Skip to comments.California ballot initiative would make college free for residents
Posted on 03/22/2012 4:43:26 PM PDT by SmithL
OAKLAND -- Clipboards in hand, high school seniors Estephania Franco and Jocelyn Sanchez approached a group of UC Berkeley students sitting on a curb in Sproul Plaza.
"Hey guys, you want free tuition?" one of them asked.
"Free? Tuition?" sophomore Josh Netter asked, as if waiting for the punchline. "I just feel like it's too good to be possible."
It wouldn't be -- if, by June, supporters of the "College for California" ballot petition managed to gather the signatures of 807,615 people registered to vote in California. And, of course, if voters approved it.
The proposed constitutional amendment, researched and written a year ago as part of a senior class project at Life Academy and Oakland Unity High School, would make state university tuition-free for full-time, in-state students who maintain a 2.7 GPA or perform 70 hours of community service each year. Californians who earn more than $250,000 a year in taxable income would subsidize this additional cost through higher income taxes. The students say they want to restore the tuition-free education policy the state Legislature embraced in 1960 when it adopted the California Master Plan for Higher Education.
The chances of the effort becoming more than a lesson in democracy, however, are slim at best.
"There has not, in the modern era, been a true grass roots initiative that has made it to the ballot," said Thad Kousser, a political-science professor at UC San Diego. By contrast, he said, "Any rich person that has access to a couple million dollars basically snaps their fingers and gets access to the ballot."
California's century-old ballot initiative process was created to counter the powerful interest groups thought to be controlling the state government, said John Matsusaka, president of the University of Southern California's Initiative and Referendum Institute. In practice, he said, the great number of signatures required and the short time frame in which to gather them -- about five months -- make it near-impossible for even the most well organized of citizen groups to succeed without a trove of cash and an army of paid signature gatherers.
Qualifying a statewide ballot measure typically costs $1 to $2 per signature -- and, in competitive initiatives, it can rise to $10, he said.
This year, the competition for education tax measures is stiff. Gov. Jerry Brown and his allies are raising millions of dollars to put another education tax measure before voters that would raise money for public schools and community colleges. Molly Munger, a civil rights attorney and multimillionaire who is advancing her own K-12 education initiative, has so far spent at least $3.4 million of her personal fortune.
Without a budget of any kind, students and teachers behind College for California started a Facebook page and a website, hoping to harness some of the growing outrage over rising tuition costs, massive student loans and the nation's growing wealth disparities, explained Suneal Kolluri and Kara Duros, the teachers who are coordinating the effort.
"Our philosophy was, 'Yeah, we don't have money, we don't have influence, but we have students'" -- nearly 2 million in public high schools, statewide, Kolluri said.
The group contacted other high school teachers, with little success. Most student leaders on university campuses were backing the higher-profile Millionaires Tax, which has since merged with Brown's education initiative. That combined proposition does not include funding for state universities -- a point the College for California team hopes will lead more campus leaders to support their proposal. But time is running out. Their deadline is in June.
The students say they know what they're up against; so far, they believe they have gathered only about 1,000 signatures. Still, they say that even if this attempt falls short, they will have succeeded in making people think differently about the possibilities, and maybe take it further the next time.
At UC Berkeley, some of the college students contemplated the proposal after Franco and Sanchez had moved on to a different group.
"If it was free, it's just a crazy thing to wrap my mind around," said Eric Tymstra, a sophomore. Netter, who sat next to him, said he wished the students luck. "Who wouldn't sign that petition?" he said.
Sweet, when the tuition is free, the university will be able to charge even more.”
There is more truth than fiction in that statement. Watch for all the add-on’s and increases in lab supplies, pre-registration, registration, early choice of classes, etc. Since these students won’t have to pay tuition they will have all that “extra” money - never let a good pile of money go to waste. And, of course, they will pay it without a whimper because, after all, they no longer have to pay tuition.
This is really no problem at all.
It just means a 85 to 90 percent restriction on enrollments and staffing cutbacks, broken tenure in all but name, oh, and btw, tax increases.
And no, admission standards still won’t be connected to academic achievement through grade 12.
“free tuition” would allow colleges to double their prices
Minorities, which includes women and not Asians, will be spotted 1.0
The rest of us are NOT going to bail California out...
We need free gas, a 1% additional tax on those that make a whole lotta bucks ought to do it.
We need free food. A 1/2 % tax on those filthy rich ought to do it.
We need free housing. say, a 2% tax on those rich scumbuckets ought to be enough.
We should not be forced to work. A pension for all residents, financed by those evil rich bastages should cover the costs hansomly.
Hey, where did everybody go?
That is quite a boast!
If tuition is free..then they will need to cut the enrollment a lot and sell off some of the schools to private institutions. There simply is not enough money from taxes..now or new to pay for all this. I actually think very low tuition at state schools would be a good idea, but then they would need to be very small selective schools with low overhead and low pay for professors. Like the were 40 years ago.
Hey Democrats cant have all of the low lives. Its not bragging if its true.
Hey and what pride he has is undeserved.
When have leftists ever cared if there is money to pay for their wants?
We need a competing petition that would have the state pay the students a “living wage” to go to free college.
Anyone should be able to see where this circus would lead.
The entire nation of Mexico would jump across the border the day after the election.
“would make state university tuition-free for full-time, in-state students who maintain a 2.7 GPA
2.7 gpa? That’s hard”
don’t forget the:
“OR 70 hours community service”!
“The really really stupid kids
will do the community service.”
And petty criminals who have to do court-ordered community service automatically qualify for free college tuition!
“He can just live and work for a year.”
Work? He don’t need to do no stinking work! Just live on welfare there for a year to become a resident!
All the way to China!