Friday, March 4, 2011

Day of Action Against Cuts

Here are some links (hat tip to Bob S)  to coverage of the National Day of Action to defend higher education against rampant and constant cuts.

UCLA protests
Santa Cruz
Dail Cal coverage of other protests

The small size of the UC protests may flow from UC President Mark Yudof's repeated assurances that UC students will not see another tuition increase of the 32% variety that provoked much larger protests in November of 2009.

Given the approaching end of the federal stimulus money, cost increases in areas like employer pension contributions, and the long series of cuts that have already been made, the $500 million Jerry Brown cuts will logically create the worst course access and worst student: instructor ratios in living memory.

UCOP's calculations (slide 16) show that $500 million is the amount a new 32% tuition increase would raise.  The same amount of damage is being done to students that was done in 2009.  Their payment is just taking a different form.

Graduation delays and massively reduced instructor feedback are only the most obvious damage being done to quality.  Public university students need to compete against private school students who can improve their skills through individualized monitoring while creating coherent sequences of courses that lead to a recognizable expertise. UC is not enabling its students to compete with private university graduates in feedback, coherence, sequencing, or most other ingredients of intellectual development.

In comparing the careers of equally talented and motivated people, will we have to start talking about the "public university disadvantage"?  Will we be needing job affirmative action for all public university graduates?

Mark Yudof's demobilization of students has neutralized one of his big political problems.  But it would be smarter to allow justifiably outraged students to help him pressure Sacramento to support higher education rather than continue to wreck it.

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