Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Challenge of Higher Education (1970)

The Rodda Project: The Challenge of Higher Education

Although this paper speaks to one of Senator Rodda's abiding concerns—higher education and its role in society—it carries no indication of having been prepared as either a speech or position paper. It had the cadences one would expect in one of the Senator's spoken addresses, but it may be simply an essay he prepared and kept among his papers for future use. He returned to this topic time and again.

We note that Sen. Rodda was rather forward looking in his inclusion of bioengineering, gene manipulation, and the environment among his concerns. The date on this paper shows that it was written a few weeks before the first Earth Day.


Higher Education: The Challenge

March 6, 1970

The Greeks brought into the mainstream of Western civilization a manner of thinking which has had implications perhaps even more far-reaching for contemporary society than the Judeo-Christian religious traditions. Beginning with Greek intellectual explorations into epistemology and metaphysics, it ultimately developed into the scientific method, a fantastically effective instrument for the advancement of the frontiers of human understanding. The end-product has been the full exposure to human reason and manipulation of the most obscure phenomena of nature. A concomitant effect has been the transformation of the way in which modern man visualizes himself in relation to the cosmos, his natural environment, the earth, and God. It has produced for man a vision of himself as homo sapiens, the maker of his own destiny and the master of nature. To a rapidly growing number of individuals, however, this new image of man, alone and independent, the free agent, absent a relevant agreement on morality and ethics, is less than reassuring, more than disturbing, even frightening.

Absorbed in an intellectual interest which has focused upon the desirability of rationalizing social organization to achieve practical goals, civilized man, significantly a product of the academy of higher education, has truly become homo faber or the technical man.

Inferior to none as pragmatists and scientists, the American people may point with pride to a record of accomplishment which, judged or measured by the three criteria of economic affluence, military power, and scientific technology, is without question a success story unmatched in the history of human endeavor.

The national biography is, however, not free of significant faults, which come into view when one examines the side effects of the American success story. They are so massive that they force one to question the initial judgment which rendered the verdict of success and to apply instead the Scottish verdict of “not proven—not innocent and set free, not guilty and condemned, simply not proven.”

It does not require the formal judgment of a professional economist, for example, to establish that a steadily rising Gross National Product may be a poor indicator of a nation's economic well being—that it tells nothing about the degree of inequality in the distribution of income and the diffusion of wealth, the uneven incidence of unemployment or its devastating effect upon the individual, the baneful quality of many consumer goods, the cruel effects of inflation upon those with fixed incomes and upon the poor, or the widespread exploitation of unorganized, unskilled labor.

Obviously, our obsession with crude measurements of economic growth has blinded us to the dramatic economic realities of American life and has prevented us from utilizing our tremendous resources for the achievement of genuine economic welfare.

Imagine a nation which possesses 6% of the world's population and which produces over 50% of the world's economic goods tolerating widespread hunger and malnutrition and confessing to the world that it cannot build housing for a substantial portion of its citizens. Is this a story of success?

The existence of a thermonuclear over-kill admittedly provides the nation with the ability to destroy its enemies, but it cannot be honestly argued that it affords the nation a genuine feeling of security. It enables us to live only with the assurance that each day that passes may bring us closer to the ultimate moment in time when “civilized man” will achieve his total self-destruction.

Arthur T. Hadley, in The Nation's Safety and Arms Control, expresses the view that the “balance of power or terror” concept is useless as a formula for the achievement of peace, and he wryly comments that “technical equipment and arms have as much to do with peace as frogs with weather.”

He argues that the road to peace is not through the creation of greater military power. but through large-scale arms limitation and a significant modification in the structure and operation of the “national state system.” Unfortunately, in the present context of American thinking, his proposal is so susceptible to the charge of “unAmerican” that seriously to offer it as a viable alternative to international arms competition and proliferation is almost impossible. A potential avenue to world peace, therefore, is practically removed from meaningful consideration. And so, despite the obvious lessons of history, we blindly pursue an irrational plan for the avoidance of destruction which defines the metes and bounds of world peace in terms of megatons of nuclear power and an expanding arsenal of modern weaponry.

Our technical competency was displayed to the world when the first American walked on the moon, and we may point with pride to achievements such as a developing capability for bioengineering and genetic manipulation, the regular occurrence of human transplants, the development of fantastic computers, dramatic progress in cybernetics, and the continued probe of outer space. But these accomplishments hardly tell the full story of technical progress. There are adverse side effects which must be considered: pollution, resource depletion, crime, urban decay, drug addiction, racial warfare, hunger and malnutrition, mental disorder and widespread social alienation and disorientation, all of which seem closely related to the advancement of science.

Our mechanical marvels and our scientific knowledge leave us with the substance of material success, but also with a crippled man, who exists, but has almost ceased to experience a wholesome life. He feels alienated and, therefore, is deficient in the experience of personal fulfillment. The reality of “progress” as being significantly counterproductive is a fact of life that we have been too prone to ignore.

Dr. Willis Harmon, in a scholarly paper entitled “Contest for Education in the Seventies,” contends that the “operational values and goals” of American society, which must be inferred from the “actions taken,” are inadequate for the requirements of tomorrow. Referring to them as the “pathogenic premises and values in the culture,” Harmon insists that they must be replaced by “more constructive humane ones.”

My inclination is to agree, since I am extremely dismayed over the direction in which Western civilization is moving. I am troubled because I can see important elements of the future present here and now. We need only to project them forward, either in a magnified or diminished degree, to obtain a partial vision of our tomorrow. Admittedly, elements not now present will emerge in the future, but—if I understand our dilemma correctly—not as a matter of rational choice. Instead, they will of necessity be the response of a computerized technical society to its own self-directing mechanism rather than to the rationally conceived metaphysical and material needs of people.

The almost certain probability of the eventualization of my vision of the future, which maybe thought of as the “contextual imperatives” of the human condition, forces me to view the future quite pessimistically.

An honest extrapolation of the “Brave New World” of tomorrow would, in my view, include, although not be limited to, the following:
  1. a more destructive and costly military kill-capability;
  2. massive manipulation, pollution and destruction of the natural environment and ecology;
  3. overpopulation, mass poverty and hunger;
  4. a bioengineering and genetic manipulation capability, with a non-existent or inadequate ethic for its direction and control;
  5. racial tension and, perhaps, organized racial oppression;
  6. urban decay and rot and an urban sub-culture which spawns deviant and criminal behavior;
  7. massive reliance upon the power of institutional violence for the preservation of social order;
  8. an exaggerated functional materialism, which equates human happiness with the abundant life; and
  9. widespread alienation from and non-commitment to society.
I must admit that my look into the future is bleak and I suppose that one may ask: Is there anything better to anticipate? I can only answer affirmatively if there is a positive and constructive response to the challenge which confronts western civilization.

Arnold Toynbee in The Story of History indicts man himself as responsible for human tragedy, since civilization takes direction from human response to historical confrontation. Toynbee's thesis is that disaster results if human beings, when challenged by crisis, react unrealistically and irrationally. Toynbee sees in history, therefore, no promise of good or bad, only a challenge.

In The Open Society and Its Enemies, Karl Popper reasons to essentially the same conclusion and hurls essentially the same challenge. History, he argues, has no metaphysical or philosophical significance, since it leads mankind nowhere. It has meaning only in a “pragmatic or existential sense” or to the extent that man gives it meaning through his response to crisis.

Since history has no ends or goals of its own, Popper argues that meaning for mankind may not be discovered in history. It is imparted to history by man through his freedom of choice. Mankind is not, therefore, fated to an end which is predetermined: he has the freedom to choose—the way and the end.

Like Toynbee, Popper makes no promise and no prediction for tomorrow, but he argues that man will choose well if he chooses human freedom, social justice, individual equality and peace.

In this connection, Tom Wicker of the New York Times observed in his critique of the “Report of the Eisenhower Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence” that the “greatest threat to American society is internal and not external.”

And he made the observation that the “... greatness and durability of most civilizations have been finally determined by how they responded to ... challenge from within,” and that “ours will be no exception.”

Wicker is greatly disturbed, however, by what he observes in America today because he cannot discern the presence of a national will to produce an appropriate response to the American crisis. Sadly, he predicts that the will to respond will not emerge until “... there is a move away from materialism, apathy and complacency and the vulgar know-nothingness that so often passes for common sense along Main Street ...”

If I interpret Wicker correctly, he is arguing the absolute necessity for the nation significantly to modify its operative values and goals and to adjust its institutions and behavior patterns accordingly. I am inclined strongly to agree.

Abraham Maslow in The Psychology of Being suggests that, perhaps, we are experiencing such a change. “A new vision of the possibilities of man,” he contends, “is emerging ... and its implications are many ... for our conceptions of, politics, literature, economics, religious, and even ... the non-human world.” Whatever the change may be—and Maslow thinks of it as “a new philosophy of man”—it must, I believe, induce a will to change dramatically how we behave toward each other and in our natural environment. Without a change in our purposes, individual and collective, we will continue to misuse our talents and in the end totally deny the very nature of our being.

Man will become the victim of a system of his own creation, and the underlying deterministic assumptions of Marxian and of Behaviorist psychology will have been fulfilled. Human decision-making will be primarily and simply a response to the logical imperatives of an economic system geared to mass consumption as a means to maximize profits, to a science and technology whose goals are an extension of the mathematical logic of their own structure and development, and to a political power structure totally governed by irrational and doctrinaire responses to problems affecting national security, the rights of minorities, and internal disorder and violence.

