OAKLAND (KCBS)— California educators have joined a national effort aimed at reducing student loan debt and making college more affordable for families.

The “Degrees Not Debt” campaign kicked-off this week at Oakland’s La Escuelita Elementary School. The national campaign was launched in May by the National Education Association.

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NEA President-elect Lily Eskelsen-Garcia said it’s about working with all 50 state legislatures to increase support for colleges and universities.

“There’s something wrong with our priorities that we have diminished our support,” she said.

Helping to launch California’s campaign was state schools chief Tom Torlakson.

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“Teaming up together [is] so important at all levels to have the message in Sacramento [that] we need to invest more in higher education,” he said.

California Teachers Association President Dean Vogel said decreased funding and higher tuitions fly in the face of the commitment to equal opportunity in education.

“Student loan debt now exceeds credit card debt in this country,” Vogel said.

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The campaign will involve a nationwide week of action on college campuses this fall to call for increasing federal aid, refinancing of student loans and expanding loan forgiveness programs.