State of Education: Education advocates rally at the Capitol
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Students and educators from every corner of the state made a stop in Albany to make their voices heard about education reform in New York.
Barbara Bowen, Professional Staff Congress CUNY President, said, "There is no way to make up the gap of 20 years of eroded funding and budget cuts by forcing students to pay more and more and more."
So this group formed and is known as New York Students Rising. According to the numbers, the students' portion of the share of the total budget for the four year colleges at CUNY and SUNY has increased from 21 to 47 percent.
Bowen said, "That's not fair, that's not what education is about, that's not why we became professors. We became professors because we believe in the ideals of education, and starving students and starving universities is not one of those ideals."
Nicki Jones of the Alliance for Quality Education said, "Right now we are having an attack on our education system, that's from our early childhood all the way up through our high school and through college, we support New York students rising and we want you to know we are with you."
The main topic here was restoring SUNY and CUNY budget cuts, but it also went beyond that
SUNY faculty member Brad Benjamin said, "We're also here to permanently reverse the erosion of state funding and insist that higher education is a public good of enormous social value and needs to be a New York State priority."
And to make the point further, some faculty members got on board and started an open university right at the state Capitol featuring a series of lectures and teach-ins.
Benjamin said, "On topics ranging from Southeast Asia to Latin America to the history of SUNY and CUNY to student debt and a whole range of other things tuition free."
Among the demands from students, a full restoration of state funding to SUNY and CUNY, and a tuition freeze.
SUNY student Catherine Rojas said, "Education shouldn't be limited or only be affordable for this one percent, but it should be affordable and really free for everybody."
State officials were unavailable at the time for comment, but the SUNY administration has commented that the tuition bill, which passed through Governor Cuomo, was also supported by the students. In the meantime, this financial class struggle will surely continue.