Readers React
Readers React

California has failed the UC system

To the editor: The Times writes that tuition increases may be necessary to ensure the University of California system's excellence. ("A battle for UC's soul," Editorial, Nov. 17)

I graduated from UC Berkeley in 1957. The campus was well maintained, and the teaching staff was well qualified. One of my professors, Luis Alvarez, would go on to win the Nobel Prize in physics.

At that time, tuition was about $100 a year. I had a part-time job that paid $1.50 an hour; less than 70 hours of work paid my annual tuition. Now tuition is about $12,000 and would require a roughly $170 wage to cover the cost in the same amount of time. Lots of luck with that.

What has happened? Was the state so much wealthier in those days that it could afford to educate its students? I've never seen a clear analysis of this situation.

Arthur Klimeck, San Pedro

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To the editor: The UC system could run much more efficiently if it would implement distance-learning technology.

Distance-learning differs from massive open online courses by enabling teachers in a classroom on one campus to conduct a course by video simulcast with classrooms on other distant campuses in real time. I have participated in teaching such courses. They enable faculty to reach double or triple the number of students.

Distance learning greatly increases teaching resources. Teachers can interact with students hundreds of miles away at the same time they are interacting with their own classroom.

What UC administrators lack is the imagination and initiative to implement distance learning. They are behind the curve technologically, and that is costing students.

Jean E. Rosenfeld, Los Angeles

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To the editor: The Times says, "Under the Master Plan for Higher Education, the University of California was to be the jewel in the crown."

Looks like Gov. Jerry Brown's recent actions call into question what exactly are California's crown jewels, as he approved $250 million for the bullet train and vetoed $50 million for the UC system.

I'd suggest the crown jewels are the young people who sparkle for a lifetime after going through the UCs and propose that better funding for the university system is the right investment for California's future.

Wayne Miller, Yorba Linda

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To the editor: George Skelton misses the point. The issue is not really about tuition and fees or executive salaries. It is about adequate state funding for the public higher education that benefits every Californian. ("UC tuition hike earns a failing grade," Column, Nov. 17)

The UC system fuels our economy and makes research breakthroughs of vital importance to every Californian. While performance and cost efficiencies are, of course, crucial, California cannot afford to continue the disinvestment of one of our state's crown jewels. We cannot continue to hold the system hostage.

Today, the UC system receives $460 million less in state support than it did in 2007-08, when it educated fewer students. For more than a decade, support has plummeted.

To preserve the world's best public university and our economy, Sacramento needs to restore the lost state money that has forced tuition increases in the past.

Dick Ackerman, Fullerton

Mel Levine, Los Angeles

Ackerman is a former Republican leader of the California Senate; Levine is a former Democratic member of Congress. They co-chair the California Coalition for Public Higher Education.

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