What Summer Jobs?

Posted on 01 December 2009

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By Randy Bayne
California Notes

San Diego Union-Tribune columnist Ruben Navarrette has some advice for California’s college students. Instead of protesting a 32 percent hike in the fees extorted from you to pay the outrageous salaries of administrators — get a summer job or after school job:

"Have these young people never heard of a job? I don’t suppose they have since the human resource managers I know tell me that when they look at résumés for 20-somethings, they usually find very little work experience – summer jobs, after-school jobs, etc. Twenty years ago, when I was in college, I worked 20 hours a week in addition to going to class. Twenty years before that, my father obtained his bachelor’s degree through night school while working a 40-hour week."

Thirty years ago, when I was in college, I worked two jobs for 60 hours a week in addition to going to class. It isn’t something I would recommend. It caused burnout and I ended up leaving school. Years later, my wife and I made a commitment to do everything we could so our son could devote himself to school, not work, and graduate. In the end, he still has student loans to repay, but he was able to focus his attention on school, graduated, and now has a good job doing what he loves in his field of study, with a bright future.

Navarrette’s advise is ludicrous in today’s economy where jobs, summer or otherwise, are few and far between as the “official” unemployment rate continues to climb from the present 10.5%. The real unemployment rate is much higher, around 20%. It is definitely not the economic climate to be finding short-term and part-time employment, regardless of how good one’s resume might be. Employers are not hiring as wariness about the economy continues. Besides, does he really believe that summer employment or a part-time job – probably at minimum wage – is really going to make a dent in a 32% fee increase? This is the reality protesting students face when they are told they “need [a] reality check.”

California college students have every right to protest, not just “be upset.” Besides fees rising at a rate 25.5 percent more than the national average, California college students also understand they are being scapegoated to cover a $535 million budget gap while administrators rake in exorbitant salaries and refuse any sacrifice themselves.

California college students have every right to protest an unwarranted and unnecessary fee increase. Unnecessary because the money to cover the $535 million gab is available. Pending legislation would make these kinds of fee increases unnecessary. All that is required is the will of the state legislature to stand up to big oil, do the right thing for once, and join every other major oil producing state.

“These colleges and universities are a driving force behind the California economy,” says Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico. “They educate and train our workforce, pull in millions in research grants and provide our state with a terrific return on our investment. But if we continue with the status quo approach of endless budget cuts and fee increases, hundreds of thousands of students will be turned away. We cannot expect to have a vibrant economy if we spend more on prisons than we do universities.”

These protest aren’t about an unwillingness to do what is needed to get a world class college education. It goes much deeper. Dig below the surface and you will find these students making a statement, no only about fees, but about how those fees are spent, what value we place on education in general and college education in particular, our expectations that the wealthiest among us sacrifice as much as the least well-off among us, and whether or not we truly believe that a world class university and college system is worth investing in. These protest are certainly not about anyone’s willingness to get a summer job.
Randy Bayne is Chair of the Amador County Democratic Party. This article originally appeared in The Bayne of Blogs and is published with the permission of the author.

The problem is not a lack of college students. The problem is a lack of jobs. California has a considerable surplus of unemployed UC and CSU alumni. We export a lot of those - at least the ones with employable degrees - to other states every day.

But the jobs are going away and until we reverse the anti-business climate in California, that's going to keep happening.