The economic crisis in California’s public schooling system is reaching a breaking point. For years, California’s students have watched their schools squeeze every penny and scrounge for all of the loose change from the allotted budget, yet there never seems to be enough to go around. Classes are obese. The student to teacher ratio is disproportioned. Liberal arts courses are disappearing.
California’s public postsecondary schools are the victims of the state’s budget crisis. The California State University (CSU) schools are cinching their belts — in the 2009-10 academic year, CSU’s 23 campuses will accept 10,000 fewer freshman applicants.
The University of California’s (UC) 10 campuses aren’t faring any better. Last spring the UC Board of Regents voted in favor of a more than 9 percent student fee raise, because, they said, there isn’t enough money coming in from the state.
But the budget cuts are not ceasing. The UC system is now anemic.
In what looks like an attempt to pressure California legislatures into reevaluating the University’s budget, the regents have elected to mandate a cut in freshmen enrollment. Finally, the regents are pinching pennies outside student pocketbooks.
A 6-percent decrease in applicant acceptance will be enforced in seven of the UC’s 10 campuses. UCLA, Berkeley, and UC Merced are exempt from this action because of LA and Berkeley’s popularity and because Merced had not yet reached capacity.
An estimated 2,300 fewer freshman applicants will be accepted to a UC in the fall of 2009. The freshman class at UCSC will see a reduction of 335 students. However, the number of transfer applicants who will be accepted next year will increase.
Decreasing the number of accepted applicants will increase competition. Although the implications of this decision are ominous, it may ensure that UC students will be held to a higher standard.
The government finds itself incapable of providing adequate funds to our schools. The quality of postsecondary education is being compromised as programs are cut and classrooms are crowded.
Until the budget crisis is resolved, action must be taken to guarantee California college students an affordable, public postsecondary education. The regents have deemed the reduction of incoming freshman as the appropriate solution.
The duration of this protocol is indefinite. However, this is not a permanent solution. California’s youth are entitled to pursue a higher education at an affordable cost and there is a lot that needs to be done to transform this goal into a reality.
The California legislature needs to reevaluate its priorities. Tax increases for the wealthy and reexamining Proposition 13 are only some of many possible solutions that have been proposed time and again to both the Board of Regents and the representatives in Sacramento.
Meanwhile, the UC has the opportunity to turn some financial lemons into lemonade. The standard to which we hold ourselves and the quality of our education has nowhere to go but up.
UCSC opened its doors to the largest freshman class in history this year, and we students are feeling the repercussions. Crowded buses, overflowing classrooms, unavailable GEs and long lines just about everywhere are not conducive to a learning environment.
Although decreasing enrollment will mitigate some of these problems, the cut in freshman enrollment will be coupled with the increase in transfers’ acceptance, so the conflict will not be completely resolved.
Although the regents’ decision to cut enrollment will compromise students’ access to an affordable postsecondary education, for now, it is the lesser of two evils. The alternative — another fee hike — could be equally devastating to students’ ambitions of a college degree.