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Making dreams reality

POSTED January 25, 2011 8:56 p.m.

I remember when I first brought my newborn daughter home from the hospital that my days were filled with worry. I worried about her getting enough to eat. I worried about positioning her in the crib the right way. I worried about germs, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and baby snatchers.

As she grew up, becoming a healthy and happy young woman, I thought my worrying days were over — or at least fewer and farther in between — but I was wrong.

I find myself spending hours every day worrying about my daughter’s future, especially in today’s economy and considering the shape the State of California finds itself in.

Her future prospects should be good; she graduated from high school a year early and has maintained decent grades during her time at a local junior college. In another time, her future success would be secured and all that would be left to worry about is the career path she wished to pursue.

But we are in the worst economic times the country has faced since the Great Depression. Unemployment is hovering around 17 percent in Stanislaus County and to top it off, I’m not sure if after all the hard work my daughter has put into her studies she will be able to finish her education.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget proposal delivers a punch to the core of the state’s higher education system that will make getting a bachelor’s degree in California almost as difficult as being cast in a Hollywood blockbuster.

The proposal calls for a $500 million, 18 percent cut in state support to the CSU system. The CSU system is already in the midst of a two-year, $625 million reduction, which has already seen enrollment cuts, employee furloughs, and staffing reductions. The CSU has more than 3,000 fewer faculty members than two years ago, while student fees have risen 242 percent since 2002.

Higher fees and fewer classes will result in a very competitive admission process at all California universities. The days of education for all are coming to an end in the Golden State.

For many this new reality in California higher education is inconceivable. But, in many other states, a college education is the exception rather than the rule for young adults.

Growing up in rural Indiana, going to college was a big deal. Many of my friends and fellow students went right from high school to working on the family farm, or at one of the local ag businesses. I also have friends who were hired on in city and county jobs with just their high school diplomas and a willingness to learn.

In fact, there are far more jobs available to those with just a high school diploma in Indiana than in California. I was shocked when I moved to California and employers required college credits to work in child care or as a secretary.

However, I soon came to appreciate California and its affinity for higher education, because I was able to become one of those college coeds in no time at all. Easily accessible and affordable higher education was a revelation to this Hoosier farm girl.

I was finally able to purse my true dreams through education, and not have to settle for a good office job with benefits.

I thank California for the precious gift of education that I received and urge our legislators and voters to remember why this state is a leader in innovative technology, agriculture and the humanities.

Education makes dreams reality and life better for everyone — including, hopefully, my daughter.

To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail khacker@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.

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