University of Arizona freshmen who end up taking required English classes at Pima Community College may have the same question I do after reading James Reel's piece in Currents this week:

Why are they paying university prices for community college instruction?

The UA says it isn't able to provide enough low-paid lecturers for required English courses for another bumper crop of UA first-year students. Pima, though, is ready to help, probably by hiring many of those same lecturers at even lower wages.

Who's to blame for this? Why, the Arizona Legislature, of course, full of Neanderthals who don't appreciate the value of higher education.

Pardon me if I don't ply the company line in this company town.

If the Arizona Legislature is unwilling to give the UA sufficient funds--and if the UA refuses to shift money from expensive research and upper-level teaching programs to accommodate 6,000 new students--then that number should be reduced.

The state has an obligation to educate its people--not necessarily all of the nearly one-third of UA students who come here from out of state--but to do so efficiently given that resources are limited.

That requires choices, and it's the UA administration--not the Legislature--that picks the losers in the squabbling over the money pie on campus.

Admittedly, Arizona legislators are a sorry lot. But they recognize that a community college education is less expensive and in some cases equivalent to that offered at the University.

If even the UA admits that Pima may do just as good a job teaching college English, perhaps we can move on to lessons in other subjects--such as economics.

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