Public Interest Private Interest Community Colleges in the Student Success Era

Public Interest Private Interest Community Colleges in the Student Success Era

August 30, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs


>>Hello everyone. Welcome. My name is
Dr. Robert Holcomb. I serve as the Dean of Language
Arts and Academic foundations. And I’m happy you’ve
come to join us for this exciting presentation. As part of my role as
dean, I work with a number of academic departments, including the English
department. And I see about half
the department here. Not that many, but I see
a few familiar faces. Today’s presenter Terry Mulcaire
is a tenure faculty member within the English department. He’s also an active factory
leader within the AFA which is our All Faculty
Association here on campus. We note Terry to be a man of
conviction, a deep thinker, one who is committed to his
students, our campus community, social justice, higher education and today’s lecture
will reflect that. He has three degrees from
three public universities, from UC Santa Cruz,
University of Wisconsin at Madison, and UC Berkley. He once wrote a manuscript
that was entitled, “The Aesthetics of
Laissez-Faire.” And you’ll hear something
about that here today. It wasn’t published
though and that led him to not attain tenure at
a previous institution. But that’s okay, because
it led him here with us. [ Applause ] Please welcome Terry Mulcaire. Terry. [ Applause ]>>Thank you Robert. And I just need to
pass on another thanks to my colleague Marco Jordano. There is, who kind of
originally got the idea for several of these
talks going. So thanks Marco. Okay. Now I hope you can put
your listening hats on this. This was hard to write. I expect it might be hard
to listen to in some ways. I want to begin with a few
questions for the students here. How many students? Quite a few students, awesome. Why are you here
studying at the JC? How did that happen? Why did that happen? Can you help me up there guys? Get me back to the
main slideshow. Thank you. I want to ask you to
reflect on your interests. So this was the purpose
of this thing. You’re thinking about interests. What is your private
interest in being here? And then do you think the
public has an interest in your presence here? So what is the relationship
between those two things? You private interest
in being here and the public’s interest
in having you here. Are they the same? Do they conflict? Is there tension between them? Same questions for employees of
the JC whether you’re faculty, staff, or administration. Let me just ask you to reflect
on those questions for a minute. What are your private interest
in your presence here at the JC? What is the public’s interest? What is the relationship
between those two things? I’ll give you a minute to think. A full minute. How’s it going? Please talk to some
people nearby. What kind of answers
did you come up with? I’m interested in whether
this was difficult or easy. Take a minute to
talk to each other. What are your private
interests in your presence here? What are the public’s interests? How are those in conflict?>>Okay. Sorry to rush you. We don’t really have
time to talk, because I have so much to say. But I’m curious, was
that easy or hard? Was it, how many of you found it
hard to answer those questions? How many of you found it easy? What about the conflicts
and tensions? Are those hard problems? I’m seeing a nod. Okay. So you can identify
public and private interests and you can also identify
tensions between them and resolving the tensions
is not necessarily easy. Am I making that noise? It stopped. So these are particular
versions of a big question. Here is the big question. The sort of question the
colleges and universities exist in part to ask, investigate, to
debate, and to pose answers to. This is my experience at the three great public
universities where I went. I was trained how to do this. The big question is what
is the right relationship between public interests
and private interests? And obviously that question
becomes most important when there is conflict between
them, when there is tension between them as there
so often is. So your presence here at the JC, especially for students
raises specific versions of this big question. The public does indeed
have an interest in your presence here at the JC. That interest is expressed in
the money the public devotes out of taxpayer revenue and
under the direction of state law to pay the cost of
your presence here. For every dollar you spend
on course enrollment for fees at the JC, the public spends
approximately four dollars. In dollar terms the
interest of the public and your presence here
is four times as great as your interest, students. Back in 1976 when I enrolled in
West Valley Community College in Saratoga, I paid zero
dollars per unit and, of course, enrollment fees. Strictly mathematically
speaking the public interest in 1976 was infinitely greater than my personal
private interests. The college’s publicly
stated mission then was that it would offer free
admission to any student capable of benefitting from instruction. Between 1976 and now the public
appears to have perceived and responded to a conflict
between its interests and the private interests of students attending
the community college. In short, the public has decided
that it was paying too much for its interest in education
at the community college and that students
needed to pay more. What accounts for that change
and what change in the mission of the community college
has it brought about? Now the $46 predates the
students success era. But the student success era is
an expression of those changes and that’s what I want
to explore here today. I hope it’s clear that these
are political questions. The resolution of
conflict between public and private interest
is politics. Before I turn the student
success era, though, I’d like to provide
