The Corner

Education

Another One of Jerry Brown’s Absurd Dreams

California Governor Jerry Brown in 2014 (Max Whittaker/Reuters)

California’s governor is full of big-government dreams. In today’s Martin Center article, Professor David Clemens writes about his plan for a big expansion of higher education in the state. Like all “progressives,” Brown looks at a problem and thinks, “How can more government solve this?” instead of “What has government done to cause this?”

Specifically, Brown wants a huge expansion of community college so that millions of workers (Brown calls them “stranded”) who don’t have any post-high-school education credentials can get them. The state already has lots of community colleges and most of them offer online courses, so it’s pretty easy for anyone who thinks that more formal education would be beneficial to get it. Clemens writes,

If those “stranded” workers are not making use of existing educational programs that could benefit them, it is hard to see why a new layer of educational offerings will suddenly motivate them to get the training they supposedly need.

A big problem that Brown and his supporters ignore is that most of the targeted workers just are not cut out for or interested in taking online college courses. Politicians may believe that everyone is yearning for more education, but Clemens (who has many years of experience teaching at a community college) knows otherwise. Most of them, he observes, aren’t competent in English — or in Spanish.

Another distressing aspect of Brown’s idea is that it would make the schools responsible for student “success.” To keep the money flowing, administrators will pressure faculty to make sure that students don’t fail. The result will be lots more make-believe education at taxpayer expense.

Clemens concludes,

Many Americans have heard about Governor Brown’s ludicrously expensive high-speed rail plan that nobody thinks will ever serve more than a tiny number of riders. (If not, here is an instructive editorial.) His COC plan is the educational equivalent. So typical of “progressive” politicians, his solution to a perceived problem is a prodigiously expensive new state program.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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