27 May 2011

Title VI and Fulbright-Hays

So the bright budget-crunchers in the US Congress have cut funding for international education, particularly critical language, study by 40%.  They'd already cut some grants last year, but this year's cuts are even bigger.  Just to give some perspective, Fulbright-Hays was completely cut this year for a savings of $5.8 million dollars.  That's less than 4 Tomahawk missiles.

Programs funded through Title VI and the Fulbright-Hays grant (F-H) help fund American students to study and research around the world, especially in languages and cultures considered critical to the US government.  We've been hit twice now by these cuts, and my husband's research is unquestionably in languages and issues that are considered critical US defense.  But this post isn't about us.

The only other really viable alternative for the government to get area specialists like this is to train employees themselves, at an estimated cost of $100,000 per employee.  There's an addition cost too- the employees don't get the rich and varied overseas experience that, for example, F-H grantees get.  You will never be able to convince me that the US government, especially the Department of Defense, can do as good a job teaching language and culture as everything that was just cut does.  There is a world of difference between my Arabic education and study abroad experience than the experience of people I've known who learned Arabic in the military and then in Iraq. 

It boggles my brain that someone thought that cutting $50 million here was a good idea.

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