A consequence of externalizing the rationale of our lives and of adjusting them totally in response to the outward world rather than the inner man will be a depersonalization and dehumanization of ourselves and our society. We will sadly discover that we have, in the process of becoming “programmed human beings,” surrendered our capability of being self-actualizing persons or of achieving meaningful fulfillment.

Probably, at the time of the discovery, we will be functioning within a totalitarian utopia which will have emerged as the only viable social alternative in a society torn by materialism, exploitation, brutality, and a general feeling of non-fulfillment. The frustrations, tensions, and anxieties of such a social condition will certainly have produced social alienation on such a massive scale that the continuance of a political system legitimized by popular support, will of necessity have been abandoned.

Hopefully, the ability to achieve a transformation in contemporary society, which will maximize rather than minimize the opportunity for human fulfillment, is still an option open to us. There are some constructive forces which give an indication or sign that a leavening influence is at work. They are, for example:
  1. the youth revolt against materialism and-against the dehumanizing and irrational forces in contemporary society;
  2. expressions of concern among scientists about the ends served by science;
  3. the development of experimental colleges and universities and new curricula;
  4. religious ecumenicalism and a revival within churches of the importance of personal witness to the teaching of Christ;
  5. the emergence of new and powerful influences in psychology and philosophy, which jointly are altering our view of man's nature .and needs;
  6. a modest recognition by industrial and political leaders of the need for a positive response to the problems of hunger, war, environmental destruction, racial conflicts, and personal alienation.
As encouraging as these signs are, it is my view that the principal operational forces and goals in the world society remain as described by Tom Wicker and that they account for the unfortunate non-existence of a will for change.

The “establishment” is devoid of a genuine capacity for self-evaluation; the authority of the conventional wisdom remains largely unquestioned; and the propensity to apply materialistic criteria in therefore, that a will to create a more humane, person-centered society can develop into a meaningful force in contemporary society.

Incremental shifts in the premises and values of a civilization sometimes occur, but major adjustments occur seldom, if ever. And yet, if one believes that the drift of things is to make man irrelevant, one must force a dialogue which challenges the adequacy of the status quo—its values and goals.

Traditionally, it has been the responsibility of higher education to provide such a dialogue. Hopefully it will continue to do so. And, of course, if it does, the dialogue must not be mere pretense; it must be a genuine and searching analysis of basic premises, principles, goals and institutions of contemporary life.

If such is to be the character of the intellectual probing of the quality of our society, the institutions of higher education must be free and independent; otherwise, their explorations will have no other capability than that of providing an intellectual reinforcement of the present arrangements.

This presents the academy of learning with two problems: first, of course, to achieve a significant degree of academic freedom, and, second, to utilize its intellectual freedom to produce a new synthesis of human understanding and aspirations.

Only if this is accomplished will higher education contribute significantly to a change in the directional movement of society, of technology, and, therefore, of the human race.

As a politician, I have a relation to the first problem—that of academic freedom; and, you in higher education, private and public, have a relation to the second—that of the integrity of the academic community.

My task, as a legislator, is to preserve the freedom of higher education to explore truth. This is a difficult assignment and its difficulty will increase with the intensity of the conflict between emergent values directed toward a restructuring of society and the “operative values” of a well established system.

Perhaps, it may not be accomplished, since it is very questionable, in my view, that the outer community or the “town” will be so permissive toward academia. Higher education appears to have become such an integral part of the status quo that it is almost nonsensical to talk of its independence or autonomy. Academic freedom can be expected, therefore, to survive in the coming critical years in form, but not in substance. Scholars may be allowed to discuss “yes-yeses,” but not “no-noes”; otherwise, budgets will be cut, faculty dismissed, personnel made subject to ideological litmus tests, which identify right from wrong thinking; the social sciences and the humanities minified within the world of learning; science and “skill and service training” given even more prestigious status; the faculty diminished in influence, and trouble-making or non-conformist students disciplined.

The “town” holds to a strong feeling of “ownership” toward academia, and the manifestations of this possessiveness are clearly set forth in a legislator's correspondence, in the character of the legislation designed to cure campus disorder, and in the posture and attitude of executive leadership at all levels of government.

The public mind evaluates the university on a scale of imperfectability inversely proportionate to its conformity to the conventional wisdom, the requirements of law and order, and the status quo. Any propensity on the part of the intellectual establishment toward a pathological diagnosis of society produces an immediate “hue and cry” for legislation designed to punish, discipline, control, and even, in extreme cases, to “shut it down.”

Against the political pressures, which are a natural concomitant of a mindless public response to “campus radicalism and divergency,” all politicians who stand for academic freedom do so at their political peril. During times of social stress, when there is a conflict between those who would use their minds and those who would not, the elected official who supports academia is considerably more expendable politically than is normally the case. And yet this is a vulnerability to which a thinking politician must submit if he is to protect his own integrity. This is a fact of political life in a democratic society derived from the vital importance of academic freedom, objective and honest dialogue, and freedom of speech to the formulation of social values and goals, and to the creation of an informed public opinion.

Obviously academic freedom is relative and it is weaker during a time of ideational conflict.

Viewed in this context, one would be irresponsible to assume that great success will accompany the efforts of those desirous of providing independence and freedom for the intellectual establishment. But to rush to the other extreme is quite possibly unjustified, also. If we assume, therefore, a reasonable degree of freedom to explore ideas, to define goals, to wrestle with problems of student unrest and campus turmoil, and to experiment with curricula, another question yet remains: Can academia respond appropriately? Can it make its freedom meaningful?

Frankly, I doubt that it can.

I cannot advise higher education what it should become. I would expect, however, that there should emerge some significant changes within higher education, for example:
  1. assurance that higher education research will not prostitute the ideals and values of academia;
  2. abandonment of the impulsive—almost neurotic—drive for professional academic success which seems more and more to separate the professor from the teacher and the teacher from the student, since the establishment of a viable teacher-student relationship seems less and less the road to success in academia;
  3. modification of the university curricula in order to relate it more closely to the spiritual, psychological and esthetic;
  4. involvement of the academic world in community service, not militant activism and confrontation, but rather in a constructive involvement to effect those ideals which will produce a society more idealistically motivated and less prone to produce anxiety, hopelessness, pessimism, alienation and deviant behavior;
  5. improved cross-fertilization of ideas and knowledge among the professionals within the various specialties;
  6. continuous and relevant process of self-evaluation within all areas of academia;
  7. exploration, through innovative curricula structures and new models for internal organization, of ways to improve the educational process, despite the fact that to experiment is to hazard the embarrassment of failure;
  8. exposure of the flaws in the institutional structure and value fabrics of Western civilization which lead to the pursuit of goals removed from relevance for the psychological and physiological well being of man.
Perhaps, it is asking too much to expect higher education to respond to the challenge of our times; yet a “critique” must be made, for civilization must have a capability for ongoing self- evaluation. Western civilization is predicated upon the assumption that science and technology will provide the means to utopia; higher education must advise us of the validity or invalidity of this premise.

Former President of the University of California, Clark Kerr, stated that the idea of the multiversity “ ... has its reality rooted in the logic of history. It is an imperative rather than a reasoned choice among elegant alternatives.”

To the extent that this is a description of the origin of the multiversity or of higher education today, as well as an historical interpretation of its development, the expectation of human fulfillment through the fulfillment of higher education is not likely to materialize.

If higher education is so much apart of what is that it may not become the creator of what ought to be, we may find it necessary to rely upon other centers of learning—those independent of the status quo, if there are any.

Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka in Phenomenology and Science in Contemporary European Thought describes the dilemma of modern man as follows:

“Modern man ... has lost his innermost roots in his experience of nature, his relations with others, and his awareness of metaphysical dimensions. Technocratic man, limited to conventionalized social responses and utilitarian functions designed for mere material comfort, is infested with endemic diseases which threaten to end humanity if not human nature.”

Jonathan Swift foresaw the dilemma of modern man when he placed Gulliver on the Island of Laputa, where Gulliver encountered a people so single-mindedly devoted to pure reason that they were totally isolated from the problems of real life and existence. Gulliver fled in dismay. That we need to fly from Laputa is as obvious as it was to Gulliver; the question is: Can we fly from Laputa without crashing upon the barren desert of Nihilism or the wasteland of Caesarism, so frequently the fate of those who turn from reason and mind to emotion and heart?

Friday, August 17, 2007

Freedom: With God or without God? (1971)

The Rodda Project: Concepts of freedom in contexts of God

Albert Rodda was a lifelong Methodist who was married to a lifelong Roman Catholic. Both Albert and Clarice practiced their religions faithfully, although on close parallel paths, creating a stable mixed marriage at a time when mixed marriages were regarded more askance than they are now. Senator Rodda was thoughtful about his religion, but not doctrinaire. These remarks on human freedom relative to God were presented at the Oak Park Methodist Church in Sacramento.


To be Free: With God or Without

Oak Park Methodist Church

August 22, 1971

Senator Albert S. Rodda

Is man free, and if so, in what way is he free?

Many responses have been made to this question. This morning, I will consider three.

First, let us review the thinking of Friedrich Nietzsche, a 19th century German philosopher.

Nietzsche made the oft-quoted statement that “God is dead!” He meant that since God was no longer a force in man’s life, God was dead—killed by man! With God dead, man was emancipated—free— free to be himself or to find his own “being.” The question which must be asked is: How did Nietzsche expect that man would use his freedom—his emancipation from God?

Nietzsche saw liberated man as one driven by a “Will to Power,” and it was through power that man would achieve his true self or his being, by becoming a superman!

This conclusion offers a frightening prospect for man. Since man has conquered nature and can unleash to his purposes the destructive energy of which reality is made, the Nietzschian view of man is disturbing. Even in the middle of the 19th Century, Nietzsche, in reflecting on the consequences of his thought, was driven to anguish and terror. Today the prospects for man, so conceived, are even more dreadful.

