Monday, December 21, 2009

'Education is key'

Sharon Ho
Issue Date: 12/14/09

President Obama told the nation Nov. 23 “the U.S. economy is in good shape for the long term thanks to ‘core strengths’ such as its universities, its innovation and a dynamic workforce.”

But that may soon no longer be the case for California.The Calif. Master Plan for Higher Education of 1960, which covers the UCs, CSUs and California Community Colleges, has been undone by Californians themselves, through the passage of the 1978’s Proposition 13. Before Prop. 13, the college district levied a tax to get funds; after Prop. 13 passed, the state allocated funds to the district. Continued reductions in state support have resulted in Calif. now ranking 49th in per-student funding for higher education, according to a 2006 report by the Institute for Higher Education Leadership and Policy.

The Californian government prefers imprisoning Californians to educating them. “When we’re spending more money to lock people up than we’re spending to open the doors to let people in, it’s a shame,” said Assemblyman and CSM alumnus Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, at the Candlelight Vigil held Nov. 23.

Keeping a prisoner in jail costs $49,000 per year, more than 10 times the $4,600 the state contributes to a CSU student’s education per year.

The Master Plan has not failed California; the Californian government has failed the Master Plan. Californian Governor Schwarzenegger himself was once a student at Santa Monica College in California. He is a good example of how the previous generation, which has benefited from The Master Plan, is now pulling up the ladder, leaving this generation stranded in a sea of economic turmoil. Only when Calif. repeals Prop. 13 and prioritizes students over prisoners will Californian education again be able to provide the “core strengths” of the Californian and American economy.

All 30,000 of us who are enrolled in the district can unite to help save our education right here at home. As one voice, we are more than 30,000 students strong, for when we are denied an education, our families and friends suffer alongside us, and, on a broader picture, the state’s economy and the national economy do as well. The district is going to poll the community on a few local tax options. Spread the message: tell your family and friends that California’s innovative and dynamic workforce -- which propels the state’s economy -- is threatened, and education is the key. The state’s economy receives a $3 net return for every $1 it invests in a student’s higher education, according to a study released Apr. 2008 by the CCCs chancellor’s office. A $20 annual parcel tax alone would mean $4 million to shore up our college district’s budget and save the classes you need to graduate or transfer from the chopping block.

The CCCs serves 2.7 million students, CSUs serve 417,112 students and UCs serve 191,000 students. Together we make up more than 3.3 million student voters and comprise nearly nine percent of California’s total population of 36.8 million people. Rather than bickering over the declining meager funds the state deigns to allocate us, we should work together, CCCs, CSUs and UCs, to demand the education that we deserve; the education that suits in Sacramento benefited from when they themselves were students and are now denying us. When -- not if -- that happens: watch out, Sacramento.

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