From the Public Policy Institute of California’s survey conducted October 20-November 3 on Californians and higher education:

Despite significant budget cuts in higher education, at least six in 10 Californians give good to excellent marks to the California Community College (13% excellent, 52% good), California State University (9% excellent, 52% good) and University of California (13% excellent, 49% good) systems. These grades are nearly as high as they were in 2007 and 2008, when about two in three Californians gave positive ratings to the three branches. Today, parents of California college students, current students, and alumni give the state’s higher education institutions similarly high grades.

But residents have little confidence in the state elected officials who have authority over California colleges and universities. Californians give Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger a 28 percent overall approval rating that matches his record low in July 2009. They give the legislature an overall approval rating of 18 percent, near its record low (17%) from July. State leaders get even lower ratings for their handling of higher education: 21 percent for Schwarzenegger and 16 percent for the legislature. Both are new lows. And most Californians have very little (37%) or no (20%) confidence in state government’s ability to plan for the future of the higher education system (8% have a great deal of confidence, 33% only some).

“Californians hold their colleges and universities in high esteem,” said Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO. “But they’re worried about what’s going to happen next. They’re struggling with a crisis in the economy and a crisis of confidence in their leaders.”