One can only conclude that if God is dead and man is free and freedom is expressed in a will to power, man must restore God to life; otherwise, chaos will be man's fate and the Biblical Revelation will be fulfilled!

The behavior of man in the 20th Century, as one reflects on the human condition, is not reassuring. It seems to provide more evidence to prove that Nietzsche was right than that he was wrong and the serious contemplation of the new superman described by Nietzsche evokes despair and hopelessness!

The freedom of man is viewed differently, however, by Jean-Paul Sartre; although he, too, proclaims the existence of a Godless Universe. with God dead, Sartre argues that human life is meaningless and absurd!

His is the atheistic existentialist view. There is no God; man is free; there are no values; man is absurd!

A brilliant contemporary thinker, who fought as a partisan in the French Resistance during the Nazi's occupation of France, Sartre writes bitterly of evil. He encountered evil in the Nazi occupation of France.

The evil in Hitlerism was its justification of any behavior, however depraved, as long as it resulted in power. The Nazi interpretation and application of Nietzsche's “Will to Power” led to Dachau and Auschwitz. Sartre witnessed the presence of the Nazi in France; he saw Hitler as evil; he became convinced that evil exists in the world. He concluded that evil cannot be redeemed!

But, concluded Sartre, man, who lives in a Godless world of evil and of absurdity, possesses at least his freedom! It, however, is only a limited freedom—the freedom to say “no!” This is the ultimate freedom through which man fulfills himself or achieves his Being as a Man! The freedom to say “no!”

Sartre sees the essence of life as negative—the freedom to confront evil and to say “no”; man may say: “I will not accept an evil that cannot be redeemed.”

Strangely, this Sartrean view—of a universe, empty of God and pervaded with evil—produced a conviction in Sartre which ultimately developed a close kinship with the “Will to Power” of Frederick Nietzsche. To Sartre the practical meaning of life was the struggle to overcome Evil; in this struggle man fulfilled himself; outside the struggle there was no true being or opportunity for human fulfillment.

The logic of this reasoning can be disturbing, however, since the freedom to say “no” may lead to a Nietzschean “Will to Power.” He who must say “no” might say “no” against his own nature. William Barrett in The Irrational Man reasons that the freedom to say “no” to evil in a context of life void of God and values might be a “rootless freedom”—a “demonical freedom!”

Sartre is a genuine humanitarian—a liberal revolutionary and a man of action; he can be trusted with the exercise of the freedom to resist evil—to say “no!” But the same freedom which he affirms could be experienced by a man of evil will. One can visualize the consequence. Absent a God and eternal ethical values—what is the assurance that freedom will not be abused? Sartre's view of man may merge into nothing more than a Nietzschean “Will to Power!” which produces a race of evil supermen!

Something better is required to respond to the needs of man! The consequences inherent in the proposition that God is dead, killed by man, and that man is free, are not reassuring.

Frankly, the atheism of these men is so stark and the consequences are so disturbing that its contemplation must turn one toward religion and God. This leap to God brings to mind the thinking of Soren Kierkegaard, an early 19th Century Dane, who viewed the mystery of human existence quite differently.

In contrast to Nietzsche, Kierkegaard chose to be a Christian. God, in his view, was not dead and throughout his life he constantly struggled to affirm his personal faith with all of his passion and being. His sole objective in life became that of realizing the “truth of Christ in his own life.”

His primary objective, as a writer, was to define what is meant to be a Christian. His primary purpose, in his personal life, was to “be a Christian.” For Kierkegaard, it was the only way of being a man or of becoming fulfilled.

Desirous of contributing to the betterment of mankind, he speculated as follows:
“So there I sat and smoked my cigar until I lapsed into thought. Among other thoughts I remember these:

“You are going on,” I said to myself, “to become an old man, without being anything, and without really undertaking to do anything.

“On the other hand, wherever you look about you, in literature and in life, you see the celebrated names and figures, the precious and much heralded men who are coming into prominence and are much talked about, the many benefactors of the age who know how to benefit mankind by making life easier and easier. And what are you doing?”

Here my soliloquy was interrupted, for my cigar was smoked out and a new one had to be lit. So I smoked again, and then suddenly this thought flashed through my mind:

“You must do something, but inasmuch as with your limited capacities it will be impossible to make anything easier than it has become, you must, with the same humanitarian enthusiasm as the others, undertake to make something harder.”

This notion pleased me immensely... For when all combine in every way to make everything easier, there remains only one possible danger, namely, that the ease becomes so great that it becomes altogether too great; then there is only one want left, though it is not yet a felt want, when people will want difficulty.

Out of love for mankind, and out of despair at my embarrassing situation, seeing that I had accomplished nothing and was unable to make anything easier than it had already been made, and moved by genuine interest in those who make everything easy, I conceived it as my task to create difficulties.
Pursuant to his determination to make a contribution by creating difficulties, Kierkegaard wrote penetratingly about human behavior, which he categorized into three types: the aesthetic, the ethical, and the religious.

The aesthetic life was one devoted to the enjoyment of the pleasure of the moment and to the avoidance of the unpleasant. The child is the perfect and complete aesthete, existing always in the immediacy and simplicity of the moment. Some adults retain this childlike mode of behavior and never mature. They respond to life simply and live for the moment. In the end their lives sink into despair, as the flowers that delight their lives fade.

Materialists and hedonists share this existence, as do purely abstract thinkers and speculators, who are absorbed in developing systems of philosophy and theology.

The former are consumers of things and events; the latter are analysts and abstractionists. Both are only spectators—observers of life who are detached from genuine life experience.

The aesthetic quality of living is shared by all, but some never advance beyond it—remaining childlike and uninvolved.

When one becomes involved in a choice between values, one advances to the ethical life. By the courageous act of reaching a decision, one begins to live ethically, and with a potential for living authentically!

Since ethics involves abstract reasoning about good and bad, and right and wrong, it can remain outside of life—it can be and often is merely the description of philosophical or theological systems and nothing more.

A philosopher or a theologian can succeed in constructing a complete and logical system of values and yet carry on life in a childish manner, living for the moment. Kierkegaard held that an ethical system without decision or commitment was sheer paper currency without backing. For him, the meaningful life was in living beyond the ethical. It was the religious life, the life that is involved in the uniqueness of the individual—you and I— our singleness in the world. It goes beyond mere abstraction. It is a life that is real in the sense that it transcends the easy and mechanical observance of a morality, simply because it is socially desirable—or socially approved or traditional.

The genuinely religious man must on occasion, in “fear and trembling,” break with the ordinary moral code. If we recall, Nietzsche affirmed the right of the superman to break any moral rule in order to achieve power. Kierkegaard, however, differed dramatically. The individual, he argued, must break with the ethical, but not for the reason of a callous, arrogant seeking for power.

Kierkegaard justified the religious act of moral transgression on the grounds of only one principle. The one justification, which was the core to his Christian faith, was that the individual is higher than the universal principle or the collective morality. The abstract principle cannot, he reasoned, comprehend the uniqueness of the one—the individual, in his concreteness. There are occasions, therefore, when the individual must act alone—in a kind of solitary “suspension of the ethical.”

The average person faces the necessity of making the difficult choice only occasionally and since/whatever the decision, some evil will result, most individuals avoid the necessity of choosing, or of deciding for themselves. They embrace a principle—a moral code—and by applying it rigorously and with inflexibility, escape the real moment of truth in their lives. The rigorous observance of the ethics of the day or of the crowd may provide a convenient cop-out, for no moral blueprint covers all of life's circumstances. There are times when we must choose in “fear and trembling” from within ourselves, not from outside ourselves. Those are the occasions when we stand alone.

The Bible states that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”

The “fear and trembling” of modern man in choosing is the beginning of self and of self-actualization. And eventually all human beings must cope with the despair which embraces life when ultimately they confront the absurdity of existence.

Kierkegaard believed that at the moment of confrontation of the absurdity of life any response other than the religious was inadequate at best and at worst demonical.

A subjective thinker, Kierkegaard saw truth as inward! The true religion he argued was not simply a system of theology, which possessed the logic of a geometric theorem. To him, religion meant “to be religious.”

Religion must penetrate and permeate our existence, or it is nothing.

A theologian may know theology, but if in his heart God may have never lived or may have died, he cannot be regarded as religious.

An illiterate peasant, unable to state a simple religious creed, may be deeply religious. If he “is in the truth,” people will clearly recognize it simply because of his way of life—his living! A religious person is not a “sorter of creeds”—he is a whole man. His living is the truth—it is the way of the spirit. Kierkegaard reasoned, therefore, that the true Christian follows the law of his being, which is the “way of Christ.”

He argued that without Christ the Christian religion is empty and evil.

Christianity, he vigorously insisted, must concern the individual himself—not pure doctrine, creed, and theological abstraction.

Kierkegaard's thought remains a challenge to secular society, to institutionalized religion, and to the atheistic existential charge that life is absurd!

Christians, through faith in Christ, through living the Christian life in the context of the scriptures, can transform their own lives and influence the lives of those about him.

The difficulty that Kierkegaard created was the challenge of the Christian to be a true Christian—a religious man! There can be no greater difficulty; it goes beyond living for the moment or living according to the code of the day.

“What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love mercy, and to work humbly with your God?”

