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February 03, 1984 - Image 4

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1984-02-03

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OPINION

Page 4
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan
420 Maynard St.
Vol. XCIV-no. 103 Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board

Friday, February 3, 1984

The Michigan Daily

Reviving the 'middle child'

Budgetary dreams

BEING PRESIDENT of the United
States is a tough job. But being.
President when .you are seeking
reelection is even tougher because you
have to try to please everyone and
still remain faithful to the party line.
Ronald Reagan is trying to do just that
with his proposed $925 billion budget;
getting this budget to pass as an effec-
tive solution to our country's problems
might be the toughest thing of all.
In his budget message to Congress,
Reagan chose once again to ignore his
chief economic advisor Martin Feld-
stein's recommendation to increase
taxes by some $50 billion in 1985. He
also chose to ignore Budget Director
David Stockman's prediction that
deficits would rise over $200 billion. In-
stead, he proposes a three year $100
billion "downpayment" on the deficit
which offers no real relief but leaves
the burden on future administrations.
While he is slow to feed money into a
plan to reduce the deficit, President
Reagan's budget is bent on returning
military spending to a level greater
than that achieved in 1968$ - when
there were 500,000 American troops in
Vietnam. Reagan is no coward; his
budget will cut domestic spending so

he can delay a tax increase and also
foot the bill for his military spending.
Reagan's proposed 9.3 percent in-
crease in military spending will be, if
approved, the largest military budget
since World War II
Clearly Reagan is budgeting money
on shakey ground. He hopes to convin-
ce Congress and the public that he can
raise military spending, balance the
budget,. cut taxes without hurting the
poor, and raise revenue by eliminating
"waste, fraud, and abuse." These are
the same things he promised in 1980.
Somehow that miracle plan didn't
work out. Once in office, the President
made proposals for sharp reductions irk
welfare, Medicaid, food stamps, job
training, and other programs
benefiting the poor.
Reagan's budget talk gives his ad-
ministration credit for the drop in
unemployment and inflation rates but
avoids the more delicate issues such as
how increases in aid to Central
America. will be carried out.
Voters should not be deceived by
Reagan's attempt to mask his
priorities. His budgetary leanings are
too readily apparent.

By Mary Elen Leary
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The bitter
wrangle which dominated California politics
over the last eight months seemed to involve
partisan strife and tax money.
But something much more important was
at stake.
AT ROCK BOTTOM, the dispute was over
whether to keep or abandon an ideal once
wholeheartedly embraced by most states but
lost everywhere but here in California: free
access to higher education for all who ask,.
whatever their age, sex, or skill.
Now that last holdout finally has
capitulated.
And this may reflect the fact that the com-
munity colleges have become the step-
children of American higher education -
Cinderellas with no prince, party, or fairy
godmother in sight.
FIRST established in Illinois in 1896 and en-
thusiastically welcomed across the country in
the years that followed, these schools once
allowed the United States to boast tuition-
free higher education for all.
But in recent years, financially pressed
state legislatures one by one have
relinquished this idea. Community college
fees across the country now average $558 per
year."
California, with 106 campuses, 1.4 million
students, and a $3.41 billion budget, has the
nation's largest community college system.
BUT NOW, after more than 75 years
without tuition, these schools will levy an
"academic fee" of up to $100 a year. The
charge comes as part of an uneasy com-
promise between Republican Gov. George
Deukmejian and the Democratic-dominated
legislature. The lawmakers still refuse to call
the fee tuition.
It seems a piddling sum, but the
Democratic leadership clung tenaciously to
the concept embodied in the 1907 law which
holds that two-year colleges will have "open
admission" for "anyone who can benefit."
This access is especially critical now in
California because the crowded state univer-

sity and college system admits only students
in the top third of their high school graduating
classes.
FOR LATE bloomers, for those handicap-
ped by poverty, language or cultural or ethnic
disadvantages, community colleges are the
only route upward - because transfer from
them to a four-year college is relatively easy
for steady students.
The California battle seemed to dramatize
the Democrats as champions of the poor vs.
the Republican desire for fiscal respon-
sibility.'
But on a more important level, the struggle
brings focus on a nationwide crisis. In our
fast-changing economy, the mission of the
two-year community college has become
blurred and public support has waned. Yet
these schools serve 12 million students across
the country, nearly half in credit courses.
AS DR. JAMES Gollattscheck of the
American Association of Community and
Junior Colleges puts it, they suffer the "mid-
dle child" syndrome.
Everywhere we hear calls for
strengthening elementary and secondary
education so the next generation can cope
with a more complex world - most loudly at
the local level, often from businessmen.
Business is even more firmly behind im-
provements at the other end of the
educational family, in colleges and univer-
sities where research fashions critical advan-
ces. In fact, with business backing, state
spending for four-year higher education has
leaped a reported 12 percent in the past two
years, with California and South Dakota alone
off the track.
IN CALIFORNIA, spending in this area ac-
tually declined until this year when Governor
Deukmejian, partly spurred by business
leaders worried over the state's academic
standing, proposed funding increases of up to
30 percent in the state's higher education
system.
But there was no such rescue rally for the
two-year community college - though they
were hit hard by Proposition 13, which wiped
out over half the local tax base and shifted
responsibility for an intrinsically local in-
stitution into the hands of distant lawmakers.

