By Judy Patrick, Former President and CEO of Women’s Foundation California
It is simple common sense–education matters. This is a lesson I learned early in life from my parents, the first and only of their siblings to go to college. After my parents graduated in 1949 and as they were beginning the process of starting a family, they drove around the state of Nebraska searching for the best public schools for their children. Somehow they found Holdrege, a tiny town of five thousand people. They picked Holdrege because its school always won Nebraska’s scholastic contest.
Those who don’t have a college education are twice as likely to be unemployed. College graduates earn more and their families are far less likely to live in poverty. States with more highly educated residents attract more and better jobs. For every dollar spent increasing the number of students attending college and completing degrees, the state gets three dollars in net return on that investment. Who can’t connect these dots?
A study from the Public Policy Institute of California projects that by 2025, the state will be one million baccalaureate degrees short of meeting California’s economic productivity demands. Fifty years ago, California promised any high school graduate access to a college education. In four years, 640,000 additional California students are likely to seek educations in colleges already over current capacity according to the California Department of Finance.
While a college education is critical for the entire State, it is even more important for California’s fasted growing populations, women, people of color and immigrants–those most likely to live in poverty. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, completing a four-year college degree “sharply reduces women’s chances of being poor, from 16.7 percent to 1.6 percent.”
As we head towards electing a new California Governor, now is the time to create an imperative for increasing access to a college education. The Campaign for College Opportunity has launched the One Million More College Graduates by 2025 campaign. By signing this pledge, you will join Constance Rice, David Valladolid, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and other fellow Californians in demanding our future Governor and electeds enact a set of policies and budget supports which would result in one million more college graduates by 2025. We all need this. Please join me in signing on to this campaign to:
• Ensure California provides a spot in college for all eligible students;
• Support our community colleges and universities with additional revenues;
• Preserve financial aid for low and moderate income Californians through Cal Grants and increasing student access to federal Pell Grants;
• Support higher education funding and policy priorities that hold colleges and universities accountable for increasing student graduation and completion rates;
• Improve the coordination between our two year colleges and four year universities especially with regards to early college preparation, assessment and transfer.