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Tue Jul 21, 2015, 02:59 AM

Random Thought: Failure to Invest in Higher Education = Limited Slots for Social Capital for #BLM?

In some of the comments on white privilege and social justice we've discussed how it can really be seen in the big data of who obtains a premium education, who gets high paying jobs, who joins elite social networks, etc. In the end social capital is all about forming contacts, and a lot of those contacts are formed in college. This is why the pushers of "online education" and other cost-cutting movements that cheat poorer students of the on campus college experience are so insidious: this is where young people step outside their family network and start to build their own life network.

Recently I read this article about how the University of California system - which used to be free for students in California - is increasingly covering its shortfall of State funding by accepting foreign students who pay out-of-state tuition:
http://www.latimes.com/local/education/la-me-ln-uc-admit-20150702-story.html

This is an incredibly good deal for foreign students. University of California schools - especially U.C. Berkeley and UCLA - have world class reputations. However, even at full out-of-state tuition they are cheaper than Ivy League schools. 30% of the freshman class is out-of-state this year. The article says 15,317 foreign students were accepted across all campuses compared to 61,834 Californian students and 15,173 American out-of-state students - unfortunately those numbers are not broken down by campus, but I'd like to know the numbers for he more prestigious campuses.

The point is, if early college contacts are social capital, then every slot we give to foreign students to meet funding shortfalls is taking away potential social capital form an American student - especially at the prestigious Ivy or "world class" public schools.

UC Berkeley is particularly notorious for having a problem with a low black application/acceptance/admissions rate. Prop 209 in 1996 banned affirmative action in university admissions as well as government employment in California, and UC Berkeley's level of diversity took a hard hit from that. Black admissions initially dropped to 2%, and the University has been struggling to rework the admissions system to take into account more "holistic factors" ever since. Currently only 3% of UC Berkeley's student's are black. The dearth of black students at UC Berkeley was declared a "crisis" back in 2005: http://www.dailycal.org/2013/11/08/missing-black-students/

Currently UC Berkeley is struggling with the notion that it is an outright hostile campus for black students:
http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/UC-Berkeley-black-students-demand-fixes-to-6139786.php

Economist Brad DeLong has called UC Berkeley a "finishing school for the superrich of Asia". This is not just a scheme cooked up by the head of the UC System Janet Napolitano or the current UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks. This smells a lot more like the maneuverings of Senator Feinstein's husband, bazillionaire Richard C. Blum who has been using his position on the U.C. regents to promote the idea of turning California's flagship institutions of education into mega profit centers for years. Rip off online courseware - yep, even UC Berkeley is stooping to that under the Blum regime. He's determined to wring every dollar out whatever we have that used to be human and good.

Anyway - selling Berkeley's social capital to the highest bidder - to the global highest bidder - deprives local Americans of a chance at to acquire that social capital and obtain social mobility. Instead those pathetic locals spin their wheels in poverty industry pork programs learning to polish their resumes and write targeted cover letters for jobs they have a snowball's chance in hell of getting because people don't like to hire from "outside". The main thing the poverty industry is good for is giving people in the poverty industry jobs. What black people need for social justice is the sort of social capital that will allow them to get entry level jobs at a high level and start to secure a natural redistribution of income.

That's my random thought of the day. Enjoy!

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Reply Random Thought: Failure to Invest in Higher Education = Limited Slots for Social Capital for #BLM? (Original post)
daredtowork Jul 2015 OP
Igel Jul 2015 #1
daredtowork Jul 2015 #2
lumberjack_jeff Jul 2015 #3
daredtowork Jul 2015 #4
lumberjack_jeff Jul 2015 #5

Response to daredtowork (Original post)

Tue Jul 21, 2015, 09:30 AM

1. Networks can be formed at college.

They can also be formed at work and in schools and in neighborhoods and in organizations. The US had a lot of social capital in the 1800s and 1900s, even when college wasn't that common and most people didn't graduate high school.

My neighborhood when I grew up had a reasonable amount. There wasn't much in- and out-migration, so most of the adults knew each other or at least the families. I had a problem in school with a kid, my father probably knew his father from work or school. If my father needed help--putting in a sidewalk, wiring part of the house, etc.--he knew somebody who knew somebody. That's one part of social capital: networks. He had a high school education, no college at all.

In the late 1800s there were glee clubs and plucked string orchestras; churches and social clubs. The Rotary Club builds social capital; churches build social capital community orchestras built social capital. If you moved to new town you'd have easy entree into society: You'd be coming from a different church, but settle into a new one. You'd join organizations. But we're still talking mostly networks. However that kind of working together contributes a lot more than just networks.

Another kind of social capital is seen in, for example, a study that looked at lost mail. The researchers put "dropped letters" near a USPS mailbox. In relatively homogeneous neighborhoods, in areas that for other reasons they observed a fair amount of social capital, most of the letters were put into the mailbox by the first or second person that came along. In other areas, the letters would sit on the sidewalk until rain or wind destroyed them. That's not "networking," that's basically looking at the amount of cooperation and goodwill between potential strangers in a neighborhood. Communities with high levels of social trust have low crime rates and a lot of communication within the neighborhood.

