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Orange, Riverside County, CA November 2, 2004 Election
Smart Voter

Free Public Education - Up To University Level

By Kevin Akin

Candidate for United States Representative; District 44

This information is provided by the candidate
California once had free education through university level, and we can have it again. So can the country.
When I was young, back in the late 1950s and early 1960s, a qualified student from even the poorest family could go to the University of California without paying tuition. I came from a very poor family indeed, but my oldest brother went to U.C. Berkeley. Then came the governorship of Ronald Reagan. His "kitchen cabinet" of wealthy landowners, industrialists and bankers hated the thought of poor people getting anything for free, and under Reagan fees were introduced that kept getting larger. His successor Jerry Brown did not reverse this trend, and it got worse under the next four governors. Right now, with the highest tuition ever at the UCs, State Universities and Community Colleges, many members of working families have no hope of completing their educations. Cuts in financing have also made it harder to get classes needed for graduation, depriving many thousands more of degrees.

A similar process has gone on in state after state throughout the country. The process accelerated under President Reagan and his successors. It is made worse by high housing costs that keep young people at home, and high textbook prices.

The intermediate steps will require a strong mass movement to force them through: Lowering and then eliminating tuition and fees, providing low-cost student housing, subsidized production of texts to replace the high-profit (and often low-quality) texts used today.

What we need to aim for is a system that works just fine in many other countries: paying qualified students to go to school. Ask a college student from Europe about student stipends. You may be surprised to learn that a student who maintains acceptable grades gets paid living expenses, in addition to getting free tuition. This enables the country to train a qualified and skilled workforce in every field, compete successfully in the world, and advance many areas of science and scholarship to benefit all of society. This is an important reason why many European countries have a higher standard of living than we do.

Unfortunately, the two corporate parties do not differ enough on educational questions. The only party in California that calls for free public education from pre-school through the university is the Peace and Freedom Party. Join the Peace and Freedom Party by marking the box on the registration form when you register to vote. For a better America, and a better world. -Kevin Akin

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