Land-grant colleges are precedent

By March 18, 2011

On Thursday, the Davis school board discussed the resolution proposed by 25 Teachers’ Salaries. This resolution asks the California Legislature to pass a resolution that asks Congress to pass America’s Weapons Rebate to Education Act, a bill that will re-allocate to the states for the purpose of hiring K-12 teachers and other educators a percentage of the Department of Defense weapons budget.

For about $6 billion, less than 1 percent of the Defense Department budget, the states could replace or rehire the 100,000 teachers and other educators laid off in the past four years.

Question: Have the states ever asked the federal government to provide significant funding for education?

UC Davis and the entire University of California system are known as land-grant colleges. Land-grant colleges are the direct result of a state request to the federal government for aid to education.

On Feb. 8, 1853, the Illinois Legislature adopted a  resolution, drafted by Professor Jonathan Baldwin Turner of Illinois College, calling for the Illinois congressional delegation to work to enact a land-grant bill to fund a system of industrial colleges, one in each state.

Rep. Justin Smith Morrill of Vermont introduced the Morrill Act in 1857, 1859 and 1861. Congress passed it in 1862. The Morrill Act allocated to each eligible state a total of 30,000 acres of federal land for each member of Congress the state had as of the census of 1860. This land, or the proceeds from its sale, was to be used toward establishing and funding colleges to teach engineering, agriculture and military tactics.

UC Davis was established 1905 as the University Farm.

Today, public education is going broke and the federal government has the resources to help. We ask the school board to remember the origins of the UC system as it discusses our resolution.

Mark Graham


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