Outsmarting the Matrix: Transforming the Privatization Trend in Public Higher Ed
Teri Shaffer Yamada, Prof. of Asian Studies, CSU Long Beach
There is a window of opportunity for constructive change over the next six months during the build-up to the November national election. But this change requires engaged faculty working together in innovative ways. And it requires a new strategy eschewing a “university business as usual” mentality. That reality is gone: there is no business as usual at the public university.
So our current moment in history demands we organize around commonalities and develop different forms of more effective action. If we act strategically, we have an opportunity to alter the privatization momentum that threatens the survival of meaningful public education for the 99%.
We could start by unabashedly embracing and valorizing the greatness of “our values.” We transform and enrich the lives of our students because we care (1). We live in a media culture that foregrounds violence and cruelty, where selfless concern isn’t typically newsworthy unless it is driven by anger or hyperbole. Yet everyday kindness happens and without it we would be much diminished. And our “story” is compelling across ideological lines simply because we base it on shared values of “American democracy”: opportunity for all. Framed in the context of education, it is access to quality instruction that develops an educated demos. In turn, our students provide the citizen power to run a government and economic system that reflects the needs and talents of the 99%. That may sound quaint, but imagine the outcomes if our current Hobbesian trajectory of consolidating power remains unchecked.
So what defines this matrix? We are now confronted with a mirror reality of the dismantling of K-12 public education. We have been out-organized and out- financed as reflected in Steven Brills’ reportage “The Teachers’ Unions’ Last Stand” from the New York Times (May 17, 2010):
….Schnur, who runs a Manhattan-based school-reform group called New Leaders for New Schools, sits informally at the center of a network of self-styled reformers dedicated to overhauling public education in the United States. They have been building in strength and numbers over the last two decades and now seem to be planted everywhere that counts. They are working in key positions in school districts and charter-school networks, legislating in state capitals, staffing city halls and statehouses for reform-minded mayors and governors, writing papers for policy groups and dispensing grants from billion-dollar philanthropies like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Bill Gates, along with Education Secretary Arne Duncan; Teach for America’s founder, Wendy Kopp; and the New York City schools chancellor Joel Klein could be considered the patron saints of the network.
This is the matrix: a network of well-placed and well-funded powerful individuals with shared values, who can impact state and federal agencies and legislators through influential friends or lobbyists, media and foundation access, and sponsored think-tank publications. We have allowed this to happen: “power abhors a vacuum.”
We can begin by changing our approach. We can shift to “motivated reasoning” as we seek to change hearts and minds (2). And we can message our values based upon the target audience.
As we learn from the impressive successes of the for-profit education matrix, we recognize the importance of shared values. It forms the foundational connectivity of the network of relationships required to establish a power base. Thoughtful leadership throughout a wide network is necessary to accomplish the change we do believe in: re-democratizing public education. Several important meetings will take place under the auspices of AAUP, NEA and CFHE over the next few months (3). What is an effective strategy these three can develop together and communicate to the grassroots to deflect further damage to public higher ed? Can we move quickly enough?
One possibility for promoting change is to emulate the strategy of ALEC. We could start by developing one piece of legislation that most faculty unions could promote to their state legislators. The California Faculty Association (CFA) worked for several years to pass a transparency bill so that the public could have access to the financial records of the “for-profit” side of the California State University system. CFA is currently sponsoring a bill to democratize the CSU Board of Trustees as part of an action plan published in its recent white paper “For-Profit Higher Education & the CSU: A Cautionary Tale” . Are other faculty unions sponsoring bills? What is the most beneficial bill we could introduce in a range of states to protect public higher ed? What is the most “elegant” strategic plan at the federal level? The “outcomes-assessment” obsessed federal Department of Education often disappoints but there may be some leverage there as well.
There are also global trends we need to consider: the ubiquitous embrace of “common core standards,” including our own Department of Education. This trend has filtered down to the accreditation commissions in the United States.
The Lumina Foundation has funded a pilot program on “degree qualifications” at the college level—common outcomes for AA, BA, MA degrees across the United States— through the Western Association of Colleges and Universities (WASC). The first set of “volunteer” institutions will be reporting in April on their progress in implementing and assessing the Lumina “degree qualification profile.”
Beyond the new trend to measure graduation and retention rates, we can be restructured internally through changed accreditation standards that demand we measure “value-added degrees” through common-core standards assessments or track the type of jobs our graduates acquire after leaving the institution. The for-profit higher ed sector is being nudged in this direction to make it more accountable to the federal government for its voracious consumption of public funds through PELL grants and military initiatives that fund education. Some for-profit providers can fund their entire operation through these two sources alone. Their lobbyists insist that public higher ed be subjected to the same assessments.
Every faculty member should pay attention to new directives imposed by their institutional accreditation agency. If the end result is a diminished capacity to offer a wide range of degrees since programs must justify their existence through proof of job placement as an outcome, we may become a different kind of vocational training institution that has lost the soul of a liberal arts education.
Be sure to track the forthcoming reports on the 2012 Bologna Ministerial Conference on the GlobalHigherEd blog. There will be further discussion there on common international standards which would impact us nationally.
EXCERPT FROM GlobalHigherEd The European Higher Education Area: Retrospect and Prospect (Posted: 22 Mar 2012 07:24 PM PDT)
First, the 2012 Bologna Ministerial Conference:is expected to bring together 47 European Higher Education Area ministerial delegations, the European Commission, as well as the Bologna Process consultative members and Bologna Follow-Up Group partners. The meeting will be an opportunity to take stock of progress of the Bologna Process and set out the key policy issues for the future. The EHEA ministers will jointly adopt the Bucharest Ministerial Communiqué, committing to further the Bologna goals until 2020.
