Budget cuts to higher education and cuts to Head Start and local after-school programs led nine students to rally on the Keene State College Campus on Friday, Dec. 1.
A staged protest was held by four Team Leaders to raise awareness of the impacts seen around the KSC campus due to budget cuts and to demonstrate the impact of cutting 132 students from Head Start programs.
Team Leader Kevin Hiera said an educated society is pivotal in the growth of our nation. “I don’t know why we are cutting funding for education when it’s most important to have a strongly educated workforce,” Hiera said.
According to Keene State Today, the near 50 percent cut amounted to KSC losing $6,318,860 in the annual operating budget.
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The cuts to higher education have also led to increased tuition costs, which is one prominent impact seen by the July 2011 cuts. “With the higher tuition costs, teachers also have to do more with less,” Hiera said.
The four Team Leaders, Kevin Hiera, Jessica Kerin, Jessica Morrison, and Greg Konopka brainstormed the idea of protesting the recent budget cuts when searching for a topic to demonstrate a mass body protest. “We decided to do budget cuts because they are prevalent for students today,” Hiera said. “We needed to show physical bodies can be persuasive.”
Some of the signs held by the nine students protesting read, “Budget cuts unfair, We’ll end up on welfare,” “Bad news budget cuts,” “Enter to learn, Pay to serve,” and “Some cuts never heal.”
Participant Britney Taylor, a film production major at KSC, said she is bothered by the cuts and is worried about her future in a liberal arts program. “Arts is one of the first things to get cut before anything else,” Taylor said.
Team Leader Morrison said she hopes to be a teacher one day. “The cuts will affect me when finding jobs,” Morrison said. In addition, Morrison said due to less funding of the arts she would have to implement programs such as art class into her classroom curriculum. Morrison mentioned that class size would also be impacted.
In addition to cuts to education, local Head Start programs have also seen impacts in the cuts. Morrison works for Head Start and said, “It will 110 percent negatively affect the kids.” As an employee at Head Start, Morrison said the program is beneficial to the kids. “I love it. It improves their behavior.”
According to the U.S. Dept. of Environmental Services, Head Start “provide[s] comprehensive child development services to economically disadvantaged children and families, with a special focus on helping preschoolers develop the early reading and math skills they need to be successful in school.”
Team Leader Kerin said as of Sept. 30 2011, 132 kids were cut from the Head Start program in N.H. “I hope to get the word out to people,” Kerin said.
According to everychildmatters.org the House cut $61 billion from children, youth and family programs nationwide.
Some of the federally funded programs that received cuts were after-school programs for grade-school children.
Team Leader Konopka said he attended an afterschool program when he was a child. Konopka explained that young children need afterschool programs. “They help keep kids out of trouble,” Konopka said.
By holding the protest on Appian Way, Konopka said he hoped to stir up the minds of students, faculty, and staff members and get them thinking. “I want to get the word out there and maybe the people seeing the signs will think twice about it.”
Konopka said he feels many individuals do not think about the budget cuts and how the cuts affect them. For example, “People who aren’t art students don’t think about it. It really does affect everyone.”
Team Leader Hiera said he predicts students will take something positive from the protest. “I hope students take the experience of speaking up and acting up and know that [they] do have the power to make changes.”
Jordan Cuddemi can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.