[lbo-talk] more...

Carrol Cox cbcox at ilstu.edu
Fri Dec 9 13:31:49 PST 2011

Bruce is one of the very best cultural historians we have in the U.S. A wonderful person.


-----Original Message----- From: lbo-talk-bounces at lbo-talk.org [mailto:lbo-talk-bounces at lbo-talk.org] On Behalf Of Doug Henwood Sent: Friday, December 09, 2011 2:59 PM To: lbo-talk Subject: [lbo-talk] more...

Actually that entire piece from H. Bruce Franklin is relevant to this:


4. But the main front in the culture wars was not literary. In April 1969, students sat in at City College of the City University of New York (CUNY), denouncing the university's discrimination against people of color and the poor in admissions policy. In response, the Board of Higher Education began open admissions for every graduate of a New York City high school. At the time, CUNY was the nation's third largest system of public higher education, behind the University of California and the State University of New York. Never, since its first college was founded in 1847, had CUNY charged tuition. For well over a century, it had thus been a boulevard to success for many tens of thousands of poor and working-class New Yorkers. Now combining open admissions with free tuition, CUNY appeared as the vanguard in the democratization of American higher education.

5. At this point, a fierce counteroffensive against the progressive campus movements was launched and coordinated by the White House, now occupied by Richard Nixon. In June Nixon delivered a speech in which he equated "drugs, crime, campus revolts, racial discord, [and] draft resistance," expressed horror at the "patterns of deception" in American life stemming from contempt for moral, legal, and intellectual standards, and denounced the campus movement as central to this national crisis: "We have long considered our colleges and universities citadels of freedom, where the rule of reason prevails. Now both the process of freedom and the rule of reason are under attack. At the same time, our colleges are under pressure to collapse their educational standards . . . ."4 Vice President Agnew (not yet indicted for his own criminal activities) was even more explicit. In early 1970, Agnew argued that there was too high a percentage of Black students in college and condemned "the vi!

olence emanating from Black student militancy." Declaring that "College, at one time considered a privilege, is considered to be a right today," he singled out open admissions as one of the main ways "by which unqualified students are being swept into college on the wave of the new socialism."5 Later that year, Roger Freeman--a key educational adviser to Nixon then working for the reelection of California Governor Ronald Reagan--defined quite precisely the target of the conservative counterattack: "We are in danger of producing an educated proletariat. That's dynamite! We have to be selective on who we allow to go through higher education."6

6. The two most menacing institutional sources of the danger described by Freeman were obviously those two great public university systems charging no tuition: the University of California and the City University of New York. Governor Reagan was able to wipe out free tuition at the University of California in 1970, leaving CUNY as the lone threat. The vital task of crippling CUNY was to go on for six more years, outlasting Nixon and falling to his appointed successor, Gerald Ford.7 In 1975, President Ford announced that he would withhold federal aid from New York City, then in a financial crisis, until it eliminated open admissions and free tuition at CUNY. To be financially responsible, Ford declared, New York must no longer be a city that "operates one of the largest universities in the world, free of tuition for any high school graduate, rich or poor, who wants to attend."8 Or, as the President's press secretary explained, New York City had become like "a wayward daughter!

hooked on heroin": "you don't give her $100 a day to support her habit. You make her go cold turkey to break her habit."9 Finally in 1976, the assault on public education succeeded in terminating the City University's 129-year policy of not charging tuition, thus wiping out the last U.S. stronghold of free public higher education. The university then fired hundreds of young faculty members hired to implement the open admissions program.10

7. In the decades since then, with free tuition looking like a relic of some ancient past or a dream of some utopian future, tuition and other charges have kept rising at public colleges and universities across the nation. Combined with reduced budgets for scholarships, these escalating costs have made it ever more difficult for poor and working-class students to obtain higher education, a trend accelerated in the 1990s by open attacks on affirmative action and remedial education.11

8. Meanwhile, just as the state and federal governments were taking away the funds that could open up the universities, they were beginning to spend far greater sums to build alternative institutions for the poor, with exceptionally easy entrance requirements and lengthy enrollments for people of color. From 1976, the year when free higher education was eradicated, until the end of the century, on average a new prison was constructed in America every wee ___________________________________ http://mailman.lbo-talk.org/mailman/listinfo/lbo-talk

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