Second, The 2012 Bologna Policy Forum rganised in conjunction with the Ministerial Conference is aimed to intensify policy dialogue and cooperation with partners across the world. The theme of the third Bologna Policy forum is “Beyond the Bologna process: Creating and connecting national, regional and global higher education spaces”. The Policy forum has four sub-themes, which will be addressed during the parallel sessions, namely: “Global academic mobility: Incentives and barriers, balances and imbalances”; “Global and regional approaches to quality enhancement of Higher Education”; “Public responsibility for and of HE within national and regional context”; “The contribution of Higher Education reforms to enhancing graduate employability”. This year’s edition of the Bologna Policy Forum will be finalised with the adoption of the 2012 Bologna Policy Forum Statement.
1) Those of us who participated in the feminist philosophy movement of the 1980s know this as the “ethics of care.” See “Ethics of Care” in “Online Guide to Ethics and Moral Philosophy.” March 24, 2012.
2) See Dan Kahan’s definition based upon “motivated cognition” which refers to “the unconscious tendency of individuals to fit their processing of information to conclusions that suit some end or goal” in “What Is Motivated Reasoning and How Does It Work?” See also a great video clip with a discussion of this concept “Dan Kahan — The Great Ideological Asymmetry Debate.” Kahan is the Elizabeth K. Dollar Professor Law and Professor of Psychology at the Yale Law School. His research focuses on “cultural cognition” (how social and political group affiliations affect our views of contested areas of ‘reality’) and motivated reasoning.
3) CFHE (Campaign for the Future of Higher Education) is having its Third National Gathering in Ann Arbor on May 18, 2012, hosted by the Michigan Conference AAUP. Contact CFHE.firstname.lastname@example.org for further information. Registration is free.
California Faculty Association. “For-Profit Higher Education & the CSU: A Cautionary Tale” March 19, 2012
Brills, Steve. The Teachers’ Unions’ Last Stand. New York Times. May 17, 2010.
Kahan, Dan. “What is Motivated Reasoning and How Does it Work?” May 4, 2011.
———. “Dan Kahan- The Great Ideological Asymmetry Debate” February 13, 2012.
Lederman, Doug. “What’s ‘Good Enough’?” Inside Higher Ed. April 14, 2011.
———. “What Degrees Should Mean.” Inside Higher Ed. January 25, 2011.
Lumina Foundation. “The Degree Qualifications Profile: Defining degrees: A new direction for American higher education to be tested and developed in partnership with faculty, students, leaders and stakeholders.”
"The Curricular Dimension of De-funding Public Higher Education"
As Washington looks toward the next special legislative session, higher education is again on the cutting block. It is likely that new cuts will be forthcoming absent new taxes. As a result, the cost to students to attend college will continue to rise.
A major reason why public college tuition has been rising in Washington is not because it costs so much more to attend college these days, but because the portion of that cost subsidized by the state has declined dramatically. As the state cuts, more of the cost is borne by students and parents.
Commentators have noted the effect rising tuition has on student debt, but few have paid attention to curricular dimensions. As tuition increases, however, legislators have responded by making fundamental changes to college education that threaten to redefine college’s very purpose. It is worth pondering whether this is a direction we wish to take.
At the heart of American college is what is known as “general education.” In addition to one’s major, college students take courses in different disciplines and areas in order to gain a broad education in the arts and sciences — a liberal education.
General education took its modern form after the 1945 publication of “General Education for a Free Society,” by a Harvard committee under its president, James Bryant Conant. Conant argued that specialization and depth must be balanced by general education and breadth. Modern universities and faculty were too focused on their disciplines, and students suffered. In Conant’s words, general education refers to “that part of a student’s whole education which looks first of all to his life as a responsible human being and citizen; while the term, special education, indicates that part which looks to the student’s competence in some occupation.”
General education takes time and money. As legislators shift the burden to students, they have sought to bypass general education requirements to make college degrees cheaper, faster to obtain, narrower in focus, and geared more directly to vocational training.
The key two programs are Running Start, which allows 11th and 12th graders to enroll in college courses at the state’s expense, and the more recent “College in the High School,” which urges high schools to offer college credit courses.
Both programs are designed to save the state and students money. Both send the message to students that general education is unimportant and the more quickly you can get it over with, the faster you can graduate and get on with life. Both erode the campus experience of which general education is a large part.
The last legislative session witnessed a three-pronged attack on general education. The first was the establishment of Western Governors University-Washington, which has almost no general education requirements when compared with other colleges. Western Governors University (WGU), instead, criticizes colleges for requiring so much “seat time.”
The second was a bill granting Boeing and Microsoft huge tax breaks for a scholarship fund for students majoring in science, engineering, health care and other high-demand fields. Legislators were not troubled by allowing two large corporations to determine which subjects ought to be prioritized. Students majoring in the humanities would be out of luck, as would those choosing to pursue careers that Boeing and Microsoft do not prioritize
The final prong was a bill urging colleges to develop three-year degrees for advanced students, as if avoiding a year of college ought to be a reward for hard work. In fact, advanced students may benefit the most from the arts and sciences. We should give them an extra year for free. The only explanation is that legislators consider college primarily job training and see the extra time required to gain a general education as wasteful.
