What is Mr. Reagan's educational legacy? Let's begin with a look at his record as governor of California. While running for the governorship, Mr. Reagan shrewdly made the most of disorder on University of California campuses. For instance, he demanded a legislative investigation of alleged Communism and sexual misconduct at the University of California at Berkeley. He insisted on public hearings, claiming "a small minority of hippies, radicals and filthy speech advocates" had caused disorder and that they should "be taken by the scruff of the neck and thrown off campus -- permanently",
Once elected, Mr. Reagan set the educational tone for his administration by:
a. calling for an end to free tuition for state college and university students,
b. annually demanding 20% across-the-board cuts in higher education funding,
c. repeatedly slashing construction funds for state campuses
d. engineering the firing of Clark Kerr, the popular President of the University of California, and
e. declaring that the state "should not subsidize intellectual curiosity,"
And he certainly did not let up on the criticisms of campus protestors that had aided his election. Mr. Reagan's denunciations of student protesters were both frequent and particularly venomous. He called protesting students "brats," "freaks," and "cowardly fascists." And when it came to "restoring order" on unruly campuses he observed, "If it takes a bloodbath, let's get it over with. No more appeasement!"
Several days later four Kent State students were shot to death. In the aftermath of this tragedy Mr. Reagan declared his remark was only a "figure of speech." He added that anyone who was upset by it was "neurotic." One wonders if this reveals him as a demagogue or merely unfeeling.