Angry students demanding an end to the budget cuts and tuition increases, this seems to be the first images that come to mind when I think of higher education. Last November over 20,000 professors, counselors, librarians and coaches protested the CalState University administration’s decision to withhold negotiated pay raises. The university officials claim it would be financially irresponsible to approve faculty salary increases given the major cuts in state funding. Students continued to see tuition cost rise, making higher education much less possible for thousands of students across the state. Regardless of the economic burdens we as students as well as the professors are forced to undergo, the university has the audacity to turn around and pay incoming president Mildred Garcia a salary of $324,500 a year. The controversy behind Garcia’s salary has stirred many debates beyond theCalStatecampuses. I don’t want to undermine Dr. Garcia’s achievements; after all she deserves the recognition and admiration for all her hard work. Dr. Garcia is the perfect example of the “American Dream”; she came from a working-class family, earned her way into school and now makes more money than many of us will ever make. She represents the individualistic mentally that our society seems to be based on.

 So then why the personal attack on Dr. Garcia?

She is only part of the bigger problem. It seems to me that it is very easy to blame Dr. Garcia and not address the real problem we face in our educational system. In the past several years, it has become very clear to me that education in this country is no longer of importance. Our elected leaders are not interested in higher education, not even in primary education. The budget cuts throughout our educational system are examples of the lack of importance they place on education. Being denied a decent education is a slap on the face of working people in this country. Yet, we must continue to pay the price, so that only a few like Dr. Garcia can make it to the “top” of the food chain. After all, isn’t that the fundamentals of capitalism?

At an early age we are taught that education is a used as a tool to “better” your self and move up the social ladder. Education is not seen as a lifetime process that aids our human evolution.

The bottom line is, the issue is not Dr. Garcia. The real issue is the way we in this country value education as a whole.

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About ocbarrios

Professor for Cal State Fullerton's Barrio Studies class for Fall 2011 semester

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