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LOCAL News :: Education & Youth : Globalization & Capitalism : Labor & Economics

The Privati$ation of Public Education

The privatization of public education has become a closer reality throughout the years, as UC, CSU, community college, and K-12 students have seen brutal attacks on their education. For the 2004-2005 school year, undergrad students were hit with a 14% increase and graduate students with a 25% increase in tuition. For the 2005-2006 school year, undergrad students might see a rise of another 8% and grads a 10% increase in tuition; there is a 3% general fund increase as well.
There are some individuals who feel this attack on education is one of many solutions to help the state out of the deficit; others (usually the one’s who have never worked a day in their life) argue that students should not complain and are lucky to receive an affordable education in the fifth largest economy in the world. First, the budget cuts towards education have been used as an excuse to not raise taxes on top elitists who avoid paying their share of taxes to California. Second, education is a right not a privilege. All levels of education (K-grad) should not only be equally accessible to everyone, but a priority for California.

The rising cost of education, living expenses, lack of employment, and low wages have made California a very hard place to live. The budget cuts have been used as an excuse to deny UC workers a living wage salary. UC Santa Cruz workers are some of the best workers I have ever experienced. Despite the cuts, UC, CSU and community college administration salaries have either increased or remained the same, while our workers and students are fronted with the budget problem. Is this a corporation or a University? To the students who are afraid that if we “give in to the worker’s demands,? our tuition will increase. The problem is, Schwarzenegger and the UC Regents have already decided to raise our tuition. The state only funds 1/3rd of our clerical worker’s salaries; victory for the worker justice struggle will not increase our tuition. According to economist Peter Donahue, the University of California has over $5 billion in unrestricted reserves. No money for our workers? This is obviously a lie.

One solution for fixing the deficit will be to raise taxes on the richest 1% of California’s citizens. According to Professors John Bachar of Cal State Long Beach and Paul O’Lague of UCLA, if we “proposed a temporary surcharge of up to 7% on the wealthy, it would raise more than $13 billion a year?. Don’t worry; this will only apply to you if you have a family income of $560,000 or more.

Schwarzenegger has planned to fix part of the State Budget through bonds. State Treasurer Phil Angelides has ridiculed this plan, saying that “the Governor’s budget depends on at least $6 billion in new borrowing, bringing the state’s credit card debt - the borrowing to cover budget deficits - to $31 billion, 68% higher than it was under Governor Gray Davis.? Now, I’m no Davis supporter, but clearly there is a problem here. The budget solution Schwarzenegger has introduced will make California dependent on bonds; the idea may fix a short-term problem, but at the end, California will be in a bigger deficit. Schwarzenegger has made a stand not to raise taxes; unfortunately, many Californians cheer for this plan unaware of where the taxes would come from.

The issue just presented is a very complex one, in which I only spoke a small portion of. The Governor has broken his promise to keep education a priority in California. Let us not forget, Schwarzenegger is not the only one responsible for the budget cuts. The UC Regents, CA state politicians, even our own schools are equally responsible for the threats on our education. All must be held responsible for their actions. Students, educate yourself about the issues that concern you and your fellow brothers and sisters, rise up and determine your own future.

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