The Problem with the California School System
California has one of the largest and most troubled higher education school systems in the country. The state's 112 community colleges, which serve more students than all other institutions of higher education combined, are suffering from deep cuts in state funding. Public universities are in a similar position.
Community colleges faced $520 million in budget cuts in 2009-10. The state's two public university systems, the 10-campus University of California and the 23-campus California State University, were also hit hard by millions in cutbacks.
To offset their slashed budgets, schools have increased tuition and fees dramatically. Tuition at California schools has risen more than 30 percent almost annually for the past couple of years and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Many schools have also been forced to reduce class offerings and eliminate student services. The result is a less desirable education at a higher price.
Students March in March
Many people across the state have begun actively protesting rising costs and the millions of dollars in budget costs. Students and faculty at more than 100 campuses in California participated in protests throughout the month of March.
On March 22, more than 5,000 students came together to march in a demonstration organized by the Student Senate for California Community Colleges. The students met up at a ballpark in West Sacramento and walked together to the steps of the state Capitol. As they marched, they decried budget cuts and rising fees through chants and signs that read 'No more cuts!' and 'Education should be free!'
Community college Chancellor Jack Scott spoke to the crowd during the rally to encourage students to continue the fight and to urge state lawmakers to protect funding for two-year colleges. When the rally ended, California Secretary of Education Bonnie Reiss released a statement supporting students and the state governor's proposal to protect higher education from further cuts and fee increases.
'I urge the Legislature to listen to these students and adopt a budget that shares the governor's commitment to fully fund education in the state,' Reiss said.
As of yet, there is no evidence that legislators have any intention of taking the advice or listening to the rallying cries of the activists, but one thing is certain: these students are making the nation more aware of their plight and the importance of protecting education funding.