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January, 2010 Volume 35, Issue 1



(415)868-1600 - (415)868-0502(fax) -
P.O. Box 31, Bolinas, CA, 94924
mailto:[email protected]

  A Shameful Reality
By Jeanette Pontacq

In the 1960s, I graduated from George Washington High School in San Francisco. My education was free to my working class parents.  As a female, my male high school 'counselor' suggested to me that the best future for me was as a secretary to some 'guy.'  I admit that I was not the most aware student before arriving at City College on Ocean Avenue. At City, almost cost-free, I started to see the possibilities in learning.
Someone now forgotten told me about the University of California at Berkeley.  I had already become enamored of learning at City College, wanting more, so I talked my mom into taking me to see the Berkeley campus and to walk up the steps of the Administration Building at Sproul Plaza.  For the daughter of a working class family in the Sunset, with little knowledge that the rest of San Francisco even existed, going to see the UC campus was an eye-opener.   I fell in love and wanted to be on that campus.  My mom and dad supported me, not really understanding what it was all about.  My blue-collar father paid the tuition for UC after I was accepted.  He paid very little, looking back from where we are now, for both the classes and the books and someplace for me to live cheaply.  He is gone now, but I bless him for what he did for me, something he could not do for himself, as a child of the Depression. 
Free, quality public education has been the basis of what has made this country great until recently, when we lost our way.  I went to Lawton Grammar School, Giannini Junior High and George Washington High School, before City College, UC-Berkeley and the Sorbonne.  It was all relatively free.  That education gave me the ability to think for myself, to analyse what others say and to have enough confidence to say my truths in the face of opposition.  That free education also gave me the basis to become CEO of my own-inspired company and retire at the age of 47 to take up residence in West Marin.  My father's father was a peasant in the Pyrenees.  Only one generation later, his son was entering the middle class in America after WW II  and one more generation produced a successful CEO, soon retired in West Marin. 

    UNFORTUNATELY, public education in this country is being dissed and unsupported now. City College is under siege financially, mostly due to a bankrupt State of California, a San Francisco with a mayor vying for  higher office, and a public unaware of what free, public education means. I can tell you what it means : it means keeping our state and our country free via a populace able to make thoughtful decisions. 
The University of California is top-heavy with highly-paid 'administrators' instead of rationally-paid instructors, professors and teaching assistants.  The raison d'etre of UC is to educate citizens at reasonable rates.  Anything else is extraneous. The fact that the people and politicians of the State of California are not in the streets to protest the degradation of the junior college system, the state college system and the grand ol' lady which is the University of California system, making it instead a high-priced whore to Capitalism, is shameful. 
LISTEN TO THE PUBLIC DISCOURSE TODAY, and you will hear the result of citizens being badly educated.  An uneducated populace is grist for the mills of fascist propaganda and right-wing ideas (including some goofy left-wing ones too), just like in Nazi Germany.  This dumbing down of the populace may suit the corporations who now control so much of our government, but it does not suit any form of freedom for the people in any possible future renaissance of our political system.

    Population in the State of California is out of control and there is a plan to accept much more.  Those without work now total 10% officially, meaning 20% unofficially. Where will new arrivals, not to mention those already here, find work to support the prices for houses and whatever else ?  The Central Valley is a disaster zone of too many with too little, and growing.
No matter what the pundits say, the unemployment stats will remain for a generation at least.  More and more people will become extraneous.  We have destroyed our own national manufacturing base along with allowing an incredible increase in population in a short amount of time.  With more to come. We are now downsizing to fit the Financial Crisis brought to us by Casino Capitalism, leaving many without jobs, homes or hope.  The Casino bosses, however, are doing well.
California is probably ungovernable now.  Too many people, too diverse, too politically crazy, all based on illusions.  We are broke from our excesses, but mostly from the excesses of the greed-head corporations and brain-dead politicians,  and do not have sufficient jobs to support either the working class or the middle class in the present numbers.  More who arrive will just exacerbate the problem.
 I live in West Marin, where all long-term residents are astonished at the increase in unknown faces in the villages and parking has become a real problem as tourism increases.  East Marin ; not to mention the rest of the Bay Area, is going to explode from the amount of people everywhere, in every corner.  Not enough water for everyone.  Duh.  Who can define what 'carrying capacity' means ? 
Too many of us; a disintegration of our  free educational system; everyone trying to protect their own turf or agenda at the expense of others as the general level of education continues to fall. Ain't gonna work, folks.




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