Friday, December 19, 2008

Rebuild our State Universities

Rebuild America. Rebuild our State Universities & Colleges.
A New Deal in the New Millennium for Higher Education
Resolution adopted by the California Faculty Delegates Assembly, October 19, 2008
A paradigm shift is sweeping the world. The historic financial crisis has created a broad new openness,
not seen for 25 years, to the idea that public institutions are a social good and government should play a
significant role in maintaining economic stability.
Yet, while Congress has infused massive amounts of American’s tax dollars in an attempt to staunch the
financial bleeding on Wall Street, it is not clear what commitment will be made to rebuild our human
infrastructure – to bail out the people of the United States.
We do know that broad access to quality higher education is a key ingredient to a positive outcome for
the American people. Educators and business leaders agree that the very survival of a strong U.S.
economy requires a highly educated work force.
Affordable, accessible, quality education is good for an individual’s personal finance, but more
importantly, it is good and essential for our society’s prosperity.
For years, the California Faculty Association has asserted, argued and demanded attention to and
proper funding for quality public higher education that is accessible and affordable for every Californian,
particularly in the California State University.
Yet for nearly two decades we have witnessed the persistent erosion of public support for our state
universities and colleges across the nation. In California, our state has cheated our students by
surreptitiously and gradually leaching away funding per student over the years. Any hope of relief was
undermined by enormous cuts in 2002 and 2003, totaling more than a half billion dollars in the CSU
alone.
We call on our elected leaders, nationally and here in California, to fundamentally change their thinking
about the role and funding of public higher education. It is unacceptable to praise the university on the
one hand while destroying it with the other; now we must reverse course and rebuild.
Today, we must think of the California State University, and all our nation’s public colleges and
universities, as solutions to a downward economic spiral.
Here in the CSU, just since October 1, there has been a 21% increase in applicants for the Fall 2009
school year. It is well documented that in periods of high unemployment, more people seek retraining
and more people rely on public universities. We need to invest in public higher education today so that
we don’t need to rescue millions of young people in the future.
The bail out of the banks in such a bold and massive way has revealed that we can afford to take
dramatic action when we have the will to do so.
A New Deal for a New Millennium that invests significant resources of similar size into public higher
education likewise could have a dramatic effect – if we can muster the will.
Consider this:
 $70 billion, just one-tenth of the amount of the Wall Street bailout, would nearly double the total
state funding allocated to higher education in the United States in 20071.
 $700 billion is more than ten times the size of the federal Dept. of Education Budget for 2007.2
 $700 billion would cover $20,000 in tuition and expenses in each of four years in school for 8.7
million California State University students.
 $700 billion would provide an additional $318,000 to spend on each of the 2.2 million students
enrolled in the public community colleges and universities in California last year.
 $700 billion could send 5.4 million students to a public university somewhere in the United States
this year.3
 For every $1 invested in the California State University, $4.41 is returned to our state economy.
The CSU contributes $7 billion to California’s economy – revenue we cannot afford to part with
given the deep deficit we already face.4
A crisis of this magnitude calls for bold action. That is why we call on our nation’s leaders to:
 Initiate a “New Deal in the New Millennium for Higher Education” to get our people into college
and to keep them there all the way to a degree. We propose a federal program for higher
education in the amount of $70 billion -- just 10 percent of what our nation is spending on Wall
Street and the banks.
 Establish college-going grants similar to the World War II G.I. Bill, and student loan debt
forgiveness for all students who take jobs in public service. Public financial aid should be
provided to rescue our students from the hands of private financial institutions.
We also call on California’s lawmakers and higher education policy makers to:
 Join us in our call for a “New Deal in a New Millennium for Higher Education” that will enable us
to rebuild the California State University and the other segments of our state’s public higher
education system.
 Restore the $215 million cut from the CSU budget in the 2008/09 state budget. And work to add
funding above the minimal levels established in Gov. Schwarzenegger’s funding promises in
future years. A real commitment will yield real results for California and the nation.
 Reopen the doors to the 10,000 students who were turned away this year due to budget cuts.
New graduates and unemployed adults alike need opportunity to become tax paying participants
in California.
 Roll back tuition and fees to 2002 levels before the intensive period of fees increases began that
now total 113%. We can’t afford to block students from getting an education because they can’t
afford to pay.
Furthermore, we call on our colleagues in universities and colleges across the nation to
 Join with us in working for and inaugurating this “New Deal in a New Millennium” to rebuild public
higher education in America.
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REFERENCES
1
Grapevine, “An annual compilation of data on state tax appropriations for the general operation of higher education,”
www.grapevine.ilstu.edu
2
US Department of Education, www.ed.gov
3
Columbia Journalism Review, “What Can You Buy for $700 Billion?” 9/23/08, www.cjr.org
4
ICF Consulting, “Working for California: The Impact of the California State University,” 2005.
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