When two Christians meet, a field of spirituality must come into existence; it if does not, one must ask: Are they truly Christians?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Tuition at the University of California (1970)

The Rodda Project: Paying for a university education

Ronald Reagan insisted on two things upon taking office as governor of California. One was the head of Clark Kerr, president of the University of California. The second was the imposition of tuition on UC students. Kerr was soon gone, replaced by Charles Hitch. The Regents of the University of California also agreed to impose education fees for the first time on the university's students. Excuses were made that the new fees were not really the adoption of tuition, but Senator Rodda insisted that the fees were exactly that—a violation of the university's long history of tuition-free public education. Tuition meant payment for education, while student fees were presumably payment for incidentals. The line between the two concepts was being blurred—or even erased.

Once the fees were in place, it naturally followed that the Regents could not resist raising them periodically. In this paper, prepared by Sen. Rodda to provide information to his Democratic colleagues, the Senator refers to a pending proposal to set student fees at $600 per year by 1971-72. By way of comparison, University of California undergraduate fees were $8129 in 2005-06.

Sen. Rodda also refers to the community college system in this paper. Tuition was later imposed on community college students, an explicit tuition system based on a payment per academic unit. Tuition-free higher education in California belongs to history, not the present. Rodda was prescient in his warning.


Tuition: Considerations of Interest to Democratic Legislators

March 1, 1970

The escalation of the tuition by the Regents on February 20, dramatically reveals that we are now in what I have described as the “era of the politics of tuition.” It is no longer possible semantically to argue that we have not adopted the tuition principle in California because of the Regents' action and we can expect tuition consistently to be more a matter of budgetary consideration in the future and we can expect, I suppose, an even greater escalation in tuition.

The following figures are rather interesting: In 1956 the fee at the University of California for a semester was $42 or $84 a year; in 1957 the fee went to $50 per semester or $100 a year; in 1958 it went to $60 a semester or $120 a year; in 1962 it went to $75 a semester or $150 a year; in 1964 it went to $110 a semester or $220 per year: and in 1968 it went to $107 a quarter or $160 a semester for a total of $320 per year.

Fees, as between 1957 and 1970, increased, therefore, from $84 to $320, which means that they have increased four hundred percent, which is certainly much greater than inflationary increases over that period of time.

The Regents acted on February 20 to provide for an increase in the admission fee for 1970-71 over present levels in the amount of $150 a year or $50 a quarter, which means that the fee will be $320 plus $150—about $470 per year. In 1971-72 the fees will go up an additional $150 and reach the neighborhood of $600, having doubled over a two-year period. This is for undergraduates. Because of Reagan amendments to the modified Hitch proposal, graduate students will pay an additional amount which will be $180 the first year and $360 more the second year, which means grad students will be paying in 1970-71 about $480 per year and in 1971-72 about $660 per year.

Incidentally, no provision, as a consequence of the action taken by the Regents, was made with regard to low-income students, although the increase in revenues which will amount to about $7 million, as I understand it, will go to the University to be used for the purposes determined by the University.

Statements were made to the effect that every effort would be taken to utilize current scholarship and fellowship funds to take care of needy students. But, no specific action was taken, and, of course, this means that the students must take a means test. to obtain the additional money necessary to attend State College.

A $200 tuition increase produces $9 million. Since the University increased the tuition to $150, the state will be saved about $7 million. With a California population of 20,000,000 that is about 459 per person per year. The increase, however, will adversely affect the ability of students to attend because they must project the increased costs into the future. A student contemplating entering the University this year, who financially is a marginal student, will have to have $150 more income next year, $300 in 1971-72, and if there is no increase thereafter an additional $300 for two years in order to achieve an AB degree. This means that his increased expenses will be $1,050 over four years.

If the recent history of the tuition increases mean anything, a student can be assured that the tuition will be in excess of this amount by 1972-73 because the tuition, which is now a matter of budgetary politics, will, I am certain, be escalated.

A critical fact that is important is that Section 23753 of the Education Code provides that State Colleges may not levy a tuition in excess of $25 per year or $12.50 per semester. Out-of-State residents and foreign students pay tuition fees. They also pay the regular fees which the resident student pays.

The difference between a fee and a tuition fee is that a fee is used for non-instructional purposes—it is for student services such as parking, materials, medical health care, etc. It also is for student association buildings and things of that nature. There is every reason to think that the State Colleges, which now have combined fees of $158 a year, are in violation of the law. Certainly, if the State Colleges raise the fee to match the University's increase in tuition, the State Colleges, in my view will be in violation of the law because some of that money will certainly be used for educational purposes.

The point that I am making is that before the State Colleges can increase the State College tuition to match the level of the University's increase, the language in the Education Code will have to be changed. This will take an urgency clause if it is going to be put into effect for 1970-71. If this change is not achieved, it seem to me that there will be an immeasurable diversion of students from the University to the State Colleges next year. There is quite possibly likely to be, therefore, another crisis in enrollment, at the State Colleges, because we probably will budget adequately to take care of the University of California enrollments, but we will underestimate and under-budget the State Colleges.

The critical factor at the State Colleges is instructional staffing. In a couple of years the problem will be one of building—libraries, cafeterias, faculty offices, and things of that nature. Right now it is primarily a matter of staffing.

The Governor does not want lines of students denied admission to the State Colleges or the University next year. Every effort will be made to stop this, but I think that it will be very difficult to accomplish such a goal because of the confused picture with regard to tuition.

Incidentally, if students are diverted from the University, many will go to the community colleges as well as to State Colleges.

The community colleges, under the law, must accept all students with a high school diploma and all who are 18 years of age or over who can benefit from an education. This is the open-door policy and, of course, the law imposes the non-tuition principle on the community colleges.

The community college situation is interesting.

At the time the Master Plan was developed, the community colleges were funded by the State at about 29% of educational costs, or 29¢ out of a dollar. The Master Plan provided that, by 1975, 50,000 students who normally would attend the University and the State Colleges would be diverted to the community colleges. In order to assist the community colleges in funding this increased enrollment, it was agreed that state financial support of the community colleges would be established at 45% and that there would be state contribution to capital outlay.

Today the state has met its commitment with regard to capital outlay and 50% of community college construction, statewide, is paid for by the State. A state bond issue, which I authored in 1968, provided $60 million for community colleges. About $45 million of the bond issue is still available, although the bonds cannot be sold because of the bond market.

Additional money was provided for capital outlay in Assembly Bill 606, 1969 General Session, for community colleges. With regard to the educational expense, however, the state has increased its level of support for community colleges only to about 33%—well below the 45% level of the Master Plan. sixty-seven percent of the statewide education costs of community colleges are borne by the taxpayer.

Many community colleges are at or near their tax ceiling and it is very difficult for a community college to pass an override tax. This means that if the Governor does not substantially increase the support level for community colleges in 1970, the State's contribution will drop probably to the neighborhood of 30%. Local support will, thus, increase to the neighborhood of 70%.

Remember that the community colleges must enroll all of those students who are qualified who offer themselves for enrollment. This fact of law quite possibly could lead to serious difficulties if districts are not successful in passing overrides, or at least it may bring many up to their maximum tax ceilings. It will definitely produce a crisis in community college education and will shift an increasing burden of higher education on to the community colleges and the local taxpayer.

In summary, the thing that must be pointed out is that the principle of no tuition was abandoned by the Board of Regents in spite of the fact that they describe the increase as a fee. The increase was so substantive that the semantics of language cannot conceal the fact that a University tuition is in effect. We now are in the era of tuition. We have abandoned a 101-year tradition which has been supported by fourteen Republican Governors and seven Democratic Governors. The Regents no longer have a principle of no-tuition to stand on. They will have to bargain on the tuition question and tuition will now become a part of the budgetary debates and deliberations each year. These are some statistics on education: In 1968 out of 1,000 students who entered school, 800 will graduate from high school and of the 800, 540 will enroll in some institution of higher education as freshmen, of the 540 who enroll as freshmen, 250 will complete more than the first year. Of these 250, 100 will obtain baccalaureate degrees.

Obviously we need to increase the persistence rate in the field of higher education, since our society requires a higher quality of education on the part of its citizens. Anything which increases the cost of education tends to lower the persistence rate. This is one adverse effect of tuition.

Incidentally, only 10% of the students complete sixteen years of education or achieve the AB without interruption. Tuition will further prolong the time required for an education through the AB.

One-half of the families in this state have incomes below $8,000; 23% of the University of California students have family incomes below $8,000; 14% of the State College students have family incomes below $6,000, and 4% below $4,000. Unless student financial aids are increased, the increased tuition will cause poor students to drop out of college:

10% of the nation's population is in California, but California has received 40% of the research money from the federal government. This statistic indicates the importance of higher education in California to our economy.

Arguments against tuition:
  1. Adversely affects low-income families, therefore, has a more drastic impact on the minorities.
  2. Will shift a greater portion of the cost of higher education to the local property tax, because of a transfer of students to community colleges.
  3. Will reduce the access to education in graduate areas exclusively assigned to the University (medicine, law, architecture, and veterinary medicine and doctoral programs in all subject matter disciplines).
  4. Will adversely affect California's competitive position in higher education which has made the State outstanding in technology and research.

The race between education and catastrophe (1966/1972)

The Rodda Project: A graduation speech

In 1966, Senator Rodda was invited to give the commencement speech for the graduation ceremonies at Phineas Banning Adult School in Wilmington, a city in southern California. Sen. Rodda took the opportunity to speak on one of his favorite topics: the power of education to preserve and improve our lives. It was a cautionary speech, acknowledging both the increasing impact of technology on employment opportunities and the relative neglect of the important of vocational education. The dark tone may have derived from the Senator's concerns over the upheaval and pessimism of the 1960s.

