The LACCD catalogs promise success. Careers. Will graduates succeed?

The Los Angeles Community Colleges now advertise the reopening of classes with billboards and the direct mailings of class schedules to students. I received a catalog for Los Angeles Mission Collage. On the cover of the catalog, they promise success. Do the long term earnings of students show success? See the research published by the New York Times:

The numbers are abysmal:

I succeeded. The research by the New York Times shows graduates making less than their parents ten years after college. They live paycheck to paycheck.

That research does not describe my career. I entered college to learn to write. And I did. The struggle to publish novels took years, I sold a series of novels, a novel hit the New York Times Paperback Bestseller List, I made good money, I financed and ran my own international company. And I worked as a university professor.

See the success story of the Garcia family:

Will others succeed? At what cost? And what of debt?

I graduated from the university without debt. Students can leave the university with the freedom to pursue their careers.

Who is this Robert Payne? What does he want to do for the students? Why does he always talk of reducing the cost of college and university?

I graduated Cal State at age 21 with money in the bank. (And I went out and bought a sportscar. Big mistake. I also advocate real-world guidance counselors for students.)

Students can graduate four-year colleges, eight-year universities without debt.

This is how I think.

Ideas. I am thinking of how to get students through college and onward to careers without debt.

The administration and faculty maintain a two-year minimum delay on all class proposals. How do we, the community of the educated, the enterprising, the successful -- and the parents who want opportunity for their teenagers, how do we counter the retired-place administrators and 'professors?'

I will propose a work-around. The colleges also offer what are called, "Community Extension" classes.

No credits. Instructors maybe paid, maybe not. A class would require finding an instructor, then asking the college administrators for a room. Would the administrators grant the room? Do they want a Trustee on the Board who will listen to their proposals?

A problem often confronting students who work --

Too often, students must work to the schedules of employers, employers who will change schedules without notice. Or if another employee calls in sick. What if a test comes? What if the student must decide, the class or the paycheck?

Work only part-time? Take out loans? The pay for an unskilled student working part-time will not make living expenses.

I encountered this when I attended Cal State Northridge. I had four classes during the weekdays. I worked short-term construction cleanup during the summer. And janitor service. I had money in the bank. But I decided I needed more. So I found work making hamburgers and cleaning a Jack in the Box 10pm to 6am.

My body could not adjust to the day-to-night shift. Rather than fail college, I quit.

I could quit, I had money in the bank from the summer work, I did not have children, no car, cheap rent on a one-bedroom house I had sub-divided into three rooms for three students. I lived cheap. I could quit. Eat less, wear my clothes to rags, tape up my shoes.

Now? No cheap rent near colleges. Maybe young people don't want to wear rags. Maybe they want decent shoes. Maybe they don't know about shopping in second-hand stores. They want to buy new? Style costs money.

Idea. Teach students the techniques of the independent entrepreneur.

I know a teacher who paid her way through four-year Cal State, then a year of teacher-prep, then two more years for a Masters degree in Special Education. No debt.

She washed windows. A 'Community Extension' class could teach window washing in a day. What tools to buy, what techniques, what detergents, how to negotiate a fair price, how to move quick.

After she received her degree, she also worked as a substitute teacher. She only took the easy class assignments so she could read her classwork and write essays for her Masters. Why take a day at a difficult school? Window washing made more money than substituting.


What could be possible for a young man or woman without a degree?

Other classes. How to sell. How to negotiate. How to write a basic contract. How to search for opportunities.

For a thousand dollars and a pickup truck, a young man or woman can launch a business as a ....

A Green New Deal Specialist Gardener. Offer Community Extension classes teaching young men and women the vocabulary, the concepts, the techniques of Xeriscaping, the conversion of the green, water-demanding lawns of suburbia to drought-tolerant native plants.

As the cities demand water-use reductions and increase the charges, Xeriscaping will become more popular. And the few contractors offering the conversions charge as much as $20,000 to install native plants. Undercut that expense, the student makes their own schedule, works as studies allow.

UCLA offers Extension courses. Thousands of dollars to gain a Certificate. UCLA is expensive -- I went there. LACCD classes could undercut UCLA, put students to work faster for immediate return on investment. Learn the vocabulary, talk the talk, write a contract, do the work.

No! How do they get started? Go door to door, offer to tear out lawns? No. Present the Xeriscape classes in Spanish for working gardeners. They already work routes. I see Latino gardeners losing clients to expensive Xeriscape contractors. Latino gardeners too often do not speak the English required for complex projects.

