This op-ed was written by Children Now President Ted Lempert and California Competes Council Member Lenny Mendonca and originally appeared in the Sacramento Bee on November 16, 2017. 

California’s higher education system is about to be hit by a tidal wave of new students, and we have failed to prepare for the influx into our public colleges and universities.

In April, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced the graduation rate had increased for the seventh straight year and is at a record high.

More importantly, the proportion of high school graduates who have completed the courses required for admission to University of California and California State University campuses has increased by nearly 50 percent.

These increases happened as California implemented more rigorous learning standards. It’s a significant achievement and an indicator of the hard work being done by educators and students.

But California’s colleges endured severe budget reductions during the Great Recession, and their funding is only now being restored. When higher education budgets tighten, access for students gets cut. Data show these cuts disproportionately affect low-income students, Latinos and African-Americans.

Between 2005 and 2015, nearly 1 million California residents who applied for freshman or transfer admission to the California State University and the University of California were turned away. California’s community colleges, which are supposed to be accessible to all, enrolled 230,000 fewer students in 2015 than in 2005.

Read more here.