• Home
  • About Us
  • Guest Posts

Monday, April 30, 2012

Monday, April 30, 2012
I have a post on my other blog under the above title, which takes off from Charles Duhigg''s recent piece on Apple Computer's global effort at maximum tax avoidance. Mine argues that Apple isn't actually supporting an innovation economy anymore, but something closer to a Bizarro innovation economy that undermines its own basic preconditions, as seen at left.

I found the article on Apple while looking for voting results on the UC Academic Senate memorial calling on the UC regents to support ballot measures increasing higher ed public funding. So far, the recorded votes are:  Berkeley: 370-37 in favor; Irvine 476-24; and Santa Barbara 431-19.  Turnout seems to have been good, recorded as 31% at Irvine and 40% at UCSB.

But of course the Regents can only receive state general fund money from a state government that is willing to raise it. Jerry Brown is presiding as an austerity governor, continuing the cuts that Schwarzenegger began.  Austerity is a policy of choice, and is not new.  The California Budget Project's recent chartbook shows that taxes as share of personal income have fallen more in California than in all but four other states (p 13) (they are 2.4% lower than in 1977), and that corporate incomes have been decoupled from corporate tax liability: from 2000-2010, California corporate income rose 204% while tax liability rose 37% (62).  An earlier CBP report showed that the share of corporate income paid in taxes is half of what it was in 1981 (California's Tax System,p 7).

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Thursday, April 26, 2012
As many of you have no doubt already heard, the senior administration at Berkeley (three of the five authors are, left to right, VCA John Wilton, Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, and EVC George Breslauer) has proposed a new vision for the organization of the UC system, a proposal that they seek to present as an act of "modernization."  At its heart is a set of proposals for the devolution of the system focusing particularly on greater campus autonomy over tuition, the make-up of the student body (i.e. the relative number of California residents vs. out-of-state and international students), and capital planning.  The plan proposes that the Regents would set general targets or ranges and that individual campuses would set planning in accordance with local rather than state-wide strategies.  Birgeneau et al. also propose the establishment of campus level boards of regents who would allegedly possess more detailed knowledge of each campuses needs and opportunities as well as the ability to respond to campus projects and proposals more quickly than the statewide board.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Monday, April 23, 2012
Davis student protester expelled: reinstated after students protest his expulsion.

How did the Katehi administration mess up with OccupyLet us count the ways....

If you want to support the "Davis Dozen" here are some ways.

IS the UCB PD targeting protest leaders?

Are Community Colleges going to ration enrollment as Community Colleges criticize themselves, while some ponder privatization?

LAT is ambiguous on Perez tax plan.  Criticizes focus on UC rather than CC. Here is another take on the proposal.

More CA students heading to out-of- state public universities as part of a tuition-discount program.

Peter Schrag has some thoughts on zoning and denying the poor equal education.

Are "robo-graders" the future?  Doesn't look like it if we care about education.  Then again....

The battle against the high pricing of academic journals continues.

Student strike in Quebec continues.

I'm sure you will be stunned to know that Grayling's for-profit venture in England has targeted private school graduates rather than state school graduates.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Chris has a new piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education: "How Unequal State Support Diminishes Degree Attainment"

UC Davis Police Chief Spicuzza retires effective Thursday.

UC admitted over 40% more out of state and international students in next year's entering class.

CSU faculty, librarians,and counselors begin voting on rolling strike.

CSU may eliminate cash grants that help support up to half of its grad students.

David Crane's students think that the state should make UC go private.

Is UC Berkeley going to have to cover millions of dollars of losses on the new football stadium?

Berkeley joins with venture capitalists, University of Michigan, and ivy league institution in new online start-up.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Monday, April 16, 2012
The Academic Senate has drafted a "Memorial to the Regents" on which Senate faculty have been asked to vote.  All votes are due Friday to the systemwide office, and most campus faculty have only another day or two to cast their vote.  We urge you to vote on this memorial, and to vote yes.

