Let’s save our universities

Californians are willing to pay for higher education

The author is a yoga teacher and massage therapist in Chico.

As a part-time instructor in the Kinesiology Department at Chico State, I’ve seen first-hand the quality of education going down as a result of the state’s budget crises. As course offerings have significantly decreased, class sizes have dramatically risen. Tuitions have gone up continually (20 percent more next semester) the past few years, and more young Californians are no longer able to afford to attend a state university. We part-time teachers are seeing our teaching units go down, and many are losing their jobs. Full-time instructors’ work loads are constantly going up.

I know that Chico State and other universities in the system are hyper-aware of cutting costs in all areas, but the limit has been reached. Students are already getting much less while paying much more than even a few years ago—way more than those of us who had the good fortune to attend a state college in an earlier era. There is even talk of closing down several campuses, a move that would be devastating to local economies and, once again, the students.

While there are many places to look to lay blame, the one overriding cause is the failure to extend the very small tax increases implemented as part of a budget compromise in 2009. This would go a long way toward solving the problem. Again, this is a tax extension, not new taxes. Unfortunately, it has become a partisan issue, with all Republicans dead-set against it. All that is needed is for two Republican members of each branch of the Legislature to decide that they want to support a system that has employed and educated many. They have already prevented the public from even voting on the issue, which I feel is shameful. One wonders how many of these same people benefited from being educated at a state university.

Polls have shown that a majority of Californians would approve of the extensions. It feels like we are being held hostage by a small-minded minority who would see the system deteriorate while holding on to their misguided ideology.

I urge you to call, write or e-mail your state representatives and let them hear that we are not willing to sacrifice the future of our state college and university system because of inaction and the unwillingness to contribute our small share toward their success. Let’s give our children and young adults the same opportunity we had.