This showed last year when the legislature,
trying to trim "fat," sliced $30 million from
the community colleges.
SMALL WONDER'there were fresh cries of
pain. So many courses had to be eliminated
and so many part-time teachers were laid off
that enrollment fell by more than 100,000
students. So much maintenance was cut that
some students came to class with umbrellas
for protection against leaking roofs.
In all states, community colleges serve
students of modest or tardy academic ap-
titude - a higher proportion of them im-
migrants, Hispanics and blacks, and including
many women aiming to support their families
and working at daytime jobs - precisely the
aspiring population they were designed to
serve.
But the nationwide shift to state funding has
diminished local say over needed programs.
And today's economy may offer many low-
paid unskilled service jobs but has scant need
for the basic craft skill that industry once
wanted and community colleges once
featured.
IN ADDITION, the recession put a crimpin
the enthusiasm of more affluent times, for
"lifetime learning." Today's budget makers
have little patience for such frivolity. ,1
Community colleges continue to do . a
superb and essential job in areas like training
electronics technicians, health workers and
those interested in the new communication
technologies - and in supporting work habits
and attitudes.
In California, the vehement insistence on
keeping an "open door" may stir business
and civic leaders.
That might be cause for hope. For if this
"middle child" receives the enthusiastic sup-
port now poured on the top and bottom of the
educational system, two-year colleges might
significantly reduce the over-large number of
young people who are out of work and see no
chances for employment.
Leary is the West Coast correspondent
for the Economist. She wrote this article
for the Pacific News Service.

(CXAaE-c +lrA nrvrir

HEN IT WAS discovered that the
military had been paying
thousands of dollars for hardware
store nuts and bolts - one bill for a ten
cent plastic cap ran into four digits -
officials couldn't explain how over-
sights like that could be made. It is now
clear, however, that the oversights oc-
cured because military officials had
'-their minds on an area of even more
rampant waste - the ROTC program.
Until recently ROTC cadets have
been able to get a full scholarship for
their freshmen and sophomor years,
and then drop out just before they are
forced to commit to six. more years in
the military. It's called "two and
screw" and a surprisingly large num-
ber of cadets have taken the opportunity
to do just that. In fact, 75 percent of the
< freshman Air Force cadets fail to
complete the program through their
senior year. While not all of those
cadets had the intention of dropping
out after two free years, the military
and Congress have taken action to
discourage those that did.
In a laudable crackdown on waste,
Congress has enacted a law that

GJIIvw aIIl It uII
requires cadets on a scholarship to
commit after only one year. It is
reassuring to know that with all of the
waste going on in other sectors of
government, at. least this part of the
military will be operating in a manner
that is fiscally responsible.
It is also heartening to see so many
college students responding to high
tuition rates with such ingenuity. It's in
vogue to speak of declining
educational standards, but the cunning
exercised by these young cadets in get-
ting two years of free tuition bears
testimony to our strong education
system.
One aspect worthy of concern is the
apparent lack of respect for the
military seen in those who have attem-
pted to beat the system. Maybe if the
military stopped buying trinkets for
thousands of dollars it could earn back
some of that respect. On the other
hand, as long as there are individuals
willing to screw the military for their
own benefit, there will always be sup-
pliers selling the military paper clips
for hundreds of dollars.

Stewart

/ V ' st

DIG IN DEEPER?
HOW FAR UNDER
1>0 THE MEN ?six FEET.,
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7

Bouvia doesn't speak for all disabled

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By Mark O'Brian
Elizabeth Bouvia's demand to be
starved to death at a California
hospital has sparked special con-
troversy among disabled people.
Though most of us support
Bouvia's right to die, we are up-
set by her desire to die publicly.
For years, we have been trying to
shed the image of "hopeless in-
valid." Having a disabled person
strengthen and popularize this
image is both embarrassing and
exasperating.
IRVING KENNETH Zola, a
sociology professor at Brandeis
University who is himself
disabled, finds her action
"profoundly disturbing." He sees
it as part of a growing tendency
to place personal problems into

Bouvia "doesn't seem to be
nearly as disabled as a lot of
people I know." He shares a
worry expressed by many
disabled people - that Bouvia's
actions could make able-bodied
people think we all feel as
hopeless as she apparently does.
Whether she wants it or not.
Bouvia has received more atten-
tion than any able-bodied person
in' the same situation would
receive. And some, like Cheryl
Wade, a disabled teacher and
writer, see this as hypocritical.
"I'd like to see the able-bodied
screaming about all the young
women like that who will never
spend a day of their lives outside
institutions," she says. "The only
time I ever wanted to kill myself
was when I thought there were no
BLOOM COUNTY

options." Wade describes her
early 20s when she was living at
home and had no notion of what
was available to disabled people.
"Watching TV day after day, you
know, the sleeping pills looked
real good to me."
ALL AGREE on the
psychological importance of op-
tions. They also agree that, as
Jones points out, government
cutbacks mean "there are fewer
options now. I'm surprised there
haven's been more people like
Bouvia."
Still, Bouvia's action is puz-
zling. Perhaps it is true that a
lack of options, a lack of freedom,
can cause anyone - disabled or
not - to.contemolate death as a
solution. But Bouvia has had op-
tions. She has lived on her own

and supported herself as a social
worker. She planned to have a
child and seek a master's degree.
Paradoxically, Elizabeth
Bouvia has demonstrated her
power - the power she shares
with all disabled people - to in-
fluence the imaginations Hof
others. All the more frustrating,
then, that she is wasting lir
power for death instead of using
it for life.
O'Brian is a quadriplegic who
is working toward a master s
degree in journalism at tre
University. of California.,
Berkeley. He wrote this artidl
for the Pacific News Service.-'
by erk aArn.ethm

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