Category Archives: UC and CSU

California’s first-class Dreamers

Beatriz, the daughter of  house cleaners, and Chava, the son of tamale and ice cream makers from San Jose, will enroll this fall in the University of California at Merced – an event they viewed as unattainable until two months ago. They did aspire to a four-year degree. But as undocumented immigrants from Mexico whose parents moved them to America before they were in middle school, they were realists, too. Community college would be all they could afford, if that.

Beatriz and Chava are the new California Dreamers, among the first to receive college aid under California’s   Dream Act, which Jerry Brown signed into law last year on its fifth trip to the governor’s desk.

Chava, at his graduation from Downtown College Prep in San Jose, would be the first of five children to attend college. Click to enlarge. (Photo by Fensterwald)

Chava, at his graduation from Downtown College Prep in San Jose, would be the first of five children to attend college. Click to enlarge. (Photo by John Fensterwald)

Starting in  2013, Cal Grants will be available to undocumented immigrants and other income-eligible nonresident Californians who graduated from a California high school after attending at least three years. But Beatriz’ and Chava’s counselor at Downtown College Prep, a charter high school in San Jose, had heard that UC campuses were planning to award Dream Act money through private scholarships under their control sooner than that under AB 130, a separate part of the Dream Act. So each student hurriedly filled out a financial application this spring, and, sure enough, soon after their UC Merced acceptance letter came, offers to each for $22,000 – a little more two-thirds of the estimated cost of fees and room and board at a UC campus for next year. Now, with their fathers’ encouragement and mothers’ ambivalent mixture of pride and trepidation, and with additional scholarships from DCP and money the families and students have saved, they’ll be heading away from home to college.

The state Department of Finance estimated last year that 2,500 students will qualify for Cal Grants under the Dream Act. That’s about 1 percent of the total recipients, but less than one third of those will be undocumented students. The rest will be California high school graduates who want to return to the Golden State for college.

Finance estimated the state cost of Cal Grants for Dream Act recipients at $14.5 million per year. Opponents of the law argue it will attract more illegal immigrants and siphon money that could be used for citizens. Proponents, like Gov. Brown, respond that the state should encourage and reward all students for their hard work; the state will need more college grads, and a Cal Grant is a pittance compared with the nearly $100,000 the state paid for their K-12 education.

Though they lack a U.S. birth certificate, Beatriz and Chava are American success stories, embodying “ganas,” that intense desire that teachers and students celebrate at Downtown College Prep. Beatriz’ family moved from the state of Oaxaca when she was 11, and the future social worker knew not a word of English. Soon she was interpreting for her parents as they went door to door in Fremont, drumming up business for the family. One of five children and the first to go to college,  Chava, a future entrepreneur, and his family left Tijuana when he was eight or nine.

“Both students have tremendous amount of grit,” says Prisilla Lerza, the college financial manager at DCP. “At different moments, they have dealt with their immigration status but given their all. All of our teachers would describe them as top students.”

At DCP, which targets low-performing middle school students from low-income Hispanic families, about 20 percent of students are undocumented immigrants. This year it was 11 of 49 graduates. During junior year, when it’s time to get serious about college applications, immigration status has become a demarcation, and sometimes a difficult subject to broach.

“Some students don’t know they are undocumented until they apply to college, and others are taught to be in the closet – that something bad can happen to them,” said Lerza. “The emotional part catches up at some point and for some can subtly manifest in despair. We see that in not meeting deadlines for applying or in terms of what schools they apply to; they pursue community college as their only option.”

This year, Cal Grants for high school graduates with a grade point average of 3.0 or higher provided tuition and fees of up to $12,192 at a UC campus and up to $5,472 at a CSU campus. For students with only a 2.0 GPA, the income ceilings are much lower – $42,100 for a family of four – and the first year aid of $1,551 is a lot lower. With state aid for eligible undocumented students still a year away, the Dream Act was cruelly illusive for many of Beatriz’ and Chava’s friends at DCP. Beatriz, with a 3.8 average, and Chava, with a 3.4, took their chances anyway, and applied to CSUs and UCs on the chance of private scholarships.

Never quite at ease

But California is not an island, and the debate over immigration roils the nation. The federal Dream Act, providing Pell grants and loans to undocumented students, along with a path to citizenship, remains tied up in Congress, and worry over getting inadvertently ensnared in raids by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement tempers these students’ optimism.

Beatriz is not her name, and Chava is only his nickname. Their reluctance to identify themselves – Chava did permit his family graduation photo to be published after talking it over with his parents – reflects the eerie twilight they live in: What the state may giveth in scholarships, the feds may taketh away in opportunity to find work and live without fear after they graduate.

“My teachers say, ‘Things will change.’ When I talk to teachers, I am an optimist. But my uncles and aunts tell me, ‘You won’t be able to find work when you get out,’” Beatriz said.

I spoke with Beatriz and Chava the day before President Obama announced his historic executive decision to halt deportations of 800,000 federal Dream Act eligible students like them and to grant two-year renewable work permits. Reached yesterday, Chava said he would apply for a permit so that he can work while studying for extra money. But he is only partly encouraged by Obama’s action.

“A two-year work permit is not that much, and I’m not sure how long the process will take,” he said. “You can’t tell what will happen – whether Obama will be re-elected.”

Chava said that one day he may open a restaurant for his parents, who are street vendors. He discovered his interest in business when he was chosen one of three DCP students to attend an expense-paid conference sponsored by Rotary at Asilomar Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove. “This was a brand new experience, one of the highlights in my life,” he said. The conference taught him how to engage with other people, how can you become entrepreneur and start and maintain a business, he said. Chava plans to double major in business and engineering – “to take advantage of the opportunity.”

UC Merced will wait until January to announce how much in private scholarships it awarded this year to Dream Act students. Dream Act applications went online in April for action after Jan. 1. So far, 6,500 students have begun the process of filling out the application and 5,108 completed it, according to Ed Emerson of the California Student Aid Commission, which will administer the program. These will include students seeking fee waivers from community colleges.

Eliminating second-year science mandate is fast fix with long-term damage

Governor Brown, what are you thinking? Your proposal, to end the mandate that requires a second year of science for high school graduation, as a way to fix a dysfunctional budget process, makes absolutely no sense.

