Bruce Thornton

Mission Lost

“We offer unlimited opportunities to help students achieve their goals,”declares the California State University system on its homepage. “We prepare graduates who go on to make a difference in the workforce. We engage in research and creative activities leading to scientific, technical, artistic and social advances. And we play a vital role in the growth and development of California’s communities and economy.” With 23 campuses, 412,000 students, and a $7 billion budget, the CSU system is the nation’s largest, so the implications of its educational approach are important to understand. As this utilitarian language suggests, the system dedicates itself to everything except what public higher education was once supposed to accomplish: providing for the masses the liberal education that traditionally was a preserve of the privileged.

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