Education needs a bigger slice of the California budget

WARNING – Some of the following may sound familiar: increased class size, eliminated and downsized programs, reduced services on campus and delayed faculty hiring. As a result of budget cuts, SF State has felt these pains for years.

Last Thursday it was made loud and clear that we are not alone.

Hundreds of  students took over Tolman Hall, and other buildings, at the University of California, Berkeley. They were protesting the 17.6 percent tuition hike they have faced the last two academic years, and the possible 16 percent raise they could face next year.

They are fed up, and have a right to be.

We know the feeling all too well, as SF State students have had to swallow a 22 percent increase over the same amount of time. But it wasn’t supposed to happen this way.

In 1960,the California Master Plan for Education was passed, guaranteeing a higher standard of secondary education for the baby boomers that were about to enter college. The plan that guides all 10 UCs, 23 CSUs and  108 community colleges, met its goal for many years.

More than 50 years later, with California’s economy in shambles, this plan seems to be at the heart of the problem. It is adding to the disconnect between the state and college students. It is time to revisit and revise this way of planning and thinking.

The Master Plan is supposed to give California residents a “high-quality and affordable education.” For anything to be high quality it takes money. Just ask how much it would be to upgrade your plane ticket to first class, and you’ll get the idea.

Unfortunately, the state would rather incarcerate than educate.

Last year, almost $380 million went to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for “structural shortfalls.”  At the same time, $650 million was cut from education funding, and another $100 million slash in the works.

Yet, the Master Plan calls education “affordable.” With the tuition rising it is anything but affordable.  It claims to “guarantee a space to every high school and adult over 18 who has a desire to attend.” An asterisk should be added to that line —  *Only applicable when the budget allows it.

Another 51-year-old vow to let people know “what level of resources were needed to attend,” was fine when tuition was less than $100 at the UC level. Unfortunately, this vow has been repeatedly broken, every time CSU trustees raise tuition while students are on break. How can students and parents really plan for the “resources” they will need with such short notice?

All college students are feeling the burn of these cuts. And it doesn’t help that the so-called  Master Plan that lays the framework for their education has gone without revision since JFK was president and the most pressing protests on campus involved Vietnam.

In 1960 the number of California inmates was a little more than 21,000; in 2010 the number was more than seven times that at just more than 165,000. The prison’s master plan is working out better than education’s.

There has to be another solution to this educational crisis. The state of California needs to meet the CSU Board of Trustees and students halfway.

Let’s all meet at the bargaining table and formulate a new floor plan to build on.

 

 

 

 

 

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