Equity, Interrupted: How California is Cheating Its Future

Executive Summary

The 23-campus California State University system educates a far more diverse student body than it did 30 years ago. But, this report finds that as the number of students of color has increased, public funding for the CSU has decreased.

Or, as one faculty member has put it, “As the student body of the CSU became darker, funding became lighter.” 

The change in both the number of students of color and the public funding for these students has been gradual but persistent. It does not arise necessarily from a conscious choice; the decline in funding comes amid a general questioning of funding “public goods” as the demography of the United States has been changing.

But the impact is clear, as this report reveals. California is spending less for each student today, when nearly three out of four are students of color, than it did in 1985 when the majority of CSU students were white.

In too many ways, today’s more diverse students are being cheated out of the education that they deserve and that their predecessors of 30 years ago enjoyed. 

We offer today’s students “education on the cheap,” one that may be considered “good enough” for them but that is decidedly less rich than the educational experience the whiter, more privileged CSU students of the past enjoyed. 

The facts about key differences for students in 1985 and students in 2015—who they are and what they get—reveal a hidden picture of inequity that must be faced and that should be changed.

Click here to download the full report as a PDF.