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College Funding Shifts to Private Institutions

October 16, 2003

"Colleges Rethink Goals as They Cut" (Oct. 12) managed to treat the entire subject without once pointing out that private universities are facing nothing like the same financial pressure. What has really happened to higher education over the last two decades in this country is a massive transfer of resources from public to private institutions. The Stanfords, Princetons and Cornells -- financed by the millions that rich people have made in the business-friendly climate of the 1980s and 1990s and donated to the institutions their children can afford to attend -- have grown by leaps and bounds and are suffering minimally in the present economic climate.

The Iowa States and the Cal State Fresnos, pinned between tax "reform" and population growth, have been forced over the same period to teach more students with fewer resources per capita and have, accordingly, begun to employ larger classes taught increasingly by part-time help to try to deliver on their economic mission. If education is the springboard of opportunity, it still works very well for those few who can afford to shell out $30,000 per year to send their children to Pomona or USC; the rest of us will find ourselves confined to an increasingly vocational style of education, designed to produce followers, not leaders.

Daniel Vickers

Carlsbad

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I found your article on colleges interesting and somewhat ironic. It seems to me that our government has lost perspective. It seems very good at lecturing and alienating its citizens and allies but not at doing as the preamble of our Constitution specifies it should be doing, namely "promote the general welfare." We seem to have many billions of dollars to spend on other nations' citizens but very few dollars to spend on our own citizens. We do not have money to help the old (prescription drugs and inexpensive medical coverage for all), the young (college opportunities at a reasonable cost) and everyone in between (jobs for those who want them). It appears our government is more interested in appearing to be the world's greatest nation rather than actually being the world's greatest nation. The world's greatest nation takes care of its own.

Colin F. Van Gorder

Temple City

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