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Last updated 12/07/09


Joint Committee to Develop a Master Plan for Education
Kindergarten through University
August 24, 1999

Testimony of Dr. Clark Kerr

Senator Alpert -- thank you for your kind introduction -- and members of the joint committee.  Let me say first of all how much I appreciate this opportunity to meet with you.  Someone remembered that forty years ago this month, I was involved in originating the efforts to get what was then the Master Plan of 1960.  And the prospect of coming here today has brought back a great many memories to me of that effort, and also an appreciation for the tremendous task which you're undertaking.  I think the problem which you have placed before yourselves is a much more complex one and much more important to the future of this state, than what we faced in 1960.  I hope to be helpful to you although I realize that I come from a long way back in the past of forty years ago, and that the situation has changed really enormously from what it was in 1960 to the year 2000.  I'd like to say how much I welcome the fact that you've enlarged your scope from just higher education to all of education from kindergarten through the Ph.D.

In 1960 we were concentrating only on higher education.  And you are, I think quite wisely, looking at the totality of education. In 1960, and I think to some extent today, there has been an enormous gap between primary and secondary education and higher education.  We didn't know each other.  We weren't concerned with each others' problems.  We lived in worlds apart.  And I think that was a great mistake in 1960 to act that way, and I think you've made a wise decision to look at the totality of education in the year 2000.  I might say we concentrated only on higher education partly because we then thought that primary and secondary education were in very good condition in California, that we had the best primary and secondary systems in the whole United States.  That's no longer true today.  And as a consequence, you have to be concerned with primary and secondary education as we did not have to in 1960.  

Also, in 1960, the great and overheated problem was whether or not the state colleges, as they were then called, would give the Ph.D. degree as well as the University of California.  That was in everybody's mind, and consequently we concentrated at the higher education level and neglected primary and secondary.  In the meantime, we've discovered how interrelated our problems really are.  The primary and secondary schools send to higher education the students who then become our students and the better prepared they are the better higher education can be.  As primary and secondary education deteriorates it almost inevitably means a prospect of deterioration in higher education as well.  And then in return, we prepare the teachers and the administrators for primary and secondary schools.  Our admission requirements determine a good deal of what happens in the curricula at these lower levels.  Higher education also has been counted upon to give some guidance to primary and secondary education.  However, the guidance which has been given, in my judgment, has been almost zero and sometimes even of a negative value.

Back in 1960, we were concerned with just one issue compared with the many issues which you have  before you, and that was how to handle the tidal wave of students that was coming our way.  We'd faced nothing like that before.  These were the children of the World War II GIs, and at that time, there was a tremendous sense of responsibility to the GIs who had given their time and sometimes their lives to the defense of the United States.  We had some obligation to look after their children, and as I went around the state talking about the Master Plan I never met a single word of regret that the State of California should spend whatever was necessary in terms of financial support, to take care of the children of the GIs.  There was a tremendous sense of patriotism and responsibility which affected what we did.  In any event, we concentrated solely on the tidal wave and not on many other issues which we didn't fully understand at that time but which are so important.  

This afternoon, I do not want to spend much time going back over all the details of the Master Plan.  I have here  a copy of a chapter of some memoirs which I'm now writing for the University of California Press and there is a chapter on the Master Plan, and I will leave a copy with your chair for anybody who wants to take a look at it.  It talks about what we were confronted with and what we did and all the negotiations.  What I'd like to do instead is to make only a brief comment on what we tried to do at that time.  Then I shall make a second comment, likewise briefly, on how well I think that plan worked out and where I think there have been major disappointments.  And then I would like to turn to the question of how the situation is different for you, and I think it is in very major ways different from what it was for us in 1960.  

Let me say a word about where I come from.  First of all, back in 1960, I was very much involved in all of education in the State of California.  That was forty years ago. 
In the meantime, I've remained as an interested spectator but not an involved participant, and I realize I'm speaking as a voice from the past and not as a person who is as well informed as all of you are about the current situation.  I have read the various reports that have been made on the Master Plan in the intervening years and most recently, the report of the Citizens Commission under the chairmanship of Harold Williams, and I follow some of the relevant literature.  

The book which has most impressed me, and I hope all of you have had a chance to read it or will read it, is the volume of Peter Schrag who for twenty years was  editor of the editorial page of the McClatchy Press here in Sacramento.  His book is called Paradise Lost, and in a way that is the theme which I want to present this afternoon -- paradise lost and the possibility that you may help bring about a paradise regained.  Peter Schrag in his book talks about the 1960s having been a magic moment in the history of the State of California.  Part of the magic, as he sees it, was the Master Plan and what it opened up for the future of the state.  He refers to that magic moment as having been a model and a magnet for the entire United States.  He then goes into what he calls "paradise lost" and why that happened.  

So let me say I appear before you really as someone coming from out of the 1960s.  First of all, I retain the great sense of optimism which existed in that decade and particularly optimism about the contributions that can be made by greater opportunity for all of our citizens.  I realize that for many people in the United States, that spirit of the 1960s, that spirit of optimism and belief in the quality of opportunity, has faded away, that the New Frontier is a long way behind us as is the so-called Great Society, that we no longer feel the same debt of obligation to the incoming students today as we did toward the children of the GIs in the 1960s.  And so I realize that in my sense of optimism and commitment toward equality of opportunity, I may be out of touch with some of the spirit of the public in the year 1999. 

