“Enough is Enough!” Reporting on the CFA Nov. 17 Strike at CSU DH
The California Faculty Association, union friends, and concerned students successfully shut down two CSU campuses today with the clear message “Enough is Enough!” The flawed management of the CSU needs some careful scrutiny as executives get bonuses and students get tuition increases. Chancellor Reed, who professed to the media this week that no faculty would participate in the strike actions at CSU Dominguez Hills and CSU East Bay, was in for a big surprise today as hundreds of strikers picketed the entrances to two campuses. This is the day after the CSU Board of Trustees voted to raise student tuition fees again — this time 9%— even before the California legislature cut the CSU budget.
Today’s message —Enough is enough— reflects more than anger at Chancellor Reed’s refusal to grant a quarter percent raise out of a $4.5 billion CSU state budget. It is anger at being called ‘greedy and irresponsible’ by executives who give themselves significant bonuses, equity increases and raises rather than support courses for students and the faculty who teach them. It is time for CSU management to get its priorities straight. Enough is enough!
Since becoming the head of the CSU in 1998, Chancellor Reed has overseen an increase in student tuition of over 263%. In fact, since 1998 (adjusting for inflation) student fees have increased 106% while faculty salaries have fallen 10%. Meanwhile, administrators have enjoyed a 23% pay increase. One egregious example of management’s misplaced priorities is the recent $100,000 bonus given to the new San Diego State president on the same day the CSU Board of Trustees voted to increase student tuition by 12%. In fact, the CSU spent $75 million less on faculty pay last year than in 2007 due to layoffs—while the student-faculty ratio continues to increase.
So enough is enough! Selfish management priorities are costing Californians access to quality public higher education. Buildings are crumbling, technology infrastructure in the classroom needs updating, faculty need support to improve their courses and to maintain their expertise, students need mentoring. Instead, the Chancellor uses his Executive Order power, without any state legislative oversight, to enact new and expensive programs with questionable efficacy. Mandatory Early Start, for example, is a new program that requires all entering freshman who need remedial education courses to take a 1-unit summer course before they can ‘start’ in fall 2012. This is an example of an absurd waste of taxpayer money. Another new plan, CSU Online, may set up a new corporation to sell the ‘CSU brand’ to foreign students and the military, funneling needed resources away from campuses to a virtual CSU. And the Chancellor just hired yet another administrator, this time for the new CSU Online initiative, at a time when costly experimental programs siphon money from courses that students need to graduate.
These facts and others have led members of the California Faculty Association to vote 93% in favor of going on strike. We are not going to stand for continued disrespect and erosion of our rights and the quality of the CSU. Faculty, librarians, counselors and coaches — their knowledge and dedication to students —are the value in the CSU, not new experimental programs of dubious merit or expensive executives. The question now is will our elected representatives in Sacramento and the good citizens of California decide to exercise some oversight over a Chancellor who has failed the CSU.
Guest blogger Steve Teixeira serves on the Executive Board of Academic Professionals of California, representing professional staff in academic support services of the California State University. Email contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Online Disruption, Privatization of Public Higher Ed
A battle’s brewing over online courses in public universities. In October, the University of California lecturer’s union (UC-AFT) won the right to bargain over the impact of online instruction. But UC spokesperson Dianne Klein assured the press that to stop any online program, the union would have to endure “mediation, fact-finding, and, if necessary, a university mandate and potentially a union strike”.
“Online education has proliferated, from community colleges to… M.I.T.”, wrote Bill Keller in the New York Times October 3rd. He asked if it could improve education, or just save money. But a third possibility is that online instruction masks a campaign to increase the corporate privatization of public universities.
The California Faculty Association in the California State University system is also negotiating to protect teaching standards in online courses. CSU’s managers first proposed online instruction to help entering students with so-called “remedial” skills in math or English. Then, they required all 20,000 remedial students to take summer “Early Start”, much of it online. But when the “CSU Online” goals were presented, they included much more than just remedial courses.
The quality of the university is at risk here. When Cal State Bakersfield laid off some remedial math faculty and replaced them with an online system in 2009, student failures rose to almost 40%, from just 25% the year before. Only when faculty were allowed to re-design the online course did student performance improve. “We’re not getting what we’re promised and what we’re paying for,” student leader Vanessa Rojas told the local press.
In addition to issues of educational quality, there is concern that online instruction is a screen for injecting private companies into public universities. At first, CSU Online’s goals stated that “A business partner for CSU Online might be needed” — but then the job announcement for its Executive Director position required applicants to have “Experience in higher education and experience working for/with for-profit agencies”. Is it paranoid to worry about that?
Not if you study the Center for Higher Education Policy Analysis’ report Making it Happen: Increasing College, which urges that California government create a new higher education planning board to openly link public and private institutions (both non-profit and for-profit). The Board would oversee enrollment shifts from public community colleges, CSU, and UC to private institutions, and allow students at private companies to receive Cal Grant financial aid. Other goals would be to “outsource” remedial courses and online instruction to “private institutions”. Which is exactly the path already being pursued by CSU and UC leadership.
As America’s economy evolves from one based on millions of jobs in heavy industry to one based on global hi-tech, capital is sniffing around public services like education to see what it can shift into and privatize. They are counting on government officials to help them, even though this has proven to be bad for students as well as employees. That’s why Bob Samuels, UC-AFT president, says “We are not standing in the way of progress, but we are trying to block the downsizing of academic jobs and the degrading of instructional quality”.
The battle to defend public education can be won if these faculty and staff can come together with the thousands of students who are exposing corporate abuses in the “Occupy Wall Street” movement. After all, they’re really fighting the same enemy.
Posted Oct 30, 2011
Also, see today’s (Sun. Oct. 30) S F Chron article:
And a YouTube clip on how online courses need “faculty” to be most meaningful (honest!).