some context. This will take about 10 or 15
minutes by reviewing the history of answers to the big question,
what is the right relationship between public interests
and private interests? The first answer is the
Laissez-Faire answer. Laissez-Faire means roughly
let them do what they want. Specifically, Laissez-Faire
ideology holds that if government just
gets out of the way, leaves individuals free to pursue their own private
interests the result will be the best possible outcome
for all individuals and for the public in general. This is a hugely
influential idea. I would say it’s
one of the handful of the most influential ideas
over the last 200 or 300 years of human civilization, at least since the United States
declared independence from Britain in 1776. If you’ve seen Oliver
Stone’s movie “Wall Street”, you’re familiar with a famous
expression of this idea in Gordon Gecko’s proclamation
that “Greed is good.” Greed works. As it happens, one of
the foundational texts of Laissez-Faire theory
was published in 1776. That’s the wealth of nations
by the Scottish economist and philosopher, Adam Smith. Let’s review probably the, one
of the most famous passages from the Wealth of Nations. “As every individual,
therefore, endeavors, so to direct his industry
that its produce may be of the greatest value.” Everybody pursues their
own private interests in a free market strenuously. “Every individual
necessarily labors to render the annual revenue of
the society as great as he can. He generally, indeed,
neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much
he is promoting it. He intends only his own security
and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce
may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain. And he is in this, as
in many other cases, led by an invisible
hand to promote an end, which was no part
of his intention.” What many economists and
politicians and capitalists between 1776 and now have taken
Smith to be something like this. This is the Laissez-Faire
answer to the question. The free and unrestrained
pursuit of private interest in a competitive marketplace
automatically as if directed by an invisible hand promotes
the best possible outcome for the public interest. It is a dazzling idea. Not only does it
answer our big question, it gets us off the hook from
ever having to ask it again. Just let the market and its
private players run as freely as possible and the
invisible hand of the market takes
care of everything else. The most important
representative of the Laissez-Faire
answer in American politics over the last 50 years was
the politically conservative Republican President,
Ronald Reagan. However contradictory it may
sound, Reagan was elected as President of the
United States on intensely anti-government
platform. As Reagan once said, “The
nine most terrifying words in the English language
are I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” What he meant is that when
the government tries to act in the public interest all
it ends up doing is meddling in people’s private business. For example, by imposing
taxes or regulations in ways that make things worse. It’s probably a familiar
idea to you. It’s a basic principle
of our national politics at least since Reagan. In his first inaugural
address referring to the nation’s economic
problems, Reagan famously said, “Government isn’t the
solution to our problems. Government is the problem.” So Reagan’s policy
which continued through the Bush
presidency and now into Trump’s presidency
are supposedly aimed at making government
as small as possible. And this means cutting taxes
and shrinking government funding to public sector institutions from the Environmental
Protection Agency to public higher education. Contemporary Republican
lobbyist, extremely influential person, named Grover Norquist has
phrased this anti-government view in less polite terms. “All I want to do”,
Norquist said, “Is to shrink the government
so it’s small enough to drown in a bathtub.” He is famous for his success,
Norquist is, in getting tax cuts for the wealthy through
congress. Okay. I’m just going to, I’m
just going to let it rip here. This is my view. It’s really critical to note that Laissez-Faire conservatives
are fundamentally either insincere or self-deluded
in claiming that they want to shrink government so that
it will get out of the way of people pursuing their private
interests in a free marketplace. What Laissez-Faire
conservatives really want is for the government to support
their private interests and to stop supporting the
interests of other people that Laissez-Faire conservatives
don’t like, for example, poor people and working people. When Laissez-Faire conservatives
praise the invisible hand of the free market, what
they’re really promoting, if I may say so, is
the greedy, grasping, clutching hand of
the ruling class. Clutching as much
wealth and power to itself as it possibly can. And as you all probably
know, the data on the growth of income, and wealth, and
equality in this country since Reagan became President
show that over the last 40 or 50 years, the ruling class
has been scooping up wealth and power with great success. The current Republican tax cut
plan before congress barely even tries to hid that goal
anymore, doesn’t even try to hide that goal anymore. It’s just a naked grab. It’s important also to note that
in the United States, at least, Laissez-Faire conservatism,
certainly since Reagan, has always been closely,
if discretely bound up with politics
of white supremacy. Again, under Trump, that
alliance is no longer discrete. As a writer on the website,
Vox recently put it, “Describing Trump supporters
views on the government, from the point of view a white
supremacist Trump supporter, government overreach is when
government tells people like me, white nationalists what to do. The proper role of government
