No equality of opportunity if there is deep inequality in a society
Read this post from Mark Kleiman, which points out the new gap in educational opportunity and achievement is not based upon race as much as family income.
Mark Kleiman also knows a thing or two about public higher education, as a professor of public policy at UCLA. He knows how important the UCs are for California from both an economic as well as social perspective. If there is no UC, with a quality education for middle class and working poor families, there is a main missing economic ladder to economic stability and success.
Jerry Brown's father, Edmund "Pat" Brown, and UC administrators including Clark Kerr and Roger Ravelle, created and implemented the 1960 higher education plan in order to provide a top quality public university education to middle and working poor students. The UCs have long succeeded beyond anyone's reasonable expectations. As taxpayers, we must not let the UCs fall from their perch as the crown jewels of public university education.
See the 2011 Washington Monthly listing of top schools, which includes the criteria of social mobility, but does not include endowments (which latter criteria is a significant criteria for the US News listings). Five of the top 10 national universities? UC San Diego, UCLA, UC Berkeley, UC Riverside and UC Davis. That is quite stunning, and we Californians should be proud. Yet, most California taxpayers don't even know of the UCs status and have been taught to ignore that success, and even denigrate that success.
(And I must add this: My son is a senior in high school, and is applying to UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Riverside and UC San Diego. He has already been accepted into UC Riverside and awaits decisions from the other schools. My son has also applied to various private colleges--ALL of which are amazing institutions and where I'd love to see him accepted. The point of this post is two fold: (1) significant income inequality does tend to undermine equality of opportunity and (2) we taxpayers have to find ways of doing more for the UCs.)