What did we try to do in 1960?  First of all, we faced this enormous tidal wave, 600,000 students added to higher education in California in a single decade.  There were  new campuses that had to be built, faculty members that had to be hired, and so forth, and it looked like an absolutely enormous, perhaps even impossible, challenge before us.  We started out in our Master Plan asking the state to commit itself, despite the size of this enormous tidal wave, to create a place in higher education for every single young person who had a high school degree or was otherwise qualified so that they could be sure, if they got a high school degree or became otherwise qualified that they would have a place waiting for them.  That was our first and basic commitment.  I might say it was the first time in the history of any state in the United States, or any nation in the world, where such a commitment was made -- that a state or a nation would promise there would be a place ready for every high school graduate or person otherwise qualified.  It was an enormous commitment, and the basis for the Master Plan.  

Then we faced the problem: who should do what among the community colleges, the state colleges, and the University of California?  We decided the community colleges should be open to every single qualified person, 100% admissions.  We then decided that the state colleges should take the top one-third of the graduates of the state's high schools.  This was a great percentage reduction for them.  Earlier requirements had varied a great deal from one state college to another but ran generally in the range of 50 to 60 percent of high school graduates. And then the University of California, which traditionally had taken about the top 15 percent of the high school graduates, would make eligible the top 12 ½ percent.

We proposed that there be a community college established within driving range of almost every person in the State of California, and that meant increasing the number of community colleges from about fifty to over one hundred.  It became by all odds the most accessible community college system in the nation.  For the state colleges to meet their commitment meant raising the number of campuses from thirteen to twenty-two.  Some of them with several locations.  For the University of California, we proposed an increase from five to eight general campuses plus  the San Francisco Medical Center.  

We also changed the assignments that the different institutions had.  We asked the community colleges to do more than they'd ever done before in the way of transfer programs.  And we asked CSU (as it is now called) and the University of California to reserve places at the upper division level to take care of all these transfer students that would come along.  Then, we asked the teachers' colleges to greatly expand the amount of teacher training they undertook, and they have become and have been for many years, the major source of the teachers in the State of California.  

We also gave CSU what they never had before -- a governing board of their own.  They had reported to the State Board of Education, which was so busy with primary and secondary education that it paid very little attention to the state colleges.  We proposed to give them their own board, as the legislature later did.  We also established a joint Ph.D. program whereby the state colleges could join with a campus of the University of California in giving a Ph.D. degree. We also provided that state college faculty members should be encouraged to undertake  research that fell within the facilities made available to what were primarily teaching institutions.  We also gave access to all the faculty members in the state colleges to the great library resources of the University of California which are the greatest resources available in any university in any place around the world, and those resources of the University of California became available to every faculty member of all the state colleges.  The University of California retained responsibility for the Ph.D. degree and specialized research facilities, for providing cooperation in establishing the joint Ph.D. and access to its libraries.  

Let me turn for a moment to my evaluation of the Master Plan as it worked out.  First of all, it survived.  Originally, the plan was for 1960 to 1975 which was the duration of the tidal wave.  It was a "tidal wave master plan."  Nineteen Seventy Five is now twenty-five years behind us, and the Master Plan has gone on for forty years, virtually unchanged despite the several reviews which have taken place.  It has become, as the chair mentioned earlier, something of a model not only for other states in the United States but really for the world.  And we still have people coming to look at our Master Plan.  I have seen delegations come to my office in just the last few months from places like Japan and China, Norway, Sweden, Brazil, and a number of other countries.  And, throughout the United States, most of our fifty states, in one way or another, have followed what we did, which was to create one segment for universal access, maintain a second segment, dedicated not to teacher training alone as historically had been the case, but to add a polytechnic approach where the second segment would prepare people in business administration, engineering, computer science, and so forth across the board.  At the time of the Master Plan, the state colleges had to ask for permission from the University of California to give new master's degree programs.  Each request gave rise to a lot of controversy, and frequently the University of California would not agree, which meant the state colleges couldn't move ahead in the polytechnic direction.  But in the Master Plan we said, "The whole MA level is available to you, and we hope you make good use of it."  And then the Plan called for, at the third level, the maintenance of a research university.  This has become the pattern, one way or another, across the nation and is becoming somewhat the pattern around the world.  

The guarantee of places for all high school graduates or otherwise qualified persons is a guarantee which has been kept.  During the tidal wave of the 1960s and early 1970s, nobody was turned away.  This was a guarantee which was made by the Board of Regents of the University of California, by the State Board of Education, by the Community College Association, by the private institutions.  It was made by the Assembly.  It was made by the Senate, made by the Governor of the State of California, and it was a commitment that called for billions and billions of dollars of investment and a commitment which at the time not everybody thought we could keep.  But it was kept.  It was a great success for the State of California.  We not only wanted to have everybody be admissible to some segment of higher education, but we also wanted to have an institution within driving distance of every person in the state where physically possible, and this became possible throughout the state with the exceptions of some very remote areas.  

Over this forty-year period, we have met the needs of the California labor market.  There have been no major deficits of trained people in any field that I know of in the State of California because of lack of production from these three segments of higher education.  And also, at least temporarily, it settled the conflict between the state colleges and the University of California as to who would do what.  

