If half the students eligible for the Cal State system are unable to handle college work, [Cal State Chico chemist Jim Postma] said, California is in bad shape.You mean "progressive" education isn't, and No Child Left Behind implies and is implied by No Child Gets Ahead? You gain wisdom, young apprentices.
"It's a terrible indictment of the K-through-12 system," Postma said. "If a factory was building cars and the lug nuts kept falling off the tires, you would do something pretty dramatic about it. We keep adding the lug nuts back to the tires rather than trying to figure out what the problem is."
The remedial problem is hardly confined to California. Schools across the country have puzzled over how to better prepare students for college and what to do with those who are not ready.
In the Cal States and the regional comprehensives and public four-year colleges, the focus on retention and completion is contributing to social stratification, argues Ronald Trowbridge of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity.
Universities by de facto action are agents of class warfare. An October study by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) entitled "Cheap for Whom?" finds: "Average taxpayers provide more in subsidies to elite public and private schools than to the less competitive schools where their own children are likely being educated."Writing in the Washington Post, Daniel De Vise notes that the state flagships are complicit in the social stratification.
The disparity between rich and poor is shocking. Reports AEI, "Among not-for-profit institutions, the amount of taxpayer subsidies hovers between $1,000 and $2,000 per student per year until we turn to the most selective institutions ... Among these already well-endowed institutions, the taxpayer subsidy jumps substantially to more than $13,000 per student per year."
It has become a caste system. AEI asserts, "If the country is to retain its competitive edge, it must reverse the current policies that result in providing the lowest levels of taxpayer support to the institutions that enroll the highest percentage of low-income, nontraditional and minority students - the fastest growing segments of the population."
Michigan, Berkeley, the University of Virginia and their peers already charge double or triple tuition to out-of-state students and admit them in comparatively large numbers, using their wealth to subsidize the cost of educating everyone else.
All of those schools have enacted large tuition increases over the past decade. But typically, some large percentage of that tuition revenue is recycled as need-based aid, and students from needy families pay minimal expenses to attend.
Presidents, faculty groups and others have proposed various ways of taking this progressive fee model further: allowing the top flagships to set higher tuition rates than other schools, and reinvesting ever larger sums into need-based aid.
At least one prominent public university, Miami University in Ohio, has attempted progressive tuition, setting one high rate for residents and non-residents alike and then awarding scholarships to state residents in proportion to their need.
It didn’t work. Miami University quietly reverted to a traditional structure of (lower) resident and (higher) nonresident tuition.By default, because the state legislators also have a hard time continuing to fund the state universities in the same way they once did, those state universities that can have been competing with the private universities by charging a lower fare than the private universities do, and offering a mix of academic standing and big time sports that is satisfactory, to families that can pay full fare, and using those revenues to replace the subsidies to in-state residents that the legislatures used to provide. That approach works well enough for the institutions that can carry it off, but it displaces some in-state students to other state-located universities that might not be able to make the same adjustments of resources.
Tuition increases are not popular. Voters and lawmakers in Virginia, California and other states have protested double-digit tuition increases. Needless to say, state legislators might have a hard time lining up behind a proposal that would effectively double or triple the price tag of a public university.