is to defend my rights and privileges against people
like them, people of color, immigrants or white liberals. Laissez-Faire conservatism
does not in fact actually promote a free
market, but a market dominated and controlled by
a small wealthy and overwhelmingly white elite. What it calls the public
interest is identical to the interest of that elite. The members of that elite
are either themselves racist or are willing to
exploit and employ racism to maintain their hold
on wealth and power. Laissez-Faire conservatism
is therefore intensely anti-democratic. That was it. Let it rip. Attentive readers among
you will have noticed that Adam Smith himself did
not actually express the logic of the Laissez-Faire answer
which I have just summarized. Smith’s invisible hand of the
free marketplace takes care only of the public’s interest
in producing as much national
wealth as possible. Smith himself realized that the
public had many other interests including placing limits
on income and equality, that the invisible hand of the
market could not be trusted to take care of and that
regulation of the market to favor workers and
restrict the greed of capitalist was
essential to the health and longevity of free markets. In other words, Adam
Smith was a liberal. And here’s my version of the liberal answer
to our big question. And I realize this is
a polemical answer, but it’s my answer
for our purposes here. Society whose economies
are built around well regulated relatively
free market places have the best chance to strike the
right relationship between private interest
and public interest. Liberal politics are about
promoting the right kinds and varieties of regulation
to balance private freedoms in a productive marketplace
with the public interest. And this is something that takes
constant work and adjustment and correction by the
citizens of a liberal society. Citizenship in this context
refers to the condition of being informed,
trained, motivated, and otherwise equipped to
participate in and pass judgment on that political work. Liberal politics are
therefore democratic, at least theoretically. They invite all citizens
in while recognizing and maintaining an
informed, discerning, and engaged citizenry requires
robust public institutions and constant work. Liberal politics in America
have long depended specifically on a robust public educational
system, and especially on public higher education
to cultivate the skills in its citizens that make it
possible for this work to go on. The writer Marilyn Robinson
that has taught for decades at a great public university,
the University of Iowa says, that the crucial role
of public colleges and universities is
quote, “Training students in skills of citizenship.” Unlike Laissez-Faire
conservatives, liberals must constantly worry about the answer to
our big question. In a liberal society
the question of the right relationship
between public and private interests must
constantly be in the way of being asked, investigated,
debated, and answered anew. Again, public institutions of higher education have
traditionally been crucial to this ongoing task.” Okay. Neoliberalism. Again, perhaps a
polemical definition. This is a controversial term but
here is a working definition. All human activity is
most effectively motivated and organized in the environment
of a free marketplace. This means that all
social problems, all matters of the public
interest, including problems of the environment such as
climate change and problems of social justice, such as
income and equality and racism, can and should be
solved by appealing to the private interests
of individuals competing in a free market environment. In fact, neoliberalism holds that market forces
represent not only the best, but really the only genuine and effective solution
to such problems. Is the neoliberal answer to
our big question a good one? Is the universal application
of market forces the best way to strike an optimal balance between private and
public interest? Is the ideal of neoliberalism,
social justice, and economic prosperity achieved through market forces
genuinely attainable, or is that rational just a
smokescreen for a grim reality. The seizure of power and
wealth by the ruling class. Student success area is a
test case for these questions. It’s a neoliberal project
for arranging the balance between public and
private interest in the community college system. Here is the basic neoliberal
premises at the heart of the students success project. The community college as a public institution has been
very inefficient and wasteful. It would never survive in a free
market for higher education. The mission of offering free
admission to any student capable of benefitting from
instruction costs way too much. Lots of students never finish
degrees or they just run up huge costs at
the public expense. Whereas Grover Norquist
would recommend drowning SRJC in a bathtub. Neoliberals much more
liberal reasonably say that the college needs to
change so that it runs more like an efficient productive
private sector business. Specifically it needs to
be more like a factory, dedicated to the maximally
efficient production of students with certificates and degrees
who can then be delivered to the job market where students
can pursue their private interest in a job and employers
can satisfy their private interest in finding workers. Plus since neoliberals assert
a commitment to social justice, they also think that these
reforms can erase long standing equity gaps in the production
and certificates of degrees and certificates between
all student demographics. If there is a single
organization most responsible for the promotion of these ideas and for lobbying the state
legislature and the government to pass laws that seek to
remake the college in the image of a factory, that is the
Lumina Foundation for Education. Lumina is a non-profit
