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A Supreme Ruling: more than 41,000 winners

Rosemary Joyce, professor of anthropology | June 7, 2011

Yesterday, the US Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of a California judge’s ruling last year on a California state policy that treats graduates of California high schools as residents for the purposes of tuition, regardless of their immigration status.

The immediate beneficiaries of their order dismissing the appeal, according to the LA Times, are

the estimated 41,000 students — less than 1% of total enrollment — at UC, Cal State and community college campuses who qualify for the in-state discount under the 10-year-old state law. Some of those are illegal immigrants and others are U.S. citizens who attended California high schools but whose families then moved. UC estimates that 600 of them are undocumented; Cal State and community colleges say they don’t have that information.

Several things about this statistical summary leapt out at me.

First, there is the parenthetical phrase, “less than 1% of total enrollment”. Including that phrase in the story makes it seem like the issue should be subject to some sort of percentage cutoff. While the legal case was won, the propaganda case will be lost unless we insist that it does not matter how many students fall into this category: they graduated from California high schools, and they deserve the same chance at a college education here as all their peers.

Second, and reinforcing the idea that the moral point has been lost, there is that continued desire to know how many of the estimated 41,000 beneficiaries are undocumented immigrants. Immigration status is, as the responses from the CSU and community colleges indicate, not even relevant to college admissions. What is relevant is the preparation students bring to the challenge of gaining a college degree. That is what tells us whether the students we admit will go on to form the highly educated workforce that California has depended on.

And that leads me to my conclusion. There aren’t just 41,000 beneficiaries of this decision. There are more than 37 million beneficiaries– the entire population of the state.

We all benefit.

As William G. Tierney, director of USC’s Center for Higher Education Policy Analysis, is quoted as saying in the LA Times,

“It’s good economic policy for the state to have more educated workers. We do not have enough now for high-wage, high-skilled jobs”.

Educated workers are what drives the economy of California. Why on earth would we not want an educated work force?

Comments to “A Supreme Ruling: more than 41,000 winners

  1. No Nancy we don’t all benefit. Statistically most of these people will major in humanities or soft sciences. If you can make a case for how a whole new crop of anthropologist, sociologist, and ethnic studies graduates are of any economic benefit to anyone save the academics in these fields who need new crops of students to maintain their department’s charade of relevance in a pragmatic modern world, I’d love to hear it.

  2. Professor Joyce, thank you for championing education at a most critical time.

    The worst problem we have is male domination of the hierarchies that determine the current and future success of America’s education system. There have been far too many political and intellectual failures that threaten this most important cornerstone of democracy, and it is time for a change in leadership culture that actually emphasizes leadership that will produce the most positive results with the required urgency.

    Claude Fischer’s recent post on “Women graduating” gives us the answer to the question of what we must do to save American education today when he documented the fact that “This year, about 3 women will get their B.A. degrees for every 2 men who do.”

    It’s time to take the ERA to the ultimate level of equal rights for women that produces more women in leadership positions in education, in politics and in all of our social, economic, scientific and religious institutions. Men have failed to such a degree that our social stability is once again threatened more than ever before in American history and we must make the right things happen today.

    Now that you have brought this up, I look forward to your leadership in this effort.

    • Too bad the movement to promote women into majority leadership positions is a dead issue today, the fights for equal rights after the 1970s seem to have died out due to the no one really cares syndrome.

      This proves once again that men rule regardless of how bad things get, even now that the U.S. Congress is totally dysfunctional to the point where American Democracy is devolving back into a Tory type aristocracy our Founding Fathers thought they had destroyed forever in the 1770s.

      Our rise and fall only appears to be lasting a few decades beyond 200 years because greed triumphs every time, the same failure mode experienced by all civilizations before ours.

      We keep proving that We Never Learn. But I still hope the generation that includes our youngest “41,000 winners” will find a way to save themselves because all older generations since WWII have failed to protect their future.

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