Monday, February 21, 2011

Esther discusses public finances and the state of public education

We talked about money at the current events group.  We started off with the problems in Wisconsin.  Richard [the moderator] said the same problems were going on in California.

Jerry Brown was proposing a 50/50 solution, half of the budget shortfall made up by cuts in services, the other half by something else, I think it's tax hikes.  Supposedly it's because retirement costs are out of control, state workers retiring with big benefits, some getting more than when they were working.

But nobody was happy about cutting services, or the cuts to higher education.  Tuition has gone up so much.  There wasn't much contention, but everybody was talking about the difference between then and now.

Richard said that when he went to Cal Berkeley, tuition was $50 per quarter.  Reagan raised it to $70 per quarter, and everybody complained, but then the next year it was $80.  When I went, when Brown was governor the first time, I could pay for my tuition on my secretary's salary.  But now kids carry huge debts when they graduate.

Another thing that's different from Richard's time is how Cal gets its money.  When Richard went, they didn't have to solicit money, they were a public university.  But now the alumni gets calls all the time, and even so, most of their money comes from tuition.  Or from the corporations that fund their research.  Funny thing is, they never call me.  But I get calls from the library asking for contributions.

We talked about endowments too.  Some college have huge endowments that pay for most scholarships, like Harvard. Harvard hired 3 men to handle their endowment fund, then fired them because they were too arrogant, and hired a woman instead.  Then the endowments were halved, so they fired her too.

And we talked about elementary school.

Richard said they back in his day, Catholics went to the parochial schools, Protestants went to private schools, and the Jews went to the public schools.  When I went to school in Philadelphia, it was really a mixture, blacks, white, Jews, Catholics.  Maybe because it was a slum neighborhood.

But I think I was lucky, I learned early in life to get along with many different kind of people.  Don't remember too many black kids when you were going to elementary school in Walnut Creek.  Were there Indians from the reservation in the school when we lived in Banning?  [Don't remember]

Things change.  When I first went to the swimming pool in Walnut Creek, I would wonder what my mother would say if she saw the scant bathing suits.  Now bikinis are nothing.  I remember the first time I saw somebody in stretch pants, it looked like she was wearing underwear in public, and I was shocked. Then I thought "Now I'm my mother."

Of course I don't get out so much, so I don't see so much.  I'm housebound now, hope to get out more come summer time.

Going to the amyloidosis support group tomorrow, a woman there's going to to talk about dealing with Cancer through imagery.  I'll tell you all about it, promise.

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