The resolution portion of the Memorial states,

That the faculty of the Academic Senate call on The Regents of the University to support specific ballot measures and legislation that will increase state revenues and/or specific ballot measures and legislation that will prioritize funding for public higher education.
The faculty is thus asking the President to transmit to the regents a memorial asking the regents to support measures that would increase or prioritize public funding for higher education, including funding for the Cal State and community college systems. It doesn't specify a preference for one or another mechanism or ballot measure. It is obviously non-binding on the Regents.

Although some faculty have grumbled about the vagueness of this request to the Regents, as have I, there are at least two important things about this memorial. This recital is one of them:

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sunday, April 15, 2012
By Anonymous

This morning I received an email informing me that the ICR rate is going up.  As usual, this applies to current projects that have already been funded at a lower rate.  This means I'll lose direct funding to cover higher ICR.  Needless to say, no benefit from increased ICR has filtered back down to me.

A couple months ago I hired a new postdoc.  Ahead of her arrival, I asked my sysadmin (entirely paid by direct charges to extramural grants) to set things up in her office.  He reported that the office was quite dirty.  I contacted the building coordinator to get it cleaned, and he sent me a cost list of various cleaning services and asked for an index number.  Considering that NSF probably would not approve office cleaning as a direct charge, I demurred.

There was also no phone in the office.  My fund manager sent me a cost list of various phone services that the campus provides to its "customers".  The ongoing monthly charges are so tiny, it's not clear to me how it is worthwhile to allocate them to individual index numbers.  I suppose the tiny charges add up to something substantial systemwide, but what about the personnel time involved in the paperwork for all this nickel and diming?

Last week the business office reviewed network charges to make sure the right person and fund source was paying for each computer connection.  I realized that one of my computers was used primarily for instruction and service; therefore it was not appropriate to charge it to an extramural grant.  I asked my department to cover the tiny monthly cost, but they replied that they had no funds available for this sort of thing.  The solution was for me to use the remnant of my start-up funds, but once that is gone, my chair does not know where the money will come from -- aside from incorrectly charging a sponsored research project.
It occurred to me that the increasing corporatization of UC may not be such a bad idea.  After all, corporations don't charge their employees for the phones on the desks or for the maintenance of their work computers.  Corporations provide office cleaning more frequently than once per year (decade?).  And don't innovative tech corporations free their researchers from petty paper-pushing so they can focus on what they are best at?  Maybe working at a corporation might be a step up in efficiency and pleasantness from the current conditions at UC.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Wednesday, April 11, 2012
The release of the  "Reynoso Report" analyzing the use of pepper spray at UC Davis with its attached Kroll report demonstrates the need to consider the question:  Is UC attempting to criminalize dissent?  The Reynoso Report (it will take some time to work through the Kroll report as well) is unsparing in its conclusion that the use of Pepper Spray at UC Davis on Friday afternoon, November 18th was unnecessary, irrational, and without clear legal justification.  Indeed, the report questions the entire rush to judgment that led to the attempt to remove the tents themselves. (7-9)

The report also makes it clear that responsibility begins with Chancellor Katehi.  Katehi not only pushed to have the tents removed but failed to communicate clearly her intentions about how it should be done.  But the responsibility was not hers alone.  It continues through her Vice-Chancellors who failed to incorporate and make clear all the evidence about the protests that they were provided with, onto the Chief of Police who failed to organize the police action sufficiently or to explain to the higher administration all of the reasons why moving on the tents might be a bad idea, and concludes with the specific officers on the ground whose use of pepper spray was not only inappropriate but in violation of regulations.  The effects of these decisions on free speech at Davis cannot be underestimated.  As the ACLU notes in its own analysis of the Task Force Report: "When the cost of speech is a shot of blinding, burning pepper spray in the face, speech is not free."

Monday, April 9, 2012

Monday, April 9, 2012
Mr. Samuels goes to Washington and educates the White House.  He also reports on the damage done by the UC budget Crisis.

6 of the 12 "Stay-away" orders at Berkeley have been lifted.

Santa Monica College proposed a two-tier pricing system for courses, there were protests, and the College backed down.

