Free University



Most young Californians think the idea of a tuition-free university is a fantasy, one of those pie-in-the-sky ideas that sound good but are not really possible. But older Californians know better, because they remember when it was so.

The University of California was once free to qualified Californians. The state colleges (now State University system) also had no tuition, nor did the community colleges. During the term of Governor Ronald Reagan (1967-1975), whose right-wing supporters resented any money spent to educate poor and working people, fees were introduced (with support of some Democrats in the legislature), and they grew quickly. When Jerry Brown became governor, he failed to roll back these fees, and under the next four governors they multiplied and joined with sky-high book prices to make college or university less and less affordable for the children of working people.

Before Reagan, there were grants to help many worker’s children with living expenses at school. Both Republicans and Democrats have scaled back or destroyed all these programs, and while some “aid” is available, most of it is in the form of loans, or low-paying jobs. It is a national scandal that college and university graduates today are saddled with enormous loans, that tie them up in crippling debt.

A similar process has taken place all across the country, in state after state. Federal help has been chopped as well, under both Republicans and Democrats. While these two parties do have important differences, they both represent wings of the wealthy class that runs our economy, and through the two big-money parties, the government.

What can you do when the parties that claim to represent you work against your interests? Logically, you should support a different party, one that will really work for you. The Peace and Freedom Party supports the reestablishment of free education, supported from the state’s general fund, from pre-school through the university. Peace and Freedom candidates for national office advocate making this a nation-wide program, providing free education for all, and putting the rip-off for-profit colleges out of business by providing a decent real education for their students.

How can we pay for this, under our current economic system? By increasing taxes on those best able to pay. The wealthy, through their newspapers and other media, claim that taxing them is bad for the country. Not true. With a lower top tax rate than under Eisenhower in the 1950s we could provide social benefits, including education, that would rival the best offered in Europe.

In addition to voting for candidates of the Peace and Freedom Party, you can make an important statement in support of the party and its program by registering to vote as a member. Just mark “Peace and Freedom Party” when you register to vote.