There was a time, really not that long ago, when California was envied worldwide for its commitment and access to higher education. The California Master Plan, enacted in the 1960s, defined the expanded roles of the California community college system, the California State University and the University of California, in the process making it possible for nearly everyone to take advantage of learning beyond high school. The result was that Californians were given unprecedented means to better their lives and their financial prospects through access to higher education.
Today, though, we do not see this level of support in California. We are seeing all sectors of education, from kindergarten through the doctorate degree, being impacted by a lack of adequate funds to support the needs of our students.
The fact is that California, like many other states, has abandoned its previous commitment to public higher education and affordable access. The reality is that based on the tax effort – or the wealth of the state compared to previous years – California has not spent less on higher education since 1965. That brings California among those states that offer the least support to higher education based on tax effort, with California ranking below Kentucky, Mississippi, Arkansas, New Mexico, West Virginia, Alabama and North Dakota.
As we approach the November election, there are a lot of catch phrases being used. Millionaires, we are told, are the nation’s job creators. But I disagree. The true job creators, and perhaps the most dedicated, are those individuals who are found in classrooms – from preschool on. Education is the answer to growth.
The right to vote is fundamental to the American way. As we consider our voting options on election day, I encourage you to consider the future of California and of the nation, and to cast your votes accordingly.