Brief Thoughts about Chico’s Education Protest

I was thrilled to see the large outpouring of emotion from the demonstration protesting the evisceration of the University. I have not seen anything like this since the Vietnam protests of the early 70s.

In Chico, before I came, people were so disgusted with the apathy about the war, that they carried out what may perhaps have been the world’s only grovel-in.

The organizers did an outstanding job of preparation and execution; they did so with considerable maturity.

Still, I wished that they had a broader perspective. For example, I did not have any sense of a connection with the local community college or with K-12 education.

In many ways, California is undergoing a self-induced (by a powerful minority) structural adjustment. The problem is not a matter of taking advantage of students and faculty. People are resisting the same forces in Iceland and Greece. Even worse, structural adjustment is only episodic in such advanced countries. In poorer nations, structural adjustment is the norm.

Just as national austerity is not the result of an impoverished state, but perverted priorities, which emphasize war and pork barrel politics. In California, where massive funds go to irrigate agriculture lands to grow crops which could be more economically grown elsewhere. Oil funds, which were intended for higher education, have also been siphoned off for water. To make matters worse, the state is intending to float multibillion bond offerings for water.

In an institution, where education is the norm, students should be getting to learn about how much they have in common with people whose struggles are far worse than their own.

The most common chant: “Whose University is it? Ours.” I found this approach naïve. Students and faculty need to reach out to a broader swath of people experiencing structural adjustment. Home health care workers are getting screwed. Unemployed workers are worse off than most students ….

Imagine if the antiwar protests were just about not wanting to be drafted. Would they have any effect?

4 comments so far

  1. Jeremy Lammerding on

    Prof. Perelman,

    It has been a while since I last commented on you blog. I heard about the CSU Chico rally and saw the one at the Capitol. Very peculiar to me that no one was making any suggestions for where this money should come from. I know they are aware that the demands on social services are massive right now and that revenue streams are dwindling. They continue the demand for higher education, but when asked to foot the bill, scream like a baby who got its bottle taken away.

    I know you can offer some substantive perspective on the issue Prof. Perelman. Given that we cannot tax the money necessary to subsidize high education in the current environment, where do you suggest the cuts are made? (This is a question pertaining to the Short Run, we will be dead before Long Term structural reform is realized)

    PS. Water is an important resource. Ask anyone in Southern California😉

  2. mperelman on

    The confiscation of money earmarked for higher education by the water interests is a scandal. The key player in this scam is the Westlands Water district, which consists of only a handful of very big farmers.

    • Jeremy Lammerding on

      Ah yes, the plight of the American Farmer. Who needs to worry about the market pressures of comparative advantage when the Cargill lobby has your back?

      Although it is scandalous, I find it had to believe that a few hijacked earmarks are responsible for a 30%+ increase in tuition, decreased enrollment and furloughs across the board. Regardless of how we got here, how do we get out, assuming we got back the water-money?

      We cannot tax our businesses anymore because they are all leaving (thank you AB32), we cannot tax our labor force because they are not working and we cant raise the sales tax anymore. We need to cut programs to fund higher education and this is a reality that I do not think many of the protesters realize nor are they willing to confront.

  3. mperelman on

    Just have the VERY affluent farmers pay off the debts which they voluntarily assumed.


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