Thursday, June 24, 2004

I found this oped about higher ed in California today from Google News. Not that I've ever liked Arnold as a politictian, or will ever pay to watch another one of his movies, the problem isn't him in this case. Any Democrat would probably be making the same budget cuts to the higher ed system. As per usual, there's any number of conclusions that you can draw from this very sad situation:

1) Here's your Bush Tax cut at work. Instead of investing in the future, the Bush tax cuts placed a higher financial burden on the states to continue to provide the services that people expect. The "non-essential" items in the state budget, like higher-ed gets the axe. People either have to pay more to go to college or simply don't get the chance now. This is what's hidden in the tax cut. Sure people got their $300 check (I know you didn't Makigirl), but on the other hand, the child of a working class family who may have the grades to go to college doesn't, because it costs too much. This child now earns hundreds of thousands to millions less over the course of his/her lifetime because they don't have a BA or higher degree. Econcomic stimulus this tax cut ain't.

2) K-12 school systems don't do an adequate job at all in preparing students of color or from lower economic backgrounds to go to college. Whether funding is cut or not from the higher ed budget in California, the statistic that's amazing to me is that only 11% of the students in the UC system are Latino. Where do all the other Latino children end up? I'm well aware of the fact that these children come from more disadvantaged and difficult backgrounds. But there are so many bright and articulate children out there who deserve the same chance as the rest of us, and sadly, they're just slipping away. What this tells me is that too many school systems and teachers are acting at best as graders and at worst as warehouses. If only we actually taught somebody something.

3) Higher ed is still a bastion of white male culture. No matter how many gender, african, south american, or whatever studies programs you make, what matters is getting deserving kids from diverse backgrounds in the door. Most colleges and universities do a dismal job of that. Yeah, my college had good volunteer programs and had HS students of color on campus to show them around, but if we really cared, the whole college community would be involved, not just one tiny overworked office. If a college really cared, my curriculum as a physics major would have required me to work in schools and mentor kids. It's that simple. You spend your time on what you care about.

4) I'm an optimist, so sometimes when I hear good news, I think that maybe we're really getting close to getting things right in this country. But then articles like this remind me of how far we have to go.



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