created in the year 2000 when a private sector student
loan corporation called the USA group, the largest private
administrator and insurer of student loans in
the country spun it off and gave it 700 million
dollars to act as a think tank, a research body and
a lobbying agent for neoliberal educational
reform. The Lumina Foundation
is now worth about one and a half billion dollars. It spends tons of money
lobbying the federal government and state legislatures
all around the country. Okay this is a representative
example of the Lumina Foundation’s key
ideas about higher education. Increasing numbers of
economists labor experts and employers agree that for the
nation to be economically secure and socially stable
in coming decades, our higher education system
must be a more efficient engine for human capital development. Want to get your human
capital developed? You’re in luck. What does it mean to
efficiently engineer and develop human capital. A recent book titled “Redesigning America’s Community
Colleges” offers probably the most influential set of
answers to that question. I think it’s fair to describe
this book as something of a bible for proponents
of the student success era and its neoliberal rational. The authors say that community
colleges can no longer afford their traditional mission. The public, so say the authors, is no longer willing
to pay for that. Instead they say that the public
wants the colleges efficiently to produce more graduates
for the job market. Specifically, the authors set
forth the following economic rational, which entails
a new mission for the community colleges. Assuming that the
public will not pay for any funding increases to the
community colleges, and assuming that the public is demanding
higher rates of graduation from the community colleges
to meet job market demand, then the mission of
the community colleges and the student success era is to increase graduation rates
while holding down costs or, in other words to produce
graduates at a lower quote “cost for completion”, or a lower unit
cost per certificate or degree. That’s the mission. So I don’t know if
you’re familiar with industrial engineering. But this is an industrial
engineering mission. And I’m letting my bias slip. It’s really not and
educational mission. Yeah. Okay. So if this is confusing to
you, if it’s, here’s an analogy that I hope will help. Say the shareholders of
Pepsi corporation are unhappy with the dividend they’re
earning per share that they own. At the shareholder meeting
they express their unhappiness and so the order comes down
to the Pepsi factories. We need you to produce
and sell more cans of Pepsi while spending
less money per can produced. It’s the same thing. That’s the basic economic logic
of the student’s success era. Precisely the logic of a
private sector factory. You are the product,
a can of Pepsi. I am the factory worker filling
you with Pepsi and sending you out for sale in the job market. The public is the shareholders
in the Pepsi corporation. What the student success act
is telling me is to speed up the production process while
at the same time spending less to produce each can of Pepsi. The president of Skyline College down in the bay area
is a big proponent of the student success program. And Skyline’s new
motto puts it well. Get students in, get them
through, and get them out. There is actually a term in
industrial management theory for this sort of
efficient acceleration of the production process. The term is throughput. The story in Alfred Chandler,
studying the development of the factory system in 19th
century America in his book, “The Visible Hand”, wrote that,
“Such an increase in the speed and the volume of the flow of
materials within a single plant or works was called throughput.” So throughput has
become an important term for industrial engineering
theory and practice. In some, an accelerated
educational process, getting them in, getting them
through, and getting them out more quickly and thus
more cheaply is the explicit and central goal of the
student success era. It is thus no coincidence
that one of the major pedagogical
innovations of the student success era in California community colleges
calls itself the California Acceleration Project. I have heard CAP leaders in public sessions
describe their goal in increasing throughput
of students. The term appears frequently
in the CAP literature. For example, the RP group is a
non-profit educational research agency with ties to the Lumina
foundation yet works closely with the California Acceleration
Project, tracking its success and increasing outputs of
certificates and degrees. And the RP group frames
the problem address by CAP as follows, “Low completion
of transfer level English and math among basic skills
students” or in other words, low throughput of
basic skill students. The solution to the
problem it follows is to increase throughput. As you can see by the title
of the RP group paper, CAP is focused on what’s
probably the single most important social justice goal
of the student success era in my opinion, which is
increasing equity in completion and graduation rates
for students from historically
underrepresented groups. This is an extraordinarily
important goal and the data measuring CAP’s
progress imposing completion gaps is on its face compelling. I think achieving such
equity is a critical matter of the public interest. And I believe that the
faculty founders of CAP and other faculty
involved are sincerely and admirably committed
to equity. Is the neoliberal
industrial logic of the student success era
enabling the California community colleges to
achieve that goal of equity. I’m afraid I believe
the answer is no. By way of explaining why, let
me offer a couple of reflections on what might be your
private interest at being here at Santa Rosa Junior College
in the era of student success and check those interests
