Sunday, November 27, 2011

Predictions Come True and Some Corrections

As I predicted, Black Friday madness turned violent. Reports of gunfire in South Carolina from a possible robbery in a parking lot and pepper-spraying by one shopper trying to diffuse the competition seeking an X-Box player in a California store vied for headlines with another pepper-spraying incident, this time by a security guard in North Carolina trying to retrieve a cell phone that had fallen from a display.

Rome had its Circus Maximus and then the Coliseum where the public was entertained for days on end by games, gladiator contests and pageantry. We have Black Friday and subsequent sales days from now till Christmas, and then the post-holiday clearance sales period. For some lighter fare, we have the continuing series of Republican Party presidential debates.

It’s hard to believe we’ve matured as a society from those ancient times.

Corrections: In my last blog on Cooper Union and Brooklyn College, I made several mistakes when writing about Open Admissions. So here’s a cleaned up version, thanks to Gilda’s keen editing eye and better memory:

Gilda and I attended Brooklyn College, the closest entity to free higher education. Back in the late 1960s, Brooklyn College and City College accepted only the best students, basically anyone with an A average. B students went to one of the other City University of New York schools, such as Hunter College or Queens College. Tuition at Brooklyn College each semester was $50 ($332 in current inflation adjusted dollars) plus the cost of books. Today, tuition is $2,565 per semester for matriculated full-time students. Since it was a commuter school, few if any students incurred housing costs.

Shortly before we graduated in 1971, the City University of New York initiated Open Admissions. Mostly anyone with a high school degree could attend. Brooklyn College began accepting students with less than an A average. Quality deteriorated. The grand experiment failed. The school has reverted to a more stringent admissions policy. I’m not familiar with Brooklyn College’s current academic standing, but when Gilda and I attended, it was a top notch liberal arts institution, virtually free to all who qualified.