If colleges wish to respond, they will have to make the case that general education matters. This will require effort. Faculty must become as committed to their general education students as they are to students in their majors, and administrators must fund smaller, more engaging courses and sequences. Students should leave college valuing their general education as much as their major.
Washington’s legislators face a dilemma. Citizens want and deserve access to post-secondary education in order to get better jobs. But there are many avenues to this end, including high-quality certification and apprenticeship programs. We instead have sought to make college fit all students without being willing to fund it. In doing so, we threaten what makes distinctive a college education while forcing many students to spend years earning a degree they neither want nor need.
A more balanced approach would preserve and fund college education for students who want it, while offering quality alternatives to those who wish to get the training they need for a better job.
Editor’s Note: First published as “Retreat on funding carries real costs” on “HeraldNet,” Oct. 15, 2011. Republished with permission of the author.
Guest blogger Betsy Burrows, Assistant Professor of English at Brevard College, describes herself as a “concerned teacher, mother, and citizen in North Carolina.” Her comments below lament the negative impact on equity in access and the quality of education that reactionary ideology and big money have succeeded in forcing on North Carolina’s public schools. What was once a model system is being downgraded through a creeping restructuring and privatization of the entire public education infrastructure.
Tragedy in North Carolina: Re-segregating and Dismantling Public Education
by Betsy Burrows
I still remember the romantic, idealistic defiance I felt in my high school days when I youthfully debated against the following sentiment as expressed in “Self –Reliance,” an essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Society never advances. It recedes as fast on one side as it gains on the other. It undergoes continual changes; it is barbarous, it is civilized, it is Christianized, it is rich, it is scientific; but this change is not amelioration. For everything that is given, something is taken. Society acquires new arts, and loses old instincts.” That idealism has turned to profound sadness when I look at what in one year our state legislators have done in North Carolina to quickly dismantle the last 25 years of progress and enlightenment in public education. In one summer session, North Carolina elected officials ceased the funding for the North Carolina Teaching Fellows, a research-based program housed in our public and private Institutes of Higher Education that recruits our best and brightest high school students into teaching, pays for a high quality preparation and supports them with professional development so they remain in the profession, not just for a couple of years like Teach for American candidates, but for a career. According to Linda Darling-Hammond in her 2010 book The Flat World and Education: How America’s Commitment to Equity will determine our Future, “the program enhances [enhanced] the teaching pool by bringing a disproportionate number of males, minorities, and math and science teachers into the profession. After 7 years, retention rates in teaching for these recruits have exceeded 75%, with many of the other alumni holding positions as principals or central office leaders” (142). In this same 2011 summer session, legislators ceased funding the NC Teacher Academy and cut in half the budget for the NC Center for the Advancement of Teaching. To add personal injury to the professional insult, North Carolina also ended funding for NC Governors School, a summer enrichment program for public school students throughout the State where at seventeen I first read the essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Quickly following this defunding of public education and professional development for teachers in our State, was the NC State Board of Education’s approval of the application and rubric for what they call “fast track” charter school applicants to private organizations who can demonstrate that they can fund and operate a school successfully. The approval was not predicated on whether these charter schools were actually able to educate our children for their future roles of citizens in a Democracy, and the approval ignores national studies like the ones conducted by Stanford University’s CREDO (Center for Research on Education Outcomes) where economist Margaret Raymond findings conclude that “ in the aggregate, charter students are not faring as well as their TPS [traditional public school] counterparts. Further, tremendous variation in academic quality among charters is the norm, not the exception. The problem of quality is the most pressing issue that charter schools and their supporters face” (6).
These actions by NC legislators reveal an ideology that does not support public education and wants to privatize our school systems. In fact, Rob Christenson, a writer from the Raleigh News and Observer has investigated the ties between these newly elected legislators and Art Pope, a retail executive who uses his money to fund libertarian-conservative think tanks like Civitias Action, Inc. and Real Jobs NC, nonprofit organizations that funnel money to legislators who support his views. Being a teacher, I could forgive my legislators for their ignorance in not doing their research on Educational issues, but as a citizen I cannot forgive their duplicity in failing to articulate their agenda and their allegiance to an ideology that supports ending public education, the foundation that our Democracy is built upon. I have never understood the Emerson quote that “Democracy becomes a pulpit for bullies tempered by editors” until now. I just want more “editors” to help temper these educational legislative bullies and their barbarous attacks on teachers and schools.
For further information on the impact of big money on the restructuring of North Carolina public schools, see: Robert Greenwald Discusses the Koch Brothers Battle to Re-segregate North Carolina Public Schools
Posted on September 24, 2011
All across the country, professors and faculty unions are fighting to preserve the right to fair collective bargaining and quality learning conditions. Although we are bargaining for new contracts under seriously tough economic circumstances, there have been some modest wins, most recently at New York City’s Long Island University, Brooklyn Campus. In his comment below, Prof. Jeffrey Weinstock of Central Michigan University (CMU) reports on the status of bargaining at his institution, where we see once again the same patterns of administrative duplicity: an administration privileging itself while cutting faculty salaries and benefits; claiming it has no funds while sitting on a surplus or denying that tuition increases can be used for faculty salaries. Prof Howard Bunsis ( Eastern Michigan University), an expert on the financial analysis of universities, has some cogent comments on this pattern of manufactured budget crisis.
