Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Funny juxtaposition regarding education in California

Two UC Berkeley professors completed a study that concluded (surprise, surprise) that the education they provide is a good thing for California, so we should give the University of California more money:

Increased funding for higher education is a positive investment in California's economy and quality of life, according to a UC Berkeley study released Wednesday. The study, which breaks down California's changing demographics and financial obligations, was conducted by UC Berkeley professors Henry Brady and Michael Hout and commissioned by the Campaign for College Opportunity, a non-partisan higher education advocacy group. For every dollar the state invests in getting a young person through college, it receives a net return of $3 over ten years, since higher levels of education tend to correlate with less of a need for social programs and maintaining prisons, which would reduce state expenditures, researchers said. "It turns out that higher education is not only a good investment, but a great investment," said Brady, who teaches political science and public policy.
I don't argue with the professors' admittedly self-serving conclusion, because I don't have the facts. I was rather wondering, though, what constitutes an education by their books. The reason I ask is because, in the same edition of the Daily Cal that touted the merits of a higher education, I found an encomium to locally published books which included a happy little riff about books on farting:
Like most freshmen, I hated Berkeley when I first came here. I recall recording in an angst-filled frosh journal that I hated everything about the city. Urban without being glamorous, liberal without being enlightened and collegiate without being privileged, my loathing of Berserkeley went so far that when new acquaintances asked me where I went to school, I told them I went to UC Berkeley but wasn't "like that." But gradually, I've come to love the things I once hated. Admittedly, I spent most of my first semester collecting transfer applications and a daily orgy of MP3s on DC++, but once I ventured past the gates of La Loma, I discovered that Berkeley has more to offer than a bottomless homeless community and a faded free-speech legacy. *** But less known is the fact that Berkeley is a hotbed of independent publishing, an underappreciated but oh-so-Berkeley institution that deserves a second look. With the most independent publishers per capita than any city in the country outside of Manhattan, Berkeley first became a Mecca of independent publishing in the 60s, when the Free Speech Movement first ensconced libertines and literati alike within our city limits. In fact, independent publishing is so home-grown here that Ten Speed Press, a prominent independent press, was founded across the street from campus in the apartment buildings at Bancroft Way and Telegraph Avenue. *** And in true Berkeley fashion, our publishers wage war on corporate houses by printing books about Eastern medicine, channeling and "lifestyles"-a euphemism for sex, of course. As an example, a publisher on 4th Street currently sells at least four titles about farting: "Fart Proudly," "Walter the Farting Dog," "The Zen of Farting" and "Little Lord Farting Boy." Depending on your tastes, this is either awesome or ridiculous, and maybe even a little of both. But more than anything, it's a testament to the alternative vision of publishers in Berkeley, who are innovative enough to experiment with alternative trends and crazy enough to derive their livelihood from catflexing and farting. So the next time you're fed up with the dirty hippies and pinko snobs, don't be so quick to judge: Their deranged genius is what sets Berkeley apart.
As you can tell from the excerpts I included above, the student wrote what is actually a charming little article about a town that is, at best, totally weird. But the article does make one question, as one often does reading about college towns and campuses, what all the money from parents and taxpayers is actually doing for our young people.