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Berkeleyan

In defense of outreach: ‘Could they know and not care?’

28 January 2004

Among the many challenges to the University of California system embedded in Gov. Schwarzenegger’s proposed budget for 2004-05 is a devastating cut to UC’s K-12 outreach programs. These programs — which were cut by half in Gray Davis’ 2003-04 budget, then hit with a further $12.2-million reduction midyear — are slated for elimination in 2004-05. The $33.3 million that would be saved by this penstroke represents roughly 9 percent of the total reduction facing the UC system.

Should we care? Outreach focuses on students who aren’t yet in college, and some who may never get there. Isn’t protecting resources available to today’s students, faculty, and staff the highest goal for UC? Would snatching outreach from the chopping block mean yet-higher student fees, when the current ones are already prohibitive to many families, especially the lower-income ones at whom outreach programs are aimed?

Budgetary trade-offs and hard choices will be debated in the coming months, but one thing is clear: outreach programs work. They enable K-12 students facing a range of economic, cultural, and pedagogical challenges to achieve academic success, ready themselves for college in ways they otherwise would not be able to, and succeed once they get here.

Support for K-12 outreach has a long history on the Berkeley campus, predating the elimination of affirmative action in admissions by more than three decades. As mentors and tutors, Berkeley students are at the heart of many outreach efforts, and faculty involvement has been central to many of the programs. Two professors (click on the links below), one in the humanities and a colleague in the sciences, offer first-hand assessments of the value of outreach and why we should fight to preserve it.

—The Editors

Links:

Farewell to a marvelous idea?
Outreach is essential to the research enterprise