against the industrial logic that I’ve just set forth. Let’s say that you have a
private interest and a degree from SRJC because you
have a private interest in getting a job that
degree will qualify you for. The public also has an
interest in seeing jobs filled and in seeing you pay taxes. So far so good. Let’s use the vocabulary
of neoliberalism to describe the money and
time you spend privately to study here as your
private investment in your degree and
your employment. The job you get and the money
you earn will be the return on your investment. With the job your degree
qualifies you for you will earn over your lifetime
many times more than the amount you’ve spent
here at the JC and much more if you would have if you hadn’t
completed a degree at the JC. Your higher income will
enable you to pay more taxes over your lifetime of work. So the public gets a return
on its investment too. Everybody’s happy, sounds good. There is a cost. It’s not exactly
hidden, but it’s easy to miss if you’re in a hurry. By moving through to
completion and degree as quickly as possible, you have lost
the educational opportunities and a certain breadth
and richness of education that you might have accrued had
you and the college been able to afford a slower and
more leisurely pathway through college for you. More on the lost breadth
and richness in a minute. It gets worse. By demanding that colleges
produce more degrees at a lower cost, the student
success era creates strong incentives for colleges
and teachers to award degrees
no matter how good or bad the learning experience
of the students has been. Once colleges are funded
according to the number of certificates and degrees they
produce, we’re not there yet, but we’re headed
in that direction. The incentive to inflate
grades will be enormous. This is the flip side of what
you will lose as a student. The quality of your
education will suffer. Let’s face it, from
the point of view of the Pepsi corporation the
important thing is not the quality of the can of Pepsi. For the Pepsi corporation,
Pepsi need only be good enough for them to produce and
sell as many as possible with the lowest possible
production cost and thus the highest
possible profit margin. Look again at return on
investment from the point of view of the private
interest of students. From 1965 to 1998, the total
amount of student loan debt for college in this
country rose 30 fold. The average student who completes a Bachelor’s
degree now carries 6 times the student loan debt of
students 30 years ago. Remember that the Lumina
foundation was spun off from the country’s
largest private company for administering and
insuring student loans. Like the founders of the
Lumina Foundation think that large loan burdens
on students are both in the private interest
of those founders. As wealthy in the student
loan industry and also in the public interest, as
long as they produce rising and numerically equitable
graduation rates, I would say the founders of the Lumina Foundation
might think that. Deep Throat would say, they
probably do think that. The fact is that over the last
40 years it hasn’t been getting easier, but much, much
harder for students to get a good return
their financial investment and higher education. It couldn’t have been easier for
me in 1976, paying zero dollars for my classes at the
community college. It’s way harder for you. Now the state of California has
just passed a bill making the first year of community
college free. This is a welcome step
in the right direction. But the risk analysis for
a return on your investment in college remains
very uncertain and much riskier
than it used to be. And finally, consider equity. The ideal of the student
success era is that students from historically
underrepresented groups will finally have an opportunity
equal to that of white students and others to earn certificates
or degrees and so equipped with degrees to compete fairly
and equitably in the job market for good jobs and economic
security and prosperity. This is an enormously and
critically important social goal for our state and our country. And I believe deeply that the
community college has a major role to play in reaching it. But I submit to you
that the factory model of student success holds
out the promise of reaching that goal only by
surreptitiously changing to critical definitions. The first is the
definition of the degree. In the factory model a degree
now signifies the completion of and industrial process whose
highest values are speed and cheapness. That’s not what a
degree used to signify. If you’re a student from a historically
underrepresented group, in fact, if you’re a student from
any group, you need to know that the foundational assumption
of the student success era is that the public has an
interest in spending less on your degree than
it did on mine. To encourage you to get in
and out as quickly and cheaply as possible, the student
success era imposes caps on your total units
that were not imposed on me and my generation. It pressures you to pick a
major or a program as quickly as possible and to stick to
that major or program in ways that did not apply
to my generation. It puts limits on repeatability
of courses that didn’t exist for me in my generation and
strictures on financial aid that didn’t exist for
me in my generation. For the sake achieving numerical
equity and graduation rates between student demographics the
student success ear stealthily puts in place a historical
inequity denying not only to students from historically
underrepresented groups, but to all students the quality
of education and the level of financial investment for
each degree that was offered to majority white students
in past generations. The related but even more
important surreptitious change is in the definition
of a student. Let me offer this very
traditional definition of a college student. A novice learner seeking
an aspiring to mastery and knowledge and practice