The problem with the study I just mentioned and a lot of others is that you need to predict behavior and trust others to have the expected behavior. In a lot of studies when neighborhoods diversity social trust evaporates. Different cultures mixed destroy the expectations of behavior; they often look inwards and deal with outsiders with suspicion or hostility. You see skin a different color (which often indicates a different culture, that's just how the correlation "bounces", you see different clothes, and you don't know what to expect. So can extreme attitudes towards social climbing.

Social capital is not about income. It's about cooperation and trust between people you know and people you don't know. So something that builds trust is when you see somebody messing with a car, stop and if they're out of gas you find them a couple of gallons of gasoline so they can get to the gas station. No income; but it builds a feeling of trust and community.

This is the whole "it takes a village." You'd trust neighborhoods to look after kids. They weren't just people, they were also support networks. Your kid skins his knee, the family two doors down patches him up. Because the family a block over trust you, sight unseen, when your kid breaks their window or your kid gets in a fight with their kid and the other family says your kid started it, you take that under serious consideration instead of defending yours against all outsiders. Because they're not outsiders, even if you've never met them. That is social trust. It's opposite isn't "low income," it's opposite is "social distrust and suspicion."

You can, by the way, have an imposed sense of community without much trust. In many studies of the AfAm community they report low levels of trust. People may not trust each other all that far--minimal levels of help and cooperation--but they at least talk and distrust outsiders even more. That's not uncommon behavior for groups that have a strong boundary between them and others.


As for Berkeley and UCLA and SOC, there's a problem. I've seen admissions in grad schools there, and the willingness to admit AfAms (since that's the OP's objection). I've known people on admissions committees there and their willingness to violate the law and policy to goose AfAm admissions and coach newbies in the tricks. "You accidentally reverse numbers, or you copy them from the adjacent student's form. Simple accidents." They bend over backwards to boost AfAm admissions. But the AfAm students at UCLA--this has been studied in detail--suffer the same problem as in other UC schools and in law schools. Most of them fall in the bottom quartile, even the bottom decile, of readiness for the school they're admitted to. They meet all the criteria for admission, but if you look at the cohort profile overall they're less prepared. Their SAT/ACTs, their high school GPAs, things that predict success for the 1st year and often beyond, predict they won't do that well. Those who are accepted and have really good preparedness, good GPAs, usually go to a better school or a different but equally good school. But ...

AfAm students at UCLA fail out at the same rate as white students once you've controlled for preparedness. Both would put them in the middle of the pack at a 2nd tier UC school where they'd probably get Bs. But they want to go to a better school and that puts them near the bottom. The second tier schools also have most of their SOC in the bottom half. They, with white students in that group, fail out fairly often. But would get Bs at the 3rd tier UC schools. In other words, many low SES students aren't ready for UCLA and Berkeley, are admitted anyway, and fail out. AfAms are disproportionately low SES. And that gets you your stats.

"Hostile" campuses are often talked about. Mostly that's a social thing. If you're AfAm and don't feel secure around whites or Asians, then having 3% of the student body be AfAm means you see insecurity everywhere. Pitch in the racism from some students and hypervigilance and it becomes unwieldy. I also suspect that the high school cultures play a role. In my high school, level classes and classes with a lot of students who need help just plain feel different from the AP and IB classes. If you're low SES in a regulars class, you're going to get a lot of support. If you're AfAm or low SES in an AP or IB class, you'll probably just see posted that tutorials are Tuesdays from 2:30 until 3:30. If you go a few miles to a mostly low SES school, you get more support in AP classes as well. Since AfAms are disproportionately low SES, and knowing how preparedness patterns for AfAm admits at UCLA and Berkeley, it makes sense that a lot of the SOC say there's hostility. They've gone from a high school culture where they and other low SES students get supported in their coursework to a college culture where it's much more sink or swim. Low SES whites suffer the same shock, but don't get surveyed and nobody cares about them. There was a push to separate out Asians into East Asians (typically higher SES) and SE Asians (more often lower SES), but I don't know if the student advocates ever succeeded in making that official.

UCLA and Berkeley both have tutoring programs both for all students and specifically for non-white students all over the place, though. I've known whites who went for help from tutoring programs and were turned away--that's legal, they were student-run programs for their own group. The profs, however, assume a lot of preparation on the part of most of their students so it's hard for ill-prepared students, even with all the tutoring. Irvine profs assume less, by the way; Riverside profs, even less. It's what makes them tier 1, 2, 3 schools. (You can't start with Riverside's assumptions and get to Berkeley graduates' levels.) This isn't a dig at tier 2, 3 schools: It's just awareness that UC does sort its students for initial admissions.