But there were some disappointments, or at least disappointments to me, as one of the participants in the Master Plan development.  Today the proportion of high school graduates who go to a community college and then on to a four-year institution in California is below the national average, after having been by all odds the leader in years past.  Twenty percent of community college students in California transfer to CSU and the University of California.  The national average is somewhat higher than that.  There are great discrepancies in terms of transfers -- very few from colleges in some of the rural areas, and in some areas nobody at all transfers, and there are very few transfers from disadvantaged urban areas.  There are at least six junior colleges in the state which have transferred six or fewer students within the recent years.  At the other end of the spectrum, there is one community college which has been transferring almost seven hundred students a year.  That discrepancy between nobody at all and almost seven hundred in one of them is absolutely enormous in terms of the opportunities offered for young people.  I will use the word "disgrace" three times this afternoon, and one of the areas where I'm going to use the word disgrace is the variation in the number of junior college transfers that go on to upper division work in the CSU or the UC system.  I think it's disgraceful that we should have fewer transfers from Community Colleges than the national average, and a disgrace that we have such tremendous discrepancies from one community college to another.  It's really abhorrent to think that there should be that much difference between the opportunities provided by some community colleges as against others.  

In terms of disappointments, I have also been somewhat disappointed that there has been less use made of the joint Ph.D. degree than we envisioned in 1960.  I think this is in part because during this period of time, we generally had a national surplus in Ph.D. training, and so there wasn't as much necessity for the joint Ph.D. as we once thought, but I think there are some other reasons as well.  I might note, however, that there have been about two hundred of these joint Ph.D. graduates up until the present time, and currently, there are three hundred students in joint Ph.D. programs among the two segments.  So it hasn't been a complete loss by any means, but there has been less development of it than I thought would happen in 1960.  

Another area where I think there's been a deficit is that we have not been as much concerned with the perpetuation of the private sector as I thought appropriate in 1960.  In 1960, I made a proposal which nobody else even on our commission picked up, which was that the Master Plan ask the State of California to make a commitment to try to preserve the private segment of higher education at a 20 percent level of the total enrollments in the State of California.  I was recommending that the private sector be maintained at what was then its level, not just for the sake of the private sector itself, but also because of its contribution to the public sector as well. We in the public sector ought to be welcoming the private sector; for example, as a model in providing care for individual students and concern for them.  They, by and large, do a better job than in the public sector.  They also set standards as to what are reasonable costs for producing degrees, and also they set standards for the academic autonomy of their institutions for the state segments to follow.  Likewise, the private sector is somewhat freer to experiment with new initiatives than is the public sector and this keeps all of us on our toes.  Additionally, the public sector cannot provide the religious environment that some students and parents want.  And so I recommended that the State of California set as a goal to maintain the proportion of enrollments in the private institutions as then existed, and that was the twenty percent.  In the meantime, it has dropped to 10 percent.  I would hope that you might give consideration to some commitment to the maintenance of the private sector, for what it does for the people of the state, and what it does for public higher education, not to fall much below that.  It is becoming, I think, a minimum level at which it can have a big and useful impact. 

Another area where I've been somewhat disappointed is in the rise of tuition at the community college level.  We came out against tuition at the UC, CSU and the community colleges, but  the one we really meant and strongly believed in was at the community college level, the entry level, and tuition there has gone up quite rapidly.  I think it would be too bad if the rises of recent years were to be continued, and deny opportunity to a lot of young people because they do not have financial resources.  So I have these disappointments, at the same time  being very proud of the fact that the State of California made some commitments to the young people of the state and that these commitments have been met over so many years.  

Now, let me turn next to the question of  how the situation today differs from what it was in 1960.  I think you have a much more difficult assignment than we had.  At that time, we faced only the tidal wave and not some other things which you now face, which I'll come to in a moment.  But actually, the tidal wave in 1960 was not all that much larger than the Tidal Wave II that you are facing now.  In 1960, in one decade we increased enrollment in the public sector by 600,000 students.  It's estimated that, in a similar period this time around, the estimate coming from the Citizens Commission Report recently, that you'll face 500,000 to 550,000, almost the same size.  My own guess is that these estimates may turn out to be somewhat low; that the actual number which you face for the future may be at the same level of that enormous tidal wave we faced in 1960.

Beyond facing the tidal wave, which was our sole concern then, you face at least two other developments which are going to put pressure on education as never before.  The first is globalization of the economy.  We are now in competition clear around the world.  For the United States to be competitive in penetrating markets around the world and for industries within the United States to survive in the face of international competition, it's going to take a vastly increased competence in our labor force.  We can't compete in low labor costs, with Bangladesh and countries like that.  We have to compete in terms of the skill of our human resources.  And so we face this international competition in the year 2000 and beyond as we never did in 1960.  We really have to cherish every young person who enters the labor force and assure that they do so at the highest level of competence.  

Another thing which we're facing which will bedevil us for the whole twentieth century is the aging population.  In 1960, 6 percent of the population was over 65.  In 1996, it was 13 percent.  And for 2030, it's estimated at over 20 percent.  This means there will be more and more people outside the labor force to be supported by those inside the labor force.  On top of the people over sixty-five, you have all the younger generation, people in prisons, people in the armed forces, people who are handicapped, and so forth.  And so we're going to need, as we face the future, with a smaller proportion of our total population in the employed labor force, to be concerned with the ability and the motivation of all members of the labor force in order to support this heavier and heavier burden of the non-productive population.  

