“Students’ Loud Plea: Don’t Cut Colleges”

20080421__ecct0421protest2_gallery.jpgThis headline caught my attention today when I got home from school and glanced at the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle. It interested me because this decision will have a big impact on myself and others my age; and the headline picture consisted of students protesting at the state Capitol.

The picture reminded me of a previous heated debate over a blog entry about students protesting at the Olympic torch relay.

These possible budget cuts would raise the already high college tuition and also require colleges to cut down on spending, which sounds like bad news to me. As a junior in high school, college is constantly talked about, encouraged, and expected of me. I have no doubt that I will be able to get into a good college, but paying for it is another thing. I would say cost is one of the main concerns of students planning on going to college, and is sometimes the deciding factor of whether or not they go on to higher education.

Although college costs have always been pretty high during my lifetime (or since I started paying attention to college costs), I am shocked at how low tuition used to be only 15 years ago. It’s a shame that our current budget crisis is forcing tuition rates to rise and the quality of education in California to fall.

I understand cuts have to be made, but I don’t think they should be made in education. Education is the foundation of a prosperous, well informed society. We will not be able to achieve this or improve the state of things in lower class, crime-ridden cities (such as Oakland) if higher education is kept out of reach to those who need it most yet cannot afford it.

Another point I would like to bring up is the fact that nearly 2,000 people, mostly students, protested in Sacramento today to express their disapproval of the proposed measure. Although I know this is quite different from the protests over Tibet, it still brings up the topic of student activism.

When I saw this article I was pleased that so many people, mostly young people, went marching for something they believed in, as did the student activists for Tibet. I only hope to see more public involvement among students, for a lot of young adults today are too busy texting or checking their Facebook to pay attention to current events.

AP photo


  • Nextset

    Katy: There is a fundamental realingment in American Economics settling in that has been in the works for a long time.

    The American Adolescents had better forget about demonstrating about Tibet and start taking economic history.

    During the 20th Century labor (with the help of Henry Ford & Co) was able to unionize and push up the working class wage in real terms to about $40k a year. That in turn pushed up skilled labor above that and created the “middle class” with the house, 2 cars, health insurance and decent schools, etc. All that is going very fast now.

    In the new reality we have collapsing wages for unskilled labor closely tied to the withdrawal of benefits. At the same time the Government has vastly increased taxes and tied them to regressive schemes such as sales and payroll taxes.

    So now unskilled labor will no longer be paid what we’ve come to think of as a living wage. Hello WalMart and the “Nickel and diming of America”. This affects a large percentage of Americans and the HS students need to be told early and often that they don’t want to wind up living in this class – their choice.

    But in turn the “middle” class is about to fall of a cliff. Their occupations are under seige and they will soon lose the income and benefits they have become used to. When this process reaches the police/fire/civil service I predict some kind of violent reaction. Right now they are remarkably insulated – cops commonly make $100k with benefits (high pension, lifetime paid medical) no longer available in private industry with the same pay and education.

    Within the forseeable future the consumer credit lines will be turned off and will no longer be available as easily as before. They home equity lines have already been turn off for many people. The government will soon enough have to turn the taxes up more or start to withdraw services. Inflation is a hidden tax and the governemt has turned inflation to “high” and started to conceal economic numbers (They have hidden M3 and no longer post it).

    This will affect the public schools soon and seriously. There will be tremendous cuts in municipal services soon – and inflation will become a dominant theme in economics – affecting people’s day to day decisions.

    We are going to see triage in education starting now. People will be quickly put to the test about deciding to work now or defer income by staying in school. College tuition isn’t the main problem when you are facing food and gas (all energy) unaffordability.

    I don’t think the US Gov’t is in control of a lot in the sconomy anymore. I’m predicting the 2009 US Gov’t administration will resort to wage and price controls and some form of rationing of fuel. I have seen both in the 70’s and the situation we are in now is far more precarious.

    The students we discuss, the K-12 – are going to have to make their HS years count because for most of them they will no longer be able to “afford” college as before. I had lunch with friends & their 21 year old (“graduated” from an “alternative” high school and has few/none college credits) who is starting a Heavy Construction Crane operator program. Have you hear about the payscales – $60k to $120k for that?

    There are places in the economy for everybody where they can maximize what earning power they have. Many people will not have a clue as to their real potential which is why vocational counseling/testing by 11th grade through age 22 is important.

    I continue to argue that only a minority of public school students are good college material and that public schools need to better prepare all to make the most of this Brave New World. I want more programs for the working class and fewer programs for the university bound in public high schools such as OUSD.

  • Katy Murphy

    Isabel, I have a question for you (and any other student who might have an answer):

    How much of a factor is the cost of a particular college when you’re deciding where to apply? Do you know any seniors who got into top-notch schools but might end up turning them down b/c it was just too expensive?

  • Isabel Rodriguez-Vega

    Well, personally, I have been sort of disregarding costs when looking at colleges. Most of the colleges I’m interested in are private and therefore around 30,000 to 40,000 a year, but its a concern I’ve somewhat pushed aside for the time being. Regardless of whether or not I will be able to afford these colleges, I still definitely plan on applying because you never know what could happen. They could offer me a lot of financial aid (which I am hoping for and relying on). I could even go to Stanford for free if I got in.

    I don’t think its the people who are applying to prestigious, super expensive schools that are worrying about college costs. These big name schools have the most money to offer, and students applying are probably more likely to get scholarships, or find a way to pay for it.

    I do not know anyone who has been forced to turn down a very good school because of costs. Those few people I know that plan on going to private universities were actually offered a lot of aid.

    I think the California college system is supposed to be a cheaper alternative to getting a good education, but if prices keep on rising this will no longer be an option for students who are less competitive or for which cost is a deciding factor.

  • Jesse Dutton-Kenny

    I completely agree with Isabel.
    I’m not going to let cost stop me from applying where I want to go, because there is always the possibility of financial aid and lots of scholarships.
    However, if I were to get into multiple schools that I was very interested in, cost would be one of the largest factors.