CSU, though, is thinking about doing something similar.  And they are not alone.

In the last 2 decades state support for public colleges and universities has dropped 25%.

The NAS thinks you are involved in a grand conspiracy.  Rick Santorum overstates their case.  The LAT doesn't buy it though.  Nor does the SacBee.  And here are some thoughts on what it might mean.  Can't forget Colbert's take either.

There is no "Texas Miracle" in education.

Looks like Professors' salaries can't explain rising tuition.   If you want to find out about particular places here you go.

Yale College Faculty protest the Opening of Yale-NUS in Singapore.

How do you measure what College students learn?

Federal Funds for the jobless are running out.  Wasn't this supposed to be part of Obama's master plan?

In case you still thought that the Clinton-Gingrich "welfare reform" plan worked.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Richard Descoings passed away suddenly and shockingly in his New York hotel room this week, at the age of 53.  He had for years been a leading figure in French academia as the head of one of its handful of most prominent grandes écoles, L'Institut d'Etudes Politiques in Paris, widely known as Sciences Po.  He was perhaps best known for being the country's leading voice in favor of implementing a version of affirmative action that would start to integrate the children of France's segregated banlieu into its elite educational institutions.  He saw the future of France as the future of a multiracial society, and was doing more than anyone in his rarified sector of French higher education to make this a reality.

Descoings was equally intent on making Sciences Po-Paris a global institution, but not so much by creating branch campuses on the American model as by sending and receiving students to and from everywhere in the largest volume possible.  At a lunch in Paris last year, he explained to me that the theory was simple: "we have to prepare French social science students to work anywhere in the world, and to belong to the world."  The implementation was not always easy, as I well knew from various bureaucratic discussions I had had with Sciences Po staff in my capacity as the director of the University of California's education abroad programs there.  But he had helped create one of the most exciting places for foreign as well as French students in the country and perhaps in Europe, and Sciences Po showed no signs of anything but continued progress.

That lunch was almost a year ago, and arose from one of the saddest events of my life -- the accidental death in an apartment fire of one of our UCEAP students in Paris, Jasmine Jahanshahi. Jasmine was a UC Berkeley junior who was attending Sciences Po for the year, and Sciences Po's personnel had been called first when city officials arrived at the scene of the fire, where a total of five students lost their lives. Deaths like these are always catastrophic --I have still not recovered from Jasmine's--and hers was as bad as it gets.  RIP all over again, Jasmine Sans Peur.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Monday, April 2, 2012
It has been nearly 5 months since Mark Yudof declared that free speech was part of the DNA of UC and promised thorough and independent investigations into the police violence at Davis and Berkeley.  We still await those reports.  At this time, UC is holding back those parts of the Reynoso report, in part, it seems, because they focus on the Davis Administration. Indeed, as Cloudminder has emphasized, some members of the Commission have threatened to withdraw their signatures if the report was released in part.  I'm sure that has nothing to do with spin.

Of course some things did happen on the policing front:

On March 27th, Day of the Digital Humanities, Readywriting blogger Lee Skallerup Bessette (not pictured at left) declared April 2 the #dayofhighered. I've been a regular Skallerup reader because she is so astute about the detailed work of teaching in the overall context of academic work. The point of #dayofhighered is to render public and visible the actual labor and its accompanying skills and passion that make universities both possible and valuable. Here's Skallerup:
We need a Day of Higher Ed (hashtag #dayofhighered). While many of us have written posts broadly outlining what we do in a day (and how disgusted we all are by the at best misleading and at worst dishonest portrayal of our work), few of us have ever taken the time to actually record, in minutia, what we do as professors from the moment we wake up to the minute we fall asleep. All the work we do that contributes to our job as educators.
Skallerup belongs to an academic generation that is about 3/4th non-tenure track.  The 40-year meltdown in the university teaching profession is of staggering proportions.

 This figure is based on AAUP data and undermines the common claim (made even by good economists like Robert H. Frank, who should know better) that having full-time faculty is an extraordinary budgetary burden for universities. In fact, universities don't actually have full-time faculties.