So I would say that the situation which we face now is far more severe than it was in 1960.  The tidal wave is about the same in size, but we'll be facing some new challenges in globalization of the economy and the changing composition of the total population.  To survive the next century without too much trouble, we also need to maintain our level of research and development. In terms of increases in new resources, it is estimated by economists that 40 to 60 percent of our additional resources each year are due to research and development activity, particularly in American universities.  Another 20 percent of the increased resources each year are based upon the rising skill levels of our population.  In other words, 60 to 80 percent are really dependent upon education in terms of research and development and skills of the labor force.  That means we have to, as I said a moment ago, cherish every potential member of the labor force coming along so that they are well educated so that they are well motivated for making their contributions to society.  We also need to keep, of course, the 1960 commitment that there will be places for all of them if they're qualified.  

 Now let me say, and this may seem like a strong phrase to you, that I think it's a suicidal route for the State of California, and also for the United States, if we keep on losing ground, as Peter Schrag points out that we've done for the past twenty or thirty years.  If we keep on losing ground for another twenty years, or another forty or sixty or eighty or a hundred years, as we have in the past twenty, we're on a suicidal road route for the State of California and for the nation.  And so, the responsibility that you have in making this report affecting the labor resources and the research and development activities of this society, is an enormous one.  I do not, I cannot think of any report that the Legislature has put out in its history or that the Legislature is now engaged in that will make more of a contribution, to the welfare of this state than the report upon which you're working.  The challenge really is quite enormous.  

Let me point out a couple of other things that you face that we didn't face in 1960.  One is the increasing inequality within the income structure of the United States.  The earnings gap between the disadvantaged and advantaged population is increasing enormously.  We are facing a kind of a Karl Marx world of the poor getting poorer and the rich getting richer for the first time in American history.  In 1960, the earning differences had been going downhill, particularly as a result of World War II.  We brought up earnings in the South and especially the earnings of the least advantaged people of the South, enormously.  We were moving toward greater equality of earned income.  Currently we're moving toward greater inequality of income than we've ever had before, and this reflects in part the differential opportunities for education within the population.  

A second thing which we face now which we didn't in 1960 is the loss in the increase in productivity.  There are many important statistics about the American economy: one is how much inflation there is and another is how much unemployment, but there's no figure more important than how fast we raise our productivity.  In 1960, productivity per man-hour was rising at the rate of 3 percent a year, the highest in American history.  At the rate of 3 percent a year, we doubled, on a cumulative basis, productivity every twenty-five years.  At 2 percent, you double it in forty years.  And at 1 percent, which is where we've been since about 1970, you double it in 70 years.  So it makes an enormous difference what happens to productivity.  And it's gone down from 3 percent to 2 percent briefly in the 1970s to 1 percent in the 1980s and most of the 1990s.  Currently, it's at a rate again of 2 percent, but these short-term productivity figures jump up and down and you can't count on the 2 percent going on forever.  But it makes an enormous difference what happens to productivity.  When productivity was at 3 percent per year, we could count upon having all the resources we wanted to meet the commitment of a place for every young person qualified for admission.  It's a lot tougher when it's down at 1 percent where it is now.  And to raise it from 1 percent, we have to do better with research and development and better with training our labor force.  

Aside from the fact that productivity  increases have been going down disastrously, there is new competition for new resources.  As you probably all know, back in 1960, 13 percent of the general fund of the State of California went to UC and CSU.  Today, that figure is 9 percent of the general fund.  Corrections expenditures were 3 percent of the totality of the general fund in 1960; today they are 8 percent.  The 5 percentage points lost by higher education have been gained by the prisons.  And that's a sad commentary on American society when we're reducing that rapidly the proportion going to higher education and increasing that rapidly the percent that has to go to corrections.  At the same time, between 1960 and late 1990s, the proportion of the general fund going to what the state lists in its accounts as "health and welfare" has gone up from 15 percent to 31 percent of the general fund.  So not only are we producing fewer new resources but there are demands upon these new resources which put higher education in a very disadvantaged situation.  

A third change, which also affects education, is the changing nature of the labor force.  We are increasing very rapidly in the proportion of the labor force in managerial, scientific, and technological occupations, all of which are dependent upon the educational system.  In 1960, 20 percent of all our jobs were in the fields of management, scientific endeavors, and technical endeavors.  By 1996, that figure had gone up to 30 percent and it will keep on rising.  The proportion of the labor force that has to be trained in higher education grows all the time.  

Now, let me add rather quickly one or two more changing situations.  A fourth is what I'm going to call "the return to education."  By the "return to education" I'm referring to how much more a person graduating from CSU or UC or other four-year institutions makes as compared with a high school graduate.  The most current figures that we have show that the average college graduate makes 80 percent more in lifetime earnings than a high school graduate.  That's an enormous amount of money.  It amounts to almost a quarter of a million dollars in the course of a lifetime, and that rate more than doubled in the 1980s.  A new study coming out this fall from Brookings Institution (The Price of Admission by Thomas J. Kane) will show that in the one decade of the 1980s that a return to a college degree doubled over that of what was happening to high school graduates.  Now let me say, that's a very great sum, the rate of return doubling in a single decade.  Part of that was because college graduates were making more money.  Part of it, however, was that people who were only high school graduates were losing 15 percent in terms of their incomes.  When we raise so rapidly the rate of return to a college education, it has a great effect upon enrollment.  Back in 1980, some of you may remember, we were talking about the demographic depression.  People thought that higher education was going to be slaughtered by the reduction in enrollments.  The reason was that after the rapid increase in the children of the GIs the age cohort was to go down by 25 percent.  So they said, well, 25 percent fewer young people means there will be 25 percent fewer students for higher education.  But also, at that point in time, the rate of return to higher education was falling quite drastically.

