Trustees could make Cal Poly for the rich and out of staters

May 4, 2012


Cal Poly could become a campus for the children of wealthier families under the terms of an agenda item for the California State University Trustees meeting on Tuesday.

Trustees are to discuss cost-cutting measures that include turning one or two of the CSU system’s 23 campuses into charter universities. The move would free up money for the remaining universities as the charter universities became self-funding. The charter universities would rely on donations, a higher percentage of out-of-state students who pay higher fees and high tuition and fees, the board agenda reads.

“A charter campus would necessarily serve a student population with a higher income base, and the resources going to the campus would likely be much more than to other campuses,” the agenda says. “The charter campus would increase the inequity among the campuses and tend to favor the ‘haves’ over the ‘have nots.’ ”

If the CSU elects to transform one or more of the CSU system’s 23 campuses into charter schools, the two most likely candidates would be California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo and San Diego State University, California Faculty Association spokesperson Alice Sunshine said.

Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), an outspoken critic of of the CSU administration, has criticized the CSU administration for finding new and creative ways to increase salaries for administrators while “students and workers suffer.”

“This demonstrates more misplaced priorities by the CSU administration,” Yee said in an email.  “CSU is a public institution designed to serve all Californians, and not just the elite.  Moving towards a charter school model will further displace students and likely raise tuition.”

State funding would be freed up to be used at other campuses, the agenda item reads.

The plan “would be to zero out state support for a campus and set the tuition high enough at the campus to cover the costs of operations,” the agenda says. “Moving in such a direction would require selecting a campus:  a) with a distinctive mission that reaches beyond a given region; and b) with a student population with a modest need for financial aid.”

CSU spokesperson Claudia Keith discounted the likelihood of the conversion of any California State University.

“They will discuss the pros and cons but I don’t think the board is likely to make any of our schools a charter,” Keith said.

The CSU is budgeting for a $200 million budget reduction in fiscal year 2012-13, the worst case scenario, CSU officials said. Proposed cost reduction plans include shutting down one or more campuses, transferring one or more campuses into private funding by creating charter universities, discontinuing several academic programs, increasing student-faculty ratios, and/or having faculty teach additional classes, according to the agenda.

“We cannot wait until November to put a variety of these things into place,” Keith said.

The agenda item and discussion come five months after Cal Poly officials said a story on the privatization of Cal Poly by CalCoastNews was a fabrication.

CalCoastNews reported in November, on then-Provost Robert Koob’s announcement that the Cal Poly administration was working to privatize the university. Koob spoke at a Retired Faculty Association luncheon with about 50 people in attendance.

“CalPoly is on its way to becoming a private university,” Koob said. “That is where much of the nation is going and that is where CalPoly is going.”

Several attendees, including Tim O’Keefe, a political action chair for the local California Faculty Association and a member of the Retired Faculty Association, questioned Koob’s plans to privatize.

“I think what Koob said was honest and an admission that corporatization is a goal of Cal Poly and the CSU system so they can privatize and make money on the campuses,” O’Keefe said after the meeting. Shortly after the CalCoastNews story appeared, Cal Poly spokesperson Stacia Momburg said that Koob never discussed privatization.

Sunshine pointed out problems California’s kindergarten through 12 grade school districts are having with charter schools. Primarily, that charter students often perform at a lower level than students in traditional public schools.

“Just when something appears not to be working, the CSU tries it,” Sunshine said.

In addition, critics warn that university privatization generally results in much higher tuition costs, less transparency, and fewer low and middle-income students. Also, critics contend academic research by faculty can be influenced by financial interests of donor individuals and corporations.

Cal Poly has already seen the influence of corporate donors. When noted author Michael Pollan was scheduled to make a presentation at Cal Poly, donors to the university complained and threatened to withhold pledges. Pollan’s solo appearance then was turned into a panel discussion with critics of his position given equal time.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

The real losers in any move to significantly raise costs at Cal Poly, or any other university, are not the lower income students, it is the middle class. The wealthy can write a check and the lower income students simply get higher grants. After all, the feds require parents to disclose their financial lives, then tell the parents how much they will pay – and that amount remains the same whether it’s a state school or a Stanford. The middle class gets squeezed out.

Thanks to its giant endowment, Stanford is now largely no cost now to low and lower-middle income families..

That’s exactly why this system is crazy and unsustainable. That’s also why it needs to be PRIVATIZED. That’s the only way to stop this nonsense from happening. Free markets have a wonderful way of cleaning out deadwood and setting things right.

In free markets, the CUSTOMER IS KING.

