Archive for January, 2017
The nomination of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education raises alarms that the new administration will fail to support college access and affordability for millions of current and future college students. Her nomination signals a blatant disregard for not only the magnitude of college debt plaguing our students but also the widespread fraud that has been exposed in the for-profit sector across the country. It also reveals an irresponsible resistance to protecting students from sexual assault, gun violence, ensuring the rights of immigrants, and students with disabilities.
Equally troubling, at her confirmation hearing and in the disclosure of her extensive financial entanglements, DeVos refused to commit to enforcing existing laws protecting students from fraudulent practices. Her financial connections to a student loan collection agency and inexperience managing the trillion dollar student loan portfolio that would be her responsibility reinforce her unsuitability for the position.
Her responses to questions in her confirmation hearing raised concerns about the safety of students on our campuses. When asked about Title IX, DeVos indicated that as Secretary she would refuse to ensure that existing campus sexual assault prevention and response processes are respected and improved. She also refused to endorse a ban on guns in K-12 schools, suggesting that she would take a similar position with respect to college campuses.
DeVos also demonstrated a woeful ignorance of the federal scope of the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act; her lack of understanding puts the rights of all students with disabilities at risk. We also do not know if she would respect the protections of DACA on which DREAMER students depend for their safety and protection.
In short, we believe that Betsy DeVos is singularly unqualified to fulfill the Department of Education’s obligation to ensure that all students who seek a college education will have fair access and will receive the highest quality education possible with a minimum of debt. Her lack of experience and expertise is a black hole into which the nation’s students, faculty, and campus communities cannot afford to be pushed.
We urge you to call your Senators IMMEDIATELY urging them to reject Betsy DeVos’s nomination as Secretary of Education. More powerful would be calling key Senators in other states, if you have an appropriate nexus. A list of Senators and contact information for them is available here.
On Thursday, January 26, the UC Regents will consider and likely approve their budget for the University for 2017-2018. It and the Governor’s budget, to which it is closely tied, perpetuate decades of failed privatization and persistent under funding of the University and of public higher education more generally. At UC and as compared to both 1990-1991 and 2000-2001, total per student expenditures for instruction and the State general fund contribution to per student instruction are sharply down while the inflation-adjusted contributions from students through tuition and fees are 70% higher than they were in 2000-2001 and 135% higher than they were in 1990-1991. Students and their families are paying more and getting less.
It has become conventional “wisdom” that this continuing decline is inevitable and that viable alternatives do not exist.
The report The $48 fix: Reclaiming California’s MASTER PLAN for Higher Education demonstrates that there is an affordable alternative that restores public higher education in California.
“It turns out that keeping the full promise of the Master Plan-returning the state’s investment per CSU and UC student to 2000 levels (inflation-adjusted); eliminating tuition and fees for all in-state UC, CSU and CCC students; and funding seats for qualified California high-school graduates now refused access to the system-is affordable.”
“California’s two-decade experiment in privatizing higher education has failed, as it has failed in the rest of the country. Top-quality, accessible and appropriate higher education that affords opportunity to all California students has been replaced with a system that restricts access, costs students more and compromises educational quality. Exploding student debt constricts students’ futures and harms the economy as a whole. It is entirely feasible to reinstate California’s proven success in public higher education. Several reasonable funding options can be mixed and matched to make the costs remarkably low for almost all California families. Our state has the means and the opportunity. Will we recover our political will and vision?”
This report was produced by the Reclaim California Higher Education coalition, which includes the Council of University of California Faculty Associations and other organizations dedicated to affordable, accessible, and excellent public higher education in California.