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One Imagination empowers the current and next generation of leaders through written and oral expression. As a collective based in the Long Beach/South Bay area, we believe that through conscious artistic programming, community education and outreach, and leadership development, we can cultivate a world free of hatred, ignorance, injustice, inequality, and oppression.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Public service, Less tuition

(by Rudy Duriez)

A recent article in the New York times announced that Harvard Law School has a new plan to wave tuition (partially) for students committed to working for an NGO or the government for at least 5 years. This is in an effort to increase the number of students who decide to work for non profits. Many law students are forced to work for corporations and big business just to pay off their tuition.

It is clear that a reason to waive tuition is not simply for generosity's sake, but because Harvard can then attract outstanding students that wouldn't go to Harvard because of high tuition costs. Either way, it is a great idea that, hopefully, many colleges and universities will eventually follow suit with. Harvard also announced last year that undergraduate tuition for students that have a family income of $60,000 or less would be free, and even provides aid to middle class families with annual incomes of up to $180,000.It must be noted that Harvard has a large financial endowment of close to 35 billion (juxtaposed to CSULB's 35 million) that aids in pioneering such endeavors.

While other private, well endowed, universities are following in the steps of Harvard, and some, like Yale, taking it further, what of those students who choose to attend public universities? Our school funds continue to be cut, tuition is constantly rising. Even when tuition is "affordable" like at Cal State Long Beach, which at less than $4000 a year is one of the lowest in the nation, many students find it difficult to support themselves by working multiple jobs and maintain a full time course load. Some universities like UC Berkeley are hoping to use Harvard's example as leverage against the state in support of more financial aid for students.

Personally I'm sure I'll be able to manage paying off my tuition after I graduate, speaking as a CSULB student. My true concern: medical school, which amount to average student debts of over $100,000 (tuition alone). Though I hope to work for non-profits in the future, or open up a clinic in a lower income community where services are direly needed, more than likely I will have to work for a corporation like Kaiser Permanente for a few years. Now only if medical schools offered programs like those of Harvard Law for medical students ready to serve their communities.

Which makes me think,shouldn't we educate and train our teachers for free?! They are the ultimate public servants: majority of them work for the government and non-profits, and give their time for measly wages to educate the future of our nation. Not sure that will happen anytime soon, but 'till then, check out this article on a New York City charter school that will paying teachers $125,000 annually to teach in a lower income community of mostly Hispanic families. It is obvious that our education system is failing us...this is one experiment that will surely be influential in how America thinks of its teachers and their worth.