Rodda kept a copy of his Banning Adult School remarks in his files. This text is from the 1972 revision of the original 1966 speech. He probably updated it slightly to keep it more current, as he would often send copies of his papers in response to inquiries from constituents and reporters. However, there is no indication that he ever used the text again in a spoken presentation.


Graduation Ceremonies
Phineas Banning Adult School
Wilmington, California

Senator Albert S. Rodda

June 16, 1966
(Revised on March 29, 1972)

Today, we live in an age in which H. G. Wells' dictum that human survival is “a race between education and catastrophe” is no longer quoted as pious rhetoric. It is regarded as a frightening possibility full of a terror which derives from the known potential for destruction of thermonuclear weapons. The destructive power of the H Bomb is so vast that it almost defies description; and clearly establishes the fact that resort to total war by Russia and the United States will destroy mankind and civilization.

The destructive capability of a thermonuclear way may be judged from the following description of the results of an imagined explosion of a 20 megaton bomb over Los Angeles:
“It will create a crater one-half mile long and 250 feet deep; it will produce complete destruction over an area three miles in diameter, severe blast damage over an area eight miles in diameter and moderate damage over an area twelve miles from the point of the explosion of a diameter of twenty-four miles.”
Incidentally, modern H Bombs are 100 megaton size—5 times as destructive.

His awareness of the horrible destructiveness of modern war prompted Bertram Russell, the English philosopher, to suggest, in a quiet commentary, that it is too late to educate the young people for a peaceful world; and that, if we are to have peace, we must concentrate on the education of adults. It was Russell's conviction that the critical decisions which will determine the fate of civilization were being made every day and that any “breakthrough” in organizing the world for peace must be achieved immediately by the generation in power.

The urgency of the world situation, therefore, in Russell's view, mandated the education of adults in the means of achieving a peaceful world.

Although Russell's statement was made over a decade ago, it is no less valid today, for the imminence of total war has not been removed by the passage of time; if anything, its proximity is even closer. There must, therefore, be a continuing education of adults in those areas of knowledge which impinge upon the issue of war and peace. And this must be a never ending activity—carried on through the public forum, formal classes in adult education, educational television, public discussion in the journals and newspapers of our time, and in the institutions of higher education and the chambers of our law-making bodies.

If education for a peaceful world is a major responsibility of education, it is not the only one. For there are other responsibilities worthy of our attention.

Education has acquired a new dimension in recent times. This is a result primarily of the changes which have taken place in our society and which continue to take place. The condition of change is summed up in the words “automation” and “cybernation.”

Automation is defined as “the automatically .controlled operation of production which takes the place of human effort.”

Cybernation is “the use of mechanical-electrical communication systems to supplement or replace brainpower in problem solving or analysis.” Everywhere in our society, in government, as well as industry, there is a high rate of substitution of machines and computers for human skills and human intelligence.

The result, of course, is a dynamic society characterized by a rapidly changing technology.

The general effect is satisfactory; the productivity of workers increases, costs of production are reduced, the prices of commodities are lowered, larger quantities of goods and services are made available, and new products are put on the market. All of this is progress and it must be entered on the positive or benefit side of the ledger.

To illustrate the benefits which flow from the computerization of society one can suggest quite seriously that in the absence of the computer, social security, Medicare, and industrial fringe benefit programs would involve so much unmanageable paper work that their cost would be prohibitive and that in the absence of automation many products could not be produced at marketable prices and that in the absence of the electronic brain, the problems involved in the mastery of outer space would be beyond solution; and finally, that, without “systems analysis,” the efficient planning and management of industry would be greatly impaired.

On the negative side of the ledger there are, however, the adverse effects of technological progress. Persistent technological innovation, for example, produces a continuous imbalance between the demand and supply for labor skills. The imbalance is characterized by a surplus of old skills, for which there is no longer a need and a simultaneous unfulfilled demand for new and highly specialized technical capabilities.

This fact of economic life impresses itself upon the worker in the form of the persistent threat of job obsolescence and unemployment and upon the industrialist in the form of labor shortage and unmet product demand.

The frustrations experienced by both management and labor have come into focus as educational problems of a serious and growing significance. The result has been immediately apparent in its impact on the schools.

First, many conventional programs in vocational and technical education have been made useless and obsolete.

Second, the schools have been placed in a position of having to build more flexibility into the vocational curriculum through the rapid introduction of new courses and the serious modification of old ones.

Third, in response to the changing occupational pattern, close cooperation between the schools and the local community has developed as a practical means of providing the schools with a vocational and technical curriculum better designed to meet the community's changing labor market.

Fourth, the schools have launched a vigorous attack against illiteracy as a vital part of the war on poverty and unemployment, and, finally, a tremendous effort is being made to reduce the school dropout rate and to continue teenagers in school long enough for them to acquire either a professional, vocational or technical education.

The educational response to change and innovation in the economy must be the education of our youth more practically and for a longer period of time and the training and retraining of increasing numbers of adults. It means that education no longer can terminate at the 12th Grade or even during the employment life of the adult worker.

If we are to meet this education challenge, the cost in tax dollars will be extraordinary and will steadily increase. And yet we must meet it, if we are to provide the economy with an adequate supply of employable labor—young and old.

The criticalness of the employment situation can be established by the following data:

For example, in 1968, of the young men and women in the United States under 22 years of age, who terminated their education before high school graduation, over one million were unemployed. In today's economy more than thirty percent of high school dropouts are unemployed and even high school graduates average more than fifteen percent in unemployment.

The impact of unemployment is, as these figures indicate, especially harsh upon the under-educated or the vocationally untrained. As time passes, the situation will become more serious. The role of such citizens in our economy will be drastically reduced. Robert Theobold, expert on cybernetics and automation, emphasized this problem with a percent of the population, with the aid of automatic, computer-controlled machines, “will produce all the goods and services necessary to clothe, feed and run our society.” If you believe this a ridiculous idea, reflect upon the fact that today fewer than 200 men produce 90% of the electric lights manufactured in the United States.

Another set of statistics, however, reveals a different trend—a growing demand for the technically and professionally educated person. For example, it is estimated that, from 1965 to 1975, the demand for trained workers in professional and technical areas will increase by sixty-five percent; in managerial skills, thirty-two percent; in clerical activities, forty-five percent; and in service work, fifty-one percent.

These data indicate a rising demand for talent which will not be met unless the educational attainment of our citizenry is upgraded. When the regular schools fail to prepare for employment, or shifts in technology make obsolete and unnecessary, certain types of labor it is the responsibility of special occupational and adult schools to provide opportunities for the continued education, training and retraining of our citizens. This role is very vital if the labor supply is to adjust to labor demand. It means the creation of a quality labor supply.

I am saying, in effect, that education, while continuing to educate for citizenship, recreation and leisure, for personal satisfaction and for the professions must expand in breadth and depth in technical and vocational education.

Its major role in the future may very well be education in (1) English and reading skills, (2) vocational and technological skills, with emphasis on the latter, and, (3) preparation for effective employment in the personal services, an area of employment certain to expand with the growth of automation, as well as, of course, (4) collegiate professional education—the importance of which there is no doubt in the public mind.

What I have been saying poses a problem for a highly technical society which stated simply is: Does the population possess the native intelligence and neuro-muscular skills in sufficient quantity to meet the economy's need or demand for highly educated, technically trained individuals? This, of course, is not a problem with which I wish to deal tonight. My concern is with the crucial. necessity of utilizing as fully and as efficiently as possible the human intelligence and capabilities which we possess.

Great progress is being made by many local school districts and County Offices of Education in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, Alameda Counties and many others.

Under great handicaps, the school districts and County Offices are educating increasing numbers of youth and adults in meaningful vocational and technical skills. For example, nineteen percent of the high school graduates in the Sacramento City Unified School District are graduated from the evening adult high school. Certainly, this is a significant statistic, and I know that it is duplicated in other urban areas.

But a realistic evaluation of the total picture, however, is disquieting. It shows a hesitancy on the part of the public or of those in education to develop vocational and adult education on a scope necessary to meet the demands of the time. School facilities generally consist of day-school buildings given over to adult education at night, or old structures no longer adequate for day-time education; inadequate visual aids and equipment, and limited auxiliary educational services in guidance and library materials.

The development of a massive comprehensive type of adult and vocational and technical education, as I envision it, is not, in my opinion, imminent; it will inevitably come, since time and circumstances will mandate it. By this, I mean that the social and economic requirements of our rapidly changing society will inevitably demonstrate the need. However, the situation today actually is not encouraging; in fact, it is in some quite discouraging.

The theme of my remarks, however, is not the decline of vocational, technical and adult education, but rather its growing significance and the importance of a greater public appreciation and understanding of its role. With understanding will come public support and with public support will come the political pressure necessary to institute adequate programs.

I conclude by emphasizing that although high school vocational education and adult education are a significant aspect of the educational process, they now enjoy a stepchild status, but that the “contextual imperative”—or the demands of our dynamic-changing society—will bring these kinds of education the public understanding and support they need. When this occurs, those engaged in such educational programs will have the tools necessary to meet the challenge. The challenge is the continuing education of the citizenry—for more effective involvement in the community, more productive involvement in the economy, and more meaningful living and, therefore, greater personal fulfillment.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Collective Bargaining in California (1975)

The Rodda Project: The Story of SB 160

Albert Rodda's best-known legislation is Senate Bill 160—usually simply cited as “the Rodda Act”—which established collective bargaining for California's public school teachers.

This undated document from the Senator's files contains a record of his extemporaneous remarks on the significance of his legislation, so it is most likely from the latter part of 1975, when SB 160 was signed by Governor Jerry Brown. There is no indication of the venue in which the Senator delivered his speech.


