crosby’s generous donation, Smith Hall (in which the theater is located) got a new roof to replace the old roof that leaked for years; also, we were able to remove some of the asbestos (but not all) from our classrooms and offices. We replaced old wiring, installed improved fire alarms, and built handicap-access restrooms. The state has been very stingy toward Higher Education on the subject of "capital improvement," which helps address problems such as leaky roofs, sweltering classrooms, and asbestos abatement.

We still don’t have hot water in Smith Hall, the heating and cooling is spotty at best, there is no elevator, the carpets are ratty and the lighting is dim, but I’m proud of the teaching that my colleagues and I conduct there under less-than-the-best conditions.

The last time I was in the Adams Theater was for TSU’s production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. That same week, hundreds of Pike County elementary students (and I hope the kids from Goshen were there, too) attended the show as a result of a partnership between K-6 and TSU. The university hosts four separate arts-related events per year for area students in K-6 in conjunction with a Alabama State Council on the Arts grant. I daresay, sometimes there are more kids from K-12 in my building than college students.

TSU feels duty-bound to sponsor these events because our state legislators continue to starve the arts in the K-12 environment. You’ll remember that dozens of the county’s young people used to participate in TSU’s summer musical until the university was forced to cancel the productions as a result of Governor Fob James’ irrational vendetta against Higher Education in the mid-90s.

Let me conclude by giving a list of some, but certainly not all, of the services and events for which TSU opens its doors to the community:

· Wallace university library

· Sorrell Chapel

· Advanced classes on campus for promising high school seniors ~ District and state band competitions

· High school state basketball tournaments

· High school graduation ceremonies

· High school football camps

· Cheerleading camps

· Middle School choral festival

· FHA drama camp

· Local dance schools

· Girls’ State

Many of my colleagues also go into area schools to offer their expertise and encouragement to our colleagues in the trenches. We at TSU have educated 90% of the area’s teachers, and we will educate many of those teachers’ students.

Don’t give in to those forces that would drive a wedge between K-12 and Higher Education. I like to think of us as K-PhD. The first graders in Goshen this year will be college freshmen in just a few more years. There should be no logical disconnect between state funding for a first grader and funding for a student in her first year of college.

If the storm of proration hits Troy State, over 30 of my colleagues, friends, and workmates may lose jobs-that’s a lot of people on a small campus. Many of them are people whom you know. My students’ tuition may increase as much as 40 percent. Many have told me that with tuition that high they’ll be forced to leave school. Not go to another college. Not go to college, period.

Remember, this crisis has a human face.


Michael Orlofsky,

Associate Professor of English  

Contact Us

Letters: Send your commentary to the Troy Messenger.

News tips: Have a story or tip for our staff?

Subscribe: Get the Troy Messenger delivered to your door or mailbox.