Published on 2012/06/22

People Must Back Public Good

Horace Mitchell, the president of Cal State Bakersfield, wrote in the Bakersfield Californian last week that, for the past decade, the state of California has reneged on its understanding of higher education as a public good.

Pointing to massive reductions in state funding—$750 million this year alone with the possibility of a further $250 million cut—Mitchell’s article is a plea to the people of California to begin reinvesting in the public higher education system.

He includes a caveat, accepting that higher education institutions are capable (and should) absorb some part of the state’s massive budget cuts. However, he points out the impact the proposed and recent cuts have had.

“I am suggesting that a 40 percent reduction is too much, and evidences a lack of priority on higher education.”

He points out the positive impacts a strong higher education system has on the economy, not least of which include supplying a well-educated workforce at a time when the need for high-knowledge workers is at its peak and expected to continue rising.

In asking the people of California to accept Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax initiative in November, Mitchell points out three major positive points for supporting the public higher education system (quoted below):

  1. The benefits of higher education extend well beyond the direct payoff for students and include substantial gains to the state.
  2. Investment in education is critical to the ultimate success of California.
  3. Supporting funding for higher education is not a single-year budget line item, but an investment in our human capital that yields significant returns and promises to provide Californians with continued opportunity and hope for a better economic future.
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