A couple of weeks ago I applied for a position at the Foothill-De Anza Community College District, down in the San Francisco Bay area. Yesterday, I received a letter from them that – due to lack of funds – the position I applied for has been withdrawn.

So here we go. Couple this letter to an article from the Los Angeles Times, an article that articulated the demise to California’s community college system. Reporter Carla Rivera wrote that 400,000 students will be turned away this fall, slashing thousands of classes and up to 1,000 instructors: at a time when hundreds of thousands are looking to the community college system to help retool. There’s a need, but there will be little product. The State’s budget is in disarray, and as it focuses on cuts, cuts, and more cuts seemingly forgotten are the energetic and creative ways to bring increase revenue.

So can we continue to call California’s community college system an “open door” institution? If Rivera’s article comes to fruition, I think not. So then who will be turned away? Will it be the students out of high school whose grades faltered along the way, not because of any lack of intelligence, but because high school was more of a social venue than one in which to invest their scholastic energies? And who are these kids that goofed? Are they the sons and daughters of stable two-parent households? And what of the displaced work force? Will these workers seeking to retrain, find another marketable skill – like they’ve been told to do – will these workers be the ones to be denied entry to a so-called “open door” institution?

And this is the problem with 400,000. It’s a big number. It masks the individual stories, the real lives that were mercilessly swept up in Wall Street’s folly and the recession repercussions thereof. Like Stalin once said, “one death is a tragedy, one million is a statistic.” California is four-tenths of the way toward becoming the logarithmic measurement of tragedy verses statistics.

So here’s the story then, the human face attached to this monstrous recession: me.

I am ready, with degrees and talent in hand, to teach. There are 400,000 students ready for me to teach them – or at least transfer some skills. But, somehow, unfathomable to me, a place where the two can occupy the same time and space is missing. That’s the real tragedy turned statistic; that’s the state of the State.

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