From Editor's Introduction, by Jeffrey C. Isaac:
I entered college in September of 1975, a working class kid from Queens whose father, Hyman Isaac, was an unemployed linotype operator (I wonder how many of our younger readers even know what that is; it's a typesetter, a trade that no longer exists), and whose mother, Sylvia Isaac, was an office secretary. I thus enrolled at Queens College, the neighborhood school, part of the City University of New York which, in 1975, offered free tuition to all New York City high school graduates. A month later, on October 30, the New York Daily News carried one of the most famous newspaper headlines of the century: “Ford to the City: Drop Dead.” The Ford in question was Gerald Ford, the unelected President of the United States who had acceded to the office from the House of Representatives when first the Vice-President (Spiro Agnew) and then the President (Richard Nixon) resigned amid scandal and disgrace. And his “drop dead” to “the city”—New York City—was a strong declaration that the US government would not bail New York out of the severe fiscal crisis in which it was mired. That same autumn, the State of New York passed the New York State Financial Emergency Act of The City of New York, placing the city in receivership, under the fiscal control of a state-appointed Emergency Financial Control Board: EFCB. That acronym, and a second with which it was conjoined—MAC, or “Big MAC,” the Municipal Assistance Corporation, the bond authority led by Felix Rohatyn that became the veritable executive office of the city—is indelibly stamped on the psyches of all who lived in and around New York in those years. For me, a teenage college student, the most palpable effect of all of this was the abolition of tuition-free higher education in New York City in 1976—a sour note during that year's bicentennial celebration of American freedom.
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