This post is tenth in a series on the education planks of the 2010 Texas Democratic Party Platform.
This is an unofficial version published in advance of the final version from the Texas Democrats, but I expect very few changes.
Democrats recognize and support the essential role of Texas community colleges, where almost 60% of Texas post-secondary students are enrolled. By combining affordability, high quality and responsiveness to community needs, these institutions provide an education to those who would be otherwise excluded.
Republicans have drastically reduced funding for community colleges and that burden has been shifted onto students, their families and property taxpayers. A significant funding increase would be needed just to restore Republican cuts to the 2002-3 state funding level, without adjusting for inflation. Not only do the Governor and Republican politicians again want to shift hundreds of millions of dollars in additional costs for employees’ group insurance onto students and local property taxpayers, they have already cut funding by 5% this year. And they are asking for an additional 10% in cuts to Republican budgets that currently allow only 4% of students eligible for Texas Equal Opportunity Grants to receive grants designated for community college students. To maintain community colleges’ role in providing lifelong education, we endorse:
- full formula funding of the cost of instruction and of the growth in student enrollments;
- fully state-funded full time employee group health insurance and proportional health benefits for adjunct instructors;
- funding for new campuses and program expansions, especially in critical need programs, sufficient to meet Closing the Gaps goals;
- rolling back tuition and fees that have increased over 50% under Republican control;
- sufficient financial aid to cover 260,000 community college students who are eligible for grant assistance but receive none because state funding is inadequate; and
- elimination of financial aid rules that penalize students who transfer to universities from community colleges.
To prevent further erosion of community colleges’ ability to serve their communities, Texas Democrats oppose:
- proposals for “proportionality” that would shift group insurance costs onto students and property taxpayers;
- shifting the basis of formula funding away from actual costs; and
- “incentive programs that would discriminate against colleges and programs serving disadvantaged and non-traditional students or against non-degree skill-building and retraining programs.