Central Michigan University Faculty Fight for Quality Education
Prof. Jeffrey A Weinstock
On August 15th, as a result of unfair bargaining on the part of the administration, 97% of the tenure and tenure-track faculty voted to authorize our bargaining team to call for a job action, which they did. We staged a work stoppage on Monday August 22nd and the CMU administration immediately went to court and got an injunction ordering us back to work and restricting our freedoms to assemble and protest. Those rights were restored in a court hearing on Friday August 26th, but the restraining order preventing a work stoppage remains in place until 20 days after the fact finder’s report is issued.
We are currently in the fact finding stage. In the meantime, faculty are working without a contract (and thus absorbing 100% of increases in health care costs). In addition, Michigan legislation known as Prop 54 is being used to deny faculty who went up for promotion at the end of last semester their earned salary increases and will prevent any retroactive compensation when a new contract is in place.
In one of the supreme ironies in recent memory, the university president made “civility” the central focus of his address to the university on Wednesday, Sept. 7. The letter below authored by me and two other CMU faculty members helps to explain why we find this so ironic.
“An Open Letter to President Ross”
Appearing in CM-Life on Wednesday September 7th
Dear President Ross,
As you prepare your remarks for your September 7th address to the university, we write to ask that you consider our grave concerns about the direction of Central Michigan University. We are concerned that: teaching and scholarship are taking a back seat to buildings and administration; priorities increasingly answer more to special institutional interests than to CMU’s core mission; and, urgently, that the way CMU is treating the members of its academic community will drive people away and erode the quality of the institution.
Our concern about these trends has been sharpened by recent events. In particular:
- CMU provided false information in a Michigan court of law by claiming in its injunction request that all classes had been canceled on Monday August 22nd. This falsehood has made national news, as has the wholly reprehensible comparison of a work stoppage to the disastrous aftermath of hurricane Katrina.
- That same injunction request submitted by the CMU administration stripped CMU faculty of their Constitutional rights to assemble and protest.
- There have been recent instances in which you have appeared publicly condescending towards students—even going so far as to suggest they ask their parents for help with math—despite the fact that their tuition dollars support the salaries of everyone working at CMU.
- The administration for the first time ever refused a good faith extension of the existing contract to the Faculty Association during bargaining. In response to the administration’s “surface bargaining” and other unfair labor practices, 97% of the Faculty Association voted to authorize the bargaining team to call for a job action—also a first for CMU.
- Without evidence, you, President Ross, publicly accused the President of the Faculty Association of being dishonest. This divisive statement undermines not just the faculty, but the entire university in the eyes of both the public and the students.
- The administration has repeatedly issued misleading and factually incorrect statements. For example, you have used cuts in state appropriations as an excuse for cuts in faculty compensation without mentioning that the hike in tuition rates combined with letting the “CMU Promise” expire more than offsets these state cuts. Another example: The administration stated that the work stoppage would irreparably harm CMU athletes, a claim that is entirely false.
- In your Monday August 22nd press conference, you preached the necessity of “shared sacrifice,” but you have not lead by example. Your $350,000 compensation package remains intact, as does your nearly $140,000 compensation package with Furniture Brands International, Inc.
- In that same press conference, you sowed animosity within the CMU community by incorrectly stating that, “the nine other employee groups on campus have taken a 0 [percent cost of living increase].” This attempt to turn one employee group against another is unworthy of a university president.
- Numerous eye-witnesses attest that while your press conference was occurring in the university’s public library, students were barred from access to the building on a class day.
- Abandoning its promise, CMU has raised its tuition and even paid a $238,000 compensation package to a departing medical school dean for nine months’ work for a school that isn’t even open.
And now, by pushing for harmful and unnecessary cuts that will take money out of the local economy and hurt already struggling local businesses, President Ross, CMU is even ignoring the presidential transition report that CMU itself commissioned that emphasizes on its very first page that, “The economic impact of the University is extremely critical [to the local community].”
With its enormous $228 million dollar surplus, CMU can well afford to support its faculty if it decides that instruction is a priority. Unless a change of direction becomes evident, however, the question is likely to become whether the university can afford George Ross. We therefore urgently call upon you to reconsider and dramatically shift both CMU’s priorities and your leadership style. As you prepare your remarks for this afternoon, we hope for some sign that such a change in direction is forthcoming so that we may join with you in working to protect and enhance our academic community and returning CMU to its vision of becoming a “nationally prominent university known for integrity, academic excellence, research and creative activity, and public service.”
Jeffrey Weinstock, Department of English
Guy Newland, Department of Philosophy and Religion
Neil Christiansen, Department of Psychology
blog post, September 18, 2011
Beware the College Degree Bashing Trend
If teacher-bashing is so last year, college degree-bashing may be the conservative whipping boy issue for you. It’s becoming quite trendy to thoughtfully observe that, maybe, everyone shouldn’t go to college. That argument is a red herring of the first order, a public policy distraction pretending to be a legitimate workforce development issue.
Don’t be fooled by the “college isn’t for everyone” argument. When conservatives say it, it’s simply a bit of fallacious reasoning leading to their two larger goals: reducing public investment in education and growing the low-wage, low-skilled workforce.
When educators, economists and workforce development specialists say “college may not be for everyone,” what they mean is that a higher education must continue to innovate and adapt, meeting students’ and businesses’ needs. Higher education is critical for everyone, and some students may benefit from modifications to the traditional university structure.
