Students muse, chow over state of education

Last night, the Associated Students held an event called the “State of Education Teach- In” at the Cayton Center in anticipation of November’s election. About fifty students and community members attended the workshop for information regarding the November elections.

Members from the Peace and Freedom, Libertarian, Republican, and Green parties spoke on a panel to share their platforms’ views on politics, Proposition 30, and their stances on education. An official representative from the Democratic Party was unavailable, however, student Yacob Zuriaw filled the seat on the panel.

Republican representative Liz Cato expressed strong opposition to Prop. 30, saying, “the money is there, [the government is] choosing to use it improperly.” She said Prop. 30 wouldn’t solve all of Santa Monica College’s problems, and that the initiative’s campaign was disingenuous.

Cato said that the money spent by unions to advertise the proposition could have gone to funding schools.

The event was intended to end at 6 p.m., in time for a viewing of the second presidential debate, but each speaker exceeded their time limit. The national debate was not televised to Teach-In attendees until approximately 7 p.m., an hour after it began.

Associated Students President Parker Jean said that the event was a great success and that he was pleased to find out that everyone in the room was a registered voter. Jean said that the AS wanted to reach out to professionals from all parties. “I wanted to get different views from every candidate,” Jean said.

While the event featured food donated by Chipotle (a photo of a burrito appeared on the event flier), students said they were there for more than just free food—they wanted to know how the election will effect their future education.

“It’s helping us know what’s happening— what’s going to help me here as a college student,” SMC student Jose Eduardo said. He also commented on how the importance of Prop. 30 was stressed at the panel discussion.

Kevin Cosney, a volunteer speaker from community organizing group California Calls, shared his personal story of pursuing higher education and the “American Dream.” He believes that a degree is more difficult to obtain in the current state of the economy, and cited a doubling of UC Riverside’s tuition since his graduation in 2009.

In actuality, tuition for residents in 2009 was $3,046.75, with current year tuition is $4,561.08, an increase of around a third, according to the UC Riverside website.

Cosney explained the provisions of Prop. 30, and was open to questions from audience members who challenged the proposition.

“Prop. 30 is not an end-all-solution to our problem. It will restore about $6 billion in cuts, but we still have about $6 billion to go,” Cosney said about the state deficit.

Keith Parker, assistant vice chancellor of government and community relations for UCLA, agreed with Cosney, adding “there has been a dramatic drop in support for community colleges.”

The event concluded up with the last half hour of the national Presidential Debate.