Faculty to Assembly Committee: The CSU needs investment NOW

Faculty sent a strong message to state lawmakers during a hearing on education finance and the CSU, urging them to increase the CSU’s budget augmentation and set aside $50 million of existing, ongoing funds for more tenure-track faculty hires.

The Budget SubCommittee #2 on Education Finance hearing on Tuesday focused solely on the CSU and its budget.

Information presented during the hearing illustrated the point that CFA made earlier this year—access to the CSU is being hampered as a result of lack of proper funding.

California undergraduate enrollment growth has been steadily increasing, as has the number of qualified students who aren’t able to get into the CSU. Six years ago, 22,123 qualified students—defined as those who have taken high school courses and achieved good enough grades and test scores to be minimally qualified for CSU—were denied admittance. In Fall 2017, that number grew to 32,223.

Yet public investment in the CSU has been declining years, at the same time that the CSU has been growing increasingly more diverse.

“We need a dedicated funding source because there are two realities that we cannot ignore,” Lillian Taiz, Chair of CFA’s Political Action/Legislation Committee, told lawmakers. “First, we know that the state invested more money per student 30 years ago when students were white than it does today when three-fourths of our students are of color. We also know that we are on track to fall short by about 1.1 million needed college graduates by 2030.”

CFA President Jennifer Eagan asked Assembly members to support the $422.6 million in additional state funding for the CSU, which would increase access to an additional 18,000 students, and support additional funding to increase tenure-track hiring.

“Fifty years of research shows that building a relationship with a professor enriches a student’s experience; for underserved students and students of color, that connection is even more critical,” she said. “Faculty members are not just educators; they are mentors and trusted confidants who seek to model the value of a good education.”

Some lawmakers have indicated that they are supportive of increased support for the CSU. Dozens of Assembly members have signed a letter of support, authored by Assembly Higher Education Committee Chair José Medina, calling for CSU funding to be a top budget priority in the 2018-19 state budget.

At CFA’s #FreeTheCSU event Wednesday, Medina told the crowd that it would be short-sighted to not increase funding for the CSU.

“I am here to say we have to stop tuition raises and to tell the Governor we need to fully fund the CSU,” Medina said.

Click here to watch a recording of Tuesday’s hearing.