|Office of the Chancellor / Public Affairs||
Tuesday, March 2, 2004
Hayward Review 3-2-04
Opinion: Once a luxury, now a necessity
Higher education, once a luxury item reserved primarily for the sons and occasionally the daughters of the wealthy, is now a necessity for people who hope to join the middle class, and for a state that depends on innovative graduates to boost its economy.
If we are to produce successful breadwinners for prosperous families, we need the kind of widely available, high quality education provided by the California State University.
If we are to lift our economy out of the doldrums and recover the energy that characterizes California, we need the CSU.
And if we are to provide the educated population that this complex state requires, we need the CSU.
The continued, whittling down of the CSU's budget over many years through overall cuts and declining per-student spending is self-defeating for California's economy.
For the first time ever, the CSU turned away qualified students. At least 5,000 eligible students were denied access this academic year, and the coming year will be worse, when approximately 20,000 students will not be able to attend one of the 23 CSU campuses.
This breaking of the Master Plan promise -- a place for every eligible student -- is occurring at a time when the number of eligible California students is growing. We are only halfway through a projected decade of growth that will impact the CSU, the University of California and California Community Colleges.
The $304 million in net cuts made this year to the CSU budget equals the complete closure of San Diego State University, the largest campus in the CSU system. The $240 million in cuts proposed for 2004/05 would be like closing two more campuses, CSU Hayward and Cal State San Bernardino.
Since closing campuses is not feasible and will not happen, the cuts have been spread across the system. Every campus feels the squeeze as our educators try to maintain the quality of class offerings. If the state stays this current course, the effectiveness -- the future -- of the CSU system is jeopardized.
In the short run, CSU budget cuts take money out of communities from Humboldt to San Diego. A 2001 study by the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges shows that every dollar put into a state university generates $5 in the state's economy. That means cuts to CSU's budget are felt far beyond the campuses -- they slice into local economies in the form of canceled contracts, declining business volume and a slowdown in consumer spending.
The short-term impact on students is worse. The average Cal State student is 24, working, and trying to advance his or her prospects. Larger classes, cancellation of required classes and rare time with faculty as the student-teacher ratio gets larger -- these burdens interfere with students' educations.
Over the next four years, however, the impact of cuts could be felt even more broadly. The CSU is California's teacher education leader, preparing 55 percent of all teachers recommended for credentials in California. What will it do to California's future if we cut back the number of trained teachers ready to staff our elementary, middle, and high schools?
Over the longer term, the CSU prepares the entrepreneurs, the scientists and the engineers responsible for the inventions and new business ideas that fuel the growth of an economy. Business doesn't come to California for cheap labor. It comes because we have highly skilled talent.
Yes, California has a budget crisis. A solution requires imaginative thinking and accessible, quality higher education. In the 1960s California brilliantly joined agricultural, teachers' and technical colleges to create the CSU and open the doors of higher education to vast numbers of people who previously had no hope of getting a college degree.
Charles B. Reed is chancellor of California State University. John Travis is president of the California Faculty Association and a professor at Humboldt State University.
Support the California State University campuses. They are indispensable. And they are necessary.
Charles B. Reed is chancellor of California State University. John Travis
is president of the California Faculty Association and a professor at
Humboldt State University.
These news clips are provided by the Public Affairs Department of The California State University. They are intended for the internal use of The California State University system and should not be redistributed. Questions and submissions may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.