Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Public Higher Education and Debt Abolition

Introduction by Ashley Dawson:
Original post from Social Text here.

In 1970, an adviser to California Governor Ronald Reagan's reelection campaign commented on the state of public education: "We are in danger of producing an educated proletariat. That's dynamite! We have to be selective on who we allow to go through higher education." After his reelection in 1970, Governor Reagan followed through on this advice by dismantling the University of California's policy of free tuition. A similar campaign unfolded subsequently in New York, with President Ford using the fiscal crisis of the city in 1975 to force the City University of New York to terminate its 129-year-old policy of free tuition.

In place of this model of public education as a human right, a new model predicated on education as an investment in one's future was established. Students were encouraged after the establishment of the Guaranteed Student Loan Program in these years to borrow money in order to pursue tertiary education.

This was, of course, part of the much broader effort to generate higher rates of profit during the 1970s. The elements of this project are surely familiar: breaking labor unions, lowering wages, offshoring production, smashing the social wage, financialization, etc.

Today this neoliberal project is in crisis on multiple fronts. One of the most serious of these is the investment model of education. Student loan debt is expected to hit $1 trillion by the end of this year, surpassing credit card debt and leaving many individuals in debt for their entire lives.

How to respond to the increasingly desperate plight of the legions of indebted students and ex-students in our society? In this talk at Occupy Wall Street, Andrew Ross offers a radical lens through which to see student debt and proposes a pledge of refusal to spark a movement for the abolition of student debt.

Part One:

Part Two:



  2. Provost Chancellor, charge Californians higher tuition at University of California Berkeley. University access, affordability is farther and farther out of reach. University of California Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau, Provost Breslauer leave an indelible mark on access and affordability. Both are outspoken on why elite public Cal. should ‘charge Californians much more’ tuition. Number 1 ranked Harvard is now less costly (all in costs). UC Berkeley tuition is rising faster than costs at other universities. The ‘charge more’ tuition makes Cal. the most expensive public university!

    Birgeneau ($450,000 salary) Breslauer ($306,000 salary) like to blame the politicians, since they stopped giving them every dollar expected. The ‘charge Californians more’ tuition skyrocketed fees by an average 14% per year from 2006 to 2011-12 academic years. If Birgeneau Breslauer had allowed fees to rise at the same rate of inflation over the past 10 years they would still be in reach of most middle income students. Disparities in higher education defeat the promise of equality of opportunity. An unacceptable legacy for students, parents, politicians!

    Additional funding should sunset. The economic downturn is devastating California. Simply asking Californians for more money to fund inept Cal. leadership, old expensive higher education models and support burdensome salaries, bonuses, and pensions is not the answer.

    UC Berkeley is to maximize access to the widest number of Californians at a reasonable cost: mission of diversity and equality of opportunity. Birgeneau’s Breslauer’s ‘charge Californians more’ tuition denies middle income Californians the transformative value of Cal’s higher education.

    Opinions? UC Board of Regents Calif. State Senators, Assembly members.