Collective Bargaining in California

Breakthrough in California

(Extemporaneous Remarks)

Senator Albert S. Rodda

My purpose tonight is briefly to provide some historical background and perhaps make some comments about the critical issues which are affected by the collective bargaining legislation. I'll begin my presentation with reference to the original Winton Act. I was in the Legislature when the Winton Act was passed, and I voted against it although, as a freshman senator in 1958, I was committed to collective bargaining for teachers. I had been at one time president of Local #31 of the California Federation of Teachers in Sacramento. This involvement had influenced my thinking on this issue.

As a teacher, I was of the opinion—having had some experience in matters affecting the professional status of teachers—that they should have an opportunity to negotiate in a more meaningful way with administrators and school board members. So I was supportive of the Winton Act in concept and of collective bargaining in principle. But I voted against the Winton Act on the Floor because of the manner in which those who were on the so-called negotiating council were chosen. There was no exclusive negotiation and no exclusive representation, and in the Senate the word “confer”—not even confer in good faith—was substituted by amendment for the word “negotiate,” which was contained in the Assembly version of the bill. So we ended up with a law which provided for a “negotiating council” which merely conferred and which did not provide for exclusive representation; so I voted “no.”

We are familiar with the fact that the Winton Act was not implemented very well in some districts and, as a consequence, in about 1970, Senator Newton Russell, then Assemblyman, introduced a bill which would significantly have amended the Winton Act. The bill was sponsored, as I recall, by the California School Boards Association. I introduced a bill which was sponsored by the author. We finally reached a consensus and the Russell bill became law. My bill was dropped; although the bills were amended so that they were identical, and the Winton Act was, thus, amended by the Russell-Rodda Act. So, it is the Winton-Russell Act which was amended by SB 160.

The Russell Act was substantive in some respects. In the first place, it contained a definition of impasse. And it introduced language into the Winton Act requiring the parties to confer in a conscientious effort to reach an agreement, which is a little bit better and stronger than just the meet-and-confer provision. There was no written contract, but there was provision for mediation; there was provision for factfinding, but not for publication of the recommendation of the factfinder; so even that legislation fell short of collective bargaining. The Russell Act did contain the same provisions relating to the strike as did the original Winton Act—reference to the Labor Code which courts had interpreted to deny the right of concerted action or the strike—but there were no provisions for a written contract and, of course, no provision for exclusive representation. The absence of a contract provision became an issue in the Los Angeles teacher's strike, which occurred about the same time the Russell Act went into effect.

At that time, the California Teachers Association—and please don't interpret my remarks with reference to any organization as being polarized or biased—did not favor collective bargaining for teachers, while the CFT did. The following year, however, CTA changed its historic position of opposition to one of support. My recollection is that in the same year Senator Dymally authored a substantive collective bargaining bill which was sponsored by both the CTA and the CFT. It was legislation that would have covered employees in the public education system from Kindergarten through the university; the bill was considered in the Senate Education Committee and died there. I voted against it because I believed that we should try to make the newly enacted Russell amendments work.

There was a great deal of momentum being generated for legislation because of the CTA support of collective bargaining. The rivalry between the two organizations, the CTA and the CFT, for collective bargaining legislation for public employees in the public education sector became very intense. In addition, the economies imposed upon higher education by Governor Reagan had the effect of intensifying union activity within the two systems of higher education, especially in the State University and Colleges System, where the whole concept of collegiality had not developed to the extent it had on the University of California campuses. As a result, the California State University faculty moved toward an approach to the problem of employee-employer relations which was more oriented toward the union model—the collective bargaining model. Looking at the membership lists of teacher organizations during those critical years, you'll find that they showed rather dramatic increases, and that fact of life created more pressure. The CFT had long supported collective bargaining, which meant that the School Administrators and the School Board members were fighting a rather difficult and almost losing battle on this issue.

Following Senator Dymally's effort, Senator Moscone became involved as principal author of legislation in 1973. The bill was SB 400 and it included within its coverage employees in public education from Kindergarten through the university system. There were five critical issues: (1) the inclusion of the two segments of higher education; (2) definition of scope; (3) language with reference to strike; (4) the agency shop; and (5) management rights. When the Moscone bill was under consideration, supported by teachers in all segments of public education, the Administrators and the School Board members testified to the effect that it lacked certain language they thought was important and that the language contained in the bill was too far-reaching in some respects. Their concern was the absence of language with reference to strike, the wide-open definition of scope of bargaining, provision for the agency shop, and the lack of the provision with respect to management rights. And, of course, the bill was opposed by the Regents of the University of California and the Board of Trustees of the California State University and Colleges System. I told Senator Moscone, when the bill was presented to the Senate Education Committee, to sit down and try to work out a compromise.

The bill came back before the Senate Education Committee the following week, but there was no compromise. The Administrators and School Board members were not the only uncompromising individuals. The uncompromising people were also the teachers, because they had political muscle in the Legislature and they knew, in a sense, that this piece of legislation would not become law because Governor Reagan would not sign it under any circumstances. I voted for the bill. It went to the Governor and he vetoed it.

In 1972, I had chaired Senate Education Committee interim hearings on this subject, but when the Moscone bill was under consideration in 1973, I did not introduce legislation because I wanted a compromise or consensus piece of legislation to be considered seriously and I knew what was going to happen with respect to the Moscone legislation. I had been in politics long enough to know what the scene would be. I knew that no one would think about a compromise bill; so why waste my time? In that year, however, I assigned Mr. John Bukey to do the principal work in reference to collective bargaining. Mr. Jerry Hayward and Mr. John Bukey, consultants to the Senate Education Committee, and I met in my constituency with School Board members and School Administrators at their request, and they said that they wanted to cooperate in an effort to improve the existing law, because they recognized it had significant deficiencies. I said, “Well, there's no point in my undertaking that kind of task unless you are willing to make some compromises; I have to work with the teacher groups; you're going to have to work with the teacher groups; we're all going to have to work together.” They agreed to such an arrangement.

At that time, I told John Bukey to study the findings of the interim committee hearing, to look at the legislative proposal made by the local group and to consult with the teachers in the various segments of education, and to try to develop a legislative consensus. The idea was to obtain comments from all parties so that I could affirm that all groups had had an opportunity to examine the legislation, to know what the intent was and, therefore, an opportunity to respond in a constructive way.

I stated at the time in response to the proposal made by the local group that “I was willing to introduce legislation and that I would try to achieve a compromise.” Incidentally, a politician may not use the word compromise; so I observed that I would struggle to achieve what we will call a “consensus.” So we strove for consensus and I said, “If I ever obtain consensus in the Senate, I will fight off amendments in the other House introduced by any element involved in this legislative activity which would change substantively the provisions of the legislation,” because if such amendments were made, they would create a bias and there would be no consensus. The bill, which was developed, pursuant to that effort, was SB 1857, and the year was 1974.

Fortunately, we did develop a degree of consensus and John Bukey and I conferred with people throughout the state on the legislation. The United Teachers of Los Angeles and the Classified School Employees of Los Angeles supported the bill despite the fact that it continued the Winton Act language with reference to the strike; despite the fact that it had a restricted definition of scope; and despite the fact that it did not include provision for the agency shop. They also accepted the management rights language. But some teachers challenged me that year with the charge that the bill was “an outright betrayal of teachers.” I argued that “there were some substantive improvements in the bill over existing law.” The bill provided for a written contract; for exclusive negotiation; and there were provisions for impasse negotiations, including mediation and public factfinding with recommendations. These were substantive changes, in my view, I observed. And I also commented on the positive aspects of the creation of a state board and the possibility of binding arbitration of contract, or “rights” disputes.

Meanwhile the courts were interpreting the Winton Act as a consequence of litigation and various decisions were handed down. These various interpretations were helpful in stimulating among the School Administrators and School Board members a desire for a law which could be interpreted in a uniform manner and which would make sense and improve negotiations with teachers. But they did not reach that position overnight. The leadership representing the School Boards and the School Administrators had to travel about the state educating their people and urging them to take a more positive attitude toward the legislation. And I commend them for that effort; without that effort I never could have obtained the kind of support for the bill that emerged. The teachers, from their perspective, were not totally negative, but the two principal organizations, the CTA and the CFT, remained in opposition throughout 1974.

I included the community college system in the original version of the bill. That was my decision. But I excluded the two segments of higher education—the University of California and the State University and Colleges System because there are differences in their internal governance which I did not fully comprehend, but which were of such a nature that they justified in my mind a separate bill or their inclusion in a bill which would cover all state employees. The inclusion of the community colleges was justified because of the similarity of governmental organization and finance to the Kindergarten-12 schools. They were, therefore, included despite the fact that there were problems with respect to the community college academic senates or faculty councils and their involvement in decisions affecting educational policy. I thought we could, with appropriate language, however, resolve that issue. But during the 1974 session I could not bring the community colleges into any kind of an agreement; so I personally deleted them from the legislation, which, of course, was SB 1857.

That legislation, the first product of the consensus effort, in the year 1974, moved to the Assembly, having the approval of the Senate, as I have described it to you, and having the support of the elements I mentioned—School Boards, School Administrators, UTLA and the Classified School Employees of Los Angeles, and a few chapters of CTA and the CFT local in San Francisco. It was opposed by the faculty of the University of California and the State University and Colleges System because they wanted a comprehensive bill; they wanted to be included and they were afraid that if a bill became law which excluded them, they would be left out permanently. SB 1857 failed in the Assembly Ways and Means Committee by one vote, after having been approved by the Assembly Education Committee.