Since 1986 every student who graduated from high school in California has been required to take and pass one year of life science and one year of physical science. The second year of science requirement was added when it became obvious that a literate citizenry needed to know more about the science and technology that drives their everyday world than a one-year general science class could provide.

What has changed? Is it less important now, in 2012, for citizens of California to have the minimum amount of science necessary for access to careers or colleges after high school? The economy of California is heavily dependent on the technology that results from the work of scientists and researchers, and California citizens, the consumers of that technology, must have a solid understanding of its origins, is applications, and its limitations to make sound decisions for the future. Decreasing the number of years of science required in high school for graduation is a step in the wrong direction.

Throughout all of the rhetoric surrounding this proposal, your office and the Department of Finance have argued that removal of the mandate will not affect the quality of education our students receive. They argue that the California State University and the University of California will still require two years of lab science as a minimum requirement for admission. This is likely true, but this fact does not address the large number of students who don’t see four-year colleges in their future plans. For those students, a reduction in the number of years of required science could mean a workforce that is even less prepared than they are now. Removal of the mandate could easily result in an underprepared workforce for California. In a time when employers argue that it is difficult to find qualified workers, anything that reduces worker preparation should be avoided.

Don’t trust the predictions

Supporters of your proposal argue that graduation requirements are still the responsibility of the local school districts and that districts would never reduce graduation requirements. I would caution that as schools face declining budgets and continued pressure to perform on standardized tests, districts may find themselves forced to make decisions that seem unconscionable today.

Teaching science is not cheap. The Department of Finance estimates that the cost of the second year of science requirement is $250 million per year. If we accept this amount, it should not be a stretch to see that a district that has to cut millions of dollars from its annual budget will see elimination of a non-mandated cost as an easy way to maintain solvency. This possibility is further compounded by the realization that school districts have not been reimbursed at this level for years. Essentially, they are fulfilling this mandate from their general funding, since no additional support has been provided by the state.

Furthermore, districts that are struggling to meet their measures of Annual Yearly Progress (AYP), as called for in the No Child Left Behind law, will see this as an opportunity to place more emphasis on the subject areas that contribute the most to scores – mathematics and language arts – and eliminate a year of science. Evidence of schools’ willingness to do this can be seen every day in elementary schools throughout California. If a subject is not tested, it is often not taught.

The  proposed elimination of the second year of science as a graduation requirement is a quick answer to a much bigger problem. Schools have, in good faith, met this two-year mandate for 26 years with little or no compensation from the state. Schools are owed almost $2.5 billion for doing a job that is required of them that has not been supported.

Yes, eliminating the mandate will stop the continued accumulation of the debt owed to the schools, but it will not fix the dysfunctional budgeting process. It will result in a further eroding of the quality of the workforce that is so critical to the financial recovery of California. It sends the message that science, as a core curriculum area, is not valued. It is the first step down a slippery slope that will result in fewer students entering college with aspirations in the fields of science and technology, and in an underprepared workforce. It will lead to a wider gap of college admission rates between students who traditionally attend a four-year college and students in underserved populations.

Governor Brown, I ask that you drop this proposal and  find other ways to fix the budget problem. This problem was not created by the students or the schools in California, and you should not place the burden of fixing it on them.

Rick Pomeroy is science education lecturer/supervisor in the School of Education, University of California, Davis and is president of the California Science Teachers Association.

Trends in California ed bills

Tomorrow is primary day, but last Friday also marked some significant yeas and nays. It was the final day for bills before the State Legislature to pass out of the house where they were introduced, also known as their house of origin.

One of the big trends in legislation this year is an effort to move the pendulum back from zero tolerance in schools to something more nuanced. Starting from the top, with State Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, lawmakers introduced nine bills.

As we reported in April, Senator Steinberg and other legislators were disturbed by a report called Suspended Education in California, which found that the harshest punishments were carried out with clear racial disparity.

Steinberg’s bill, SB 1235, requires schools with suspension rates above 25 percent, overall or for a specific racial or ethnic group, to implement a research-based alternative that holds the students accountable for their misbehavior but keeps them in school.

Sherry Griffith, a legislative advocate for the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA), finds some irony in the number of bills on the issue, and she urges caution.

“Last year we were in the zero tolerance for bullying, and this year it’s okay to keep them (disruptive and angry students) on campus unless it’s critical,” said Griffith.

ACSA has been fairly active this session in addressing the problem of misbehavior by teachers. The situation in Los Angeles Unified School District, in which a teacher accused of lewd acts on children was on the job for years before being removed from the classroom, has sparked numerous bills that would make it easier for school districts to take action against teachers accused of similar conduct. SB 1530, sponsored by Sen. Alex Padilla, adds “serious and egregious” conduct to the types of behavior that will get a teacher removed immediately.

“We support the Padilla bill. We can’t even imagine how anyone can’t support expediting the removal of a teacher in that situation,” said Griffith. “The funny thing is, schools are one of the safest places for kids to be, any time. And we have to keep that focus and not get lax about it.”

Building Student Success Task Force

After a year of meetings and public hearings, members of the Community College Student Success Task Force are watching to see what happens to SB 1456, carried by Sen. Alan Lowenthal. The Long Beach Democrat has introduced the Student Success Act, which begins to implement some of the recommendations in the Task Force report.

The bill covers two major sections of the report: funding priorities that promote student success and support, and requirements for Board of Governors fee waivers. The first part centers on putting money into services critical to students’ success at the front end, such as orientation, academic assessment, and helping students develop an education plan. Community College Vice Chancellor for Government Relations Marlene Garcia says there’s abundant research showing that one of the “key factors in student success in college is having a goal and having a plan.”

The second part is a bit more controversial: It would tighten eligibility for Board of Governors fee waivers. If students fall below a 2.0 GPA for two consecutive terms, they lose their waiver. “For the first time we’re saying students need to meet satisfactory academic standards,” said Garcia.

Requests for waivers have been rising along with community college fees. About 62 percent of students receive the waivers, and that could rise to 70 percent within the next couple of years.

While she understands that this is a philosophical issue for some, especially low-income students, Garcia said the purpose isn’t to separate students from their Board of Governors waivers. “It’s to signal to students the kind of behavior that’s likely to lead them to success. A GPA below 2.0 is not putting you on a track toward success.”

Status of key education bills as of June 4, 2012

(The following is the first page of a multi-page chart. Click here for entire chart)

Bills-

Middle class tuition break at UC, CSU

Four Republican legislators crossed party lines in the Assembly on Wednesday, providing the two-thirds vote needed to approve a bill that would create a middle class scholarship program for the state’s public college and university students.

