The voice of De Anza since 1967.

La Voz News

The voice of De Anza since 1967.

La Voz News

The voice of De Anza since 1967.

La Voz News

    For students, Californians, Prop 92 a losing formula

    The opinion of the La Voz Weekly Editorial Board

    This week La Voz begins an ongoing series in which we endorse student positions on key votes included in California’s upcoming Feb. 5 presidential primary ballot.

    At first glance, Proposition 92 appears to be an aid package to an incredibly sympathetic cause: improving educational opportunities for California’s thousands of community college students. But upon closer inspection, the proposition reveals terminal flaws that demand a “no” vote.

    The first of three elements in Proposition 92 deals with how the California Community College system receives its funding. At the moment, the CCC is supported through a state budget formula that mandates a minimum level of spending on K-14 education. Proposition 92 would replace this single formula with two – one for K-12 schools and one for community colleges. Supporters of the proposition state that this is important because K-12 schools are currently accorded an excessive share of state education funds. But according to the California Legislative Analyst’s Office, “in recent years community colleges have received between 10 and 11 percent” of state funds – about the same amount that Prop 92 would ensure: 10.46 percent.

    The real intention of this element is to increase state K-14 spending by $300 million per year, with over half of this going to the CCC system – regardless of the system’s yearly enrollment (and thus, actual need) and despite the fact that there are far fewer CCC students than K-12 students.

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    And where is this money going to come from? Prop 92 doesn’t specify that, and the fact that the proposition doesn’t mandate a tax increase isn’t a selling point (as supporters claim), it’s a drawback. Education reform is an extremely important issue, and we should have the moral courage to demand of Californians the heavy sacrifices necessary to realize this reform (re: higher taxes), not pass the buck for other programs to be cut and hope that voters think the money will spontaneously appear like manna from heaven.

    Moreover, Prop 92 is just a band-aid on a festering wound. Because of the convoluted, arcane regulations governing the state budget, the proposition’s funding formulas will become void in approximately three years, anyway.

    The second element of Prop 92 reduces CCC student fees to $15 per unit despite the fact that California already has the lowest community college fees in the country and that, according to the Legislative Analyst, “this fee reduction would have no direct impact on needy students” due to the ready availability of numerous financial aid opportunities. This element would remove $70 million from state educational coffers, and if the CCC is contributing less and demanding more from the education budget, it’s only reasonable to presume that elementary, middle and high schools will be left holding the bag.

    In truth, the centerpiece of Proposition 92 is its third element: an expansion in the size and power of the CCC system’s Board of Governors. The other two elements simply appear to be red herrings. Proposition 92 would grant full control over administrative budgetary spending to the Board of Governors, add two more members and increase the political influence of faculty associations by giving them control over a greater percentage of member nominations to the board.

    So after all this, Prop 92 isn’t about supporting community colleges or helping students pay for education. It’s about a bureaucracy expanding its power and demanding the right to police itself.

    Should we be surprised, though? There are 109 community colleges in California operated by 72 districts. Do the math – that means there are some colleges out there who not only have administrations, but administrations to administer those administrations. Given this, do we really need to expand our bureaucracy even more?

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