It would be "absurd" for the State of California to alter its Constitution to strip the University of California of its relative independence from state regulation, university officials said in a formal response  to legislation introduced this week  by several legislators. In criticizing the legislation  introduced by State Sen. Leland Yee and colleagues, UC officials essentially argue that the state, given its many problems, is in no position to take over a university that, despite its own recent travails, remains "the pride of California and the envy of the world." Typical of the combative if not hostile tone of the missive, the university says: "California might have trouble marketing its bonds in the current fiscal crisis, but UC has a triple-A rating. The state budget may have fallen over a cliff, but UC has managed its resources prudently in a tough environment. It has been able to preserve its world class status -- a thrumming engine of educational opportunity, scientific advance and economic stimulus -- even as it has absorbed a steady onslaught of cuts dictated from Sacramento.... By contrast, consider what state control has meant for California's once world class, but now declining, K-12 public education effort. As Arne Duncan, secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, observed during a recent visit: 'Honestly, I think California has lost its way, and I think the long-term consequences of that are very troubling.' "