And all of this was going to be free for Californians. It was an investment in the future, and it paid off, big-time. The quality graduates that came out of this public education system helped to grow the California economy at a pace far outstripping the rest of the nation. Some like to call the 20th Century the American Century, well, if that was true, the last half of the 20th Century was the California Century.
But like all good centuries, they come to an end. And with the election of Ronald Reagan, and later Deukmejian and Wilson, and to an extent, even Brown's son Jerry, the Master Plan has been gradually chipped away. As we stand right now, of the approximately $18 Billion UC budget, around $3 Billion now comes from the state.
In other words, the state university system is merely a somewhat-state-subsidized system, and barely that.
Great quote at the end of the piece from George Lakoff:
Lakoff, UC Distinguished Professor of Linguistics and author of several popular and scholarly books on the language of politics, said in a letter to UCB's Townsend Center that "the privatization issue goes well beyond public education. It is about whether we have a democracy that works for the common good, or a plutocracy that privileges the wealthy and powerful. Privatizing the world's greatest public university is a giant step away from democracy."(Berkeley Daily Planet 9/17/09)As a product of California's public-education heyday, all the way from kindergarten through college, I have a great appreciation for what we used to have. And I'm appalled that the state (both the people and their elected government) no longer seems to value public education.