Indeed, the middle class has much to lose in the welfare state–totally unfair. Speaking of the rape of the middle class, check this out:

US: Two million illegal immigrants who pay taxes using a special IRS ID card now are receiving huge refunds by claiming tax credits for children who live in Mexico. [This is costing taxpayers over $4 billion per year. The IRS is fully aware but does nothing about it.] Posted 2012 May 9

Cal Poly has been chosen for sacrifice to the alter of “free marketeers” in public education for two simple reasons:

1) The California Faculty Association [CFA] here is weak – burdened by the illusion that as professionals they are above the ugliness of real labor action (walkouts, blocking entrances, picket lines to block deliveries, etc.); and

2) San Luis Obispo is so far out of the sphere of places important to Democrats in the Legislature that they are willing to look the other way while the Trustees sacrifice our university to apply the remaining public funds for their favored schools (Humboldt, Sonoma, Sacramento, CSU East Bay, CSU San Diego).

If the CFA at Cal Poly grew a spine, and solved reason number one, the Trustees might just back up and figure out another solution.

The free market is the only salvation for Cal Poly, ultimately. The only alternative to a free market is a shrinking, waning, wasteful, corrupt, unresponsive “public service” which pleases NO ONE (except the administrators who get rich off it).

Down with monopolies!

Up with the free market!

Well done chaps…now our greedy little campus will be right in line with the rest of our over priced Nouveau Riche we have become. Always good to keep the peasants and rif raf where they belong and remind them who’s in charge.

Hot doggin truth you speak there old chap, like I always say,(learned this the hard way),

It’s their boat, seems you have more insight than most.

This is the most alarmist, one sided, and skewed article I have ever read on CCN. Karen says, “Proposed cost reduction plans include shutting down one or more campuses, transferring one or more campuses into private funding by creating charter universities, discontinuing several academic programs, increasing student-faculty ratios, and/or having faculty teach additional classes, according to the agenda.”

NOT TRUE. These are discussion items in one committee. The committee agenda makes it abundantly clear that these are not proposals – these are but a few of twelve different ideas for cutting costs, if that becomes necessary.

The beginning of the committee agenda item says clearly, “At the March meeting of the Board of Trustees, the possibility of a $200 million budget reduction in Fiscal Year 2012-13 was discussed. In addition, the steps that would be necessary to accommodate such a cut were outlined; assuming no additional revenues and the elimination of the structural deficits in the budgets over the next two fiscal years. After hearing the impact of a $200 million reduction, the board asked staff to present at the May meeting a set of alternative strategies for the board to consider. This agenda item will address various options. The options, however, are not recommendations. Instead they are a preliminary review of alternatives being proffered for trustee feedback and thoughts. Some options may, upon review, be seen as impractical for a variety of reasons. Others may be feasible, yet still raise legitimate concerns. Nevertheless, the intent is to provide a wide range of ideas that could mitigate the university’s budget shortfalls.”

This doesn’t mean the ideas are good ones, but it also doesn’t mean CCN should be yelling “fire” in a crowded theater.

And Alice Sunshine as a source? First of all, she isn’t with the California Teachers Association. She is/was the communications director for the California Faculty Association, the same university group that is set to strike at Cal Poly and other CSUs. And, with her membership or former membership in the Communist Party USA, is it any wonder she would oppose any and all of these measures? C’mon CCN, get your sources right.

Interesting that the article has been edited since my original post. It no longer refers to “proposed cost reduction plans,” presumably since there were no “proposed plans.” You are absolutely right about public agendas – and this is one. The purpose is to discuss ideas, not to act on plans. While the CCN article is now more accurate, it still refers to cost reduction “plans” which don’t exist.

As it’s being discussed in committee… Tuition is raised on CSU students as the same time as significant raises are being given to administrators and no raises are considered for faculty. Armstrong pushes through a “success fee” that has takes money directly from students and allows him to use it as he wishes. Cal Poly has a “Foundation” that operates with closed books and with no accountability. Classes and instructors are being cut at Cal Poly while new buildings are appearing on just about every available spot on campus. This all happens while things are being discussed.

The Cal Poly leadership knows what it is doing and they also know that no one can do anything to stop them. Everything Cal Poly does (and doesn’t do) should be questioned. The days of Cal Poly being a benevolent institution of higher learning are over; it’s time to watch them carefully and force them to have some accountability to the residents of California and to the students they purported are there to serve.

The Foundation is private – no public funds go there. Only the donors to the Foundation have a dog in that fight.

