We Afford Excellence?
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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?
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
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.
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.
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.