San Francisco Chronicle op-ed

San Francisco Chronicle newspaper

An excerpt from the op-ed I wrote for today’s San Francisco Chronicle:

Why we must invest in our public universities

Our public universities are in trouble.

Nationwide, they produce 70 percent of our college graduates. Yet, from coast to coast, unrelenting state budget cuts threaten the quality of our leading institutions, even as they force students and families to dig deeper and borrow more to pay the tuition.

As we begin another academic year, our top priority must be to develop a stable, long-term funding model for public higher education. We need a path forward that preserves excellence, protects access and affordability and puts the United States on track to regain our standing as having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. Our decline from first to 16th place since the 1980s demands action.

In today’s global economy, a college education isn’t a privilege, it’s a prerequisite. The lifetime earnings of college grads are higher, and they pay higher taxes as a consequence. But the payoff is more than personal. To stay competitive, the United States needs a well-educated workforce with the knowledge, technical skills, and ability to think critically that our system of higher education encourages. And to succeed, this workforce must include graduates whose families could not afford quality higher education.

In California, our elected officials say they can’t fund community colleges and state universities the way they did in the past. So let’s find a new way. Let’s consider an array of options and pursue the best.

Our public discussion should focus on three areas: stable funding, private-sector partnerships and online education.

Read the full text here