As to the rest, I agree there should be accountability, but if “no one can do anything to stop them,” there won’t be / can’t be.

The Foundation is private? Looks great on paper, but, when you take a look the way they operate, you’ll be disgusted. The model they use is to take a big pile of money from students, hold onto it for awhile, then give a lot less back to the school; all the time advertising what a great service they provide to everyone.

The Foundation has a parasitic relationship with students. I could go on and on, but, all you need to do is look at the “rules” at cal poly; you’ll see that the Foundation has created a monopoly. There is no competitive pricing for anything which would surely lower the prices for students for things such as books, supplies, food, etc. If the Foundation makes even a penny from students, they should have a “dog in that fight” and have some oversight into their operation.

Just like Chick-Fil-A and the other food vendors?

Never been to Chick-Fil-A, might have to go to Poly on a Saturday and try it. In the 70’s/80’s Cal Poly had the most horrid college food ANYWHERE. We thought it was just “school food” until we heard about the outstanding food at UCSB (Saga Food Services I believe). This was brought to the attention of the administration by student government, who proposed entertaining a bid from that as well as any competitors. Admin said “we can’t touch The Foundation”. Same with numerous private grants lost because “The Foundation” would not agree to exorbitant, and mandatory, “administration” fees.

The only way to get “competitive pricing” is to PRIVATIZE it.

Let them make their money the old fashioned way: EARN IT!

The public doesn’t have time to watch Cal Poly with an eagle eye like this. The state government is supposed to do that. But since government CANNOT run industries, it would be better to get the government OUT of the education business and sell off the assets to a private investor.

Then you won’t have to worry about sleepless nights wondering about where your hard-earned tax dollars are going. If you don’t attend Cal Poly, then it’s not your problem! It’s only your problem if you are a customer there! Then Cal Poly will have to watch YOUR spending habits with an eagle eye, and conform to your “price signals.” If you don’t like what you get there, you can vote with your feet!

Let Cal Poly become a private institution. Let THEM lose sleep worrying about YOU and whether YOU like their services and products or not!

Society gets more “artificially produced” people in high positions. Those who rose to the top by being …….born.

No stress tests, no natural selection or evolution at work here. Just the right degrees, wealth levels and, Viola! more of the wrong people at the helm of society as usual.

Poly can’t tap the local public for those big tutions now, like housing it was all borrowed money, that’s history.

Yes, Crusader, you just paid to educate your kid’s future competetion.

Actually, it’s “voilà.”

That would be “tuition,” and “competition.”

But you gotta admit, they were all close!

Yep. They were typos. We’re all guilty of that. I’m just a stickler for clarity. No offense.

“Yes, Crusader, you just paid to educate your kid’s future competetion.”

That’s why it would be better to sell off the assets of Cal Poly to a private investor. Then you won’t have to worry about this anymore. You won’t be involved in it anymore. The “taxpayers” problem” becomes the private investor’s problem.

Let some rich businessman worry about how to “run” Cal Poly, whom to admit, and what prices to charge. The taxpayers have had it!

So when I see a really bad idea, I always wonder who benefits from it? It could just be an idiot’s plan, but more likely someone has found a new angle. In this case, it’s rather obvious…at these new “Charter” schools there’d be no limit on executive (administrative) compensation. Of course, if a couple campus presidents were making 1-2 million a year, then they’d have to raise the Chancellor’s and Trustee’s compensation to keep it in line. Good racket if you can get it. Bad for the rest of us who have to work for a living and especially for the young adults who will someday be running the machines that keep the whole system going. Or, I guess in this case, not running the place very well…


So does that mean this new private university will repay all the California taxpayer funds that went into establishing and developing Cal Poly? With interest it must be well over $1B. Perhaps this new private university could be allowed to lease the campus until it has raised the purchase price in full?

Crusader your post indicates you would like to just sell out? Is that the case, or what’s really going on? Also it’s a little premature to speculate on what our campus is worth , hell I built half of it.

Not at all. But how could anyone be arrogant enough to take a university paid for by California taxpayers and use it cater to out of state students and only those who can afford a private school? The quote “CalPoly is on its way to becoming a private university” is downright chilling.

I’m with you 100% Crusader, my bad, misunderstood your post.

Why go half way? Why not just get the state government out of the education business once and for all (haven’t they made a mess of it?) and privatize it?

You just sell it to somebody, just like any other albatross.

““CalPoly is on its way to becoming a private university,” Koob said.“That is where much of the nation is going and that is where CalPoly is going.”