AB 1501 is part of a two-bill package called the Middle Class Scholarship Act introduced by Assembly speaker John A. Pérez, a Los Angeles Democrat, that would reduce tuition by two-thirds for students attending the University of California and California State University whose families earn less than $150,000 a year.

In urging a yes vote, Pérez cited the enormous fee hikes at the state’s public colleges and universities, noting that in the past decade tuition has increased by 191 percent at Cal State, by 145 percent at the University of California, and by 300 percent at community colleges. Meanwhile, state support for UC and CSU has dropped by 21 percent and 26 percent respectively since 2005.

10 year history of changes in CSU tuition. (Source: California State University). Click to enlarge.

Ten-year history of changes in CSU tuition. (Source: California State University.) Click to enlarge.

“This means that for thousands of California families, higher education entails increasingly difficult tradeoffs,” said Pérez; tradeoffs that would either compel parents to make huge sacrifices, or force students to take on massive loan debt. “For many Californians those tradeoffs are too great, and they make the reluctant decision to forego a higher education altogether.”

Student loan debt now exceeds $1 trillion nationally, more than all U.S. credit card debt. Statewide, according to the California Student Aid Commission, there’s been a double-digit increase every year for the past three years in the number of students who qualify for loans and for the state’s Cal Grant awards.

Under AB 1501, eligible Cal State students would save $4,000 per year, or $16,000 over four years, while UC students would save about $8,200 per year, or nearly $33,000 over a four-year period. Students from families earning between $150,000 and $160,000 a year would be entitled to assistance at a lower level; their scholarships would be reduced by 10 percent for each $1,000 in family income over $150,000. California community colleges would receive $150 million to help students defray the cost of textbooks and offset other educational expenses.

Lack of investment “criminal”

Modesto Assemblymember Kristin Olsen, vice chair of the Higher Education Committee and one of the Republicans who broke ranks and supported the measure, defended her position during the floor debate as a vote for the state’s economic prosperity.

“We have slashed state investment in higher education, and that’s criminal,” Olsen said. “One of the only ways we’re going to grow a strong economy over the long term is by investing in our public universities to make sure that we are graduating educated employees who are prepared to compete in a global workforce.”

She noted that wealthy families can afford to pay tuition, and low-income families have various options for state and federal aid, but middle-income families are being hit hard by escalating tuition and the faltering economy.

But her colleague in the GOP caucus, Assemblymember Tim Donnelly from Twin Peaks, wasn’t moved, except to sarcasm. “I see these programs and they sound so nice – middle class scholarship fund – woo-hoo, hallelujah, Praise the Lord! I love it, sounds wonderful, why don’t we give one to everybody?” he quipped. “Oh yeah, there’s a slight little problem: we don’t have the money.”

Donnelly blamed union wage demands and injudicious spending decisions by UC and CSU for their financial problems, especially giving huge pay raises to new campus presidents while increasing student fees. Then he offered this sage advice: “I remember when I went to school. I went to the University of California at Irvine; I got three jobs to pay my way through. My idea of a middle class scholarship is a job.”

Half a loaf

While there is some disagreement among Republicans on AB 1501, they are united in their opposition to its companion bill, AB 1500. This is the half that pays for the Middle Class Scholarship Act.

Pérez wants to fund it by closing a loophole in the 2009 Corporation Tax Law that gave companies operating in both California and another state the option of computing their taxes using either the Single Sales Factor (SSF), which is based on their California sales, or another formula that gives the companies more flexibility on how much taxes they’ll pay. The policy was adopted in one of those never-well-thought-through budget deals reached in the middle of the night.

Requiring those companies to move to the SSF would increase the state’s general fund by about $1 billion in 2013-14, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office. In fact, the LAO recommended that the state take that action two years ago.

Gov. Brown tried to change the law last year, by getting bipartisan support for AB 40X. The bill would have mandated the SSF and returned the revenue to businesses in the form of job credits as an incentive for hiring Californians. Although it passed the Assembly, the bill did not garner any GOP support in the Senate and died.

One of the sponsors of AB 40X was Assembly Republican Cameron Smyth of Santa Clarita. He’s also one of the four Republicans who voted yesterday for AB 1501. But in a phone call Wednesday afternoon, Smyth said he will not be supporting AB 1500.

“It would be another funding obligation from the state,” said Smyth. “I still think the Single Sales Factor needs to be reexamined, but I do have concerns, because unlike last year, this bill is a tax increase and it creates a new entitlement.”

Kristin Olsen and the other two Republicans who voted for AB 1501 – Katcho Achadjian from San Luis Obispo and Jeff Gorell of Camarillo – have also said they will not support the companion bill, but are willing to work with Speaker Pérez on finding a different funding source, such as savings from the governor’s pension reform proposal.

Assemblymember Olsen said adequate funding for public higher education ought to be a top priority in the general fund if California is committed to maintaining a premier public university system. But she’s not optimistic. “The direction that California is headed today, quite honestly, makes me fearful,” said Olsen, “and makes me question whether I will be able to send my three kids to college.”

‘Qualities of mind and heart’

For nearly two-and-a-half centuries Americans have fought and died to protect the nation’s fragile democracy. From the earliest days of the Union, the founding fathers recognized that maintaining freedom came with a cost and with a responsibility to ensure an educated citizenry.

President John F. Kennedy reaffirmed that conviction on June 6, 1963, in his commencement address to graduates of what was then known as San Diego State College. On this Memorial Day, we are sharing that speech as a reminder of a period in California’s not too distant past, when the Golden State led the nation in expanding the commitment to preparing future generations of educated citizens. Go here to listen to the president’s address. [Note:  All photos are courtesy of the San Diego State University Library, Special Collections.]

President Kennedy delivering the commencement address at San Diego State College on June 6, 1963.

President Kennedy delivering the commencement address at San Diego State College on June 6, 1963.

President Love, Governor Brown, Chairman Heilbron, trustees, fellow graduates, ladies and gentlemen:

I want to express a very warm sense of appreciation for the honor that you have given to me today, to be an instant graduate of this distinguished college. It is greatly appreciated and I am delighted to participate in what is a most important ceremony in the lives of us all.

