Tuesday, February 03, 2009

FOLLOW THE LEADER: The federal stimulus package should serve as an impetus to state legislators to fully fund the education system.

By Senior Editorial Board | The Daily Californian Online

The Daily Californian is an independent, student-run newspaper serving the UC Berkeley campus and its surrounding community, publishing Monday through Friday during the academic year and twice a week during the summer. Established in 1871, The Daily Californian is one of the oldest newspapers on the West Coast and one of the oldest college newspapers in the country.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009 - Year in and year out, the fate awaiting California's education system has been the same-cut after cut after cut. State legislators, though alleged believers in education as the greatest investment for the future, have yet to demonstrate that belief with adequate state funding.

Last week, the federal government acted on that belief when the U.S. House of Representatives passed President Obama's $819 billion stimulus package, a much-needed jolt designed to create jobs.

The package could translate into millions of dollars for California's public schools and higher education systems, the University of California and the California State University.

If passed in the U.S. Senate, those critical funds will go towards infrastructure on university campuses, saving jobs in California's school districts and a $500 boost to the maximum Pell Grant award amount.

This significant show of support for education, especially in a time when funding is being cut left and right, is something we firmly stand behind and hope to see become a priority in Obama's administration.

The funding, unfortunately, can only go so far. Bill Huyett, superintendent of Berkeley schools, has already said that because of state funding decreases, the federal funds won't be enough to dramatically improve the quality of education.

Furthermore, although the package's provisions for financial aid and research could help the university greatly, state budget cuts are still projected to continue.

As of Sunday, $13 million in Cal Grants are being delayed by the State Controller's Office, plus millions of dollars in tax refunds-a move that is certain to hurt thousands of UC students dependent on those funds.

Rather than eliminating the need for state funds, the stimulus package reinforces the importance that funding for education should carry; state legislators ought to take a cue from the President and Congress and immediately resolve to pass a budget that prioritizes education.

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