After all, college as we know it is less than 100 years old. Yes, Harvard is working on 400 years in the higher education business, but its current course offerings look nothing like the 1711 curriculum or even their 1911 curriculum. Schools can and will change because people’s needs change.
Conservative policy places the interests of Minnesota’s highest income earners ahead of most Minnesotans. When conservative higher ed policy advocates say, “college may not be for everyone,” they mean that public resources shouldn’t be invested in helping average people prosper. They seek to deny education and training opportunities, limiting lifelong income-earning opportunities and, in the process, create a growing low-skilled workforce.
To compete in the global marketplace, Minnesota’s public colleges and universities must do more than ever. They must translate dramatically changing workplace needs into courses of study, preparing students to work differently than their parents and grandparents. And, public schools are being asked to achieve this mission with dramatically fewer financial resources.
Minnesota needs high-functioning colleges and universities, with open access and financing available to all students. It’s our path to prosperity. Higher education moves Minnesota forward. So, when you hear pundits bashing the college degree, don’t fall into the conservative trap. We need more access to learning, not less.
Reposted with permission of the author (first published, August 2011)
On the impact of defunding public education in Minnesota, please also see Katie Douglass’s blog post Declining Funding Degrading Quality: “According to new Minnesota Department of Education data, the statewide average inflation-adjusted per-pupil state aid will have declined by an estimated 12.8 percent from 2003 levels by the 2012-13 school year. In addition to cuts, underfunding has forced districts to rely on operating levies to make ends meet, putting a greater burden on local property taxpayers. Ninety percent of districts in Minnesota are under a levy.”
Nancy Welch, a professor of English at the University of Vermont, relays a contemporary Dickensian tale of academic life in her guest blog .
A tale of "haves and have-nots" (or life and death) at the University of Vermont
When University of Vermont President Daniel Fogel resigned this summer in the wake of a Peyton Place scandal involving his wife and a vice president, trustees rewarded him with a golden handshake that has proved much more shocking for Vermonters than who in the administration building was trying to sleep with whom.
According to the deal Fogel struck with trustees, he’ll receive a monthly salary of more than $35,000–including a car, housing, and “wellness” allowance–for a leave that’s to extend to the start of the Fall 2013 semester. At that point he’ll join the English department at an annual salary of $195,000–more than double the department average for a full professor.
How do the trustees justify such largesse, especially when students face another tuition hike and campus workers have been told to expect frozen wages and benefit cuts? On the grounds of compassion, explained board chair Robert Cioffi: the former president has “poured his heart and soul” into the university; he now needs the university’s support given “the personal issues he is facing.”
I would have liked these trustees to have met one of my colleagues, Steve, who passed away in Summer 2008 just after he poured his heart and soul into teaching a summer session first-year composition class. Steve taught at UVM for nine years. Most often, he was given three composition courses each semester, six courses a year not including summer. But UVM still called him “part-time,” which meant that he wasn’t eligible for UVM’s health insurance plan. As a result, he paid $356 each month for an individual insurance plan, with a deductible of up to $18,750 a year.
When he was diagnosed with stomach cancer and underwent two rounds of debilitating chemotherapy, he could have used–he desperately needed–time off. (He would bring a chair with him into the Xerox room so he could sit, head resting on the copier, while Xeroxing handouts for his students.) Given that he was also caring for his disabled father, some compassion from the university he’d served would have been both welcome and deserved. But in two rounds of negotiations with “part-time” faculty, UVM’s administration declined to recognize that faculty teaching six, eight, and more courses a year are not in fact part-time and should receive UVM healthcare benefits. Steve now needed not only to pay $356 a month for his insurance but $8,200 for each chemotherapy infusion. He continued teaching at UVM; he also began teaching additional courses at other area colleges. He was teaching to save his life.
In summer 2008 after he held final conferences with his students, returned their papers, and turned in their grades, Steve checked into hospice and a few days later died. I attended the funeral lunch and met his parents. They were so proud that he had been a lecturer at UVM. And I am so ashamed at what this university’s administration did to him and continues to do to others.
So, Mr. Cioffi, meet Steve. And try meeting more faculty, service workers, and staff. It might deepen your acquaintance with people who make remarkable contributions to our state university and who are miraculously able and willing to be UVM?s heart and soul without car, housing, and “wellness” allowances. It might also broaden your idea of compassion and how broadly it should be shared.
For further information:
Fogel’s separation package
[The trustee chair's defense of the package was in the Burlington Free Press story "Governor Says Compensation Is Corporate" that is only available to subscribers or through ProQuest]
Florida Teacher Salaries Have Dropped
Thursday, Sept. 1
This week is bound to be rough.
This week teachers all over Florida will get their first paycheck of the school year.
Last session Florida legislators passed a law requiring every teacher to contribute 3% of their salary to the Florida Retirement System. Hearing about a 3% to 5% cut is very different than seeing what that cut looks like.
The other side of the story is that districts all over the state have cut teacher pay on new-hires by as much as 15%. $44,000 is the average teacher pay in the state of Florida, but some districts pay $30,000 per year. Georgia’s average teacher pay is $53,000.
It’s common knowledge that Florida teacher pay, among the lowest in the nation, was based on the promise of employer-funded retirement. For decades, teachers have accepted changes in their employment conditions based on this promise.
A school district is often the largest employer in the county. Cutting 3% from salaries in large districts like Orange, Hillsborough or Miami-Dade takes at least $50 Million dollars out of the local market. That’s a tangible loss to all of us.