In 1976, a professor, a friend of mine at Harvard [Richard B. Freeman], wrote a book called The Overeducated American.  At that time, we had all the children of the GIs coming out of college and entering the labor market along with the recessions of the early 1970s.  At that period in time, it looked like we were overeducating Americans, but in the 1980s because of this rate of return doubling, instead of having a great demographic depression in higher education, we actually added students in the 1980s even as the size of the age cohort was going down, and that's an enormous impact.  And so, when I said earlier that I thought it's possible that in the year 2000, the Tidal Wave II, we might have an enrollment increase of 600,000 as in Tidal Wave I, it could be because of the impact of a rising rate of return to higher education.  Also, this affects tuition policy.  In 1970, the rate of return to a college graduate compared to that of a high school graduate was more like 30 percent.  It makes a lot of difference when the college graduates are making 80 percent more than the high school graduate as to who is going to bear the cost burden of a college education, and I'm sure if we had been facing a 80 percent figure in 1960, we would not have been so strong about not raising tuition at CSU and UC because  it would seem appropriate with people benefiting so much from higher education, that they should bear more of the cost burden and not put it on the general public.  This shows that the rate of return to higher education is a very important figure to look at, and we'll have some new statistics when the 2000 census comes in.  I suggest it's a consideration you might keep in mind as you go ahead with your plans.  

A fifth thing which I want to mention which is going on now that wasn't happening in 1960s is the decline of our primary and secondary schools, which we then thought were the best in the nation.  In 1960, the expenditure per student for education was near the very top of the national list.  Currently, instead of being at the top at the list, we are 41st among the 50 states.  That's an enormous reduction from being among the first to being 41st.  Our high school graduation rate, which in 1960 was approximately the top in the nation, is now number thirty-seven -- a tremendous reduction.  In the international studies which have been made (and they are done only on a national basis not a state basis), at the level of eighth grade math show that we are number twenty-eight among the nations of the world which have been studied.  That puts us below the Russian Federation which has been so decimated by depression and internal conflict and below the Slavic Republic, the eastern part of former Czechoslovakia.  We, the United States, which used to be among the top, are now also twenty-eighth among the studied nations in the level of eighth grade students in their comprehension of mathematics.  In the field of science at the eighth grade, we are seventeenth among the nations.  And it's going to be very, very hard for us if we keep on losing ground the way we have for the past twenty years.  It's going to be very, very hard for our labor force to compete with the labor forces of these other nations.  So you face that problem.  

Another area which I think is of an emergency nature is the turnover of teachers - a second "disgrace."  The Citizens Commission Report says that the rate of turnover of teachers in their first year of teaching is 33 percent.  Let me say that having looked at it a little bit more in detail, I think that figure is high because they were only looking at people with emergency credentials, not people with full credentials.  However, at a very minimum, the rate of dropout in the first year for even the most advantaged people going into teaching is 10 percent.  I think it's a disgrace that we should have even this much of a turnover.  What other highly trained occupation, in medicine or law or whatever else you can think of, is there a dropout rate in the first year of 10 percent let alone 33 1/3 percent?  I don't think there is any.  This indicates that either we're not getting the best of our young people to enter teaching, or that we're not training them properly, or that the job turns out to be so disagreeable that they drop out.  Something is terribly wrong, and it's a kind of a disgrace that our young people out of our colleges and universities drop out so rapidly.  There is a good figure and well-substantiated one showing that the dropout rate within the first five years from this profession is 50 percent.  I think it's a real disgrace that we should have a situation like that.  It distinguishes this profession from almost all others.  

Let me just say I've not been talking of what I think are solutions because there are very many of them and I'm not as well informed as you are on this question.  But, I do suggest that we may need some new models for our schools of education.  I'd like to suggest that our schools of education, when they were founded around 1900, were really based upon what I call the "letters and the science" model.  They tried to include the different disciplines as letters and science does:  history, philosophy, psychology and so forth.  I think they would have been better off if they had followed what I call the agricultural or land grant or "problem oriented" model in which you would have an extension service going out and dealing with the high schools and the grammar schools the way that the agricultural extension service went out and dealt with the farmers.  They asked, "What are your problems?"  And then when they could delineate what the problems were, they turned to the experiment station to come up with solutions and took them back to the operating farmers, which also is the method of medical schools.  The doctors in the medical schools are in practice and know what the problems are all the time.  On the other hand, in schools of education we have people teaching who have been historians or philosophers or psychologists or whatnot, and they're not in solid contact with their profession and its problems trying to solve them as is true in agriculture or medicine, or if you like, law.  

