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Readers React: One education reform we haven’t tried: Give schools and teachers all the money they need

Every desk is taken in an accounting class at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa in September 2011.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: California community colleges and other state institutions of higher learning train the workforces that enable corporations to make profits — and these corporations do everything in their power to avoid paying taxes. (“Free community college for ... some. It’s a start,” Opinion, Feb. 14)

For them, education should be considered an investment. Gov. Jerry Brown could start a charitable foundation and invite all the businesses that have hired our graduates to make a tax-deductible contribution to it. They can thus invest in California’s future.

Also, those well-meaning millionaires who endow college scholarships should consider providing funds to K-12 schools, so that cash-strapped districts can pay good teachers truly middle-class salaries. Research funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation found that well-paid public school teachers can make all the difference in preparing students for higher education.

Helen H. Gordon, Santa Barbara

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To the editor: In 1961, I graduated high school in Kingsburg, Calif., with a less-than-stellar academic record. My options: Get a job or go to a community college in a nearby town, where if I earned a 2.0 grade point average, I could transfer to Fresno State College.

Basically, community college was free, and Fresno State cost a whopping $56 a semester — all courtesy of Gov. Edmund G. “Pat” Brown’s Master Plan for Higher Education. Since I was drafted for the war in Vietnam, my graduate degree in urban planning from Boston University was courtesy of the GI Bill.

My higher education opportunities truly changed my life, and I am grateful for them but sorry to see how expensive college has become.

Gary Washburn, Chatsworth

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To the editor: Orange Coast College alumnus Gustavo Arellano’s column brought back memories of my time at the school.

In spring 1977, I needed permission to enroll in 27 units before transferring. The counselor asked me why I would want to take so many classes, to work that hard.

I told him it would be my last opportunity to have access to college courses that were almost free. He granted my request.

I did not know then that, over the next 14 years, I would spend another seven-plus years as a student.

Jana Shaker, Riverside

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