Writing yesterday in the Los Angeles Times, Michael Hilzik dreams big and challenges us to revive the California dream that once was available for many.
Let's bring back the idea of a free UC education
Tuition increases are threatening to place a University of California education out of the reach of working-class and middle-class students.
The son of a railroad worker, Earl Warren came from a family keeping a desperate finger hold on a working-class existence at the turn of the last century. Yet when he left high school in Bakersfield in 1908, there was no question where he was headed: to Berkeley and a free education at the University of California.To read the article in its entirety, click here.
There he proved an indifferent student scholastically but an enthusiastic absorber of "the new life, the freedom, the companionship, the romance of the university," Warren recalled years later. "It was like being in wonderland."
The roll of Californians who rose from modest circumstances to enrich our lives and our society after receiving a taxpayer-supported education at the University of California — or Cal State or the community college system — is too long to enumerate here. They're scientists who made world-altering discoveries, literary artists, composers and musicians, political leaders of city, state and country.
The principle of free tuition for state residents was deeply ingrained in UC from its founding in the 1860s and reaffirmed in the 1960 master plan for public higher education, which acknowledged the university's role as a driver of economic growth. Raising the instructional costs for students, the master plan said, would negate "the whole concept of wide-spread educational opportunity made possible by the state university idea."
So here's a radical proposal: As tuition increases threaten to place a UC education out of the reach of working-class and middle-class students, let's reinvigorate the notion of a free UC education.