Another model which I think ought to be looked at is what may be called the "apprenticeship" model.  You could have people taking education courses as undergraduates but when they graduate, their first year out they become an assistant to a master teacher.  During that year they'd also take a seminar in a school of education, comparing their experiences and how to handle their problems.  (This is based on a program which we started briefly when I was Chancellor at Berkeley.)  Then they would attend a summer school with a full program.  The  second year they would again work with a master teacher and have a seminar on practical problems.  Then a second summer school after which they would be certified.  This is also what doctors do as their students work as interns.  So I do think we need to consider this tremendous turnover in young teachers as another disgrace.  

Then I would add one more and my last area where I think there's a "disgrace" and that's in the Advanced Placement program in high schools.  The difference in accessibility to advanced placement courses is just absolutely enormous.  A recent case filed by the ACLU -- I hope its research has been well done; I don't know -- finds that there are 120 high schools in California that have no Advanced Placement courses, and there are 330 that have four or fewer Advanced Placement courses.  On the other side from them there are some high schools that have Advanced Placement courses clear across the board, and the discrepancy in access to Advanced Placement courses is of enormous importance because these courses give young people a greater chance to get into college.   Admissions requirements at both CSU and UC give more credit for Advanced Placement courses.  Also, there's a tendency for these Advanced Placement courses to give somewhat higher grades and students to be credited with somewhat higher grades than for the rest of their course work, resulting in higher grade point averages.  As a consequence, the discrepancies in Advanced Placement opportunities among the high schools of the state is just absolutely enormous, and along with the discrepancies in transfer run absolutely contrary to what the Master Plan was all about which was to give young people more equal opportunities. Too often in the State of California, these opportunities for people to advance are being decreased rather than being increased.  Keep those opportunities open.

I've been emphasizing pretty heavily the contributions of the educational system to the economic welfare of the nation and the chance to advance our standards of living and our position in the world.  But I want to emphasize that education is involved with a lot of other things which I haven't mentioned.  I call your attention to a report which  I wrote when I was chair of Carnegie Commission on Higher Education called The Purposes and Performance of Higher Education in the United States (1973).  It pointed out the many, many purposes served in creating better citizens, in getting people ready for more active and more livable lives, and as a source of criticism of society and what its failures are.  I don't want to leave the impression that I'm concerned only with the economic consequences of education; there are many other consequences which need to be looked at.  

 So let me just conclude by saying that we had a golden moment in the 1960s, and we made a lot of progress in creating greater equality of opportunity and a better economic system.  For twenty years we've been on this suicidal course of going downhill and now we face this choice:  are we going to continue the suicidal course of the last twenty years or are we going to move in the direction of paradise regained?  That depends tremendously on the report that your committee is going to turn out.  The future of California no longer depends upon the gold in the hills, or the fertility of the valleys, or the climate in Southern California producing Hollywood as a place that can operate all year round and a favorable place for artists, for actors and actresses to live.  We can no longer count on the physical resources of the state.  From here on out, our future depends upon how well we develop our human resources, how well we develop our research and development efforts, how well we develop the skills of our labor force as currently in electronics and biotechnology.  So let me conclude with these final words.  As goes education, so goes California.

Transcript of the Dialogue between Committee Members and Dr. Kerr

CHAIR: Thank you very much Dr. Kerr.  That's very re-enlightening.  Any questions or comments that anyone wanted to make?  Assemblywoman Mazzoni

MAZZONI: As I'm sure you're aware there's been a proposal which we call the 4-percent solution, that is based on the idea that by providing the top 4 percent of each high school, that they would have access to the University of California.  What is your feeling about the proposal?

KERR: I know of the proposal.  I haven't had a chance to hear any discussions about it.  Generally, I favor the idea.  It would create somewhat greater opportunity for people that are otherwise disadvantaged and they would be able to raise themselves to the top of the group with which they were competing.  Now it may be that their test scores are somewhat low, but I do think that holding out to the top 4 percent of all high school classes that they could go to the University of California would be a great stimulant to their taking their education seriously.  It's all right within 4 percent.  If we get above 4 percent, it gets a little bit more "iffy" but I do think that to guarantee a 4 percent level for every high school of the state would be advantageous.

MAZZONI: Thank you.

CHAIR: Senator Murray.

MURRAY: Just, what is your general feeling on that we seem to have made our education system, at least access to it, not the output - the input?


MURRAY: There seems to be a quantitative meritocracy.  There seems to be so much emphasis on quantitative models and what's your feeling on (a) whether or not we should lessen the reliance on quantitative models as predictors of success and then (b) just the concept that maybe our public education system shouldn't be quite as much a meritocracy as it is, in that there are some who would say that we spend so much time focusing on the input, meaning what the students come to the university with rather than on the output, the quality of the students that are graduating.  Just your thoughts on those two things.

KERR: In general, I favor putting much more emphasis upon output.  Input doesn't do  me much good all by itself.  It's the output which counts.  I do believe in emphasis on meritocracy, though, particularly at the level of higher education.  Thomas Jefferson, if anybody, could be called a really pure democrat, favoring equality of opportunity across the board.  It was Thomas Jefferson who wrote:   "All men are created equal and deserve equal opportunity."  But he also at the same time said to make a society work well you have to have what he called an aristocracy of talent, that you had to find your most talented individuals and give them extra facilities to advance their talent, because it benefits everybody else to have the best trained doctors, the best trained lawyers, and so forth.  So I favor particularly an emphasis on meritocracy where you give everybody an opportunity to keep on getting an opportunity as long as possible throughout their lives and the best opportunities.  But also those who take the best advantage of their opportunities should get some additional resources because they give more service back to society.  So I would say, equality of opportunity but also some greater equality to build this aristocracy of talent.

