California breaks promise

By
March 11, 2004

Mills College Weekly

For the first time in over 40 years University of California and
California State University systems will be forced to break the
promise of the California Master Plan for Education as a result of
recent state budget cuts, sending many college hopefuls scrambling
to find a home.

It is not clear how this will affect admissions at Mills in the
upcoming year.

“We have great sympathy for these students.” said Dean of
Admissions Myrt Whitcomb. “We want to be helpful and are extending
our deadlines to accommodate the students who are interested in
Mills. We don’t think we’ll be flooded though. If we’re not already
on their radar screen, we probably won’t be. We are sending out
5,000 e-mails to students who have expressed interest in the past,
making Mills available to them. Our merit and need based
scholarships are available and we will also match their Cal Grant.
We’d love for our students to also get the word out to family and
friends or anyone who has interest.”

As far as the threat of impacted class size is concerned,
Whitcomb doesn’t foresee a problem.

“Our classes are small enough to handle two or three additional
students. Our student to faculty ratio is sufficient enough to
handle the additions without causing significant problems,” she
said.

Mills ultimately will only be able to accept a small number of
the approximately 27,000 new and transferring students that will be
turned away from UC and CSU campuses next fall.

“I really feel for the students,” said Carla Jones, professor of
Finance at CSU Northridge. “Many will not be admitted next semester
and those who are currently attending have had their fees
increased. These students are battling to get the classes they need
to graduate and because fewer classes are being offered with the
same amount of students needing them, this could potentially
lengthen the amount of time that it takes the students to graduate
and obviously cost them more money.”

In 1960, the California Master Plan created by then-UC president
Clark Kerr and then Governor Edmund G. “Pat” Brown, ensured that
all high school graduates in California who wanted to attend
college would be able to do so. The plan called for the UC system
to draw from the top 12.5 percent, CSU to draw from the top third
and community colleges to draw from all graduates.

Unlike the CSU and UC systems, the California Community College
system will receive $6.9 billion through a combination of federal,
state and local funds, and revenues guaranteed by Proposition 98.
In 1988, Proposition 98 established a minimum funding level or
guarantee for K-12 education and community colleges.

 

An extra $125 million has been designated for enrollment to
community colleges in order to accommodate the students who will be
turned away from the CSU and UC systems. Both CSU and UC systems
have promised eligible students who aren’t admitted, tuition-free
enrollment in a California community college and guaranteed
admission as juniors if they complete the necessary
requirements.

“This has been a very frustrating process for my daughter, who
has applied to several UC campuses,” said Barron Allen, UC Berkeley
alum. “My only hope is that she will be able to get into one of
them. If not, she may have to apply to a few private universities,
which will obviously cost me a lot more money.”

Although these budget cuts are necessary to balance the states
$24 billion deficit, several sources say they will, over the long
run, prove to be self-defeating for California’s economy.

A 2000 study by the National Association of State Universities
and Land-Grant Colleges demonstrates that state-supported
universities are still powerful engines for economic stability and
growth. The local economies will likely suffer as a result of
canceled contracts, declining business volume and a slowdown in
consumer spending.

While the governor feels cutting funding for higher education
will help balance the budget, additional funding through
Proposition 55 to K-12 is essentially rerouting funding from the UC
and CSU systems to the K-12 systems. With the recent passing of
Proposition 55, California’s financial hole may be growing,
according to Senator Rico Oller, who was opposed to Proposition 55
and stated that at $12.3 billion, it rivals the largest bond in the
history of any American state.

“Today’s schoolchildren will still be paying for this bond long
after their own children have graduated,” said Oller in the
Official Voter Information Guide.

However, Barbara Kerr, President of the California Teachers’
Association, supported Proposition 55, stating it promises to
invest in the future of the children of California and enact strict
accountability standards to eliminate misappropriation of funding.
In other words, it will ensure that school bonds go directly to
repair and build new classrooms where they’re most needed.


California breaks promise was published on March 11, 2004 in News

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