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Revenue sought for California’s colleges

By Marty Trujillo

Communications director, Campaign for College Opportunity

Since its creation in 2003, The Campaign for College Opportunity has worked tirelessly on ensuring that the next generation of California’s students has the chance to go to college and succeed. Along with our broad-based and bipartisan coalition of supporters, we have played an active role in educating the public through the dissemination of major studies and reports, raising awareness about issues central to higher education and promoting legislation to increase access and student success.

Now more than ever, the future of California depends upon its citizens and the education they acquire. The Public Policy Institute of California notes that in order to meet the work force needs of the future, we will need 1 million additional college graduates between now and 2025. Yet, we are moving in exactly the wrong direction, turning away thousands of eligible students from our community colleges and universities at a time when we are a woeful 40th in the nation in the number of students who go directly from high school into college.

The challenges facing our governor and Legislature during these grim economic times are enormous.

However, as they craft the 2010-11 budget, we strongly urge them to renew their commitment to three higher education principles:

  • Preserve access. Prioritize our state spending on higher education to minimize cuts to capacity and strive to increase college-going by providing a spot in college for all eligible students.
  • Ensure completion. Support the production of enough college graduates to meet our work force needs, especially in critical sectors such as health care, science, technology, engineering and math.

Identify improved pathways for students to earn college certificates and associate degrees or to transfer to a four-year university to receive a baccalaureate degree.

  • Maintain affordability. Guarantee that financial barriers do not prevent qualified persons from reaping the benefits of an affordable higher education nor cause graduates to face huge debt obligations. Cal Grants, work-study opportunities, Pell grants and Community College Board of

Governor waivers are all valuable programs that need to be expanded.
In order to meet the three principles we are espousing, the governor and Legislature must identify and adopt new sources of revenue for California higher education. Equally essential, all higher education segments must recommit themselves to identifying and implementing new ways of operating more efficiently and effectively. The California dream of opportunity and prosperity depends, in part, on new revenues and new ways of doing business within the California higher education system.