Editorial - Room with a View

AB 2 California College Promise amended

On Wednesday, January 30, the Committee on Higher Education in the California Assembly accepted minor amendments to AB 2, a bill to allow community colleges like Cypress College to waive two years of fees for first-time students.

Among the bill’s listed authors is Sharon Quirk Silva (D-AD65), who represents the District that contains Cypress College.

Who dares to speak out against making community college free?

Me, for one.

Entrenching an expanded State budget

AB 2 is an example of the California State Legislature finding new ways to spend other people’s money. If the State is so flush that it can afford to underwrite the first two years of college for first-time students, then where is our state income tax reduction?

If the California State Legislature were to give us back our own money, we could decide for ourselves how best to spend or save it.

We might donate it to Cypress College Foundation. We might squirrel it away for our own children’s college fund. We might fix up the house, or buy a new car. We might spend it on a cruise to Cabo, or a high-roller’s trip to Vegas.

But we would get to decide for ourselves.

Another spurious positive right

Giving away two years of college for free creates another bogus positive right.

Rights as guaranteed or recognized by government are of two types: negative and positive. Negative rights block the government from doing something — for instance, limiting free speech or religious expression. Positive rights entail the government to provide for something — for instance, pension and medical services for seniors. Positive rights are often referred to as entitlements.

If AB 2 is enacted into law, students will feel entitled to a college education — why stop at public funding of a mere associate’s degree?

Academic serfdom

Making two years free requires that the California State Legislature approve money in the State budget to pay for that “free” education. Instead of being mostly dependent on the State government, community colleges would become entirely dependent on State government.

Legislators would feel utterly justified in demanding that curriculum at fully-funded community colleges follow State-mandated guidelines.

So much for “academic freedom!”

2016 Americana Awards table centerpiece, donated by Forest Lawn. Photo by C.E.H. Wiedel.
2016 Americana Awards table centerpiece, donated by Forest Lawn. Photo by C.E.H. Wiedel.

Blighting personal and communal responsibility

Fully funding those two years pulls the rug out from under local programs like the Americana Awards, a gala that celebrates local advocacy and activism while raising money for scholarships for Cypress College students.

The Americana Awards grew out of a call by President Gerald Ford for local communities to celebrate the American Bicentennial. Each of the communities that fall within the geographic area served by Cypress College is eligible to nominate a local hero. Being chosen is a great honor, but only reflects the good that each honoree has already been doing.

Those attending commit a great deal of money not only to purchase tickets to attend, but also to bidding in the silent and live auctions.

Companies underwrite the event — from Disney donating the venue and food to Forest Lawn for extravagant floral arrangements to Union Bank for years of corporate support and employees donating their time.

All this is voluntary. It’s flashy and gorgeous and offers an opportunity for participants to feel good while doing good.

If AB 2 passes, all this is likely to pass away, replaced by a line item under the public education portion of the State budget that can shrink at the flick of a Legislator’s pen. Put not your trust in princes — nor in the California State Legislature.

Treating adults like children — smothering self-determination and self-discipline

AB 2 continues a progressive push to treat adults like children, forcing them to remain dependent well past the time when they should be standing on their own two feet.

While mouthing platitudes about helping those in need, but at the cost of smothering self-determination and self-discipline, AB 2 insists that young adults cannot take care of themselves, and must look to the State of California to prop them up.

That is a lie.

“Adulting” cannot be non-stop fun and games and parties and pastimes and distractions. It means shouldering responsibility — notably for yourself and often for those around you.

Adulting may not be fun, but it can be deeply satisfying.

Anyone eligible for full-time college study should be considered — and treated — as an adult. They should put off their party hats and get down to work.

And the State of California should quit trying to cripple them to keep them as wards of the State.