One of the most impressive, if not the most impressive, accomplishments of this great Golden State has been the recognition by the citizens of this State of the importance of education as the basis for the maintenance of an effective, free society. This fact was recognized in our earliest beginnings at the Massachusetts Bay Colony, but I do not believe that any State in the Union has given more attention in recent years to educating its citizens to the highest level, doctoral level, in the State colleges, the junior colleges, the high schools, the grade schools. You recognize that a free society places special burdens upon any free citizen. To govern is to choose, and the ability to make those choices wise and responsible and prudent requires the best of all of us.San Diego State newspaper commemorating President Kennedy's visit.

No country can possibly move ahead, no free society can possibly be sustained, unless it has an educated citizenry whose qualities of mind and heart permit it to take part in the complicated and increasingly sophisticated decisions that pour not only upon the President and upon the Congress, but upon all the citizens who exercise the ultimate power.

I am sure that the graduates of this College recognize that the effort of the people of California – the Governor, the legislature, the local communities, the faculty – that this concentrated effort of mind and scholarship to educate the young citizens of this State has not been done merely to give this school’s graduates an economic advantage in the life struggle. Quite obviously, there is a higher purpose, and that is the hope that you will turn to the service of the State, the scholarship, the education, the qualities which society has helped develop in you; that you will render on the community level, or on the State level, or on the national level, or the international level a contribution to the maintenance of freedom and peace and the security of our country and those associated with it in a most critical time.

In so doing, you will follow a great and honorable tradition which combined American scholarship and American leadership in political affairs. It is an extraordinary fact of history, I think, unmatched since the days of early Greece, that this country should have produced during its founding days, in a population of a handful of men, such an extraordinary range of scholars and creative thinkers who helped build this country – Jefferson, Franklin, Morris, Wilson, and all the rest. This is a great tradition which we must maintain in our time with increasing strength and increasing vigor.

Those of you who are educated, those of us who recognize the responsibilities of an educated citizen, should now concern ourselves with whether we are providing an adequate education for all Americans, whether all Americans have an equal chance to develop their intellectual qualities, and whether we are preparing ourselves today for the educational challenges which are going to come before this decade is out.

President Kennedy delivering the commencement address at San Diego State, June 6, 1963. (Click to enlarge)

President Kennedy delivering the commencement address at San Diego State, June 6, 1963. (Click to enlarge)

The first question – and the most important –Does every American boy and girl have an opportunity to develop whatever talents they have? All of us do not have equal talent, but all of us should have an equal opportunity to develop those talents. Let me cite a few facts to show that they do not.

In this fortunate State of California the average current expenditure for a boy and girl in the public schools is $515, but in the State of Mississippi it is $230. The average salary for classroom teachers in California is $7,000, while in Mississippi it is $3,600. Nearly three-quarters of the young, white population of the United States have graduated from high school, but only about two-fifths of our nonwhite population has done the same.

In some States almost 40 percent of the nonwhite population has completed less than 5 years of school. Contrast it with 7 percent of the white population. In one American State, over 36 percent of the public school buildings are over 40 years of age. In another, only 4 percent are that old.

Such facts, and one could prolong the recital indefinitely, make it clear that American children today do not yet enjoy equal educational opportunities for two primary reasons: one is economic and the other is racial. If our Nation is to meet the goal of giving every American child a fair chance, because an uneducated American child makes an uneducated parent who, in many cases, produces another uneducated American child; we must move ahead swiftly in both areas.

And we must recognize that segregation and education, and I mean de facto segregation in the North as well as the proclaimed segregation in the South, brings with it serious handicaps to a large proportion of the population. It does no good, as you in California know better than any, to say that that is the business of another State. It is the business of our country, and in addition, these young uneducated boys and girls know no State boundaries and they come West as well as North and East, and they are your citizens as well as citizens of this country.

President Kennedy stands next to Governor Pat Brown as San Diego State President Malcolm Love speaks. (Click to enlarge)

President Kennedy stands next to Governor Pat Brown as San Diego State President Malcolm Love speaks. (Click to enlarge)

The second question relates to the quality of our education. Today 1 out of every 3 students in the fifth grade will drop out of high school, and only 2 out of 10 will graduate from college. In the meantime we need more educated men and women, and we need less and less unskilled labor. There are millions of jobs that will be available in the next 7 years for educated young men and women. The demand will be overwhelming, and there will be millions of people out of work who are unskilled because with new machines and technology there is less need for them. This combination of a tremendously increasing population among our young people, of less need for unskilled labor, of increasingly unskilled labor available, combines to form one of the most serious domestic problems that this country will face in the next 10 years.

Of Americans 18 years of age or older, more than 23 million have less than 8 years of schooling, and over 8 million have less than 5 years. What kind of judgment, what kind of response can we expect of a citizen who has been to school less than 5 years? And we have in this country 8 million who have been to school less than 5 years. As a result, they can’t read or write or do simple arithmetic. They are illiterate in this rich country of ours, and they constitute the hard core of our unemployed. They can’t write a letter to get a job, and they can’t read, in many cases, a help-wanted sign. One out of every 10 workers who failed to finish elementary school are unemployed, as compared to 1 out of 50 college graduates.

In short, our current educational programs, much as they represent a burden upon the taxpayers of this country, do not meet the responsibility. The fact of the matter is that this is a problem which faces us all, no matter where we live, no matter what our political views must be. “Knowledge is power,” as Francis Bacon said 500 years ago, and today it is truer than it ever was.

What are we going to do by the end of this decade? There are 4 million boys and girls born each year in the United States. Our population is growing each decade by a figure equal to the total population of this country at the time of Abraham Lincoln just 100 years ago. Our educational system is not expanding fast enough. By 1970 the number of students in our public elementary and secondary schools will have increased 25 percent over 1960. Nearly three-quarters of a million new classrooms will be needed, and we are not building them at that rate. By 1970 we will have 7 million students in our colleges and universities, 3 million more than we do today. We are going to double the population of our colleges and universities in 10 years. We are going to have to build as many school and college classrooms and buildings in 10 years as we did in 150 years.

