As reported in the Sacramento Bee, Governor Jerry Brown’s speech started with what appeared to be a tangent on the fast-food chain, Chipotle. “What I like about Chipotle is the limited menu. You stand in the line, get either brown rice or white rice, black beans or pinto beans,” Brown said. However, his speech then turned to higher education: “You put a little cheese, a little this, a little that, and you’re out of there. I think that’s a model some of our universities need to follow.” In short, according to Brown, if universities, adopted a “limited-menu concept,” more students will graduate on time. Governor Brown’s most scathing criticism was reserved for faculty: “They have so damn many courses because all these professors want to teach one of their pet little projects, but then you get thousands and thousands of courses, and then the basic courses aren’t available. It takes kids six years instead of four years.”
Brown’s proposed online school would offer a “limited-menu” and effectively get students “out of there” in a timely manner, just as customers are rushed through their dining experience at Chipotle. Unfortunately, his burrito-bowl approach to higher education seems unlikely to gain much support from faculty unions, higher education administrators, or anyone with a investment in the state’s traditional education system.