Volume 46 Number 1
Jerry Brown got his start in public office as a trustee for the Los Angeles Community College Board – but don’t hold that against him. That early experience gave him an understanding of the importance of higher education in California that has followed him throughout his career.
A product of the state’s university system (he’s a Cal Berkeley grad), Brown understands the importance of California’s Master Plan for higher education and how it fits into the economic prosperity of the state.
During Brown’s two terms as governor, state funding for higher education, including community colleges, more than doubled. The state budget for the University of California increased from $474 million in 1974-75 to $1.15 billion in 1982-83. And the California State University budget increased from $454 million in 1974-75 to nearly $987 million in 1982-83.
As the son of one of California’s great governors, — Edmund “Pat” Brown — as an organizer for California farm workers, a college trustee, secretary of state, governor, mayor of Oakland, and attorney general, Brown has always been a public official who has put the needs of this state first. He knows that California’s future depends on a world class, quality public education system.
“When we invest in our people and in our schools, when we pull together, then we know that we don’t just defend the land of our fathers – we defend and protect the land of our children,” Brown said in his remarks to CTA’s State Council in June.
“Jerry Brown’s longtime support of education is one of the factors our members should take into account as they make a decision about whom to vote for,” said CCA President Ron Norton Reel. “While CTA’s recommendation is an important indicator, we know that each individual will also evaluate the positions of the candidates in relation to community colleges.”
Signed Rodda Act
As governor, Jerry Brown signed the Rodda Act, which gave the educators in California’s public schools and community colleges collective bargaining rights. This bill marked the first time that teachers were allowed to be full partners in educating students and in the local governing process.
“The establishment of bargaining rights under Brown was a huge step forward for educators – we would be in a very different place right now without those rights,” Reel said.
Brown’s opponent, billionaire businesswoman Meg Whitman, is the polar opposite. She wants to solve the state budget crisis by eliminating 40,000 jobs and further cutting the state budget. Whitman also wants to eliminate secure retirement and put all public employees into risky 401(k) plans.
“This move would be devastating to community college faculty,” CCA Vice President Lynette Nyaggah asserted. “Over the years, as I have talked to my colleagues, one of the most reassuring aspects of our job is the prospect of a dependable retirement plan during our retirement years.”
And under her new tax plan, working families would pay an additional $600 more a year, while people like her would pay zero. In addition, her proposal to cut welfare programs in the state and invest that money in higher education is cynical and insensitive to the needs of people who live below the poverty line.
“Those of us who remember Jerry Brown as governor know him to be a creative thinker who was ahead of his time. He gave us catalytic converters, diamond lanes, improved air quality and a cleaner coast. He brought about the country’s first building and appliance energy efficiency standards and made California the leader in solar and alternative energy. The role of community colleges in training workers for this new economy will boost our importance in the future and we see Jerry Brown as fostering that role,” Nyaggah said.