By 1970 we will need 7,500 Ph. D.’s each year in the physical sciences, mathematics, and engineering. In 1960 we graduated 3,000. Such facts make it clear that we have a major responsibility and a major opportunity, one that we should welcome, because there is no greater asset in this country than an educated man or woman. Education, quite rightly, is the responsibility of the State and the local community, but from the beginning of our country’s history, from the time of the Northwest Ordinance, as John Adams and Thomas Jefferson recognized, from the time of the Morrill Act at the height of the Civil War, when the land grant college system was set up under the administration of President Lincoln, from the beginning it has been recognized that there must be a national commitment and that the National Government must play its role in stimulating a system of excellence which can serve the great national purpose of a free society. And it is for that reason that we have sent to the Congress of the United States legislation to help meet the needs of higher education, by assisting in the construction of college academic facilities, and junior colleges, and graduate centers, and technical institutes, and by stepping up existing programs for student loans and graduate fellowships and other student assistance programs.

We have to improve, and we have so recommended, the quality of our teachers by expanding teacher training institutes, by improving teacher preparation programs, by broadening educational research and by authorizing – and this is one of our greatest needs – increased training for teachers for the handicapped: the deaf, and those who can’t speak, and those who are otherwise handicapped. And it is designed to strengthen public elementary and secondary education through grants to the States for better teachers’ salaries, to relieve critical classroom shortages, to meet the special educational problems of depressed areas, and to continue and expand vocational education and counseling.

And finally, we must make a massive attack upon illiteracy in the year 1963 in the United States by an expansion of university extension courses and by a major effort to improve our libraries in every community of our country.

I recognize that this represents a difficult assignment for us all, but I don’t think it is an assignment from which we should shrink. I believe that education comes at the top of the responsibilities of any government, at whatever level. It is essential to our survival as a Nation in a dangerous and hazardous world, and it is essential to the maintenance of freedom at a time when freedom is under attack.

I have traveled in the last 24 hours from Washington to Colorado to Texas to here, and on every street I see mothers standing with two or three or four children. They are going to pour into our schools and our colleges in the next 10 or 20 years and I want this generation of Americans to be as prepared to meet this challenge as our forefathers did in making it possible for all of us to be here today. We are the privileged, and it should be the ambition of every citizen to express and expand that privilege so that all of our countrymen and women share it. Thank you.

It’s a bill’s life

California school buses won’t be wearing anything but yellow for the foreseeable future.  This week, the state Senate Education Committee killed SB 1295. Introduced by Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff, it would have permitted school districts to selling advertising space on the outside of buses to raise revenue.  This is a shortsighted decision by Democrats on the Senate Education Committee,” said the Diamond Bar Republican.  “We should be providing solutions, not gambling on the future of our children.”

Democratic Senator Leland Yee of San Francisco failed to convince members of the Senate Education Committee to put some limits on executive salaries during tough economic times.  SB 967 would have prohibited Cal State University trustees from increasing top administrators’’ salaries within two years of raising student fees.   It would also have capped salaries for newly hired executives at 5 percent above what was paid to their predecessors.

Yee’s bill grew out of frustration last July when the Cal State University Board of Trustees approved paying the new president of San Diego State University a $100,000 more than his predecessor.  During that same meeting, the Board increased tuition by 12 percent, or an additional $294 per semester for undergraduates. Last month, CSU trustees agreed to 10 percent pay increases for the incoming presidents of Cal State Fullerton and East Bay.  Even State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson criticized the board for its lack of tact.

“The students we serve and the public that supports our system enjoy no immunity from the consequence of the Great Recession, which has left millions without work and more millions more working harder for less.  Why should those we select to lead our campuses be any different?” wrote Torlakson earlier this month in a public letter to CSU leaders.

On the aye side of the voting, the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday passed a measure by Senator Kevin De León to increase eligibility for CalGrants, the state higher education program that provides merit and need based funds.

The committee also approved several bills aimed at bringing down the price of textbooks and making them available electronically.  Read more about those bills here.

Coming attractions

Some of the textbook bills are up for their next vote next week.  Legislators are also scheduled to move to the next step with bills that would require information on academic achievement of students for new charters and renewals, that seek to reduce out-of-school suspensions and expulsions,  (which we wrote about here), and create a middle class scholarship program for California residents attending UC or Cal State.

We will be updating action on education bills on a weekly basis.  Click here for a table providing the status of about three dozens of those measures.

Heavy editing on publishers

It’s a sure sign that an issue has hit crisis mode when Republican and Democratic legislators are on the same page about what needs to happen. In this case, it’s a fraying page from a textbook industry that needs some help embracing change.

The Senate Education Committee yesterday handily approved two more bills aimed at lowering the cost of textbooks from elementary school through college and moving them more quickly into the e-book era. In all, seven bills dealing with textbooks are making their way through the Legislature.

Publishers would have to provide, in one place, information on the differences between editions, how much the books cost in all their forms from hardcover to paperback, and a list of other texts on the same subject and their prices.

“Today’s K-through-12 students have grown up immersed in digital technology,” Senator Mimi Walters (R-Laguna Niguel), author of SB 1154, told the committee. “However, California students are attending schools equipped with outdated, heavy, hardbound textbooks, some of which are at least ten years old.”

Walters’ measure has three parts.  1) Textbook publishers would have to provide instructional and supplemental materials in both print and digital formats; 2) publishers could not require schools to buy textbooks bundled with other materials – they’d have to make the items available à la carte; and 3) publishers will have to offer free digital versions of textbooks to schools that buy the hard copies and allow students to access the digital material through a secure, district-based online database.

The other bill approved by the committee yesterday, focuses on college textbooks. SB 1539, by San Leandro Democratic Senator Ellen Corbett, seeks to make it easier for faculty to compare prices and content. Publishers would have to provide, in one place, information on the differences between editions, the cost of books in all their various formats from hardcover to paperback, and a list of other texts on the same subject and their prices. Corbett said having access to this information would enable faculty to easily compare prices and content and save their students some money.

As anyone who has paid for college lately can attest, textbooks are a second serving of sticker shock after tuition. A report by State Auditor Elaine Howle found that “in the four-year period ending 2007-08, textbook prices rose at rates that significantly outpaced increases in the median household income in the United States.”

Annual Student Fees and Textbook Costs for Full‐Time Students Enrolled in the State’s Postsecondary Educational Systems Academic Year 2007–08.  (Source: California State Auditor). Click to enlarge.

Annual Student Fees and Textbook Costs for Full‐Time Students Enrolled in the State’s Postsecondary Educational Systems Academic Year 2007–08. (Source: California State Auditor). Click to enlarge.

