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Higher education gets short shrift

March 15, 2009

Re: Michael Hiltzik's column, "Cutting school? When will the state learn?" March 5:

Your column suggesting that the business interests of California are not well served when education monies are slashed in favor of lower corporate taxes is exactly right.

How in the world can we expect our young people to step up and fill professional positions when our leaders continually drain away funding for higher education and expect students to go deeper and deeper into debt to pay for tuition?

The current practice of importing workers on special visas to fill in the technology gaps in our workforce only masks the real problem of our impoverished higher education system.

Can we extend this proposal to think of higher education as an asset, down to the 12 years of public schooling that has also historically taken a hit whenever our so-called state leadership finds itself short on funds?

Hiltzik's point that California "spends about as much in state funds on prisons as on universities, presumably on the principle that if we're not going to adequately educate our residents, we should be prepared to jail them" is a brutal, but right on point.

Pulling money out of this state's once-excellent education institutions in order to placate business interests with lowered tax rates is wrongheaded and ultimately disastrous for California's future.

Gloria Richards

Simi Valley

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Do we spend too much on prisons and too little on schools? Some of our prisons look like Turkish prisons while universities find the money to build new libraries, expensive computer labs with high-speed Internet, new science labs, new dorms and new football stadiums.

A generation of graduates whose lives have been ruined with student loan debt is wondering if college is a rip off. I might add that my mother's nursing home care costs more than the $30,000 a year it costs to incarcerate a prisoner (and the people who take care of her make a lot less than prison guards).

Until the voters decide that criminals need shorter sentences, universities can absorb their fair share of budget cuts.

Matthew Okada

Pasadena

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