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Uphold the principles of public education and access to a quality liberal arts education to all students regardless of social and economic class. Support SUNY community colleges as providers of low-cost, high-quality liberal arts education for all.

This petition had 923 supporters


Dear Governor Cuomo,

In your recent State of the State address, you propose sweeping reforms for community colleges in particular, and the SUNY system in general, to drive economic development in NYS much as Stanford University did in Silicon Valley. You accuse the SUNY community colleges of increasing student debt with no regard for our students' well being. Furthermore, you allege that we have failed in our mission, which you define as supplying students as employees whose skill sets fit the current needs of New York's corporate sector. Both claims are ill founded and without merit and we reject them in the strongest terms.

Regrettably, your view of higher education as an engine of “commercialization and job generators” ignores Stanford’s stated goal of transmitting a “broad set of intellectual and social competencies of enduring value.” We hold to this vision of higher education which mirrors the principles of the 1947 Truman Commission on Education that established community colleges and concluded that, "…only an informed, thoughtful, tolerant people can develop and maintain a full society." This was reiterated that same year by Martin Luther King Jr. who wedded “The Purpose of Education” to both critical thinking and the formation of character. The overarching goal of higher education supported by the AAUP and other organizations concerned with higher education, has been and always should be, to provide an environment where students can reach their full potential to make their own informed choices as citizens, working people, and active members of society. That is echoed in the SUNY motto which we proudly uphold: "let each become all s/he is capable of becoming."

Governor Cuomo, your view of community colleges as suppliers of a seamless workforce trained to fulfill corporate needs, sells our students, our institutions and our New York State families woefully short. SUNY Community College enrollment accounts for 239,791 of the system's 459,550 students or 52% of the whole. We offer the American dream through low-cost, high quality higher education. “Job training” for employment in local industry without teaching students to think critically will not “make the community college system more rewarding.” It will also not prepare our students to grapple with the rapidly changing technologies of tomorrow.

We community college educators, students and the public call upon you to uphold the principles of public education and maintain access to a high quality liberal arts education to all students regardless of social and economic class.

This letter will be sent to:
Honorable Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, Honorable Senator Dean Skelos, members of the NYS Senate's Committee on Higher Education, members of the NYS Assembly's Committee on Higher Education, members of the SUNY Board of Trustees, SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher, SUNY Vice-Chancellor Johanna Duncan-Poitier, SUNY Provost Alexander Cartwright, Honorable Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano, Honorable Jay S. Jacobs, Chair, Nassau County Democratic Party, Honorable Joseph N. Mondello, Chair, Nassau County Republican Party, Nassau County Legislators and members of the Nassau Community College Board of Trustees



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