Modern Language Association Protests Federal Budget Cuts to Language and Humanities Programs

The MLA Executive Council has issued a statement criticizing the final Continuing Resolution

for the 2011 federal budget in the United States, which includes dramatic cuts to International Education and Foreign Language programs, the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. The MLA urges its members in the U.S. to combat these cuts by contacting their state representatives and senators, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and President Obama. Russell A. Berman, MLA President, sent out the call to action in the following email:

Dear Colleague,

Like many of you, I have been following the budget debates in Washington with deep concern for the impact on education, especially with regard to languages and the humanities. Last week, the final Continuing Resolution for the 2011 budget was adopted, including significant cuts that will have a deleterious impact on our fields. The MLA Executive Council has adopted a statement (below) criticizing this misguided decision.

Even at this late date, it is important for us to protest these cuts. The ways of Washington are such that federal agencies now have thirty days to determine how to reorganize their budgets and then report back to Congress. We can still try to influence this process by contacting members of the Senate and the House and by writing to President Obama and to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. The point is to voice outrage over these cuts in the 2011 budget.

The MLA has signed on to a letter from the Coalition for International Education to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan urging him to exercise his discretion to provide the maximum amount possible for these programs. I encourage those of you who are in the United States to express your dismay over budget reductions that impoverish our culture and deprive students of the opportunity to learn.

To contact President Obama, see http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact.

To contact Secretary Duncan, send a message to arne.duncan@ed.gov.

To contact your representative in the House, see http://www.house.gov.

To contact your senators, see http://www.senate.gov.

Please take a moment to convey your opinion. Long statements are not necessary; what is important is that every one of us sends a strong message of opposition to these reductions and argues that funding should be fully restored in the 2012 budget.

Cordially,
Russell Berman signature

Russell A. Berman
MLA President

The Modern Language Association deplores the cuts to International Education and Foreign Language included in the final Continuing Resolution and accepted by Congress for the 2011 fiscal year budget. As President Obama said on 28 March, “it is critical for all American students to have language skills.” We call on President Obama and Congress to make sure that this priority receives adequate funding in fiscal year 2012.

Devastating cuts of 40% to Title VI and to Fulbright-Hays, the key federal program for International Education and Foreign Language, will do catastrophic damage to efforts to equip students with the linguistic and cultural knowledge necessary to understand today’s world. Given the widespread recognition of the challenges of globalization and the complexity of international relations, the decision to slash funding for education programs like Fulbright-Hays by more than $50 million is incomprehensible.

The MLA is equally dismayed at dramatic reductions ($140 million) to the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE). FIPSE has played an important role in supporting the internationalization of higher education.

Further, the reduction of $12.5 million to the National Endowment for the Humanities budget will impede the progress of the Bridging Cultures initiative, which helps us understand the ways cultures from around the world influence American society.

These cuts will deal a severe blow to the ability of American colleges and universities to provide an international education. They will significantly diminish the quality of higher education and represent an obstacle to national educational priorities.

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