We are not alone. Consumed by talks of University of California budget cuts and tuition hikes, we sometimes forget that the UC system is not the only institution of higher education in the state that is suffering.
Measure B aims to alleviate the financial difficulty of the Peralta Community College District, which consists of College of Alameda, Laney College, Merritt College and Berkeley City College. The ballot measure, which requires two-thirds of the vote, would impose a $48-per-year parcel tax to last eight years.
Voting in favor of the measure is a no-brainer. If passed, the parcel tax would raise an estimated $8 million each year. Yes, that’s a lot of money — but California schools need the money. They also deserve it. Over the last three years, the district has faced $30 million in budget cuts. Almost 4,000 students have been turned away. And classes are overcrowded and tough to get into.
For us students at UC Berkeley, this situation sounds all too familiar. Obviously, the campus can’t put a parcel tax on a regional ballot. We rely on the state for funding in addition to student fees. But the Peralta Community College District has the ability to ask its community for a little bit of help, and as a community that directly benefits from the opportunities offered by the district, we should in turn show our support. The ballot language refers to “core academic programs” such as English, math and science, as well as “training students for successful careers” and “educating students to transfer to university.”
That last point is probably more directly applicable to UC Berkeley students and faculty. Berkeley City College, with its close proximity and transfer structure, perennially has one of the state’s highest transfer rates to UC Berkeley. Therefore, investing in the academic excellence of our neighbor school should produce more qualified students transferring to Cal.
While the tax is technically regressive, it actually supports lower income people, as they are often the ones attending the community colleges. We are pleased that none of the money will go to administrators’ salaries and all will be spent educating current and future students.
Lend a helping hand. Help out our fellow East Bay colleges. And remember, we are not alone.
Vote “yes” on Measure B.