The Best Laid Plans

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California: your Master Plan for Higher Education is dead. Seriously. In 1959, state lawmakers asked the regents of the University of California and the state’s Board of Education for an education plan. What they came up with promised an essentially free education at the University of California, California State University or a community college for any California high school graduate.

This is now starting to look about as practical as offering every Californian a free three bedroom house. According to an article by David Olson and Michelle Klampe in the Press-Enterprise:

“I think this is a plan whose time has come and gone,” said Patrick Callan, president of the San Jose-based National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education. “The message to young people used to be ‘if you do your part, there will be a place in college for you.’ We’ve eroded this commitment from top to bottom.”

The plan that Gov. Edmund G. Brown signed into law April 27, 1960, was in part to resolve turf battles among the state’s colleges and universities. It deemed the University of California campuses… the state’s primary research institutions and allowed them to choose students from among the top 12½ percent of the state’s high-school graduating classes. California State University was to select from the top third. The community colleges were to admit anyone.

The problem is that over time California cut taxes while the population of the state kept growing.

Since the state’s Master Plan for Education was never codified into law there appears to be no way to force the state to make good on its promises. Many argue it’s time for a new master plan, one that takes into account California’s real financial situation. Either way, California high school students aren’t getting back free tuition for all.[Image via]

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer