Tuesday, January 5, 2010

CSUEU President Concerned About Governor's Budget

Education union leaders from across the spectrum of California's public education system came together on Tuesday to call for full funding of public education in the 2010/11 budget.

The call went out prior to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's presentation of his proposed budget on Friday that is expected to include yet more cuts across the board from the preschool to university level.

"The public education system in this state is being dismantled, indeed California is sinking compared to other states, and we are expecting to hear what a shame it is to cut education again," said Lillian Taiz, president of the California Faculty Association. "So we are saying there needs to be a different approach to solving the state's problems."

The effort on the part of union leaders comes in the aftermath of an eMarch on the governor led by education unions over the holiday break that sent 5,000 messages about the urgent need to fund public education even in tough budget times.

The union leaders' fears are grounded in the fact the nation's most populous state faces a nearly $21 billion shortfall over the next 18 months, a deficit that comes after years of making deep cuts in core state programs.

As a result, California classrooms could swell even more and public colleges may further limit enrollment and raise student fees.

In July, the budget amendment approved by the legislature and the governor cut the University of California system's current
fiscal year budget by $814 million.

The California State University system lost $584 million. The cuts led the CSU to close spring 2010 admission, raise fees and at Cal Poly Pomona, shut down summer classes.

San Bernardino area school districts have also laid off teachers, increased class sizes and asked employees to take furloughs.

At Tuesday's news conference, Taiz was joined by Carl Friedlander, president of the American Federation of Teachers Local 1521, Pat Gantt, president of the California State University Employees Union, Stanton Glantz, vice president of the Council of University of California Faculty Associations and others.

Gantt said he has seen budgets come and go in the 29 years he has worked for the CSU but never before has it been this bad.

"This period may be seen as the death of the master plan for higher education unless something is done," he said.

While Glantz described the University of California system as being beyond the breaking point.

"The restructuring of public higher education that has taken place under the Schwarzenegger administration may take decades to recover from," he said.


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