At that time, Howle reported that textbooks accounted for 13 percent of the costs of attending the University of California, 23 percent at Cal State University, and 59 percent for community college students. Some of that is due to markups by college bookstores that ranged from 25 to 43 percent at the nine California campuses the auditor reviewed.

But publishers still take most of the heat for such practices as issuing updated editions that often do little more than switch the order of chapters, but in so doing make it impossible for students to sell back their books or buy them second-hand.

“From our perspective, we view textbook publishers as highly exploitative,” Justin Goss, a student senator at UC Davis, told members of the Senate Education Committee. “While I am sure that they are perfectly nice people, it continues to baffle me why a reordered table of contents and a shiny new binding warrants and additional $50, $60, or sometimes $100 on the price tag.”

For their part, publishers argue that some of the bills are redundant and could drive up costs more.  Most of the information required by the bills is already online, said Stephen Rhoads with Strategic Education Services, a consulting and lobbying firm that represents the Association of American Publishers.

There are already several federal and state laws governing textbooks.  Both the Higher Education Opportunity Act, passed by Congress in 2008, and California’s College Textbook Transparency Act, which took effect at the start of 2010, require publishers to provide nearly all the information contained in Corbett’s bill.  A third bill, SB 48, by Sen. Elaine Alquist (D-Santa Clara), gives college textbook publishers until 2020 to offer electronic versions.

Federal and State Textbook Laws. (Source:  Strategic Education Services). Click to enlarge.

Federal and State Textbook Laws. (Source: Strategic Education Services). Click to enlarge.

“We actually think the marketplace is working for books,” testified Rhoads yesterday.  He cited statistics compiled by the market research firm Student Monitor showing that prices have been dropping in recent years.  However, a closer look indicates that students have more options today to buy less expensive books or to rent them online.  What’s more, Student Monitor reported that more than 40 percent of students said they didn’t buy all the required books because they couldn’t afford them.

But publishers have other concerns about the bills that pose legal and ethical questions.  It’s one thing if school districts that buy the textbooks also receive a free digital copy for students to access, but publishers want to be sure it’s a secure platform that protects the work from copyright infringement.  If they have to develop that platform, then shouldn’t they be compensated?

Those issues are still being worked out said Everett Rice, a spokesman for Sen. Walters.  “The senator’s goal was never to essentially try to not allow the textbook companies to function,” said Rice.  “We’re just trying to create greater flexibility based on the changing technology and to give school districts more room for negotiation, and to only give them what they need.”

State Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg is pushing for greater change.  He and Sen. Alquist have two bills that go hand-in-hand.  SB 1052 creates the California Open Education Resources Council, charges it with developing a list of the 50 most widely used college textbooks for lower division college courses, and allows faculty, publishers and other experts to bid for funds to produce 50 high quality affordable, digital open source textbooks and related materials.

The companion bill, SB 1053, creates a digital open source library jointly run by the University of California, Cal State and California Community Colleges.  His goal is to have the first 25 books ready by the fall of 2013, with the second group of 25 coming a year later.

With students and parents struggling to pay for college, “our goal is to move fast, because there is great urgency,” Steinberg said at a December news conference announcing his bills. “The book publishers are used to a particular model; the world is changing.”

College readiness test’s next phase

California’s Early Assessment Program and affiliated efforts to get students college-ready are viewed in national education circles as a rare achievement, a model of K-12 and higher ed collaboration.

The recent naming of one of EAP’s key figures, California State University’s Beverly Young, to the Executive Committee of Smarter Balanced, the multistate group creating the Common Core assessment, is a sign that a new incarnation for EAP may be its ultimate triumph.

EAP is what high school juniors take, as a supplement to their state standardized tests in math and English language arts, to determine if they are college-ready. For those who aren’t, CSU has developed an expository reading and writing course and is developing a course in math for students to take as seniors. A number of states have adopted the reading and writing course for their own students.

“California’s EAP model is the best method currently available in the nation to assess and signal to students their preparedness for college-level coursework, providing them with
an opportunity to correct deficiencies before they enter college,” said a report, “California’s Early Assessment Program: Its Effectiveness and Obstacles to Successful Program Implementation,” which was released this week. It was produced by PACE (Policy Analysis for California Education) and written by Hilary McLean, former communications director for the state Department of Education.

California is a governing member of Smarter Balanced. CSU’s assistant vice chancellor of academic affairs, who’s been involved with EAP since its creation in 2004, will serve as one of two representatives of higher ed on the nine-member Executive Committee.

In announcing Young’s appointment, a Smarter Balanced press release reaffirmed the “goal of having the assessments be accepted indicators of college and career readiness.” Young this week said that she’ll be advocating that an EAP-type approach be incorporated into the 11th grade Common Core test. But she also acknowledged that, conceptual agreement aside, it will be a challenge to persuade colleges and universities from various states, all of which have their own standards for college readiness, to accept the test results. “College faculty will have to be brought in at the front end” of the test development, Young said this week. “Otherwise, they will not accept this.”

PARCC – the other Common Core assessment consortium – has explicitly said it wants to base its college-readiness system on EAP,  and has hired Allison Jones, a former CSU administrator in charge of EAP, to lead its effort.

Reputation exceeds impact

Even in California, EAP is not universally accepted. The University of California has steered clear of it, even though a quarter of its students systemwide need remediation classes in English (UCs don’t label their catch-up classes as remediation, but that’s what they are). And only about half of the state’s 112 community colleges accept EAP as a test for determining whether students are ready for credit-bearing courses.

CSU has invested a lot in EAP. On its dime, it developed the test and pays faculty to grade the 45-minute writing portion of it. It created the writing course and online math and English tutorials. It hired regional EAP coordinators to work with high schools and has trained more than 6,000 high school teachers to lead the writing course.

Still, respect for EAP probably exceeds its impact within California. It’s been a struggle to get students to understand what EAP is and to act on the results. Only 400 of the more than 1,000 high schools in the state offer the year-long expository writing and reading course, Young said.

Participation in EAP has steadily increased to more than 80 percent in English Language Arts. Source: California's Early Assessment Program (Click to enlarge).

Participation in EAP has steadily increased to more than 80 percent in English Language Arts. Source: California's Early Assessment Program (Click to enlarge).

