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Once upon a time, The San Francisco Board of Education established the first publically funded post-secondary school in the state. Weekly Normal School, as it was called at the time, was the first of its kind on the west coast, and was the first school that would eventually become the California State University.

Let’s privatize the CSU system

Once upon a time, The San Francisco Board of Education established the first publically funded post-secondary school in the state. Weekly Normal School, as it was called at the time, was the first of its kind on the west coast, and was the first school that would eventually become the California State University.

But alas, boys and girls, this is not a rags-to-riches story resembling that of Cinderella. This is a tale of good ideas gone bad, of honest intentions gone awry, of things breaking and falling apart. This is more of a humpty-dumpty story, if you will.

Humpty-dumpty, in this case, would be the California State University. Most people would say that humpty-dumpty broke when the first of the budget cuts hit the system in 2009. Those of us at Fresno State who have been here for a while remember the class walk-outs, the protests, the sit-ins, the marches down Shaw, all in response to declining numbers of classes being offered and postponed graduation dates.

Those budget cuts were not the first to hit the university. During the administration of Gray Davis in the early 2000s, cuts were made to public universities in favor of funding the state prison system. His decision resulted in more than half a billion dollars being cut from the CSU, 21.1 million of which was cut from Fresno State’s budget.

Not to beat a dead horse (pardon the phrase, those of you who read my last column), but the budget cuts through the years, with the worst of them culminating in 2009 and 2010, is only the tip of the iceberg. The deeper issue doesn’t involve the money we’re not getting. It involves the public system through which it flows.

Humpty-dumpty may have been broken long ago, before the budget cuts of 2003 and 2004 were implemented, maybe even before Fresno State was founded. Maybe public education was not meant to exist in the first place, because there’s no way for it to work effectively. When you’re talking about one little teacher’s college in San Francisco, maybe. A 23-campus university that spans the length of the state and costs billions of dollars a year to maintain, while simultaneously cutting the monetary and intellectual value of each student’s education is an entirely different story.

But, boys and girls, do not despair! There is a way to put humpty-dumpty back together again. All the governor’s horses and all the governor’s men may not be able to, but maybe we can. Gaining control of the university, or rather individual campuses, is the only way to ensure that we get the education we want, the way we want it. Taking the personal initiative to ensure that kind of privatization would take the effort of many individuals who realize that the government can no longer provide for its students, who perhaps has never been able to provide for its students. Let’s hope that someday, all the boys and all the girls will grow up into men and women who no longer depend on the daddy state, and take the responsibility of educating themselves.

 

Maddie Shannon is a former columnist and Arts & Entertainment editor for The Collegian, and will be a biweekly columnist throughout the semester.

  • lokomotive

    In case you didn’t know, you can already go to a private school and “take the responsibility of educating yourself”.. if you have the grades and the money, it’s called going to a private school. Good luck getting through the 4 years for a couple thousand dollars a semester though. Must be nice to sit on your high horse and bite the hand that feeds while reaping all the benefits. Just remember, when you get your diploma from the CSU system, make sure you put a nice tag on it: For: Maddy From: Daddy State.

  • Does anyone know what the projected cost of this would be to the students?

    Given that state subsidized tuition is one of the reasons that the CSU has become so expansive, and has allowed the CSU to take on the role of the blue collar University, enabling students who come from low-income families to attend for four years without racking up $200,000, or more, in debt.

    I haven’t seen any projections on this subject for California, but I can imagine that all of a sudden we would see a far more dramatic increase in tuition.

    According to College Board, in-state students are paying a little over $6,000 a year and out of state students are paying $17,000. Removing the (state implemented) incentive for in-state students would be a serious problem for a large number of CSU students, and that is likely what would happen with the privatization of the CSU.

    All of a sudden, Fresno State isn’t about supporting the working class; it isn’t about people using education to pull themselves up by their bootstraps (pardon the cliché). It’s just another institution that the son or daughter of a public school teacher or small business owner can’t afford to go to without amassing six figure debts.

    Like I said, I’d like to see the projections about the cost for the student. I’d be graduated by the time that this issue changed, but this is still a very serious issue. And some consideration has to be given to the numbers, not simply assert that the private sector is the alternative, without first acknowledging the far more serious problems in the private University system ($40,00+ tuition, per annum) we would be condemning ourselves to.

  • Stephen

    I Disagree. I think we need to INCREASE THE STATE BUDGET, not cut it! 10 years of consecutive budget cuts has taken a big toll on education. We need to find a way to reverse this. It is no wonder why student loan debt has gotten out of control. The fact is that the state support percentage has dropped from 62% years ago to under 12% today. If it were me, I would repeal prop 13, pass Jerry Brown’s tax initative, etc.

    If it went private, we should adopt a fundraising model for low income people that is similar to Princeton’s model, where they don’t allow student loan debt at all for undergraduates.