Chancellor's appraisal of California system outlines proven strategies

By , Special to The Christian Science Monitor

Here are four major strategies for educational development and reform, according to Dr. Glen S. Dumke, who will retire at the end of August from his post as chancellor of the 19-campus California State University:

1. For the sake of economic survival as well as the pursuit of happy living, preserve and enhance liberal-arts education; do not cut it back.

2. For the sake of material prosperity, educate the minds and hands of millions of students for productive jobs and careers; business and industry desperately need trained people.

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3. For the sake of our freedoms, reverse rapidly growing political interference: Up to now, only the United States and Britain have been able to avoid a national ''ministry of education'' which subjects colleges and schools ''to the whim of the party in power.''

4. For the sake of all our people, encourage and support a rich diversity of schools at all levels, both public and private. Don't create government bureaus that would undermine them.

Dr. Dumke believes that California has weathered the recession because of its uniquely planned program of higher education.

In response to the tremendous influx of population into the state after World War II, the Legislature appointed educators, rather than politicians, to design a major plan for higher education.

All sectors of higher education were involved, among them the state college system represented by Dr. Dumke, then president of San Francisco State.

''This is the essence of the Master Plan,'' he says: ''Efficiency and economy through specialization by segment.

''The University of California was the research, graduate, professional institution, with a reasonable but not overexpanded undergraduate base.

''We (the state colleges, later universities) were the undergraduate institution, through the master's level. And we were to be the teaching institution of the state.''

''Community colleges were to limit themselves to two years, and to have two major roles: vocational education and preparation for going further'' - including a second chance for high school dropouts.

''And in all of this . . . we would not build a campus right next door to a private college and run them out of business.''

The Master Plan provided for a coordinating council to oversee the continuing process. Dumke regrets that ''more and more political figures'' have been brought into the council since.

Yet the beneficial results of the plan are clear to him: The mix of liberal education and career education has benefited both the state economy and state life style tremendously.

Dumke likes to emphasize that the state system has met its major goals while making the most of tax money; public cost per student - in real dollars, discounted for inflation - is reported to be about $1.50 a year less now than in the late 1960s, and only about $4,000 in today's dollars.

Dumke considers declining allocations, a result of ever-growing multiple demands on the public dollar everywhere since the 1930s, the second-biggest problem facing public education.

He thinks public colleges and universities need greater support from private funds and predicts that in the future they will receive more.

For him the No. 1 problem is the growing political domination of schools and colleges, not only by the state but also at the national level.

''We are being administered more and more by the Legislature, budget language saying, 'You can have these bucks, but this is how you'll have to spend them.' ''

Dozens and even hundreds of bills - possessed of the best of intentions but often inspired by organized pressure groups - seek to interfere with the administration of our system - and a number of these do become law, Dumke says.

Beyond California, he says, more than half the states have abolished voluntary accreditation by professionals in favor of some sort of state government bureau.

He also regards the US Department of Education as one further step toward establishment of a politically dominated government ministry.

He is especially concerned that one of the most important and far-reaching of American contributions to education is in danger of being destroyed. This is the citizen governing board, ''a group of interested citizens (who) assume authority over the academy and act as a buffer between it and society.''

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