The following year, 1975, I introduced SB 160, which was virtually identical to SB 1857. I did so with grave reservations because Speaker Moretti had introduced in 1974 a comprehensive bill, AB 1243, to include all public employees, which died in the Senate policy committee. And, in the same year, 1974, Senator Dills had introduced—and I had voted for— legislation (SB 32) to provide collective bargaining for local government employees. The Dills' bill was approved by the Senate and moved to the Assembly, where it perished because the Speaker was determined to enact a comprehensive bill. The significance of this action is that total emphasis was to be the enactment of comprehensive, not piecemeal legislation. The Moretti bill was assigned to interim hearings and I was on the joint committee that conducted the interim hearings. The entire intent was to achieve enactment of the comprehensive legislation. The Assembly leadership, Senator Dills, and the new Governor were committed to such action, as were all teacher organizations throughout 1975.

As the 1975 session proceeded, I accepted amendments to SB 160 with reference to the definition of scope which was modestly broadened, and I also introduced compromise language with reference to agency shop. And it is important to understand that an agency shop agreement under the provisions of the bill is a matter which may be negotiated. If a school board wishes to allow it, it may introduce such a provision into the contract; the issue would then have to be submitted to all affected employees for a vote. If the affected employees vote yes, it will be necessary for every employee in that group to pay a services rendered cost fee. The legislation does not provide, however, for compulsory membership; it does not require a union shop. Furthermore, if there is an organization which is competing with another organization to be the exclusive representative, and it loses the election, only the winning organization may have the right of dues deduction. If an organization does not want to compete for the right of exclusive negotiation, if it desires to be only educational organization, it may state that to be a fact with reference to its intent and purpose, and it may then have the right of dues deduction for its membership. This language has been objected to by some organizations because of their position of opposition to exclusive negotiation and to membership protection provisions.

After these amendments, especially the change in the definition of scope and agency shop were adopted, and also after the defeat of all of the comprehensive collective bargaining bills, the teacher groups, the CFT and CTA, began to be more responsive to the bill, SB 160.

During the entire negotiations the School Administrators and the School Boards had accepted the bill as amended and did everything they could to help achieve its enactment. It was because the bill finally had the support of the major elements of the educational community that I was able to achieve favorable action by the Legislature and place the bill on the Governor's desk.

We introduced one major amendment to satisfy the Governor; we changed the membership of the Board. The Board was to have had five members originally, but we reduced the membership to three, all of whom were to be appointed by the Governor. These individuals, it was recognized, might in the future function in the administration of a law affecting all public employees in the state; the Board membership could then be expanded. If that amendment had not been accepted, we would not now have a teacher collective bargaining law. I am convinced of that.

We all kept faith with each other, and it was that kind of conscientious effort that solved a very difficult problem. The School Boards and the School Administrators wanted the law because of the Winton Act's wide open definition of scope as interpreted by the courts; they wanted a negotiating council which spoke for the majority of the teachers; they wanted a vehicle in law which could be interpreted by a state board—the Educational Employment Relations Board—so that everyone concerned could know what the law was, what the standards were, and what the rules and regulations were statewide. And I think that the law has provisions which are for the benefit of the teachers, too. They recognized this; thus, they fully supported it.

The new law is no panacea; its success will largely be determined by the objectivity of its administration by the Board. The educational community has acted responsibly; the Legislature has acted responsibly; it is now the obligation of the Board to act responsibly.

Friday, August 10, 2007

A biographical sketch of Albert S. Rodda

The Rodda Project: Biographical sketch

Albert Stanley Rodda's political career did not begin with his election to the California State Senate in the Democratic landslide year of 1958, nor did it end with his upset defeat for re-election in the Reagan landslide year of 1980. While his 22 years in the State Senate marked the apogee of his power and influence, they also fit neatly into the context of interests and activities that both preceded and followed his time in the State Capitol.

More than anything else, Albert Rodda was an educator. He held an earned doctorate in history and economics from Stanford University. At the time of his initial election to the Legislature, Rodda was a faculty member at Sacramento City College, teaching history and economics. He retained his teaching position (going on leave during semesters when the Legislature was in session) until the Legislature became a full-time job in 1966, at which point he retired from the college. Later, after leaving the State Senate, he became an adjunct professor at Sacramento State University, teaching his students from the perspective of an experienced and practical politician.

He was back in elective office soon after his departure from the Legislature, taking a seat in 1983 as a representative on the Los Rios Community College District board of trustees. The Los Rios district included Sacramento City College, which in 1980 had dedicated its big new administrative and classroom complex in his honor. He served two terms on the board, lending his deep knowledge of state education policy and school finance to the deliberations of the college trustees.

Rodda's focus on education had been reflected in his legislative career, during which he spent several years as chair of the Senate Education Committee. While over six hundred of his bills were enacted into law, for most knowledgeable people the words “Rodda Act” refer to the landmark measure (SB 160) that established the right of public school teachers to collective bargaining. SB 160 was born of the Senator's personal knowledge of the stark imbalance between the rights of teachers and the authority of administrators and school boards. Both he and his wife, Clarice Horgan Rodda, had been teachers in Sacramento high schools.

A generally quiet and introspective gentleman, Albert Rodda departed from many of the stereotypes we associate with politicians. He cared more about getting things done than getting credit, so many times he deferred to colleagues who were eager to take leading roles in addressing the popular issues of the day. When rival bills were introduced in the Legislature, the authors would jockey for position as they sought to get their proposals to the Governor's desk. Sometimes they'd find that Rodda was willing to drop his own bill so long as his particular concerns were addressed to his satisfaction in the rival legislation. Thus a colleague's name would appear as lead author on a senate bill presented to the Governor for his signature, but many of the words in it would have been crafted by Al Rodda.

Early life

Albert S. Rodda, Jr., was born in Sacramento on July 23, 1912. He and his older brother, Richard Rodda, lost their mother in the worldwide flu pandemic of 1918. Their father remarried and the boys were raised by a devoted stepmother. The Rodda brothers both ended up dedicating their long lives to the service of the people and institutions of Sacramento, Richard in journalism and Albert in politics and education.

An alumnus of Sacramento High School (Class of 1929) and Stanford University (Class of 1933), Albert became a high school teacher himself. It was at Grant Union High School that he met Clarice Horgan, whom he married in 1941. The entry of the U.S. into World War II after Pearl Harbor prompted Albert to enlist in the U.S. Naval Reserve, where he became a gunnery officer (lieutenant, junior grade). The Senator used to reminisce about his military service, humorously describing his gunnery assignment as the great secret scandal of his life.

From the scuttlebutt of the time, Albert had heard that the Navy was assigning to the Atlantic theater those enlistees who had the highest scores on the mathematics portion of the officer candidate exams. Those who passed with lower scores were going to the Pacific instead. As a newlywed with a young wife in California, Albert much preferred to serve his country in the Pacific theater of war, where it might be possible for him to see Clarice during occasional shore leaves. He pulled some of his punches on the math problems and did not score quite as high as he was capable. [The Senator used to tease me that, as a math teacher, I must be horrified that he had underachieved on a math test. —TB] Whatever the reason, Albert soon found himself serving as a gunnery officer in the Pacific.

Mustered out of the Naval Reserve in 1946, Albert Rodda became a faculty member at what was then known as Sacramento Junior College. He and his family lived in a home in Curtis Park (where he still resides today), right around the corner from the college campus. He returned to Stanford University for graduate studies, completing his Ph.D. in history and economics in 1951. (His dissertation was on the economic mind of the 18th century colonial American, and the Senator used to joke that he should never have given a copy to Ronald Reagan.)

Entering politics

Though a Republican in the forties, Rodda became active in Democratic politics and the labor movement during the fifties and began to contemplate running for the Legislature. He had already been elected president of Local 31 of the California Federation of Teachers and was confident in his leadership abilities. Rodda wondered whether he should seek a seat in the Assembly or Senate. His high profile in Sacramento Democratic circles, where he served on the central committee (part of the time as its chair), was a mixed blessing, since it led him into conflict with the biggest Democratic name in the county, conservative incumbent state Senator Earl Desmond. Sen. Desmond made no secret of his opposition to any Rodda candidacy, certain that Albert would upset the old-boy network in which Desmond was comfortably ensconced.

It was ironic, therefore, that it was Desmond's death in office that opened the way for Albert Rodda to succeed him in the Legislature. Rodda defeated Desmond's son in the 1958 special election to fill the remainder of the late senator's term. It was a good year for Democrats, Edmund G. Brown, Sr., winning the Governor's office for the first of two terms that transformed California public education, water policy, and infrastructure. Albert Rodda entered the Legislature just in time to participate in a dynamic new era in California politics.

Because Rodda was elected to a vacant seat, he was sworn into office immediately after his victory was confirmed. Two years later, in 1960, he was elected to a full four-year term in his own right, a feat he repeated in 1964. That term, however, was truncated. The U.S. Supreme Court invalidated the then-existing apportionment of the State Senate's 40 seats by counties (or groups of counties). The one-man/one-vote decision required the new districts to be essentially equal in population. All forty senators were forced to run in 1966. To restore the tradition whereby only half of the Senate came up for election in even-numbered years, half of the senators ran for two-year terms and the other half for the customary four-year terms. Albert ended up with another two-year term.

At the same time, the California legislature went from a part-time institution to a full-time governmental body. The Senator had to make a difficult decision. He decided to continue his legislative career, now a full-time job, and to step down from his faculty position at Sacramento City College. Albert was re-elected to his Sacramento-area district in 1968, 1972, and 1976. As his seniority grew, he attained the position of dean of the Senate (he was senior to Walter Stiern of Bakersfield by several weeks, having taken office in 1958 just before Stiern took his own seat).