Much of the nation could be on it’s way down under and I don’t mean austraila, kooks, why do we have such morons in positions of power , who inevitably will abuse these positions we put the morons in, oh I forgot, he bought his office.

Why would the nation be going under just because a university gets sold to somebody in the private sector? Do you want to live in utopia or the real world?

“In addition, critics warn that university privatization generally results in much higher tuition costs, less transparency, and fewer low and middle-income students”.

Well, well, well, is it any different than it’s alway’s been, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

Even if the “morons” were philosopher kings, that would still not mean that they would have enough wisdom or brains to run the education system of an entire state. I contend that they CANNOT do it.

Evidence? Our “public education systems” are collapsing all around us, all over the place! They are also brainwashing our young people with NWO crap which poisons their minds and dulls their senses.

When government apparatchiks run our schools, they run them like “collective farms.” What else could we expect? Have we not seen enough of the miserable failures of socialist enterprises? Why should the public schools generate any other ideas in our heads but WASTE, FRAUD, AND FAILURE VIA ECONOMIC COLLAPSE?

Why should we fear the privatization of Cal Poly or any other “public university”?

I say that we SHOULD NOT!

There is nothing going on in the public schools which could not be cured by a healthy dose of PRIVATE ENTERPRISE!

Wow , what did you do buy stock?

While I agree that public education has myriad problems — particularly in this state — I have far less faith in the private sector to solve those problems than you do. Examples abound in other fields of private industry being as inept as government — due in large part to their ability to buy political protection from government. You can find numerous examples both locally (developers) and nationally (health insurance, investment banking, etc., ad nauseum) of these cases. Perhaps the best and most appropriate example would be the abuses and profiteering within another government function that has been moving towards privatization — prisons.

I don’t know what the solution is — or even if there is a viable one — but I think that the state would be unwise to put one of its best institutions in a position where it must function as a status symbol for the elite to survive. All capable students should have access to the best education if the interests of all the citizens of the state are to be held foremost.

Somehow, I have doubts that this would occur if Poly was, in essence, privatized as a charter school. The elite should be able to afford to pay their own way if they want to pass on their status to their children. They should not receive government help in turning their descendents into the American economic version of royalty. We need more Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniaks, not more Paris Hiltons or Kardashians.

What I have said about privatization must be taken with the understanding that the rule of law and the characteristics of truly free markets are IN FORCE. Right now, they are not! What we have now is CRONY COLLECTIVISM.

Isn’t “buy[ing] political protection from government” exactly what the masters of deception at Cal Poly have ALREADY done?

Let public opinion and the free market decide what gets taught, where, and at what price!

A free market is not just some rigid abstraction; it is a large number of flesh and blood people making individual choices about what they want in life. That’s the way a free society should be!

What do we have now? Collective farm education which could not calculate its way out of a proverbial paper bag! It’s run by greedy apparatchiks who no more care about your child’s education than the Man in the Moon.

A free market would force the producers to please the consumers at the price that the average person could afford, or GO OUT OF BUSINESS.

A crony collectivist market will also eventually force the producers out of business because they CANNOT calculate or meet demand. How else can you explain the inability of colleges and universities to meet consumer demand when it is rising? They are cutting back when they should be expanding! You know something is wrong with the economic system when producers do this! They do it because they cannot economically calculate, they cannot handle the huge information flow of this industry, and they do everything by government fiat, i.e., as if it were a “science.” Well, it’s junk economic science because it doesn’t work and it never will.

Education is not an exact science. Neither is the economics of education. But the government bureaucrats treat them as if they were. Education is permeated with junk science. Our schools are run like science labs where the students are the rats and the taxpayers are the dupes. The whole education system is set up like a giant science lab, for that matter. “Scientism” is a recipe for totalitarianism.

Free market economics is the only way to clear our heads on this, clear out the deadwood, and purge our state of the economic malinvestment which is “public education” (i.e., government education).

Imagine Walmart being “unable” to meet demand!

Not a chance.

Imagine this headline:

Wal-Mart officials freeze customer base.

We don’t really HAVE a true private sector with the rule of law which supports it. What we have is CRONY COLLECTIVISM. If there were any legitimate reason for your uneasiness, that would be it.

Crony Collectivism consists of partnerships between greedy, criminal businessmen and corrupt government officials. That is the criminal logjam which is stopping needed economic and political reform all the way around in this country.

That is the reason that education will not be reformed, NOT because the free market cannot ultimately resolve the problems. Education needs a completely FREE MARKET supported by the rule of law. As long as this does not come to pass, you will never see the end of these problems with “public education.”