of a specific discipline. The novice learner my not yet even know what
the discipline is. He or she may need to
explore for a while to settle on a specific aspiration,
on the discipline that best suits her
interest in gifts. Different learners
take different amounts of time to achieve mastery. Different disciplines have more or less obvious relevance
to employability. It’s the student’s right
and responsibility to sort that relationship out herself. The student success era in
telling you literally to get in, get through, and
get out sweeps aside that rich human diversity
claiming that it costs too much to give it due respect. It treats you more
like a can of Pepsi. Or as Alfred Chandler might say,
“Like a slug of pig iron sitting at the gate of a steel factory.” If you’re a slug of pig iron,
and the goal is to turn you into a steel beam, and
then sell that beam in a free market then it make
sense to turn you from a slug of pig iron into a steel beam as
quickly and cheaply as possible. But you’re not slugs of pig
iron nor are you cans of Pepsi. When I look at you,
I still students in the traditional sense, aspiring learners,
seeking mastery. No act of a legislature can turn
you into an industrial product. Is it really in the public
interest to remake the college in the image of a factory. Well, I’m a member of the
public and I say, hell no. I’m totally up for paying
higher taxes to pay you to stay in college to give you the time
and space to explore the range of disciplines and decide
which one is for you, to experience college as a
rich and welcoming experience that you want to
enjoy at your leisure, rather than flogging you to
get in and out as quickly as possible as if college
were some kind of ordeal or punishment to
get over with fast. Let’s look again and who
the public actually is in the literature of student
success, the public that refuses to pay more, that demands more
efficient production and so on. Economists, labor
experts and employers, which one of those three groups
is different from the other two. Might it be the case
that the economists and labor experts the
Lumina Foundation refers to are either directly or indirectly employed
by the employers. It might be the case. Might it be that the employer
the Lumina Foundation refers to here, at least some
of them happen to believe with Gordon Gecko
that greed is good? They might believe that. Deep Throat would say,
they probably believe that. Now to be fair, they might not. Some of them might not. But here is my great concern,
that the neoliberal rational for the student success
era including its rational for the critical social justice of equity is really
masking a familiar and increasingly grim
antidemocratic reality. The ruling classes
project of increasing and tightening its hold
on wealth and power. It turns that applying
free market principles to community colleges doesn’t
activate an invisible hand that automatically
produces social justice. Instead it appears as
Alfred Chandler might say, that the neoliberal
project is being directed by the visible hand
of the employer class, that is the ruling class, which
gets its employees trained at the public expense and at
the private expense of employees who end up with crushing
loads of student debt. And that training,
that education here at the community college no
longer includes consideration of the big question. It’s the student success
version of the relationship between public and private
interest, a good one, because in the old
liberal ideology of the student success era
assumes that its answered that question once and for all. Got an issue with the
relationship between private and public interest, apply
the forces of the free market. It’s fast, it’s cheap,
and it’s easy. Neoliberalism proposes
that the scope of one’s citizenship is
mostly covered by ones pursuit of private interest in a
competitive market environment. To imagine that the
scope of citizenship can so be limited is, I believe,
a terrible and deadly error. I believe that a genuinely free and independent citizen
is a glorious creature. He or she, of course, works in
pursuit of private interests and in that work adds to
the total of social wealth. That is a crucial
feature of citizenship. But he or she is also a member
of many larger communities. She is, for example, a lover of
beautiful things and a member of various communities who share
her love of beautiful things, including things for
which there is no market. Children, the natural world,
the history of her people, that truth that emerge
from scientific inquiry, the great songs and stories
that have been handed down through generations
and the wisdom they convey. And she brings this
knowledge and these loves to her consideration of the great public
questions of the day. What does a fair and
just society look like? How might we move
closer to that ideal? How can we use technology
genuinely to improve our lives without destroying ourselves? How can we save free
and democratic societies from what seem to be their
tendencies periodically to collapse into
ethnic nationalism and authoritarianism? How much is it worth
to the public to ensure that the citizen rate is able to
articulate, investigate, debate, and offer answers
to such questions? I think it’s worth a lot more than the student success
era is proposing to pay. I think the Lumina Foundation’s
interest in producing such citizens as cheaply
and quickly as possible through a factory
process is inhumane, self-contradictory,
and self-defeating. I think the public has the
greatest possible interest in a community college
whose mission is to cultivate the full range
of that rich citizenship. What will such a
college look like? As my colleague Michael
Hale has helped me to see, in many ways it won’t look
like the college of 1976, because that college and that
society was not fair and just. Let me borrow Michael’s