The Senator was approached at one point and asked to consider taking the position of president pro tempore of the Senate, but he was not interested in the top leadership position in the upper house. He knew that he had been approached as a compromise candidate, an acceptable alternative to more ambitious Democrats who had divided the house in their efforts to secure the leadership. (The position eventually went to James Mills of San Diego.)

Albert did, however, accept the chairmanship of the Senate Finance Committee under similar circumstances, again coming to the attention of his colleagues as an acceptable alternative to two powerful rivals. He picked up the gavel of Senate Finance with some reluctance because it required him to step down as chair of Senate Education, but he presided with panache over his new committee during his last four-year term of office.

Much of the Senator's effectiveness stemmed from the respect his fellow senators had for him. No one regarded Sen. Rodda as ambitious for personal political advancement, making him more widely trusted than senators who were actively positioning themselves for future statewide campaigns, judgeships, or post-elective jobs in the private sector. The Senator knew how to draw on his colleagues' trust in crafting successful legislation.


As noted, when people refer to “the Rodda Act” they are usually talking about SB 160, the Senator's landmark 1975 legislation that gave collective bargaining rights to public school teachers. There are, however, over six hundred other measures authored by Sen. Rodda that were enacted into state law. These ran the gamut of his constituents' concerns, but major areas of focus were education policy and fiscal policy. The Senator was a long-time member of the Senate Education Committee and was its chair for ten years. During his four years as chair of the Senate Finance Committee, Rodda was the lead author of the Senate version of the state budget bill and a member of each year's two-house conference committee that settled areas of disagreement between the Senate and Assembly versions of the budget.

Proposition 13 in 1978 was the big landmark in what many people called a "tax revolt." Sen. Rodda worked with his colleagues to soften the impact of 13's enormous reduction in property tax revenue. Their success, however, opened the way for 13's sponsors to argue that more tax reductions were needed. The follow-up was Proposition 9 in June 1980 to slash the personal income tax. Sen. Rodda worked diligently to analyze the impact of enactment of Proposition 9 and demonstrated that it would be disastrous, especially in the absence of a state surplus to cushion its effects. Rodda's analyses (issued in two separate documents) were a crucial weapon in the successful campaign to defeat Proposition 9. Although the June balloting was a great vindication of the Senator's position, with Proposition 9 losing by 61% to 39%, it also drew attention to him as an opponent of the tax-revolt leaders in the state. The political right drew a bead on him, and ammunition was plentiful. Some critics began to point to the number of votes Rodda missed during absences from the floor of the Senate; they neglected to point out that there was no way he could be present during the sessions that the Senate held concurrently with meetings of Senate Finance or the budget conference committee. Ironically, his success and seniority as a legislator would be used against him.

The election of 1980

Sen. Rodda was aware that many local politicians were hoping that he would retire in 1980 and create an opportunity for their advancement. Upon due consideration, Albert decided to run for another term. He did not want to set off a major primary battle among Democratic Party members, particularly in a census year. The new U.S. census would be followed by redistricting, making it important that the Democrats maintain their majorities and thus control the new district lines. Rodda was considered a sure bet for re-election by most observers (the nonpartisan California Journal rated his race “Safe Democratic”), although his district's demographics were moving in a more conservative direction.

The Senator himself was more concerned than most of his allies. He reluctantly approved a bigger campaign budget than in previous contests, sensing that 1980 might prove to be a difficult year for Democrats. He also drew a maverick Democrat as an opponent in the June primary. That was unusual. While Rodda beat him handily, he worried about the minority of Democrats who had declined to vote for him. In addition, the Republican nominee elected to oppose him was a young legislative assistant from Senator H. L. Richardson's office. Richardson was California's right-wing guru and an early pioneer of computer-generated campaign fund-raising and targeted mass mailing. Was Richardson's aide a sacrificial lamb, or did Richardson think they had a genuine chance at a major upset?

Just before the election, when Rodda was beginning to feel that his campaign had done enough to secure one more term, the Republican's secret weapon was unveiled. It seemed (to those of us on Rodda's staff, anyway) that Richardson had a political ally in the person of the Sacramento county district attorney. The DA indicted a state senator on charges of lewd and lascivious conduct with minors. The criminal charges were among the biggest local news stories in the days immediately preceding the election. The indicted legislator was Senator Alan Robbins of Van Nuys, but some thought the timing of the indictment indicated that the real target was Senator Albert Rodda of Sacramento. We received phone calls in the Senator's office denouncing him as a dirty old man. People were easily confused by the similarity of the names Alan Robbins and Albert Rodda. We also heard reports of a door-to-door whispering campaign in which people expressed concern about re-electing an accused sex criminal to the State Senate.

Ronald Reagan's landslide victory over Jimmy Carter sealed Albert Rodda's fate. Many good Democrats were swept out of office as the GOP turned out in force for the presidential election. The media's early call of a Reagan victory and Carter's immediate concession were depressing to West Coast candidates, who decried the president's acknowledgment of defeat while the polls were still open. On top of the local smear campaign, Carter's premature concession statement was probably the last straw. We noticed that Sen. Rodda had carried the absentee vote, a traditionally Republican portion of the electorate. Rodda's defeat was caused by last-minute events, because he won the early balloting. The final tally went against him by 123,844 to 115,795, a margin of barely 8,000 votes (3.4% of the total vote).

Enter Unruh

The shock waves from Rodda's defeat reverberated through the State Capitol. Many Democrats worried that a nasty new era of political campaigning had begun. (As we know now, they were right.) Soon, however, major political figures came courting. Governor Jerry Brown offered Rodda a seat on the Agricultural Labor Relations Board. Although the legislation establishing the ALRB bore another senator's name as lead author, Rodda had been deeply involved in the details of establishing collective bargaining rights for state farmworkers. Farm labor unionization was controversial and Gov. Brown decided that Albert could be a calming influence, as well as certain to obtain Senate confirmation from his erstwhile colleagues.

State Treasurer Jesse M. Unruh, however, had other ideas. The former Assembly Speaker had built the constitutional post of State Treasurer into a major state power center. Unruh was the statutory chairman of the new Commission on State Finance, the latest agency to be created within the Treasurer's Office. The new commission was charged with tracking and forecasting state revenues and expenditures. Its creation was evidence of Unruh's continuing influence over state government, since Gov. Brown signed the legislative measure despite the reservations of his Department of Finance (which correctly recognized the Commission on State Finance as an indication that neither the Legislature nor the State Treasurer was content to trust the budget numbers coming out of the Administration or the Legislative Analyst's Office). The new commission needed an executive officer who could put the agency on the map of state government. Unruh offered the position to Albert Rodda.

Rodda quickly recognized that he was likely to find much more job satisfaction in the Treasurer's Office than at the Agricultural Labor Relations Board. He tendered his regrets to the Governor and accepted the State Treasurer's offer to become executive secretary of the Commission on State Finance.

Albert's presence as chief officer of the commission enabled Unruh to fully staff the infant agency. The commission began to issue quarterly reports on state revenues and expenditures, as well as long-range forecasts. The staff tracked legislation with fiscal impact and forecast the general fund cost of servicing general obligation bonds. The Governor's Department of Finance was not delighted with the existence of the State Treasurer's Commission on State Finance (several years later, in fact, Gov. Pete Wilson used his line-item veto to abolish it), but a fairly high level of cooperation was established between the two state agencies during Rodda's tenure. Unruh's plan for an independent check on the Governor's Department of Finance was in place.

Rodda stayed at the Commission on State Finance until 1983, when the Los Rios board of trustees beckoned. People in Area 5, the college district where Albert and Clarice resided, came to the Senator with a request that he chair a search committee to recruit a new trustee to represent them. Each person he approached said the same thing: “Why don't you run, Al?” No naïf, Albert soon realized that those who had approached him had had him in mind in the first place. They just wanted him to discover the degree of support for him within the district. Soon he was on the campaign trail and Area 5 voters swept him into office by a gratifyingly large majority.

Later years

Albert Rodda enjoyed relatively robust good health for many decades. No one, however, could have maintained the high standard he had set indefinitely. He gradually slowed down after retiring from the Los Rios board at the age of 80. The Senator continued to enjoy meeting friends for lunch, but he gradually withdrew from discussions of the day's political issues. Albert had high standards; when he no longer had the time and energy to keep up on the details of California and national politics, he preferred to reserve judgment rather than pontificate without information. (How many politicians do you know with that kind of fundamental honesty or restraint?) The Senator increasingly devoted himself to telling jokes and stories at meetings of his lunch group. His penchant for repeating his favorites became a running gag (including inspiring a contest at his 90th birthday party, in which people competed in their recollection of the jokes when given only the punch lines).

The Senator's greatest loss came with the passing of Clarice, who had been his steadfast partner and helpmate for so long. Albert eventually gave up on living alone and tried a retirement community, but he wasn't happy there. After a serious illness left him an invalid, his children arranged for Albert to move back home with live-in companions to care for him. In familiar and comfortable surroundings, the Senator eased into a quiet and tranquil life. He liked to receive visitors, but would tire quickly and no longer cared to converse at length. On April 3, 2010, Albert died at the age of 97.


In addition to his many enacted legislative measures, Albert Rodda's legacy consists of family, friends, and schools. The Los Rios district continues to deliver Albert's dream of open access to higher education, Rodda Hall at the Sacramento City College campus serving as a visible reminder of his impact. His children have distinguished themselves in public school classrooms, on the state bench, and in the state attorney general's office, continuing their parents' accomplishments in education and law. Albert's many students and legislative staffers are an extension of his legacy, and we are everywhere.