Imagine: a fully-funded higher education system in California

In 1960, California legislators joined with education leaders to develop and implement a visionary plan for higher education. The state’s Master Plan for Higher Education required that the state’s top 12.5% of high school graduates be accepted to UC, the top 33% accepted to the California State University (CSU), and that anyone could go to the state’s community colleges at no cost.
Back then, student fees were nearly zero and the state contributed more than 20% of UC’s budget. Since then, California has lost its way, with student fees skyrocketing to $30,000 and the state contributing just 7% of UC’s budget. But social justice minded unions, student groups, and community organizations within the University of California, the community colleges and CSUs are trying to resurrect the vision of higher education as the economic engine
of the state, forming the Reclaim California Higher Education Coalition.
“This coalition is a historic opportunity to place stakeholders of all three systems in the position to advocate for higher education in a coordinated manner,” said Amy Hines, UPTE-CWA Local 9119’s higher education director. Representing UC, CSU, and community college union members across the state, the
coalition responded to Brown’s budget proposal by calling for a comprehensive re-funding of higher education that would put the state back on the path laid out by the 1960 Master Plan for Higher Education.
That plan envisioned a well-funded university system automatically open to all students on the basis of academic achievement who would not be barred by financial obstacles. The Reclaim coalition sent a letter to California governor Jerry Brown in mid-December, which read, in part:
“We support the following guidelines for the 2015-16 budget cycle above the anticipated augmentations to our institutions’ base budgets:
“For California Community Colleges, the consensus proposal among constituency groups for additional funding to ensure students receive proper institutional support: $100 million for converting faculty to full-time and extending part-time faculty office hours together with $25 million for professional development of faculty, staff and administrators.
“For California State University, $127 million in additional funding to support the enrollment of 10,000 more in-state residents that will provide greater
access to the CSU system, the hiring of much needed faculty to increase quality by decreasing class sizes, and more instructional support staff to serve those
students."
“For University of California, funding to stop tuition increases and support undergraduate enrollment targets of 5,000 additional in-state residents, more student aid to defray the real cost of attending a UC, smaller class sizes, resources to recruit and retain quality faculty and staff, an end to lobbying and funding to oppose Research Assistant collective bargaining rights, and no outsourcing of vital services since bringing services in-house will decrease UC’s existing administrative costs and increase quality overall."
“As the 2015-16 budget cycle begins, we look forward to working closely with you so that we can re-prioritize once again higher education within the State
of California.”
The letter to the governor was signed by the leaders of 12 unions representing employees in California’s higher education system, as well as the
University of California Student Association.

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