UCLA, at least, used to have ... dang, I forget what they called them. A courses? They were remedial courses. You fail the math or English placement test you get put in Alg II or pre-calc. You didn't get credit towards graduation for them. One set of budget cuts made them charge for their remedial courses; then they just disposed of them. If you stopped in you'd see a sea of poor students in those classes, that bottom 10%.

Note that I'm also saying "AfAm" and not "black," although they're often synonyms. Not in this case. Harvard and other Ivy League schools had a scandal a number of years back. They met their racial targets but didn't meet the spirit of what aff. action is about. Most of their black student body had GPAs (etc.) indistinguishable from their white and Asian student cohorts. They'd have been admitted under color-blind admissions. And a large portion of Ivy League black students weren't AfAm. There was no "legacy of slavery". Their parents were professionals, professors, engineers, and African or Caribbean immigrants--or just had parents who really, really focused on school, since that's how they were back in Cameroon or Nigeria or Ghana. And the black children of such immigrants typically don't pattern as AfAm in terms of education and careers. They have networks for support, go to good schools, and while they face discrimination, they pattern "white" or "Asian" or even as Latinos did a couple of generations ago. It's the same for high school, btw. (In other words, Obama is fairly average for his cohort--his finishing college was average, and even at least some grad or professional school was average. Even going to the high school he went to was average. He's above average for the AfAm population, and even for the white population. But not his particular cohort, given his father and mother. Michelle Obama is the exception, since most African-Americans do not go to college, finish college, and then to go for post-grad or a professional degree.)

The scandal was that it got into the media. This had been known among university administrators for years before the NYT or whoever "discovered" the story. Harvard and other schools have repaired this "problem" of having the 'wrong blacks' covered by their targets by focusing on a more economically diverse student body. It's harder to do admissions that way, but for the relatively small number of Ivy League slots it works without compromising the integrity of their academics. When you pitch in UCLA, Berkeley, and their actual peer institutions though there aren't enough low SES students that don't need remediation.

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Response to Igel (Reply #1)

Tue Jul 21, 2015, 02:26 PM

2. College is an important part of building that village

People have to interact with each other to reinforce those expectations of behavior and build bridges of trust, etc. If people are isolated by geolocation when they grow up (because the market is going to continue to determine most housing), college is going to be the place where blending and community-building occurs.

I see your point regarding black vs. AfAm for this particular OP - and it actually underscores the entire problem with foreign students and the US economy drubbing the taxpayer to subsidize the global superrich instead of funding public institutions for local uplift. If you look at the comments on the LA Times article, though, the astroturf completely ignores the fact that California taxpayers are subsidizing the superrich and instead drone on about how they don't want to pay taxes to support undocumented (DREAM Act) immigrants: the same old drumbeat against the global poor (identified with Mexicans) that whips people up into a froth about cutting taxes - giving the UC the very justification it needs to recruit foreign students and eliminate slots for Americans. It is a ridiculous trick that is being used to eviscerate many of our public institutions and reroute party-time funds to the global elite.

The basic problem is one of trust. We need public institutions. We need to redistribute funds at the State and Federal level because of the inequitable nature of local resources. But to do that we have to trust that the money goes to build local institutions, and we have to somehow defeat the fuzz and distraction of "undocumented workers" and we have to make a stand against rerouting the resources for our public institutions to the benefit of the "finishing schools for the global superrich". We need to be able to tax ourselves to rebuild public infrastructure that benefits us in America. And if we do that right, much of that will turn in to sources of social capital for AfAm social justice.

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Response to daredtowork (Original post)

Tue Jul 21, 2015, 02:31 PM

3. A better, longer lasting source of social capital is the workplace.

 

If only there was an economic movement afoot to increase employment by reducing inequality.

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Response to lumberjack_jeff (Reply #3)

Tue Jul 21, 2015, 02:41 PM

4. Agree

And I regard the TPP as the workplace equivalent of this problem.

In my view, college is where you gain the social capital for entry into the workplace at a really high level.

Take even simple corporate office jobs for instance. An English major can start in a minimum wage job in the office pool on the ground floor and proceed incrementally from there, or she can get inserted in an equivalent job in a top level department under division manager or even the CIO and gain promotions from THAT level. The difference in connections, promotion opportunities, and future prospects will be enormous.

Most people from rural areas don't even get that subtlety or that this is a possibility for children right out of college. You have to be in an urban area and gain connections with people that circulate at that level.

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Response to daredtowork (Reply #4)

Tue Jul 21, 2015, 03:04 PM

5. 66% of HS students go to college. Will most of them get "really high level office jobs"?

 

I think the urban/suburban activist class have a distorted impression of what work is, where it occurs and what it is about.

Rural people and inner city people of color tend to have or seek the same kinds of employment, but because the employment to population ratio is so anemic, they are displaced by underemployed college graduates saddled by debt.

It is no surprise that resentment is festering within both groups. The solution is to get employment back where it needs to be.

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