Though voluntary, more than 80 percent of juniors now take the English piece, and nearly 40 percent take the math; fewer take the latter because they have to be enrolled in Algebra II as a junior, because CSU requires three years of math for admission. The test consists of 15 multiple-choice math and English questions, plus the writing piece.

If, as promised, Smarter Balanced’s assessment incorporates more complex short-answer questions and is computer-adaptive, posing questions based on the student’s previous answers, it could improve on EAP. EAP was not intended to be a diagnostic tool, but it could provide more information, particularly for community colleges, on gaps in students’ math knowledge. “The end game now is how to go beyond EAP with the Smarter Balanced assessment,” said PACE Executive Director David Plank.

CSU created EAP with the goal of reducing the number of students needing remediation to 10 percent of entering freshmen. That simply hasn’t happened. The percentage of juniors taking EAP deemed ready for college has edged up slightly to 15 percent in math and 21 percent in English. About two-thirds of entering CSU students still need remediation in either English or math, even though they have a 3.0 grade point average. Researchers estimate that EAP has cut the need for remediation by 6 percent in English and 4 percent in math.

The report listed some of the obstacles:

  • Students don’t understand the scores and what they mean; they assume, based on their grades, they are college-ready.
  • Since they’re part of the state standardized tests, EAP results don’t come back until August, which is late for scheduling the expository writing class;
  • Some high schools remain resistant to the CSU course, preferring to teach literature to seniors;
  • There’s a disconnect: Most high school teachers assume their students are college-ready; far fewer college instructors agree.

The picture may change soon. CSU campuses are adopting the policy that students must complete remediation courses before they arrive for school; that will encourage more to take expository writing and the new math course as high school seniors. Long Beach Unified, as part of its Long Beach Promise, requires students who don’t pass EAP to take the writing course. The year-long math course that Long Beach is piloting will go statewide this fall.

Starting this fall, Young said, students who test proficient on their standardized English language arts test and take the year-long expository writing course with a C or better will be designated college-ready in English.

“EAP has not proven a panacea,” said Plank. “Its primary value is the signal it sends to students to be ready for college. As the signal strengthens, impact on student outcomes will increase also.”

STEMing the minority gap

The gap starts early in elementary school, widens in middle school, and continues, through filters and barriers, on a trajectory of low achievement and missed opportunities. By the end of college, the number of Latinos and African Americans who graduate with degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math is a trickle: an estimated 1,688 from the University of California and California State University in 2008.

“The vast disparities in STEM preparation existing between underrepresented students of color and their peers in California are problematic in both the limited future opportunities afforded to these students and the significant loss of a large pool of talent for the state,” concludes Dissecting the Data 2012: Examining STEM Opportunities and Outcomes for Underrepresented Students in California. The report is from the Level Playing Field Institute, a nonprofit that offers intensive STEM summer programs at top-ranked colleges for promising minority high school students. The report is an update from 2010; the data haven’t changed much, which makes the statistics all the more compelling.

The Center for Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University projects that California will need to fill 1.1 million STEM jobs in six years, with 93 percent of those requiring postsecondary degrees. Experts have fretted about the lack of students going into many STEM areas, including computer science, physics, and engineering. The scarcity of African American and Latino students in STEM heightens the problem. The two comprise 59 percent of California students, yet in 2010 comprised 15 percent of STEM enrollment in UC and 26 percent in CSU for a systemwide total of 21 percent.

Proficiency rates in math plummeted in 6th grade. Source: Dissecting the data: 2012. (Click to enlarge.)

Proficiency rates in math plummeted in 6th grade. Source: Dissecting The Data 2012. (Click to enlarge.)

The narrowing of the pipeline begins early, the study notes.

  • In second grade in 2011, 51 percent of African American students and 57 percent of Latino students were proficient in math, compared with 78 percent of white and 86 percent of Asian students; in fourth grade, the gap narrowed a bit as all groups upped proficiency. But by sixth grade, the slide began: 42 percent proficiency for Latinos and 35 percent for African Americans, 33 percentage points below whites and 46 percentage points below Asians (see chart).
  • The pattern has been set for algebra in 8th grade, considered a gatekeeper for students in California who want to major in STEM in college; most African American and Latino students take Algebra  in 9th grade, but of those who took  it in 8th grade last year, 29 percent of of African American and 37 percent of Latino students tested proficient, far below whites (58 percent) and Asians (76 percent). On the National Assessment of Education Progress, or NAEP, African American students in 19 states and Latino students in 34 states scored significantly higher than their peers in California.
  • Rates for proficiency and above on state standardized tests get worse for those who take Geometry (13 percent African American, 18 percent Latino, 42 percent white, and 60 percent Asian) and Algebra II (16 percent African American, 21 percent Latino, 39 percent white, and 61 percent Asian).
  • In fifth grade, where science is first tested, 43 percent of African American and 45 percent of Latino students reached proficiency and above, compared with 80 percent of white and Asian students.
  • The data for high school science becomes bleaker. On state Biology, Chemistry, and Physics standardized tests, African American and Latino proficiency rates were between one-half and one-third of white and Asian students’ rates (see chart).
Low-income students did substantially worse by race and ethnicity, but scores of low-income Asians exceeded those of high-income African American and Latino students. Click to enlarge. (Source: Dissecting the Data: 2012)

Low-income students did substantially worse by race and ethnicity, but scores of low-income Asians exceeded those of high-income African American and Latino students. Click to enlarge. (Source: Dissecting the Data: 2012)

There is a strong correlation between race and poverty; most Latino and African American families have low incomes, and low-income students on average do far worse than high-income students of the same race. But that’s not the full story. Low-income Asian students score higher than high-income African American and Latino students in 5th grade science and about equally in 4th grade math,  suggesting factors such as home or school expectations. (Low-income whites do better than high-income Latinos and African Americans in 4th grade math as well.)

The study suggested reasons for the gaps in scores among the races:

  • Fewer financial resources in minority schools;
  • Less experienced and less qualified teachers; 25 percent of math classes in low-income secondary schools are taught by teachers without a credential or college major in the subject, compared with 11 percent in non-poverty schools;
  • Fewer high-level science courses in high-poverty, high-minority schools;
  • Tracking of capable minority students into less-rigorous courses;
  • Psychological barriers: a lack of role models in STEM fields and the perception that the fields are too challenging or unwelcoming to them (this gets worse in college).

Not mentioned, although documented in a recent study by the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning at WestEd, was the lack of engaging science instruction in many low-achieving districts, where pressure to raise English language arts and math scores have crowded out science instruction in elementary schools.