On the most intimate level, teachers have been spending their personal money on classroom materials or more commonly, making sure their growing roster of homeless or at-risk students have what they need to thrive and learn.
Teaching in Florida has always meant a meager paycheck. Since there have been no raises for years, that small paycheck now means supporting families at near-poverty levels. Teacher pay stopped being the source of “extra” family income a long time ago. Florida politicians often talk about getting paid for 9 months as an amazing freedom. They dismiss teaching as a “choice.”
It certainly is a choice. Things have become so difficult, that staying reflects a level of job commitment most of us will never know.
In Florida, the choice to teach after the 3% cut could mean the loss of home ownership and foreclosure. Many of our best thinkers are being forced to choose between being able to pay the bills and the students they love.
Lawmakers told us that they had “no choice” when they cut public education by $1.3 Billion. Florida politicians should know that “choice” can cut many ways. After all, elections are also about choices.
The 3% teacher salary cut that the Florida Legislature eagerly imposed comes at a high price. Be honest. Does the level of teacher pay reflect the value we expect a dedicated teacher to bring to their students?
“Teacher Salaries a Victim of Budget Cuts” (Lily Rockwell, News Service of Florida, wctv.tv- August 30, 2011)
Stephanie Rothman has done the math. On her roughly $48,000 a year salary, the 15-year high school English teacher in Broward County barely gets by.In the last year, Rothman has had to abandon a Boca Raton home she could no longer afford, moving into a room at a friend’s house and feels “cynical and hopeless” about her financial prospects.”I love teaching, I was born to teach,” Rothman said. “But I feel there is no way I can sustain a living with just teaching. So that is why I decided to become a certified personal trainer and get a part-time job.”
Rothman is one of hundreds of thousands of teachers in Florida that have gone years without a significant raise. Read the full article here.
Permission to repost given by the author.
Adjunct Professor William Lipkin has been adjuncting in History and Political Science for fifty years (right out of grad school), mainly while working as a controller in private industry. For the past 12 years, he has been a professional adjunct in several colleges and universities in New Jersey. He is the immediate past president of American Federation of Teachers New Jersey (AFTNJ), consisting of 30,000 education workers in NJ, and current Secretary/Treasurer (and co-founder) of United Adjunct Faculty of NJ. Lipkin is also co-chair and treasurer of the Union County College Chapter of UAFNJ and Treasurer of New Faculty Majority and NFM Foundation. He is a dedicated supporter of equity and respect for adjuncts in the United States.
Higher Education at the Crossroads in New Jersey
New Jersey, the former long-time home of the Miss America pageant, now has to deal with a governor who thinks he is Mr. America. In eighteen months Governor Chris Christie has orchestrated legislation that changed the health care and pension program for New Jersey educators and support
staff, forcing all public employees to pay a much larger share for their benefits while getting a lesser coverage plan. All he has done for Higher Ed is change the state from 'The Garden State' to 'The Poop State'.
The major reason that the NJ Pension Fund is on the verge of bankruptcy is that over the past 20 years the state made minimal (or no) contributions of its share into the fund, while we all paid our share from every single paycheck. The Republican governor had been held back by a Democrat legislature for over a year; but deals were cut with Democrat leaders, and they gave the governor the votes he needed to pass this legislation that increases the employees' contributions to health care and pension. This has caused a split in the legislature and between public employee unions and the trades. Earlier this month when the state AFL-CIO refused to endorse any state legislator who supported this bill, for re-election this November, over 100 members of trade unions walked out and blamed the teachers for the split. The governor has also launched an attack on collective bargaining and his supporters have introduced legislation to make NJ a 'right to work' state. There also has been a change in tenure for public institutions of Higher Ed in the state adding at least one year to the process.
As an adjunct in NJ I am part of a large group of long-suffering, exploited, at-will employees in higher education. This is especially apparent in community colleges. In NJ there are 19 community (county) colleges, each of which negotiates pay scales with its employees (union shops) or sets the
scale on their own. Nine of these colleges have recently federated under the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) to become the 3,100 member United Adjunct Faculty of NJ (UAFNJ). The per credit pay scale among these colleges ranges from $500.00 to $880.00; no health care is provided, and we all contribute into the state pension plan.
Most of us use our cars as our offices and float between three or four schools to try to make a living. We call ourselves 'roads scholars'. We get very little support at the schools, have little or no role in college governance, and can have a course taken away from us up to the first day of
class. Scheduling is a major problem and many of us turn down classes at one school only to be bumped from a class at another. We are used as an economic expediency by the schools. A big issue we have at present is that some of the colleges are blaming adjunct faculty for the lack of student success mainly due to the circumstances they themselves have created. Pay rates at public four-year colleges and universities are higher but the other problems exist there as well. Private colleges and universities in NJ make their own scale and usually freeze the rate. For example, I have been adjuncting at Seton Hall University for six years and am still making the same $700.00 rate per credit I started with.
College and university presidents in NJ are earning over $200,000 with many perks, and bloated administrations pay several vice presidents, deans and provosts six figure incomes while full time faculty have their salaries frozen and pay more into the benefit systems, adjuncts have to eke out a
living or go on food stamps, and students have to pay continually rising tuition rates. There is truly no equity in higher education in NJ.
