San Diego – Well, Monday starts the 2011 Spring Semester at City College. A few last minute tweaks today on materials and then I’ll be as ready as I likely will get. The only class not fully locked down is the Landscape Class and that is because I am waiting to hear if my proposed dates run into any lodging conflicts at the properties where we generally stay. I’m hoping to hear back quickly so I can tell the class and they can start making plans. This year we’ll do the usual 3-day trek to Alabama Hills, our 4 day trip will be to Yosemite, and because the rains seem to anticipate a lively display of desert wildflowers in a month, a one day trip to Anza-Borrego. I will also be doing a Saturday afternoon workshop/seminar on printing on Canvas in February including issues of how to wrap/mount and display canvas prints. Laurie Shupp from NIK Software has promised to give one and maybe two demos to my digital classes so that too ought to add to what will hopefully be a good semester.
Alas, the big picture for the school and education in general in this State is not so rosy and the budget issues have a much bleaker outlook. All the academic liberals and the self serving teachers’ union all forgot his real record and even his campaign promises and naturally voted blindly along party lines for ex-Governor Moonbeam to be governor again and now that he is, they are all stunned that he has just floated his draft budget plan in which he proposed an additional 18% cut to the State’s educational budget including a $500 million cut to the CU system and a $400 million cut to the community college system. His ideology about social justice and welfare does not include education as one of the priorities and never has. It take a business and real world savvy person to see the value of education to a state’s economy. He loves the cultural classes and diversity classes but they contribute nothing to an education that prepares people to earn a living, become property owners, pay taxes, and generally boost the state’s productivity and economy. Those that do he sees as just supporting the evil corporate demons and business boogey men and not a proper target for funding for a State as enlightened as Kalifornia. (OMG, should I apologize to someone for using the term “Target?” Please tell me that none of you are going to be emboldened by my violent phraseology to go out and shoot the State…!!!)
In fact, his proposal will require, if passed, a re-thinking of the socialized and subsidized educational dream here in the People’s Republic of Kalifornia. Depending on the various school districts’ reactions to it the results could be catastrophic or actually, in my opinion, a very positive return back to reason and responsibility in education. Most in academia are in deep denial, as they have been through it all. Some are still clinging to the hopes that Obama the Messiah will hear their pleas from on high and send Federal money to our aid… as if he had left any in the treasury for real education aid. But some, and I dearly hope my district is one of them, as they have been thus far, may make a meaningful course change for the better. All are constrained to some degree by the State’s system oversight but have some enormous latitudes in local approaches to issues.
As an example, at the moment, Community Colleges in California charge $26 per credit and that is up from $20. Rumor has them looking at another escalation to $36 per credit. To all of the other State’s that has got to seem like a typo or missprint and surely I have left of a digit or at least hit the wrong row on the numerical keypad. Around the country Community College credit for in-state students averages from $70 to $120 per credit and that is STILL cheap compared to four year State schools and a giveaway compared to good private schools. I think we should be at least at the $50.00 level especially since a huge proportion of our students are on Financiual Aid and do not pay anything anyway. At City College we have the best facilities in the country (and that is not just my opinion, it is the consistent opinion of visiting professors for the SPE conference we hosted in November), one of the more extensive programs with over 30 programs, and we are growing it in quality constantly, while 120 miles north in Pasadena (an LA suburb for those not familiar with the area), the famous Art Center SChool of Design, considered still to be one of the top places to go, charges over $30,000 per year.
Yet some idiot lawyer at the State does not even let us charge lab fees because in a display of terminal ignorance about how photography works he claimed the students does not get to keep anything that fee would have paid for. Nevertheless, all of the other good CC programs including Orange Coast, Santa Monica, and East LA charge lab fees. We have got to be able to get that policy changed for us. We also need to generate more revenue for our program in permissible ways via workshops and seminars and are off to a very good start at that as the word of our facilities starts to spread. And we need to generate more out-of-state interest but before we can do that, since we are turning away students now, we need to be allowed, as a program, to get our section counts back to something reasonable. I’ll be drafting a proposal to allow our program some unique flexibility in those and other matters so we can not only grow the program but also be able to generate the revenue that allows us to minimize our draw on district budgets and reserves. It is time to get creative.
So this promises to be an interesting semester indeed. I am actually looking very much forward to getting back into it!