Wednesday, January 4, 2017

From CUNY RIsing to Free Tuition at CUNY, when an ask starts to become a reality

November 22, 2016 the CUNY Rising Alliance held a forum at Borough Hall in Brooklyn, calling for free tuition at CUNY.  I brought my policy class.  The place was filled to the brim with people.
One of my students asked why we were talking about free tuition when tuition was going up.  I  replied that sometimes we have to speak up for what we want, not just what we are against.
A free education is a part and parcel of a healthy democratic society, where knowledge communicates power, checks dictators, and informs dissent.  CUNY Rising was changing the conversation, pointing out that everyone needs higher education, and tuition should be free.

It is more important than ever. 

This writer and one of my old students at CUNY Rising Nov  22, 2016.

And today.

That change in the conversation is bearing results.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced a proposal to provide free tuition at CUNY and SUNY schools for students with annual family incomes below $125,000. He made the announcement yesterday morning alongside Senator Bernie Sanders at LaGuardia Community College. Here is the PoliticoNY coverage and here is the news release and video from the Governor's Office. President Bowen was at the event with members of the LaGuardia Community College PSC chapter. The union has released this statement to press:
Statement on Governor Cuomo's Proposal for Free Tuition at CUNY and SUNY
Barbara Bowen, President, Professional Staff Congress
Governor Cuomo's proposal to offer free tuition to CUNY and SUNY students is a conceptual and political breakthrough: it names free tuition at public colleges as the new standard to which states should aspire. The proposal for Excelsior Scholarships has the potential to improve the lives of millions of New Yorkers. At a moment when college costs are rising, student debt is out of control and Americans are wary of what the future holds, New York State can re-set the national agenda for college education by enacting a fully funded investment in free public college education for low- and middle-income students. Everyone in the state will benefit if college education is in reach for all.
Now is the moment to make a similarly bold commitment to providing the resources CUNY and SUNY need to fulfill the Governor's promise to students. To enable students to graduate within two or four years, CUNY will need to be able to offer essential courses, support services and academic resources. We urge the governor to take this opportunity to articulate an equally visionary agenda for public higher education investment.
The PSC looks forward to learning the details of the proposed Excelsior Scholarship and will work with the Governor's Office and the Legislature to support it. We also look forward to an Executive Budget that includes funding not only for free tuition but for increased investment in public higher education. New York could ensure national leadership on higher education by coupling the proposal for Excelsior Scholarships with a commitment to fully funded public universities.
As a union committed to economic and racial justice, the PSC echoes Senator Bernie Sanders' support for the proposal and his praise for the promise of publicly funded free, high-quality college education. We will look forward to working with the governor and the legislature to make that promise a reality.

The devil is in the details with this one. So we'll see. But i'm proud to be a part of the CUNY Rising Alliance which has pushed to change the conversation from tuition increases to decreases in a remarkably quick amount of time. Here is the statement from CUNY Rising.

Free, high-quality public higher education should be the right of every New Yorker—of every American! The CUNY Rising Alliance applauds Governor Cuomo for his proposal to offer free tuition for any student with a family income below $125,000 accepted to a two- or four-year SUNY or CUNY school. We eagerly await the details of the plan, especially details about how it will be publicly funded and how it will apply to all students no matter their immigration status.
The Excelsior Scholarship, if it comes paired with increased public investments in quality education at CUNY and SUNY, would be an example of the kind of progressive leadership that New York students and families need from the governor. CUNY and SUNY students need free tuition, but they also need smaller classes, improved course offerings, modern facilities, increased advisement and tutoring and the best faculty and staff. Since 1975 CUNY's full-time faculty has been diminished by 33 percent while its student body has increased by about 15 percent. This trend must be reversed, if students are to get the education they deserve. The governor's proposal is an important beginning. No matter what’s happening in Washington D.C., New York can have the fully funded public university systems its people need, if we fight for it and our leaders are willing to lead.

About CUNY Rising
CUNY Rising is a growing alliance of 30+ community groups, non-profits, unions, student advocates and faith-based organizations that serve, mobilize and minister to millions of New Yorkers. In December, CUNY Rising released a white paper making the case for free and quality education at CUNY.

  1. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo will unveil a plan to offer free tuition at some colleges — including two-year community colleges — to those students whose families earn…|By Jesse McKinley
    See More.

  1. She did a bunch of organizing for Bernies college for all act and
    won't let that die if she can help it!

    Neither should any of us.  Lets keep on pushing and

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