words in saying, “That the challenge facing
us is to co-create a vision of a college that has
not yet existed, founded, and a commitment to
educational excellence, and to genuinely
democratic and just equity.” How much would the
taxpayers be willing to pay to realize such a vision. I think we should be
willing to pay what it costs. You may disagree. I hope we can have a
vigorous, reasonable, informed debate on the question. But the question is not
going to answer itself. Thank you. [ Applause ] We have a few minutes. Comments, questions. Joel.>>I think the presentation
of, you know, who is paying for this. This is the idea that
since 1776 the people of the United States have
essentially not been willing to pay for almost anything. You know the whole
idea of a no taxation without representation
really, you know, what was really stated
was no taxation. People don’t like to pay taxes and the ruling classes
have figured that out. And this whole move towards
industrializing colleges is tapping into the idea that not
just the one percent doesn’t like to pay taxes, but
nobody likes to pay taxes. This is all focused in telling
people to pay less taxes.>>Well, and I have a short
and a long answer to that. And I’ll stick with
the short one. I’m a people and I
want to pay taxes. The, and the, just to
touch on the longer answer, to go back to 1976,
the state of California for complicated reasons,
and that’s the long answer, in 1972 it was paying
for free admission into the University
of California. I mean, there are examples
in American history where Americans have wanted
to do great things publicly. Yeah.>>Is in your research
the same thing happening in private higher education
institutions [inaudible]?>>No, no. Well, I mean, again, you
know private, so, you know, at the Ivy League
this isn’t happening because the Ivy League is
the ruling class, right. So the ruling class
will continue to get a different
kind of education. There won’t be a factory
there, but there’s all sorts of collateral damage being done
there by this understanding of what education is and what
a student is too, I think. That idea, is pervasive, yeah.>>It seems like that
could ripple outward. Because, I mean,
if you have people who are low-skilled coming
out of the JC system, which they necessarily will
be much lowered skilled. They just are coming out with
these certificates and they go into higher education and have
the skills necessary there. It seems like it would snowball.>>Yeah, and I think this is
a gross oversimplification, but I’ll say it anyway. I mean, we’ve just
finished reading 1984 in the English department
and O’Brien, or actually Emanuel Goldstein
I think you know says that what the party realizes is
that to maintain power you need to keep the masses
poor and ignorant. Somebody is thinking that,
believe me, you know. Maybe not the agents of
the Lumina Foundation, but believe me, somebody
is sure thinking that. Is there a question over there? [ Inaudible audience question ]>>Most of the stuff that I’ve
mentioned here is statewide. It’s systemwide. It’s not local. And San Francisco Community
College, as you know, has been through
a horrible crisis. And what they’re trying to do
is rebuild their enrollments because their fundings
are still based, state funding is still
based on enrollment. Yes. [ Inaudible audience comments ]>>So I mean I do want to emphasize job training
is part of citizenship. In mean, in my way, citizens,
you know, have a responsibility to shoulder a burden for
society and to produce. And they have, they have
the right to do that. That’s an important right to do
work that you believe in and you like and you can
support yourself by. That’s a really critical role of higher education,
of course it is. But as you said, Jessie,
what’s happening here is that the concept of education
is collapsing into that role. And actually it’s doing harm
to the teaching of that role, the teaching of job
skills too, I think. Yeah. Yes. Kenny. [ Inaudible audience comments ]>>In the student success
era I think a lot of the, probably most of the
faculty to the extent that they are sympathetic and
I think this is true of most of the faculty with
the equity goals of the student success movement,
that this is an issue in a way that it didn’t used to be. That’s an evasive answer. I think different people will
have different answers to that. But I, as a general answer I
think that question is more of, is more urgent in some ways
then it has been before. Eric. I’m sorry. I should have been
repeating your questions.>>My answer to that question
would be that I don’t think that we feel that very acute
locally, but it’s coming at the state level
really, really hard core. There’s legislation and polices
that are being discussed, that will enact exactly that. And then the pressure will
increase on us locally. But as Terry, you said
earlier, the majority of this is at the state level of leadership
and not necessarily here. It’s not being produced by us. And it’s not, it hasn’t trickled down to all 114 California
community colleges. But the, it’s being
engineered that way at the top.>>This is Eric Thompson, the academic senate
president of the college. So Eric knows a lot about what’s
going on at the state level. Just an informational
point and then Stephanie. The Student Success Act came
out of a political compromise that was generated by a proposal
in the state legislature to change the funding system of the California
community colleges to a pay for performance basis. That is we’d be paid by the
number of cans of Pepsi’s that we produce,
that is to pay us for graduation rates
instead of by enrollments. And so what happened
in the legislature that was sort of triangulation. People came up with
student success and that got enough
sort of votes. It didn’t change the funding
scheme to funding per outputs and if that pay for
performance scheme. And as I said, I
