I know not all of you colleagues share my exact political affiliations/inclinations, so I’ll preemptively apologize for what I expect might be a somewhat partisan tone here…
From this morning’s (3/22) Inside Higher Education comes an article describing the Ohio Governor’s new plan to increase state university faculty teaching loads by one course every two years. The idea, says Governor Kasich’s office, is to save (an unannounced and as of yet seemingly uncalculated amount of) money.
So what’s the problem here? One course every two years isn’t that big a deal, right?
For someone like me, who was markedly less happy when I had reassign time for administrative work than I am when I teach a full load, the change isn’t a bad idea–IF it comes along with an acknowledgement that there’s a balance to be struck. That is, you can’t expect faculty to teach more, and to research more, and to do more service, all without any more support or compensation. Every aspect of the job will suffer if those demands are allowed to increase unchecked.
Further, according to the article, the proposal (as of now, and to be sure it still seems half-baked) will take very little account of faculty input; several Ohio AAUP reps and officers make the point that nobody in the Governor’s office has even begun to talking to faculty about how they might make this work.
And that’s where the Orwell button gets pushed…
Just a few weeks ago, a bill (originally SB5–if you want to read any of this news about it, that’s what I’d search for) passed and became law, that (among many other nasty provisions) redefines public university faculty as managers under the Yeshiva SupCt decision. Briefly, the SupCt held that because faculty (the decision was limited to private university faculty–many of us have been wondering for years when this leap would happen) are involved in decision-making that effects the governance of their campuses, they’re legally doing management work and are therefore excluded from collective bargaining rights.
So are you starting to see the problem here? Just a couple of weeks ago, OH public university faculty had so much influence over policy and governance that they’re managers. Now, when the Governor wants to save a few (more) bucks on the backs of people who actually work for a living, he pushes a policy the direct effects of which squarely fall on the one group he has no intention of involving in the decision.
Huh? Which one is it, Governor Kasich? Either your faculty have management authority or they don’t.
The reason I’m talking about this here is that I won’t be the least bit surprised, if that provision of the OH law holds up to what I expect is an inevitable court battle, when a similar proposal comes to PA. We need to be ready for it. How will we respond?