Fresno State hosted the “California Priorities: Focus on Education,” presented by The Fresno Bee, as an installment of the Influencer series.
The event took a deep dive into the education issues faced within the region. This consisted of top educators and experts discussing critical issues and solutions in regard to education.
Dr. Timothy P. White, chancellor of the California State University system, said that families in and around the Central Valley are making similar sacrifices for their children on a daily basis to help themselves and their children.
“Higher education has always been an escalator through social mobility,” White said.
White is a first-generation college graduate who immigrated with his family from Argentina to Canada when he was young before settling in the Bay Area in California.
He first stepped foot on Fresno State in the fall of 1967. He said that was the day he realized all the sacrifices his parents had made for him to have a bright future.
California has calculated that, at the rate of bachelor degrees earned within the CSU and UC systems, there will be a shortage of more than one million bachelor’s degrees from what the economy requires by 2030.
White acknowledged this projected shortage but stated that the CSU system’s limits are being pushed.
“The current demand in the CSU system has gone beyond capacity,” White said.
The university system has hired tenured track faculty and has encouraged students to take more units in order to graduate within four years.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has made a major investment into the state’s higher education system, and there will be 12,000 additional students admitted into all 23 CSU campuses. About 700 of those students will be admitted to Fresno State, White said.
With 100 influential Califorinans, The Sacramento Bee, Modesto Bee, Merced Sun-Star, Fresno Bee and San Luis Obispo Tribune lancuch their second consecutive year of The Influencer Series bringing discussions about important issues in the state of California.
Dr. Eimer O’Farrell, superintendent of the Clovis Unified School District; Ted Lempert, president of Children Now; Sarah Reyes, managing director of communications at The California Endowment; and Veva Islas, trustee member of the Fresno Unified School District discussed the lack of funding in Pre-K-12 education from Sacramento in the first panel, which was moderated by Fresno State professor and director of the Institute for Media and Public Trust Jim Boren.
“We have the teachers. We have the knowledge. Everything we need to do it. We just need the funding to do it,” O’Farrell said.
The lack of funding is a similar issue that higher education in California is currently facing and was discussed in the second panel moderated by Joe Kieta, executive editor of The Fresno Bee with speakers Audrey Dow, director of the Campaign for College Opportunity; Dr. Joseph I. Castro, president of Fresno State; Dr. Carole Goldsmith, president of Fresno City College; and Fred Ruiz, a former member of the University of California board of regents.
Fresno State turned away 8,000 students who applied to the university this school year due to a lack of room and resources.
“We have students who are smart and bright and want to go to college and understand the importance of college,” Goldsmith said. “The fact that Joe [Castro] had to turn away 8,000 students; we should all be storming Sacramento saying, ‘This is an issue of equity and an issue of civil rights.’”
Fresno State has been recognized for its academics, research and social mobility by various studies and publications. The university graduates about 6,000 students each year, 90 percent of whom are from the Central Valley.
Nearly 80 percent of Fresno State graduates remain in the region after obtaining their degrees.
“Our graduates are the future leaders of our region and our state, ” Castro said.