Community & Alumni at College of San Mateo - Chancellor's Message
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Community & Alumni
Chancellor's Message
11/25/09

Colleagues,

First and foremost, I want to extend my best wishes to you and your family for a very Happy Thanksgiving as well as the fast approaching holiday season and coming New Year!!

On Monday night, I attended the candlelight vigil that was largely organized by our devoted adjunct faculty and dedicated associated students. That assembly provided the perfect forum for our faculty, staff and students to share with our community and local press the devastating budget reductions we've endured over the past several years. Community colleges are grossly underfunded and that destructive trend has been occurring for well over three decades. Our current funding is well below our K-12 "feeders" and is considerably less than our public partners in California higher education. Ironically, at least for lower division education, I would argue that we should be at the top of the funding chain since the cost of delivering education to our unfiltered, underprepared and diverse population is considerably more challenging and demanding!

You might ask…why did this happen? I think it's obvious – historically, our system as a whole has been weak and feeble, the Legislature has largely ignored us and we've done little to change that perception. Our system has never been able to obtain effectual political recognition and considerable influence in the Legislature since separating from the K-12 system many years ago. Furthermore, UC and CSU have not realistically accepted us into the fraternity of higher education and, moreover, K-12 has not felt the need to actively support the most highly utilized path for its graduates. I find this powerless situation paradoxical because we serve nearly 2.8 million students as compared to less than 600,000 in CSU and UC combined. Our greatest asset is the sheer number of students we serve, yet every year we are unable to raise our voices loud enough to be heard by the lawmakers who set in motion our destructive course. Since the mid-1970's, they have been slowly dismantling our system…they have all but abandoned the 1960 Educational Master Plan...and they have placed an inordinate number of regulations upon us to ensure we remain in a continued state of paralysis!

Enough is enough! For the past decade as the District's Chancellor, I've been tirelessly engaging our local legislators and actively testifying before and meeting with lawmakers in Sacramento to reverse the spiraling downward trend of poverty in California's community colleges. Frequently, I feel my voice is unheard by the Capitol crowd and is often contrary to our system office who, in my opinion, is largely responsible for where we are today. For example, I have been aggressively fighting for years to protect our local property taxes, yet our system office and its staff openly endorsed a legislative bill (AB-551 Furutani) that would have permanently shifted 25% of property taxes away from our system. I was the only dissenting testimony at a hearing in the Capitol, while the Community College League stood neutral and Chancellor's Office vigorously supported this potentially destructive bill. I truly was alone and our failure to properly address this critical legislative policy is just one of many examples where our system's collective lack of involvement, activism and awareness sent a clear message to the lawmakers that we are vulnerable and have limited political clout to defend ourselves against regulatory and economic attack.

Recently, I attended an open forum at CSM to share with you what's not happening in Sacramento and, more importantly, to hear concerns and suggestions directly from you and our students. I greatly appreciated the passion and willingness to work together toward a common goal of stopping the madness in Sacramento. To that end, I heard many of you express a willingness to join me in this struggle and to actively connect with our local legislators to ensure they're representing our interests in Sacramento. You also suggested that I provide you a summary of the recent budget impact on our institution along with relevant facts about our community college system so we can deliver a consistent and coherent message to the elected representatives in Sacramento. Accordingly, I've attached to this email a Summary of Budget Cuts on SMCCD and 2009 Fast Facts. Furthermore, below I've provided the contact information for our local legislators and the Governor. Again, I greatly appreciate your help to engage our politicians so our voice is heard in Sacramento!

We are in this unfortunate circumstance together and I greatly appreciate your commitment and assistance thus far, but I will continue to need your help well into the foreseeable future. Thank you in advance for your lasting dedication to this worthy cause and, again, have a Happy Thanksgiving and wonderful holiday season.

Ron

Ron Galatolo
Chancellor
San Mateo County Community College District

List of Legislative Contacts

California State Senate
State Capitol
10th & L Streets
Sacramento, CA 95814
California State Assembly
State Capitol
10th & L Streets
Sacramento, CA 95814
Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
     
Senator Joe Simitian
Room 2080
senator.simitian@senate.ca.gov
Assemblymember Jerry Hill
Room 4146
assemblymember.hill@assembly.ca.gov
 
     
Senator Leland Yee
Room 4074
senator.yee@senate.ca.gov 
Assemblymember Ira Ruskin
Room 3123
assemblymember.ruskin@assembly.ca.gov