Prop 92: Divisions In The Education Community

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(Sacramento, CA)
Monday, January 28, 2008

California’s community colleges serve about two and a half million students every year… 

 “This is a chronically under funded system.” 

Brice Harris is Chancellor of the Los Rios Community College District in the Sacramento area.  He says the lack of funding plus more and more students is extending a two-year education into three or four years. Harris supports Prop 92.  He says it would stabilize funding for community colleges.
Here’s what it does:   it lowers student fees from 20-dollars to fifteen a unit and limits future increases.   It also requires state funding for K-through 12 schools and community colleges to be calculated separately using a new formula. The Legislative Analyst says that will cost the state 300-million dollars more a year.  Harris acknowledges tight budget times but says it’s still the place to invest. 

 “We get people improve their education, we get them into the work force, we get them onto higher education. That helps them get better jobs and the state’s economy recover quickly.” 

But opponents question where those additional millions will come from—and at whose expense.  Mary Gill is a higher education consultant with the No on 92 campaign.  She says lowering fees does not help low income students who have their fees waived.  She says they need help with other costs of pursuing education—such as textbooks and rent.  And she says the new funding formula could mean budget cuts elsewhere – such as in the U.C and C.S.U systems. 

“To have one segment fashion a solution that might harm the other because U.C. and C.S.U’s funding is jeopardized by this initiative is just not the way to solve this problem. 

The two largest teachers unions in the state are split over the issue… The California Teachers’ Association opposes the measure, while the California Federation of Teachers supports it.