Sometimes, you wonder how California exists.
I say this as a proud, ryde-or-die Californian. Product of California public schools. I will sooner reread Vineland than Gravity's Rainbow. I searched eBay for a King Tee poster just last night. I was emotional when I had to trade my California driver's license for a New York one.
But this is just nuts (or, in the words of a friend and fellow UC product, "fucking awesome" in a "tragic/trainwreck" sort of way). As the UC (and CSU) (and, for different reasons, public K-12) system withers away, a vanguard squad of UC San Diego profs have stepped forward with a bold new plan to formalize a split between the UCs that matter (Berkeley, LA, San Diego and, in a specialized way, UCSF) and the rest. Perhaps owing in part to UCSD's status as a premier institution in the fields of marine biology and oceanography, the image of crabs in a barrel comes to mind.
While it's doubtful the UCSD proposal will gain favor, it's going to be a fascinating fight with implications for public higher ed throughout the country (though few states have the kinds of tax issues that California does). What doesn't make sense, though, is the part of the proposal where the UCSD chairs essentially want to relegate UCs Merced, Santa Cruz and Riverside. Economically, it doesn't make sense to create a two-tiered system of research institutions and teaching institutions, since the engine of the higher education industry is actually graduate student labor. Also--would class sizes at these "teaching UCs" shrink as well?