2008 November 29 Saturday
Cal State University To Cut 10000 Slots In Budget Crisis

The worsening of the multi-year California state budget crisis is leading to a cut in the number of available positions for incoming students in the California State University system.

The California State University system for the first time in its history is proposing to turn away qualified students due to a worsening state budget crisis.

As part of a plan to slash its 450,000 enrollment by 10,000 students for the 2009-2010 academic year, the 23-campus system, the nation's largest, will push up application deadlines and raise the academic bar for freshmen at its most popular campuses, Chancellor Charles B. Reed said Monday.

Modest proposal: Offer more online courses. Also, video record courses so that students at all Cal State campuses can watch any course. This is pretty cheap stuff to do.

The cost of tuition in the Cal State system is pretty cheap. That's partly because the many of the classes are large. Well, why not watch those classes on pre-recorded video at the times of the students' choosing? Way more convenient. Plus, one could watch different professors at different campuses teach the same class.

Cal State currently receives $2.97 billion of its budget from the state's general fund and $1.5 billion from student fees. The system has raised fees six times in seven years. The cost of attending a Cal State college, not including housing, books and other living expenses, is about $3,800 a year.

It is a waste of labor to have someone stand up in front of a class every year at every campus and teach freshman chemistry. It is a waste of labor to do the same for basic biology, macroeconomics, microeconomics, and many other topics. Record the best lecturers on these subjects. Let students watch them. One can still offer optional extra cost discussion sections for questions.

Testing needn't be paced to a semester or trimester schedule. Develop standard online tests for these subjects. Let students file into a room with ID checks, sit down at computers, and take whatever tests they think they've prepared themselves for. This will cut the costs of lecture halls and professors. College education could be made affordable and state budget crises would cease to impact course availability and number of available slots.

The automation of education is an urgent need. Cal State Chancellor Charles B. Reed says applications to the Cal State system are up strongly. These students need video recorded lectures and online tests.

He noted that even as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was proposing more cuts, “applications for fall 2009 are up almost 20 percent from last year, with a 36 percent increase in applications from community college transfer students.”

“Student demand is increasing while state funding is declining,” the chancellor added.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2008 November 29 09:49 AM  Education

D- said at November 29, 2008 12:26 PM:

How about firing some academics, maybe those that "teach" in the Womyn's, Latino/Latina, Homosexual/Lesbian/Transgender/Perversion of Your Choice, and Negro Studies Departments? Probably not possible because deconstruction of Black Queer Literature is important stuff...

In said at November 29, 2008 2:02 PM:

Couldn't the argument be made that too many students go to college as it is? It seems like we need to figure out how to provide more low end jobs/roles so that people who are not that bright or motivated don't have to go to college.

The PC BS these days seems to be that every student should go to college. No doubt my taxes are paying for grants for students that will drop out or pass on C's and do nothing with their education.

Engineer-Poet said at November 30, 2008 4:34 PM:

If people didn't have to "go" anywhere to take classes, and the marginal cost of those classes was approximately zero, we could let them view whatever they wished and decide to take subject-matter tests at their own pace and discretion.  The cost of the system wouldn't be affected except by the number of people taking proctored tests.

We could even use the system to weed out people who shouldn't bother to physically attend higher education classes; they could go through the intro courses on-line while still in high school, or during the summer after graduation.  No pass, no attendance.  This would play hob with the affirmative action programs of the admissions departments, but if "admission" was redefined to be on-line enrollment and the failures were flunked out before they got to the point of physically attending (and expending the money to do so), we could save huge amounts of both money and misery.

Harvey Chalmers said at December 1, 2008 4:13 AM:

Modest proposal: Instead of liquidating student positions, fire 10,000 faculty and staff in departments such as ethnic and gender studies. Begin emphasizing the diversity of ideas for a change. Stop the indoctrination and start educating.

Modest proposal: Shrink the size of govenment. Start by firing 50% of state employees, then move aggressively from there. Plan to reduce state employment to 10% of current levels in no more than two years.

Modest proposal: Dissolve the State of California and divide California between neighboring states.

California's State Government is dysfunctional and cannot be saved. Any state legislators who have served more than ten years over the past 30 dysfunctional years should be dealt with, with extreme prejudice.

Jerry Martinson said at December 1, 2008 10:39 AM:

I think the first two years of nearly any undergraduate degree mainly consists of coursework that doesn't require a whole lot of physical presence. Although there are some early courses that have lab work that are useful. I see a greater potential for on-line learning in fast-forwarding math education. A large portion of the undergraduate preparation work in many technical fields is essentially doing math. You simply cannot really understand science without an enormous amount of math.

For example, a typical undergrad engineering curriculum consists of a base of work on 3 semesters of calculus, matrix&linear algebra, differential equations, a couple programming courses, stats/combinatorics, and a numerical methods class. I would argue that kids should also get a dose of boolean algebra, set theory, group theory, and number theory as well. This is basal preparation for nearly any technical field.

After that if you were to go into electrical enginnering you'd basically take more specialized math: teaching electromagnetism, the bulk of the effort is actually on the math of fields, vectors etc... Circuit theory is dependent on graph theory... Logic reviews boolean algebra, signals, system, and random signal analysis is essentially yet another unique math courses.

My point is that almost none of this requires physical presence and the base work could/should be partly done in the last year or two of high school for talented youth. While the few 'AP' classes have helped out a lot, they still are not as wide nor as deep as they should be for mathematics. This might be limited by the difficulty in getting qualified math instructors to work at high-school teacher salaries that must follow union compensation rules. I can also say that the quality of instruction in even some of the best colleges on this prep work is quite uneven, repetitive, and fragmented. The problems are that it gets taught by professors who are too specialized and that the different colleges and universities have different term lengths, symbolic notation, and instructional style.

Prior to computers and the internet it was not possible to offer such differentiated advanced curriculum to high-schoolers because it is nearly impossible to find a high school math teacher than can understand this stuff. What do today's bright youth spend their last year or two in high school doing instead? Senioritis?

Irish Savant said at December 3, 2008 12:58 PM:

Excellent point re using video for lectures, especially for large class sizes. I used to lecture in such circumstances and always thought that the students would get as much out of a recorded presentation. This would also free up lecturer time for personal interaction.

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