MURRAY: What about the reliance on the quantitative measures?

KERR: Are we talking about test scores?

MURRAY: Test scores, anything.

KERR: I served for two terms, two separate terms, on the board of the Educational Testing Service, which is the one which puts out the standardized test.  I might say that I was not as convinced of the validity of those tests as were other members of the board.  We can ask, "How good are the tests?"  They're going to say:  well, they're very good at predicting what a student will do in his first year.  I would say, What about predicting how they're going to do in their last year, say their fourth year in college, rather than their first semester?  And they said, Well, we can't get those statistics.  I never knew why they couldn't get those statistics.  They're terribly important because it's not just the first year that counts but also how the thing goes through in totality.  And I never got a satisfactory answer as to how well they predicted total performance over the four years.  Are there other things which are important for total performance?  At the same time, I then shifted my belief to the importance of high school grades, but that then got destroyed when we got the grade inflation and it didn't mean so much anymore.  During the time I was on the ETS board, what we found out was that taking test scores and high school scores together gave you a much better prediction that either one of them by themselves.  The best prediction was high school grades, until we got into grade inflation, and the test scores were not as good in those days as high school grades.  But then the high school grade disappeared, and so I do not think that our testing scores, either high school or the SAT scores or others, are as good as they should be.  They have a great deal of distance to go in getting better quantitative tests on how well people have performed and will perform.  So I have doubts in that area.  I'm not saying do away with them; it's the best we have.  But in the meantime, we ought to say it's not very good and we ought to find better ways.  That's where I am now. 

CHAIR: Assemblywoman Romero.

ROMERO: Dr. Kerr, thank you very much for your presentation for us today.  I found it quite enlightening.  I did have an opportunity to read the chapter that you provided to us, and I was especially struck by you had one year and I think our charge is what, two and half, three and half years.

CHAIR: We'll see what we can get done.  But I think that's sort of the outside date on it for us.

ROMERO: But in a one year time frame, it's just amazing to take a look and to have reviewed the plan or the activity, the coming before the Legislature, the concern is with state involvement in local matters and so I'm looking forward to our following this very great legacy and reviewing the plan.  I would like to thank you in particular for acknowledging not only the joys and the hopes of public education in California but also underlining the disgraces that we do need to acknowledge and specifically the very low rate of transfer, the vast discrepancy in terms of the availability of advance placement courses, and the two as I think as you have articulated really do work together to inhibit and discourage access, that most important point of entry into higher education.  I'd like to thank you for that and look forward to picking your brain in terms of how we go forward to really reduce the discrepancy overall.  I'm curious as to your thoughts as to whether or not some sacred cows that we've had, like advance placement courses, should continue?  Are these issues that we might perhaps go ahead and think maybe at the time they were appropriate but in terms of the vast discrepancy, maybe these are concepts that we might not want to continue?  So, I'm interested in this, and I hope as the committee goes forward that there really are no sacred cows that we will not take up and take a look at, and call the disgrace what it is, a disgrace, and call the greatness of the concept when it is fundamentally there, as you have pointed out in terms of looking at some of the challenges that we face.  If nothing really were not that much different in 1960 but are exacerbated by globalization, by the increased economic gap that we find.  One issue for California (unintelligible) we've become very diverse linguistically, ethnically, racially, is of course the vast disparity that I see in our, especially higher education system but in K-12 as well of the access and the moving through of students of color in particular.  And I hope that as the committee goes forward we will grapple with these issues sincerely to make our K-12 and higher ed really truly accessible for all students in this very diverse, almost 21st century California.

KERR: All I can say is I agree and can't add anything to what you said.

CHAIR: Thank you.  Senator McPherson.

MCPHERSON: Yes, Dr. Kerr.  First of all, I think you're to be highly applauded for, at the age of 87 or 88, having a facility about what we need today as much as we did forty years ago.  But as we look at this for the upcoming century and all, what do you think we might do to gain the confidence?  We're looking at  kindergarten through higher education.  You gained the confidence of a lot of people and you got the ball rolling in one year.  What do you think are some of the key ingredients that your committee and you were able to develop to get the confidence of the general public to say this is a good thing and let's go forward.

KERR: I think there's no question but that the general public has lost some confidence.  But also it's true that the general public seems to be more interested than ever before, so they seem to be receptive to forward momentum.  In terms of what to do in totality, let me say I've no belief in trying to find a single silver bullet.  You know, there are those who thought smaller class size all by itself might do something.  A lot of other things might do something, but I think we have to look at it in its totality, that the whole system has somehow gone wrong and we have to take, as you are trying to do, a look at it from even before kindergarten, I would say.  My own impression is that the most important teaching takes place before going to school, and I favor a lot more emphasis upon home schooling before school.  The kids who start school behind the others are going to stay behind and those who are ahead are going to stay ahead.  If I were going to try look at the system in its totality, I would begin with doing something more to aid parents in home schooling of young children.  I might note that the Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley, has a very good book out called Home Math that teaches the parents of the children in primary and secondary schools to learn math along with their children in home math.  If I were involved, I would ask the Lawrence Hall of Science to start producing materials which can be used for home schooling at the pre-school level, so that all parents have some materials to work with, not just something for amusement or to compete with TV, but some educational material, subject by subject, and grade by grade, so that the home schooling would be improved.  But, that's where I would start, by trying to improve schooling in its totality.  A lot of people get turned off in their first year.  They feel defeated and they never make it back.  And others come in and feel successful and they kind of move along.

