Viewpoints

Editorial misses the mark on plan to incentivize students

Lillian Taiz
Lillian Taiz Photo from CFA Photo from CFA Ph

OMG, as our students might say.

It is hard to imagine how wrong The Sacramento Bee could be in its editorial excoriating the Senate and the California Faculty Association for failing to support Senate Bill 1450, a seriously flawed legislative effort that would incentivize some students to graduate in four years, at the expense of others struggling to achieve that goal (“Senate committee hurts CSU students”; editorials, April 21).

The legislation would have given fortunate students priority access to courses while leaving everyone else to battle it out for seats in the classroom. At the same time, it would hold their tuition flat for the full four years even if, for some reason, they could not finish their work in four years.

While the faculty association believes the long-term solution to affordability is publicly funded free higher education, this bill would mean that students who are already struggling to pay tuition, and support themselves, would have to pick up the financial slack created by exempting SB 1450 students from increases. Someone will have to make up the difference since it is not addressed in this bill – it will be all the other students and their families.

The typical CSU student works while attending college, and many struggle to afford even a half-time course load while balancing other life demands. They fought to get this far, and SB 1450 would have made their fight even harder.

Access to courses is a problem systemwide, and SB 1450 was a misguided effort to help some at the expense of other more vulnerable students.

If we really want to offer students more courses, the truth is that half of the 27,000 faculty in the CSU are on part-time contracts and would be delighted to become full time and teach more sections. Should The Bee want to join us in urging the university and the governor to spend more resources on increasing the number of courses by hiring more tenure-track faculty and increasing the number of sections available to faculty teaching part time, we would welcome the support.

As the people who work with all of these students every day, we understand that this bill was not in the best interest of California’s students, and we will not apologize for opposing it. It was the right thing to do.

Lillian Taiz, professor emerita of California State University, Los Angeles, is immediate past president of the California Faculty Association and chair of the union’s Political Action and Legislation Committee. Contact her at ltaiz@calfac.org.

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