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FOR GRADS, A RAW DEAL GOVERNOR AGAIN PLAYS BARBARIAN, TERMINATING OLD PROMISE.

Byline: Dario Frommer Local View

FOR the past 40 years, in good times and in bad, California has honored a commitment to our high school students that held: If you work hard, fulfill the requirements and make good grades, there will be a place for you at a University of California, California State University or community college campus. Sadly, for the first time, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has broken that promise this year.

Last month, the governor stunned 11,400 of California's brightest high school seniors - who have studied hard, completed a long list of required courses and gained admission into a UC or CSU campus - by informing them they cannot enroll until 2006. While these students have kept their end of the bargain, the governor reneged on his.

Much like the title of his movie ``Collateral Damage,'' Schwarzenegger's proposal to ``redirect'' these 11,400 UC and CSU freshmen to our community college campuses will have dramatic unintended consequences. Students who worked hard and believed they would be attending a UC or CSU school are devastated.

At a recent higher education summit at Glendale Community College, Hoover High School senior Ani Kazaryan testified that being told she cannot attend UCLA until 2006 after working hard to earn a 4.2 GPA and taking 11 AP classes to earn college credit ``is beyond disappointing and unfair.'' Of course it is. We made a commitment to her, she relied on it, and now the governor has pulled out the rug from under her.

Linda Doll, head counselor at Clark Magnet School, summed it up: ``My question to the governor is, What do we tell our students now that our word is not valid?''

The collateral damage will also pile up at our community colleges. Already struggling against a tidal wave of rising enrollment (up 18 percent in 2002) and declining funding (spending on enrollment per pupil in California ranks 45th out of the 50 states) the community colleges are not prepared to accommodate another 11,400 students next year. At Los Angeles Community College alone, the budget crunch forced a cut of 1,000 classes over the past year. California Community College Chancellor Mark Drummond sought a 5 percent increase in funding before Schwarzenegger issued the redirection order. What he got was a 3 percent increase and 11,400 additional students.

Students already enrolled at community colleges and looking to transfer to CSU and UC campuses will also become collateral damage in the governor's plan. While redirected students would pay no fees while earning units, those who choose to attend a community college - be it to learn a new skill or to transfer to a university - will see a 44 percent increase in fees.

Adding insult to injury, while this backroom budget deal between Schwarzenegger and leaders at UC and CSU leaves these students and their taxpaying parents out in the cold, the administrators who cut the deal made certain their fellow college administrators received raises between $78,000 and $111,000.

It doesn't have to be this way.

Keeping the 11,400 students out of school for two years would save just $46 million in a budget of $101 billion. The governor should let these kids enroll this fall by using a small piece of the $1.3 billion in unanticipated revenues the state gained thanks to legislation that Sen. Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, and I authored last year to crack down on corporate tax cheaters. While that unexpected revenue should primarily be used to reduce our deficit, a small sliver should be shaved off to fulfill our commitment to these 11,400 students.

In a society that prizes the values of hard work and of keeping commitments, what Schwarzenegger is doing to these kids and their parents is unjust and unworthy of a governor who has been a champion of young people. Schwarzenegger knows firsthand that California is a place of great opportunity for those willing to dream and work hard. It's not too late for him to honor our commitment to 11,400 of the best and brightest high school seniors, who have worked hard and dreamed of the day they would enroll at a UC or CSU campus.

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Photo:

``American Idol'' judge Randy Jackson, left, Arianna Huffington and movie producer Lawrence Bender walk on the campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara on Tuesday, as they joined with California Treasurer Phil Angelides, not shown, to speak against Gov. Schwarzenegger's funding cuts to the UC and CSU systems.

Rafael Maldonado/Santa Barbara News-Press
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Title Annotation:Editorial
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Jun 3, 2004
Words:757
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