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Spring 2003
Can We Afford Excellence?
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TORRES-GIL: One of California’s unique approaches is the Master Plan for Higher Education, which laid out specific roles for UC, the California State University system and community colleges. Is it still relevant?

KUEHL: The master plan is essential to the guarantee that every person in the state of California has access and an opportunity to receive higher education. I don’t think that we should change the structure just because we’re in a depressed economy, but rather look at a way to flatten out the ups and downs if we can.

CHAVEZ: Education has always been the No. 1 priority for California, and we have to stay focused on that mission. The master plan is a good starting point. But it still comes down to funding and to making sure there’s opportunity and access for every Californian. We need to find every dollar possible.

CALDERON: I agree with my colleagues. My primary concern with reducing enrollment from 12.5 percent under the master plan is that it would definitely have an effect on minority students and those students whose parents didn’t have an opportunity to go to college. One can presume that the concentration of minority students is greater within the 10-to-12.5 percent segment of each graduating high school class than it is within the top 10 percent. If we were to reduce that range, many of those students would be cut out from the UC, and so I believe it is more important now than ever that we stick with the master plan as it is currently constructed.

CHU: I wonder how successful we actually are in implementing the master plan. I am a community-college teacher, and I see students who thought they’d never have a chance to go to college finally have that chance. But the transfer rate for community-college students to four-year schools is lower than we would like. If our community-college system were really seen as desirable, perhaps we could more successfully implement the master plan, in that we’d have more students going to the community college for their first two years, and then going to the UC system for the last two. And so, we would not fear the tidal wave of students as much. Students have to see community colleges as a viable choice.

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