Guest blogger Prof. Terry Garrett is currently an associate professor of government at The University of Texas at Brownsville and serves as the chair of the Government Department and Provost Fellow for Leadership. He is the current president of the Texas Brownsville United Faculty, local chapter of the Texas Faculty Association - email: email@example.com
“Lone Star Wars: The Deprivation of Higher Education in Texas”
August 15, 2011
Just a few days ago Governor Rick Perry announced that he was running for president of the U.S. This occurred despite the fact that he declared previously that Texas secession was possible. While the state clearly is no longer being considered for striking out on its own, the mindset behind the declaration is still in place. And for higher education policy in Texas, as well as the ramifications for the U.S. should Governor Perry be elected, there bodes a future of tax cuts nationally combined with spending cuts for colleges and universities. The ideological driver specifically behind Governor Perry’s higher education policy is the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF). Key to the TPPF’s strategy – and Governor Perry – are the “Seven Breakthrough Solutions” designed to change public higher education in Texas. The solutions (and goals) are briefly summed here …
1. Measure teaching efficiency and effectiveness.
Goal: Improve the quality of teaching by making use of a public measurement tool to evaluate faculty teaching performance that makes it possible to recognize excellent teachers.
2. Publicly recognize and reward extraordinary teachers.
Goal: Create a financial incentive to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of teaching at Texas’ colleges and universities that will help attract the best teachers from across the nation.
3. Split research and teaching budgets to encourage excellence in both.
Goal: Increase transparency and accountability by emphasizing teaching and research as separate efforts in higher education, and making it easier to recognize excellence in each area.
4. Require evidence of teaching skill for tenure.
Goal: Highlight the importance of great teachers by evaluating teaching skill in nominating and awarding faculty tenure.
5. Use “results-based” contracts with students to measure quality.
Goal: Increase transparency and accountability to students with learning contracts between Deans, department heads, and teachers that clearly state the promises of each degree program to each student.
6. Put state funding directly in the hands of students.
Goal: Increase college access and make students the actual customers for higher education with student-directed scholarships for undergraduate and graduate education with funding from the state’s current appropriation that goes directly to colleges and universities.
7. Create results-based accrediting alternatives.
Goal: Encourage greater competition in higher education and more choices for students by creating an alternative accrediting body that would focus on results and the college’s or university’s ability to uphold any obligation or promise made to the student.
The effect of the “Seven Breakthrough Solutions” combined with severe budget cuts in the 2012-2013 biennial budget for higher education in Texas is severe. The “Solutions” are politically loaded and have policy consequences that have included professors being “measured” for teaching productivity to determine their individual efficiencies at the University of Texas system and the Texas A&M system – though in each case the TPPF and its policies were also criticized. Texas A&M, a member of the prestigious American Association of Universities, was warned by the president of the organization because of the adoption of the TPPF’s “Seven Solutions” for its adverse impact on scholarly research. With respect to the overall budget for the state of Texas, the estimate is that $1.7 billion will be cut in the next budget cycle as “the $21.1 billion budgeted for higher education represents a 7.6 percent drop from the $22.7 billion budgeted in 2010-11.” In many instances, institutions have resorted to raising tuition costs to students or have fired employees – staff and academic – in order to alleviate cuts in services or simply make them. The full effects of budget cuts and the “Seven Solutions” on the overall Texas higher education have not yet been fully realized. The prognosis for the scholarly community in terms of reasonable expectations for advancement, remuneration, and job security is not good.
Wither Texas, whither the US?
With regard to higher education policy nationally, there are many “ifs” for the U.S. if Governor Perry were to become president after the 2012 elections. The ramifications of the 2012-2013 budget cuts have not been fully realized, though much of the potential for growth in higher education in Texas has been reduced. While the population of the state continues to grow, fewer resources will be made available for incoming freshman to afford a public higher education, thus resulting in a “lost generation” of Texas students. The cost of a public higher education will be less affordable. If Governor Rick Perry wins in November 2012 and has the support of Congress, there will be little doubt that he will do the same for higher education policy in the U.S. as he has done so for Texas. There can be little doubt about that prospect. A President Perry would promote and try to implement his TPPF-based proposals much in the same fashion as another former Texan, President George W. Bush, did shortly after he was sworn into office with No Child Left Behind in 2002.
 April Castro (12 August 2011) Perry announces he’ll run for president. The Boston Globe. Retrieved 8/15/2011 at http://articles.boston.com/2011-08-12/news/29881167_1_governor-rick-perry-texas-governor-presidential-field
 Alexander Mooney (16 April 2009) Texas governor says secession possible. CNN. Retrieved 8/15/2011 at http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2009/04/16/texas-governor-says-secession-possible/
 Reeve Hamilton. (5 May 2011). UT System Releases Data on Faculty “Productivity.” The Texas Tribune. Retrieved 8/15/2011 at http://www.texastribune.org/texas-education/higher-education/ut-system-releases-data-on-faculty-productivity/
 Holly K. Hacker. (24 May 2011). UT, A&M faculty productivity criticized in studies — and studies criticized, too. The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 8/15/2011 at http://www.dallasnews.com/news/education/headlines/20110524-ut-am-faculty-productivity-criticized-in-studies-and-studies-criticized-too.ece
 Robert M. Berdahl. (n.d.). AAU Letter to Chancellor McKinney. Retrieved 8/15/2011 at http://Www.theeagle.com/images/eagle/ctobox/berdahl.pdf
 Diane Smith. (20 January 2011). Texas budget plan would cut $1.7 billion from higher education. Ft. Worth Star Telegram. Retrieved 8/15/2011 http://www.star-telegram.com/2011/01/19/2781778/texas-budget-plan-would-cut-17.html#ixzz1V9KGNMiX
 Reeve Hamilton. (26 July 2011). Texplainer: Will Budget Cuts Mean Higher Tuition? The Texas Tribune. Retrieved 8/15/2011 at http://www.texastribune.org/texas-education/higher-education/texplainer-will-budget-cuts-mean-higher-tuition/
 Melissa Ludwig. (2 March 2011). Grant cuts could result in ‘lost generation’ of students: Reducing Texas grants program seen as closing the door on the poor. San Antonio News Express. Retrieved 8/15/2011 at http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/education/article/A-lostgeneration-of-students-now-feared-1032771.php#ixzz1V9WoBbPH
 Education Week. (4 August 2004). No Child Left Behind. Retrieved 8/15/2011 at http://www.edweek.org/ew/issues/no-child-left-behind/
For more on Perry see:
1. “Newest Presidential Contender Has Strong Views on Higher Education” in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Aug. 15. 2011.