CHAIR: Thank you.  Senator Alarcon.

ALARCON: Yes, Dr. Kerr, actually your response to Senator McPherson is a perfect segue into my question and that is: I have always felt that California has continued to produce some of the greatest talent in academia, and that our problem really isn't in the area of developing talent, but in the more generic forms of education, the standard, the average student that we have the greatest gains to be made in terms of productivity at just the average student level, and I also am concerned to what extent the master plan will contend with the issues of, as you spoke to, home-based learning.  I think the greatest disparity that we have in our educational system in California has to do with the disparity at home.  I think poverty greatly impacts our educational productivity.  A particular issue that has emerged in the last five years or so has to do with the  disparity of access to the Internet.  The fact that minority students, black and  Latino students have personal computers at about 19 percent in the home, whereas other populations have computers in the home at 46 percent, and yet in the schools we seem to be achieving parity with all the different ethnic groups, but it's not reaching into the home.  If you can't support, if the parents can't support their child with the utilization and development of these skills, they're not going to do well in school.  And so, I would hope that we would have your guidance as we develop this master plan to deal with the harsh realities of how poverty in the home impacts our educational performance, in K-12 in particular.  That we continue to maintain a program in California that inspires our talent and we are competitive in the world, but that we also develop an average performance level that continues to increase, improve.

KERR: I would agree with you that at the top level, and as our chair said when she made her introductory remarks, the University of California probably has the best university system in the United States and possibly in the world.  It's been so rated for the U.S., and many people around the world would agree that it's true probably everywhere, so we do very well with most advantaged people at the very top.  And really during the comments this afternoon, I've been pleading for giving more opportunities for the disadvantaged and to draw talent out of them.  I wouldn't say that we only want to bring them up to average.  We want to get them also so they could join the top level.  I guess if I were, which I'm glad I'm not, involved in the work of this committee -- I think it's going to be so complex and difficult -- I would start out with birth time and ask where are the places where these discrepancies take place.  And one is in pre-school.  Another one is certainly is in Advanced Placement courses as I mentioned in high school, and transfer programs in community colleges.  It seems to me that by and large what we've done in the last twenty years is to give more opportunity for the most advantaged and less opportunity for the least advantaged.  I'm not suggesting that the opportunity for the most advantaged be reduced but that the least advantaged be concentrated upon.  Where the resources have the best chance of improving the situation is by pulling up the least advantaged rather than concentrating more heavily on the most advantaged, who are, by and large, doing pretty well on world standards.

CHAIR: O.K.  Our final question will be from Assemblywoman Reyes.

REYES: Dr. Kerr.  It was an interesting statement that you brought before us.  I found it interesting.  I think that if we truly followed the master plan from 1960 in that we wanted to make available free to all people higher education that we would probably help a lot of those disadvantaged that we're talking about today.  But you made comments regarding the joint doctorate program between the UC and the CSU and the fact that there was not as much use of that, as well as in regards to the transfer rates that some community colleges had seven hundred transfer and others had two.  And I would suggest to you that probably that one district that sends two transfers to a UC was from the Central Valley.  I'm curious as to what your thoughts are in a regionalized approach to a master plan, because the joint doctorate program, for example, that CSU Fresno has with the University of California is highly used and impacted and has a list of people who want to be in that program.  Because there isn't yet -- and I use that term so that everybody remembers that we're soon to have one -- there isn't yet a University of California in the Central Valley, but we would probably see or would like to see an expansion of that program as well as address some of those issues because of the community college I'm speaking of is very rural, not really any accessible to Fresno State as it would be to a University of California.  So, I'm curious as to your thoughts on a regionalized approach.

KERR: Well, I know there are some proposals.  I might say there is a system around the world which is set up on a very regional basis.  That's the French system which is supposed to be terribly centralized in Paris.  That really isn't true.  They still have different regions, for example Bordeaux.  And there, the head of the university becomes the head of all education in the Bordeaux area, and they all work under him, not really out of Paris.  I'm not in a position to say whether that's worked better than using the nation as a basis for cooperation.  I think it would need very careful study.  Certainly we have to pay some attention to the geography of the state. Certainly when the University of California was adding three new campuses in the 1960s, we did choose areas of growing population which were underserved.  We chose Irvine, San Diego, and Santa Cruz.  And so I do believe some attention needs to be given to regions.  I don't know quite how that's going to work in some parts of the state.  I think it would work better in something like the valley that has a kind of a keen sense of community in its totality.  I'm not sure about northeast California, what you would do about regionalization there, so I would think that would require some very careful study and I really haven't thought much about it.  It's a factor.

CHAIR: Thank you Dr. Kerr.  We really appreciate your insights.  It's been absolutely marvelous to have a chance to meet you and to have you present your testimony today.  Thank you.  We hope we can call upon you as we continue with our work.  Thank you.