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CSUS: The Educational Dinosaur
Exploiting academic hopes...

[Larry Stirling] 3/31/06

The recent news that the majority of students enrolled for next semester by the California State University System (CSUS) are unqualified for admission should heap great discredit on the CSUS management.

San Diego State University, the flagship campus of the system, is preening itself because only 20 percent of their admittees are unqualified for enrollment.

SDSU has a better percentage because my alma mater has been able to cherry pick applicants ever since the word got out that San Diego State was rated once again by Playboy magazine as one of the top 10 party schools in the nation.

What confuses me is why they still missed it by 20 percent. Can't they score tests correctly?


Larry Stirling
Larry Stirling is a former California State Senator and Retired Superior Court Judge [go to Stirling index]

It is hard to think of the CSUS management other than "the Don Knotts of education" or the "Education gang that can't shoot straight."

CSUS is actually an educational dinosaur.

The Internet has made it so. There is really no reason to gather tens of thousands of students at great big brick-and-mortar centers at huge social, environmental, and personal expense when education can be delivered anywhere in the world via the Internet.

It would be a lot cheaper to buy the student a computer and some software and to bring them into test centers from time to time rather than to house them away from home in huge facilities for years on end.

The state of California is a financial basket case and CSUS mismanagement is symptomatic of the larger problem.

Wouldn't it seem logical for the state director of finance to point out that if more than 50 percent of their enrollees are unqualified, CSUS is effectively 100 percent overenrolled and therefore over budgeted?

The accumulations of the state staff's fiscal mismanagement has driven our penultimately brave, virile, Viking of a governor to his political knees and reduced him to begging the legislature to authorize yet another big bond so that he, too, can spend a bunch of money just like the rest of the state bureaucracy.

The CSUS constantly tells everyone that they need to increase their budgets because there is simply not enough capacity for all the future California students.

SDSU is pushing to expand in the most expensive city in the state. SDSU's unreasonableness in this regard recently caused distinguished San Diegan Tom Carter to resign from the foundation board.

Let me pose just this simple question. Did CSUS test the students before they admitted them? If so, why did they admit them? If not, why not?

If a student cannot do his high school basics well, why is he expected to do well in college-level classes? No wonder they fail to graduate in droves.

Why does the university enroll more students than they can teach and why so many who are unqualified?

The answer is that the university has everything to gain and nothing to lose by over enrolling. It is the taxpayers who pay and the students who can't get classes that lose.

First, the CSU schools get paid by the number of bodies they enroll. So, the more bodies: the more money for staff and benefits for the faculty.

Second, the more students enrolled, the more high-priced textbooks they sell.

Books at school bookstores cost on average twice as much as those at Barnes and Noble, and B&N has to pay taxes, not consume them. Textbooks costs are so high, that one company is now "leasing" them.

In addition, the schools get customers for their food and residential franchises not to mention fans for their entertainment and athletic venues: each a profit center.

And most importantly, the schools get political clout.

I reported previously that I met and discussed this issue with a former chancellor of the University of California.

He said: "We at the U.C. took the position that we would raise admission standards to control our budget. The CSU management took the position that they would enroll everyone and dare the legislature to do anything about it."

The bottom line is the CSUS trustees and chancellor have managed to downgrade a great college system to a continuation high school for more than 50 percent of its admittees. They are teaching remedial high-school classes at college-level costs.

It is not enough to say that the students will get supplemental classes at the community college if is the plan.

Remediation in community college is also a rip off. They should get remediation at the adult education system that is much cheaper to operate.

The CSUS management is cold-bloodedly exploiting the academic hopes of thousands of young people simply to build empire at the expense of the youngsters' time and the taxpayer's overburdened wallets.

CSUS is not only a dinosaur; it is a hugely expensive dinosaur that we cannot afford. CRO

Stirling is a retired superior court judge who now practices law with the firm of Garrison & McInnis. He is a former Army officer, member of the San Diego City Council, the California State Assembly and the State Senate. Send comments to Comments may be published as letters to the Editor.

copyright 2006 Larry Stirling


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