Solutions: Outreach and bridge programs

In high school, disadvantaged minorities are underrepresented in AP STEM courses; Latinos, with 49 percent of the K-12 population, took 18 percent of AP science courses, while Asians, with 9 percent of student enrollment, took 38 percent. Latinos and African American students scored considerably lower on SAT tests and the state’s Early Assessment Program: Only 5 percent of African Americans and 7 percent of Latinos were ready for college-level math by the end of their junior year.

The numbers of minority students majoring, then graduating with a STEM major, is low. Source: Dissecting the Data 2012. (Click to enlarge.)

The numbers of minority students majoring, then graduating with a STEM major, is low. Source: Dissecting the Data 2012. (Click to enlarge.)

The deficits these students face in high school limit their opportunity for a STEM major in college. In 2010, about a quarter of students at CSU and UC – 152,643 undergraduates and graduates – were in STEM majors; 3 percent were African American and 18 percent were Latino. For the freshman CSU class of 2004, only 13 percent of African American and 22 percent of Latino students graduated with a degree in STEM within six years, compared with 39 percent of whites and 31 percent of Asians.

So, what to do to widen the STEM pipeline? The study suggests better teacher training for STEM teachers, more hands-on science activities in elementary and middle schools, mentorships and activities like  robotics in high school, and increased access to AP courses.

The report also urges the expansion of summer bridge programs that prepare minority students with an interest in and grades for STEM careers to take challenging courses and prepare for college. The Level Playing Field Institute’s SMASH Academy, which I wrote about last year, is one such program, and, with private donations, plans to expand this summer to UCLA. But public dollars are getting scarcer for outreaches like MESA (Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement, funded by the president’s office at UC. And Gov. Jerry Brown is proposing to eliminate $11 million in state funding for AVID, one of the more effective college guidance and preparation programs for minority students.

Community colleges hurt by CSU freeze

President Obama has called community colleges “the unsung heroes of America’s education system.” U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said, “no other system of higher education in the world does so much to provide access and second-chance opportunities as our community colleges.” Yet community colleges can’t catch a break.

Two days after California State University announced unprecedented curbs in enrollment, including closing down applications for the spring 2013 semester and possibly wait-listing all freshmen applicants for the following fall, the state’s community colleges are assessing the damage.

“It’s a double whammy,” said Michele Siqueiros, executive director of the Campaign for College Opportunity in Los Angeles. “Students can’t get the courses they need to transfer and when they do, the doors are being shut.”

The Community College Chancellor’s office estimates that several hundred thousand students have been turned away in recent years because $800 million in budget cuts since 2008-09 has forced the schools to eliminate thousands of classes.  Closing off spring admission will knock out another 16,000 or more, mostly community college transfer students.

“If the students can’t get in in the spring, it simply means they’re with us longer,” said Brian Murphy, president of De Anza Community College in Cupertino. “I think for a lot of them, the notion is I’ll complete more units and reapply.”

Annual number of community college transfers to CSU, UC, In-state private and out-of-state private four year colleges.  (Source:  CA Community College Chancellor's office). Click to enlarge.

Annual number of community college transfers to CSU, UC, in-state private, and out-of-state private four-year colleges. (Source: CA Community College Chancellor's office). Click to enlarge.

De Anza has one of the highest transfer rates to UC and CSU of all the community colleges. It sent more than 1,400 students to Cal State schools last year. Statewide, the number is close to 57,000 transfers. If those students can’t move on, they either leave school halfway to their goals or stay in community college and wait, because the process of getting into CSU as a current community college student is easier than as a former student.

That will put those already hard-to-get classes even further out of reach as students who normally would have moved on remain in community college, taking up seats that should be going to new students. That creates a backup in the cycle of the system, explained Rich Copenhagen, a member of the Student Senate for California Community Colleges. “We’re very concerned that this will make students not pursue higher education at community colleges because they’ll be less likely to transfer, which will have an impact on the future of the state.”

Ever since the Cal State announcement, Copenhagen said his classmates in the Peralta Community College District have been contacting him. Copenhagen says students are worried. “The amount of concern I’m getting is unusual,” he said, but attributes it to how close to home this hits. “People don’t tend to identify with the cuts until it directly affects them. A lot of people aspire to transfer to CSU, so when CSU proposes cutting transfers it raises a lot of red flags.”

Impacted wisdom

The only exceptions are students in one of the majors established through SB 1440, the Student Transfer Reform Act of 2010, that created a seamless and guaranteed transfer pathway from community college to Cal State. Since it’s so new, just a few hundred students are affected. But even their choices are limited.

Of the 23 campuses in the CSU system, only eight are available for SB 1440 students: Channel Islands, Chico, East Bay, Fullerton, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, San Francisco, and Sonoma. The Chancellor’s Office is trying to spread the load so no one campus is overwhelmed. There’s no guarantee that students will be admitted to the campus closest to where they live, however, even though community college students tend to have ties to their local communities.

“They are disproportionately students of color, and what we know about students of color is that they’re more likely to have family relationships that require them to stay at home,” said Scott Lay, president and CEO of the Community College League of California. And that, said Lay, gets into important economic and social justice issues.

A number of Cal State colleges are on the verge of, or are already affected for regular admissions, meaning they have reached their enrollment limits in some or all majors. Once that happens, the campus can raise admission requirements.

Fullerton, San Diego, and San Luis Obispo are over-enrolled in every major and this week, San Jose State is holding required public hearings before announcing their designation. That troubles De Anza’s Murphy. He said about 60 percent of his transfer students go to San Jose State, and nearly three-quarters of his students have full-time jobs.

“Being told that there’s a spot for you in Southern California is what we might call an illusory admission,” said Murphy. “The number of working-class students who can disrupt their entire lives to go to another part of the state is an admission without meaning.”

These barriers are butting up against efforts to increase college completion rates in California and nationwide. CSU’s Graduation Initiative seeks to increase its graduation rate by 8 percent by 2015-16. The Student Success Task Force just spent a year studying the best ways to boost community college completion at the behest of the Legislature. Yet many of those same lawmakers continue to approve budgets with hundreds of millions in higher education cuts.

“There can be lots of pious talk about completion rates and graduation rates,” said Murphy, “but none of it has the ability to trump the cutbacks in recent years.”