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Monday, October 22, 2007


American values

This morning I was eating breakfast, reading the paper and listening to TV news at the same time (my normal practice). On TV, the discussion was about the possible move of the San Francisco 49ers from San Francisco to Santa Clara. Santa Clara has a population of just over 100,000, but is being asked to pony up a subsidy to the millionaire (billionaire?) owners of the 49ers of $160-$220 million.

And in the paper? An article about how the State of California (population 36 million) is contemplating saving $7 billion/year ($19 million/year of which would be saved by the citizens of Santa Clara) by eliminating its subsidy to the University of California system (UCLA, UC Berkeley, UCSD, UC Santa Barbara, etc.). And the consequences?

Tuition would climb, jumping more than 80 percent by 2010-11, to $15,306 a year for undergraduates. Under this scenario, UC could lose affluent students to smaller private colleges, reducing the academic quality of the student body. Low-income students would flock to less expensive schools, reducing diversity. Graduate assistantships would be in shorter supply and faculty workloads would climb. Lucrative research would gain importance over teaching.
But hey, we can't afford that kind of subsidy for the "luxury" of education. We're too busy subsidizing rich corporations (and, of course, paying for the U.S. war on the world).

By the way, those alleged consequences are optimistic at best. Those "less expensive schools" that the low-income students would flock to are the state's community colleges, already overcrowded and underfunded. A far more likely consequence is that they won't go to college at all.

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