Editor: See Johann Neem's quote in the Aug. 26, 2011 New York Times article "Online Enterprises Gain Foothold as Path To College Degree."
During the last legislative session in Washington state, faculty and other supporters of quality higher education fought a losing battle against legislation to recognize Western Governors University (WGU), an online private institution based in Utah, as a state institution. Indiana and, more recently, Texas have also recently formed partnerships with WGU (http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2011/08/04/governor_perry_partners_with_western_governors_university)
I have long sought to figure out what troubles me so much about our legislators’ willingness to support this questionable institution. Was it WGU’s lack of teachers? Was it the complete lack of regard for research or for academic freedom? Was it that the state was outsourcing its public responsibilities? Was it that WGU, despite proclaiming to serve working adults, pays its president almost $700,000? Was it WGU’s labor practices, which undermine shared governance? Was it WGU’s misleading claims about its cost to students?
The answer, I finally realized, was something deeper. The fundamental problem with WGU is that it is anti-intellectual.
Of course, anti-intellectualism is a reality of American public life, and at times a good one. At its best, it ensures that intellectuals are both responsive and responsible to the broader public. At its worst, however, it undermines the university’s role as a sacred space for the promotion of knowledge.
This is shocking. WGU, and its for-profit online cousins, are opposed to the core mission of the university: to cultivate the life of the mind. Universities maintain—in fact they cherish—knowledge. They teach knowledge; they interpret and maintain old knowledge; they produce new knowledge. Those of us who teach and research joined the academy because we believe that knowing is worth more than money; the search for truth is a calling. To teach students and to pursue research is to engage in something worthy.
WGU, on the other hand, seeks to deskill the professoriate and students.
First, it has no faculty. It can barely be said to have teachers. WGU’s “course mentors” are not expected to develop course material, much less engage in creative teaching and research.
It’s not just about designing curricula, however. As all teachers know, the formal curriculum—what is on the syllabus—is a starting point. Much of the real thinking takes place in carrying out the syllabus’s promise—in the discussions inspired by assigned readings, in experiments that test hypotheses, and in conversations about papers and ideas. It is here that professors play a vital role helping students not just to complete assignments and pass assessments, but to become thoughtful, to ask good questions, and to get below the surface of things. (This is also why MIT can make its syllabi public without fear of losing students.)
The problem of deskilling is that teachers are no longer expected to be, or even allowed to be, models of intellectual life. They are simply facilitating students’ access to predigested material. Students at WGU may interact with “mentors” but not with scholars.
This is not meant as an insult to those who are employed by WGU. It’s a structural claim about the organization of work. As Adam Smith wrote in The Wealth of Nations, if you carry the division of labor too far you give a worker “no occasion to exert his understanding.” Whether that’s good for society at large is one question, but certainly it’s a bad idea for an institution devoted to thinking.
But, WGU would respond, it focuses on students not teachers. The traditional university, WGU claims, is faculty-centered rather than student-centered. The reality is quite different. All colleges and universities must be responsive to student needs and the broader market. What’s really at stake is the balance of power between faculty and management. WGU redistributes power upward, to its management.
Moreover, WGU is not interested in students actually learning. Its liberal education requirements are laughable. The depth of its studies is insulting—its own promotional material tells students that they can finish a term’s length of work in a week. Unlike most American colleges and universities, WGU does not demand that students think, learn, and change as part of being educated. WGU, in short, not only deskills teachers, it deskills students.
Instead of students, WGU seeks customers. WGU’s education has no value other than the degree itself. It is completely utilitarian. There is no broader civic mission, nor any hope that college educated adults will learn how to be better women and men. Rather than offering a college education, which takes time, their promotional material asks potential customers: “How quickly would you like to earn your degree?”
The students who seek out WGU and other similar institutions are not to be blamed. Americans need, and deserve, high quality technical education. Whether WGU can live up to this goal without good teachers remains to be seen. But technical education is not the same thing as baccalaureate education. Both are necessary and valuable forms of higher education, but they serve different purposes and have different goals.
WGU and other institutions like it pose a challenge to the university that extends well beyond labor concerns. Yes, WGU has outsourced and divided labor in ways that threaten academic freedom and shared governance. But what makes WGU even more insidious is that it has outsourced thinking itself. It is no longer a university.
What became clear in debates over WGU in Washington state, however, is that our legislators do not value college education. All legislators want is to increase the number of people who can claim college degrees.
Editor: Please send your blog submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m especially looking for faculty in Texas and Florida to update us on the situation in those states.