The Dream is Broken in California: Can Alberta Renew It?

From Mother Jones, “The Slow Death of California’s Higher Education”:

“It was the greatest education system the world had ever seen. They built it into the eucalyptus-dotted Berkeley hills and under the bright lights of Los Angeles, down in the valley in Fresno and in the shadows of the San Bernardino Mountains. Hundreds of college campuses, large and small, two-year and four-year, stretching from California’s emerald forests in the north to the heat-scorched Inland Empire in the south. Each had its own DNA, but common to all was this: they promised a “public” education, accessible and affordable, to those with means and those without, a door with a welcome mat into the ivory tower, an invitation to a better life.

“Then California bled that system dry. . . . As Jeff Bleich, a former Cal State trustee and former counsel to President Obama, put it in 2009, California higher education ‘is being starved to death by a public that thinks any government service—even public education—is not worth paying for. And by political leaders who do not lead but instead give in to our worst, shortsighted instincts.’ . . . . Dianne Klein, a spokeswoman for the office of University of California president Mark Yudof, couldn’t contain her dismay when reacting to recent cuts. ‘Here we have the world’s best public university system, and we’re just getting chainsawed,” she told the Daily Californian.'”

The question is, can Alberta be the place where the vision of the importance of public universities to a just world is not just kept alive, but freshly revitalized

Canadians have been celebrating Peter Lougheed, and his vision for the province of Alberta, in the wake of his death on September 13th. (See University of Alberta President Indira Samarasekera’s statement here.) 

Can we recommit to the social vision for which Lougheed is so justly honoured?

Public funding of post-secondary education was crucial to that vision. 

From http://uofa.ualberta.ca/Homepagefeatures/ualbertainphotos/peterlougheed.aspx, where the caption reads “As Students’ Union president, Lougheed encouraged students to be active citizens. As premier, he received 5,000 students at the legislature campaigning for an increase in education funding.” 

Current Premier Alison Redford Contemplates Photograph of Lougheed at Memorial Last Month. Photo from St. Albert Gazette.

As it stands, the University of Alberta receives some of the best public funding of any university in North America. Can Albertans hold true to this commitment, and spend our money right? 

Here, in a certain valley currently turning yellow with the onset of Fall, a valley whose banks boast the Alberta provincial legislature on the north and the University of Alberta on the south, can we take hold of and recommit to the Future that others elsewhere are so woefully abandoning?

Read Andy Kroll’s full article for Mother Jones at: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/10/california-public-university-higher-education?page=2

 

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