hope this is clear. If that happens, there is
going to be tremendous pressure on everyone just to pass people. Because a pass equals money. So that was the original
proposal back in 2007. And the student success era
was a sort of compromise. That proposal is
still out there. The proposal to make it even
more like a Pepsi factory. Believe me it’s still out there and it’s still alive
and kicking. And we may end up
confronting that, yeah. Stephanie.>>I think that and somebody
who’s taught here for 15 years, that the economic hardships of our students have
definitely influenced the way in which I sometimes grade. And I think our educational,
the quality of education is, it is affected by the hardships
that we see our students have. We have students like all of
us have who teach here have to drop a class because
their family is moving out of the state or
out of the county. And, you know, when
students come late because their boss
changed their schedule and they have to miss a class. This happens a lot. So am I going to
punish that student who misses a class
because of that. So those kinds of issues have
really affected the education that we’re delivering. And the fairness of it
all is something that is, makes it very complicated
to, you know, maintain a certain
level of excellence.>>So especially for
faculty in the room, although it is obviously
relevant to students too. What Stephanie is talking about,
um, points to another feature of the factory model which is
that teachers are no longer in charge of their discipline
and their own instruction. There is a boss telling the
line workers what to do. You’re going to have, you’re
going to apply these principles. You’re not going to make
those judgment calls anymore. We’re going to make
them for you in the name of efficiency and productivity. Marco.>>Yeah, Terry in your critique
you clearly laid out the fact that the only positive value that the neoliberal model has
is the increase of throughput. That is to say that it doesn’t
make any difference what the quality of the Pepsi is. It just makes a difference
if you sell more cans of it. And so that is the only argument
for the neoliberal model. Would you not agree that
we’ve shown that it is, in fact, not productive? There is no argument
for it left. Let’s take for example the
case study of the bookstore. Part of the neoliberal model was
the privatization of anything and the bookstore was
privatized largely because disingenuously
it was not productive. It was running at a loss and
is now presumably not doing so. Suppose for example the
counter model were to exist, that the students would
have the bookstore. That they deliberately
ran it for a loss and that more students, because
they could afford more textbooks took more course, thus solving
the completely unaddressed problem of the institution
of falling enrollments. And then also presumably
distributing more income throughout the community
and thereby making the cost to each taxpayer of the community
college that much less. Wouldn’t that be the more
productive model rather than the neoliberal one?>>Let me just pick out one
thing from what Marco said, the idea of running
the bookstore at a loss or having the students run
the bookstore at a loss. I think, it feels to me
that we are so saturated by Laissez-Faire economic theory
in this country, that even, you know, okay, I’m a liberal. I sort of go oh, running at a
loss, I feel this cringe like, well, we mustn’t do that. And what we’ve lost track of
is this very traditional notion that it may be in
the public interest to run the bleeping
bookstore at a loss, right. I mean, the JC is
a loss, you know. Public education is a loss
if you’re thinking in terms of capitalist accounting. And what societies need
to do is to say, yes, I want to spend money on that. I’m not going to get a return
on my god damn investment. I’m not a capitalist now. I’m a citizen. There is a private realm
for me to be a capitalist. And that’s a good thing, because
we produce lots of wealth. And then I go out of
that private realm and I become a public citizen. And I make different
kinds of value judgments. Robert.>>All right Terry. So we’re getting
toward the end I think. This might be the last
question, but I want to try to get this question in. So, a lot of our funding is
going to, is going to come from the Student Success Act,
right, and it’s currently coming from the Student Success Act. In spite of your critique do
you still see any opportunities for us to implement aspects of Student Success Act it
could be very beneficial.>>Well, you know,
I’m a faculty member. And I wish I had more time
to hear from students, but the faculty here is
still dedicated, committed, relatively independent
and autonomous. So there’s tons of hope and I
want the students to know that. I think we have a really good
dedicated committed smart faculty here. And, you know, we haven’t,
we’re not the victims of a hostile takeover by
some Wall Street financier. That hasn’t happened. I think this is still
a great school. So really, what I wanted to do
going back to Michael’s point which has stuck with me
since he said it so strongly, is that this great school is,
is really under serious threat. And the response can’t be just
to accept the threat or to try to go back to some
distant model. The challenge now really is to say what do you
want the school to be? It’s not going to be what the
neoliberals say it will be. That’s not going to work. It’s self-contradictory
and self-defeating. What do we want to work? How, what kind of college
do we want to have? What is real equity? What is real educational
excellence? Let’s not buy the advertising
of Lumina Foundation. Let’s really ask and answer
those questions ourselves, that is the traditional
role of a public college. So yes, I think there’s
lots of hope. Okay. Thank you very much. I’ll stick around if
someone wants to talk. [ Applause ]