City Journal Autumn 2014

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Autumn 2014
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Charles C. Johnson
Extracurricular Activities « Back to Story

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Live in a small city in western New York. In a city of around 15,000 around 60% of the taxable property is 'off the tax rolls' because they are owned by two colleges, one private and one state supported. The economy here has been under water for 25 years, and the college keeps attempting to buy up more property, shrinking the 40% base who actually pay taxes to smaller proportions. It has already created a terrible tax burden on those taxpayers who have worked all their lives to own their home, only to find they can't afford the taxes.

If the colleges in California support tax increases from everyone else, they might try sharing the burden of the property taxes, which I can only assume would cost a bundle.

Simply tired of academia preaching to everyone else about 'paying your fair share' when they don't.
The mindset of the Left and the professor class (most of them) is unyielding.

They won't read articles like Charles Johnson critically or seriously. And they certainly won't do so with comments like Tony Johnson's below either.

They truly believe higher education should be free, and that because "education" is at issue, professors and teachers are perpetually undervalued and should be paid even more than they are today. This mindset eclipses any discussion of value (which, after all, is the essence of the excellent points Tony Johnson makes below). So it really never occurs to them that spending billions and billions on a system which produces, fractionally speaking, very few truly qualified and competent students, is a miserable value - for the citizens of the state - for the students - for families - for employers - and for the federal government (which will soon experience loan guarantee defaults which will make the sub prime lenders look like amateurs) - a miserable value for everyone but school faculty and staff. The problem again in raising the notion of value is that in variably brings about allegations of racism or being an evil right winger. But without value being provided, institutions cannot be sustained.

I had a discussion once with a Harvard education progressive who for whatever it is worth, attended that school with the benefit of a significant racial preference. Her worldview revolved entirely around credentials - equating a certain set of credentials with automatic value in the marketplace. (I have credentials, but remind myself everyday to forget them - being a doer is more important than anything else). When I mentioned that careers are best made with a continuous individual focus on providing value add, I might have well been speaking in Mandarin to her. Likewise, when I suggested that a job is created (at least in the private sector) when an individual can add more value than the expense the individual incurs, she drew a complete blank, as one can get through Harvard learning only about the evils of various isms - racism and capitalism above all else - without understanding even the most rudimentary concepts of a market economy.

Because the mindset is so rigid and unyielding, there is really no realistic way to make progress with the Left until literally there is no money left. Witness the disaster in waiting at San Francisco City College, with twice the faculty per capita of any other community college in the state and nearly 1 in 8 people in the city enrolled in the school (1 in 8!). There's a lot of remedial education taking place, which is troubling, but more than anything, the college exists as a job machine for rent seekers. It will go bankrupt. Maybe then some might understand what can't be sustained will not be sustained.
It used to be California led the nation in positive terms. When one sees California these days, what one sees is a place in steep decline, as the actions of the past catch up. Even the tax hike is a short term solution - the outlook for the future is anything but bright.

As I said, once California was a shining example of how to run state government. It is now a textbook example of what to avoid.
I received an e-mail from CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed on October 2. I had previously received e-mails from SJSU President Mo Qayoumi (7/25 and 6/6) and SJSU AVP Larry Carr (1/9). The Chancellor's e-mail doesn't resort to outright advocacy, but educates the recipient about the Governor's threatened cuts to CSU's funding should Prop. 30 fail.

My response to the Chancellor was the following:

California's struggling economy doesn't need and can't withstand additional taxation.

Our governor and legislature need to get their spending priorities in order. The CSU system needs to exert pressure on the the governor and legislature to do this.

Asking Californians to pay additional taxes until serious steps toward public employee pension reform, ending the high speed rail boondoggle, eliminating project labor agreements (PLA's), etc. are taken is unconscionable. The actions and rhetoric of our governor and legislature can only lead a sensible person to conclude that any additional taxes will also be spent unwisely.

At the university level steps need to be taken to address the bloat in staffing and programs that has occurred over the last 30 years. Not every major or concentration can be offered at every CSU (or UC) campus. The wide variety and number of student services and programs that are offered need to be reconsidered on a cost benefit basis. Resources are limited, so our universities can't be everything or provide every need (or want) to every student.

I recognize and appreciate the benefit of the CSU and UC systems to California, but I will be voting NO.
Dear Mr. Johnson,

YES! The CSU does routinely push political agendas. The CFA regularly works for the "Dream Act" among other illegal immigrant benefits.

Could you say more about the fraud that the CSU has become? More about the PC purposes of those watered down standards? AND the COST that such dumbing down imposes? On everyone.

Here's my guess: to keep racial peace and not turn minority legislators into dangerous enemies, the CSU essentially admits everyone.But,as you said, not everyone can or should go to college. If the CSU ONLY admitted those who CAN do the work, the "complexion" of the colleges would change drastically. And NO ONE can or will say "some aren't ready"-because those "some" won't be most whites or Asians.

I saw special summer, residential programs for students who were NOT going to graduate from HS. But here we were dumping enormous amounts of money and time into "readying" them for college!! WHY??

I once saw a professor torn to shreds by faculty and administrators, in front of the campus president, when he admitted the obvious reality-that not everyone can or should attend. This just after the campus president told us that she didn't "care about Prop 209, I want affirmative action."

WHY is the saying OBVIOUS such a huge THREAT that "squads" of thought police were deployed to silence ONE professor??

All this can be put down to a "commitment to equality" and other such rubbish.. But I think another reason for the open door policy is that it keeps the doors open. There probably aren't enough REALLY QUALIFIED students around to keep all these campuses open. So..we take everyone. And, I believe, everyone suffers.

A lot of those kids take out huge loans (and buy cars with the money) and get NOTHING for their "education dollar"-even if they graduate. But they have those loans hanging over their heads.

Others, coming to college with the equivalent of a 7th or 8th grade education, cannot possibly keep up IF things were taught at a college level. So...to brag about "how many Latinos and blacks we graduate", we practice a college version of "social promotion".

Some of those do graduate and are now up to the 12th grade level of achievement and now they are baffled as to why they can't pass the MCAT or LSAT.

As I said, I believe the American education system has become a massive fraud-impacting the students who get such an "education" and the nation's productivity and competitiveness.

Please write about this..the explosive reality that NOT EVERYONE has the right stuff. But we pretend they do...
Thank you!
A quick trip to wikipedia fills in some painful details:

The University of California system has 10 campuses, 3 national laboratories, and 5 medical centers, along with 230,000+ students, 19,000+ faculty and 189,000+ staff.

The second-tier Cal State University system has 23 campuses, 427,000+ students, and 44,000+ faculty and staff, with 1,800 degree programs in 240 subject areas.

The third-tier community college system has 112 colleges, 2,400,000+ students, and 89,000+ faculty and staff.

I will omit the astronomical faculty salaries; they would shock the conscience.

Long past time to get out the pruning shears.