And I know from working with my father, sometimes 'clients' don't pay for projects. But don't get angry, don't threaten. Get your money. In the Xeriscape classes, teach in English and Spanish how to file a Mechanic's Lien on a fakey 'client.' Takes time, it is tedious, it must be done in correct English -- that student working for the older, established gardener suddenly becomes a valued associate.

Or file a lawsuit. Without an attorney, without fees. There are details required to do this. Only requires careful reading of the forms and writing the lawsuit. I did it.

(After writing US Patents, Copyrights in Central America (in Castellan legalese), after shutting down copyright violators in the United States, writing a Pro Per lawsuit is nothing. )

Entrepreneurship can be learned.

And entrepreneurs make opportunities.

With the droughts, come landscape water restrictions. How to water the landscape? Why not send wash water from the kitchen, the shower, the washing machine out to the yard?

A Green New Deal gardener could do this work if they charged less than $499. Handyman work. No license requirement.

And what if the homeowner mounted solar panels on their roof? Panels need cleaning for maximum efficency.

The Green New Deal gardener could uptrain to solar salesperson. Then uptrain to installer. Buy tools with cash flow, uptrain to be the owner of their own company. Many opportunities. And the student will make their own schedule.

What if a student is beautiful? Handsome? A quick learner who can speak multiple languages?

Tradeshows need temporary workers. A dedicated follower of fashion? Get paid in cash, get paid in clothes, buy clothes at clearance prices at tradeshows. When I worked tradeshows, I hired peope to write invoices. When I go to tradeshows, I see handsome young men, beautiful young women modelling clothing and writing invoices. Work for a week, bank the money, maybe opportunities come

An artist? Can they draw quick sketches? Designers need models, if the model can sketch, they will work more often. Students will meet designers at tradeshows. Much talk, sometimes connections happen.

As always, they who dare, succeed. Classes in sales, contracts, basic legal forms -- all these details could launch students into careers before they get the diploma.

I know this from experience. College, university, all of classes -- students must still make their own future. I did. Yet that future becomes so difficult if the graduate carries debt. Work in college, graduate without debt.

As a student of literature, the classics, learning to write, did I like sweeping floors? Running scrub machines with toxic solvents? Cleaning the toilets and urinals?

A summertime night janitor job, I cleaned up a theater, a theater running film crew 'dailies,' that is, whatever short sections that came back from the lab. The producer saw I worked. He hired me to clean up after scenes during the day. Then they needed a man to lift the camera. Heavy $100,000 35mm Mitchell camera in a sound shell with a $125,000 zoom lens. I had strength, I could do it. The clean up man graduates to 2nd assistant camera. I learn lights. I take film classes, I drop the cinema-as-art classes, I take classes to learn the equipment. Next projects, I learn to load the 35mm Mitchell. After the workday, they need a man to help the projectionist. I wind reels of film, he shows me how to thread the projectors.

At that time, theaters ran 35mm films. The used projectionists. Union projectionists. At night. I had classes during the day. I can run a projector. How do I get in the union? Get a license. Why a license? Projection is not safe work. A mistake with an arc lamp inflicts burns through the flesh to the bones. And sometimes companies made mistakes and sent nitrate film to theaters. I asked, what is nitrate film?

I was told I would never run nitrate film. Only acetate. Yet mistakes happened. Get your license, you will work. And if the arc lamp starts a fire, to protect the audience, all the ports and doors seal shut. I was told, never run nitrate film. As a new man, I worked many miserable theaters. And learned what happened if I ran nitrate. Cremation. And then the fire would spread to the theater. For that reason The City of Los Angeles required the license.

The theaters and the summer film projects paid for my Master's degree in literature. And then I worked for years to sell my first novel. Selling a script or a novel or film project requires the freedom not to work a job. With money in the bank, I could quit work for months to write, make meetings, talk, talk, talk on the telephone.

If I had carried student debt, I could not take off the months to write and deal.

If a company offers a college graduate an internship, can the graduate take the offer? Laws now require companies to pay interns. Will that pay cover expenses? Without debt, graduates can take opportunities. I did.

Our nation confronts a changing world. We need people working at their ideal occupations to meet the challenges of the world. For that reason, I want to serve as Trustee on the Los Angeles Community College Board of Trustees.

You have a choice:

Support an incumbent who uses his position to extort funding to advance his political career.


Support me, Robert Payne, and vote for an independent voice not corrupted by the faculty political regime.

I have world experience. I know what confronts students. I will not use the position to get a ticket to Sacramento. I will work only for the students, the innovative faculty and staff, the District, and the community.

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