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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Student Protests in Quebec continue.  Talks have begun..

In response to protests, Quebec government tries to strike down freedom of assembly.  Protesters respond with new forms of dissernt.

Solidarity for Quebec students spreads to the US.   For information on Berkeley actions see Reclaim UC.

 Teachers and Students strike in Spain to protest austerity cuts to education.

"The Public Refusal of Privatization"

CSU administrators pushing online education.

At the CCs and CSUs summer classes are disappearing due to budget cuts.

Charles Reed follows Jack Scott into retirement.  President Yudof?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Monday, May 21, 2012
By Rei Terada (UCI) and Robert Meister (UCSC)

UCOP has proposed changes to the Academic Personnel Manual concerning faculty rights and discipline of faculty conduct. They are posted for comment at http://www.ucop.edu/acadpersonnel/apm/review.html, and they need attention. A close reading of the proposed changes suggests that they enlarge in an unlimited manner the zone in which faculty are exposed to “administrative actions” without the due process specified by the Faculty Code of Conduct. Recently, three UC faculty have been charged with criminal offenses related to protesting UC policies: Celeste Langan of UC Berkeley, whose charges have since been dropped; Ken Ehrlich of UC Riverside; and Joshua Clover of UC Davis. None of them have yet been subjected to university discipline under the Faculty Code of Conduct. Could these events be related? Yes, indeed. By the logic of one of the changes proposed, in the future the university could discipline faculty in their position outside the guidelines of the Faculty Code of Conduct and without any peer review whatsoever.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Friday, May 18, 2012
Photo at left was taken in the UC Regents meeting May 16, 2012. On the audio linked below, you can hear them singing "working on a chain gang."

The larger issue covered by this and related posts is that privatization often, or even generally, costs more money than it brings in.  Privatization is not intrinsically efficient. It builds in administrative and complexity costs, it has new control and audit costs, and above all it has profit costs: the entity providing the funds or services for which the state used to pay directly now takes a piece of the action.  The Master Plan for Higher education (link at bottom) was not a text of democratic educational philosophy, but an attempt to wring complexity and competition out of the state system.  Privatization puts complexity and competition back in, and encourages not only initiative but imitation and duplication, as exhibited by the desperate Berkeley plan for 10 new campus boards of regents oriented around local revenue enhancement. Studies repeatedly show that initiative comes from intrinsic non-monetary motivations, cooperative rivalries, larger goals, none of which require privatization. 

There is a large and growing literature about why the privatization of public goods reduces access (drinking water, electricity, education) and raises costs.  There are also major, constitutive declines in forms of accountability based in public law.  And there are major financial problems.  Much evidence comes from Britain, which two decades ago created a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) program to hire private firms to build and operate public works.  Major public infrastructure was privatized with all the usual blanket statements about the superior efficiency of the private sector and the society-building effects of the untrammeled profit motive.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Plan A for saving the quality of public universities has always been restored public funding.  That plan took another beating yesterday with California Gov. Jerry Brown's latest cuts (see Michael's analysis and the UCLA FA blog's coverage).

Plan B is a high tuition strategy with various permutations, and it is well under way at UC via the tripling of fees in the past decade and another 6% tuition increase all but assured for next year, and possibly more.  But the functionality of the high-tuition model was questioned by a report last week by the Public Policy Institute of California, whose jist was captured by the Chronicle of Higher Education headline,  "California High-School Graduates Increasingly Reject State's Public Colleges."

Plan B assumes that students will continue to pay more  for a diluted product--diluted because even very high tuition increases have been covering between a quarter and a half of lost public funds.  UC's huge and growing application pool is often cited as evidence. But applicants don't pay tuition unless they enroll.  The PPIC report found that the assumption of ever-growing enrollments has not been true. 
 Over the past five years, the authors write, "the share of California’s top high school graduates enrolling in either UC or CSU has declined from 68 percent in 2008 to 55 percent in 2010, and the share of recent high school graduates enrolling in either UC or CSU has declined from 21.9 percent to 17.8 percent."   "Top" students mean those who have fulfilled the a-g entrance requirements.  In business terms, the two systems have lost a fifth of their share of their home market.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Monday, May 14, 2012
As you all have probably heard, Governor Brown released his May Budget Revision with bad news all around.  Faced with lower than expected revenues and higher than predicted costs, Jerry is proposing significant mid year cuts to a series of important health and human services, support structures for the poor, financial assistance to students.  He temporarily shields K-12 from immediate cuts but makes it clear that they will be cut drastically (to the tune of 5.5 Billion) if his revenue proposals do not pass in the fall. (33-40).  For higher education the prospect is bleak: immediately UC will lose access (at least for a year) to 38M of the 90M that the January Budget had proposed to help in funding the UC Pensions.  But the more dire prospect comes in the increased size of triggered cuts if Brown's revenue proposals fail:  both CSU and UC will lose $250M instead of the original $200M and the CC will lose about $300M.  Even before the triggers we can expect that the Regents, and perhaps the CSU Board, will be proposing tuition increases this summer.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wednesday, May 9, 2012
The agenda for the one-day Regents' meeting May is posted along with most of the agenda materials.  The budget report to the Committee on Finance has a new tone of muffled rage.

We have come a long way from 2009, when Mark G. Yudof said,  "I am compelled to note that the proposed cuts to the university, while serious, do not appear to be disproportionate."  The current discussion item says repeatedly that the campuses have already cut to the bone and are well down the path of amputation.  By page 7 it enters the cuts' absurdist dimension:
Campuses have already implemented all possible cuts and efficiencies and cannot absorb additional budget reductions without doing irreparable harm to UC’s instructional program. There are no obvious solutions to solving the remaining $139 million shortfall, so campuses will have to do what they say they can no longer do, which is cut back programs, delay hiring faculty, consider additional layoffs, and make other programmatic consolidations or eliminations to save money in spite of the detrimental impact on quality that will result.
The document identifies a current year shortfall of $847M, and a $1 billion shortfall next year--even assuming the Governor's small January revenue increases and further efficiency savings. Existing budget parameters build in further cuts in what we cannot cut without irreparable harm.  Cutting the uncuttable is what we do at UC---now on an annual basis. This document shows that we will be doing it again next year, even though we can't.

The Governor's May Revise may buy out the tuition increase that you haven't heard about, defined here as 6% for next year.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Thursday, May 3, 2012
The Cal State faculty have voted to authorize a two-day strike on all 23 campuses if contract talks fail.  The CSU system has been decimated by the same scale of cuts that have hit UC, and has proposed an unprecedented enrollment freeze on some campuses in the spring of 2013.  Faculty have proposed a 1% raise, which the CSU administration has rejected, and some regulations about class size and a "stable teaching force." The vote for the strike authorization was 95%.

At UC Davis, the Senate's Executive Committee announced that they "hereby censure Chancellor Linda P. B. Katehi for failure to perform adequately the tasks of her office and failure to provide clarity, candor, and trustworthy accounts in relation to the events of November 18, 2011." The Davis Vanguard has coverage.  The Council's Special Committee that wrote the evaluation of the Reynoso and Kroll reports called for Chancellor Katehi's resignation, but the Executive Committee does not.