Last night President Yudof spoke at a Commonwealth Club meeting held at the Lafayette Library and Learning Center. He spoke earnestly about the budget challenges faced by the UC System and he underscored the untenable spending lavished on prisons at the expense of education. He highlighted the story of Earl Warren, born poor in Bakersfield to parents who had never gone to College, but who attends UC Berkeley and goes on to become governor and then Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. He wisely points out that the next Earls will be “Ernestos” or “Elenas”.
During the open-mike question and answer period, I had the opportunity to ask about the Re-Fund California Pledge...
I pointed out that a coalition of students, parents, teachers, nurses, researchers and workers were putting forth very specific policy reforms for funding education in California including increasing California’s income taxes on the wealthiest and closing the corporate property tax loophole created by Prop 13. I asked if this was the kind pledge that he could support.
He was prepared for the question. He said that he had seen the pledge but that it was not his place to take a position on California’s income tax rates or issues like Prop 13. He can and will advocate for why the UCs should receive more state funding but not on the specific politics of how that gets done.
I think it is President Yudof’s duty and obligation to be the champion of specific measures to Re-Fund public education in California. The LA Times reported this morning that California leads the nation in escalating college costs and Mark Yudof doesn’t think it is his place to advocate for specific policies in California to fix the problem? I hope he reconsiders and I hope he gets every Regent to sign on as well.
Check here for a podcast of President Yodof's remarks. It should be posted in a few weeks.