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