Education Plan Outdated, In Need of Restructuring

University officials for the UC system, California State University system and California Community Colleges will discuss the California Master Plan of Higher Education — which first outlined the roles of these college systems back in 1960 — at the upcoming UC Regents meeting on Jan. 22, following the passage of an Associated Students Senate resolution in November that advocated changes to the plan.

The California Master Plan for Higher Education outlines specific roles for the UC, CSU and California Community Colleges by setting specific goals and standards for these institutions, such as aims for offering an affordable higher education to California residents. While at the time of its adoption — over 50 years ago — it was only supposed to be in place for 15 years, it has not seen an official replacement since. According to student officials, UCSB is the first campus to pass a resolution in support of changing the outdated Master Plan.

A.S. President Jonathan Abboud and External Vice President of Statewide Affairs Alex Choate are currently pushing leaders of higher education in California, such as UC officials, and state legislators to create a committee that would investigate the current state of higher education. This committee would be expected to draw up potential solutions to problematic points in the current California Master Plan, thereby making changes that would be incorporated into a Master Plan that would last for another 15 years.

Since A.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution advocating changes to the higher education plan back in November, A.S. officials have spoken about the changes with the University of California Student Association, the Academic Senate and other members of UC Administration. According to Choate, one key step toward getting the item on the table of the Regents meeting was a letter that she and Abboud delivered to UC President Janet Napolitano.

“The most important part about the whole process … was getting a signed letter between me and Jonathan about the importance of this campaign to the hands of Janet Napolitano,” Choate said. “I believe that letter was one of the driving forces to have that be brought up at the Regents meeting.”

Abboud and Choate said UCSB is the first campus to try making changes to the California Master Plan, and Choate said other UC campuses seem generally supportive.

“The majority of the schools have responded positively to potentially copying the resolutions within their associations,” Choate said.

Additionally, Abboud said he discussed the idea with Academic Senate Chair Kum-Kum Bhavnani, who Abboud said seemed “optimistic” about the project and surprised at its pace of development.

“She said that she would bring it up to the other chairs of the Academic Senate… It’s developing faster than we thought it would,” Abboud said

During the next Regents meeting later this month, leaders of the UC, CSU and community colleges will engage in a Q&A with the Regents about the issues facing each of their institutions and then issue a report on their conclusions.

Despite the support that Abboud and Choate have received, Abboud said there has been some resistance to the idea as a result of “misunderstandings.”

“Some people thought that what we were trying to do is get rid of the 1960s plan and create a brand new one … that’s not it at all,” Abboud said. “The goal of this is not to tread on what the original plan was … but instead, it tries to say, ‘What can we do in the next fifteen years to keep improving and moving towards the goals?’”


A version of this story appeared on page 4 of Wednesday, January 15, 2014’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.