Monthly Archives: April 2011

Corbett’s plan for PASSHE budget restoration

It’s taking almost all the inner strength I can muster not to launch into the most profane tirade in human history.  At what?  This proposal from Gov Kill-the-Schools-Drill-the-State Corbett:

Some Pennsylvania universities should consider drilling for natural gas below campus to help solve their financial problems, Gov. Tom Corbett said Thursday.

The Erie Times-News reported that Corbett made the suggestion during an appearance at a meeting of the Pennsylvania Association of Councils of Trustees at Edinboro University.

Corbett said six of the 14 campuses in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education are located on the Marcellus Shale formation, part of a vast region of underground natural gas deposits that are currently being explored and extracted.

So let me see if I understand this.  The state should slash its appropriations to the state-owned universities in half.  Then, the universities, at least the six lucky enough to be sitting on gas reserves (not WCU, by the way) should poison their communities, students, faculty, staff, and anybody else within poisoning distance by extracting that gas using a method that’s demonstrably stupid and dangerous.

And who would get the contracts to perform the extractions?  Me wonders, yes, me wonders, My Precious…

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Filed under Advocacy, APSCUF, Budget, Budget Cuts, Budget Deficit, Communities, Follow the Money, PASSHE, Public education, Tom Corbett, West Chester University

Two MUST-READ posts from the KUXchange (KU’s local blog)

1. If you’re still not convinced that the threat of retrenchment is real, even at WCU, where President Weisenstein has been telling us for two years now about the sound financial health of the university, you need to read Kevin Mahoney’s post, I Went to Harrisburg, and My Head Exploded.  I’ve known Kevin for a long time now and know that he’s often motivated to fight against this kind of madness but rarely taken by surprise.  Even with all the research KU-APSCUF has done in the last couple of years, it was hard to anticipate what they’ve found.

2.  Contributor mslibrarygoddess says it loud and proud, in Don’t Want to Accept Responsibility? Blame Teachers! A couple of marquis moments.

Responding to the assertion by some politicians that teachers are the greedy ones:

[R]ather than seeing teachers as advocates, the government is making them out to be greedy millionaires who want to line their pockets with your tax dollars.

Hmmmm….if that’s what teachers were doing, wouldn’t they all be politicians? After all, aren’t politicians the people that have taken jobs that were supposed to be civil service positions, things you volunteered for to serve your community and if you were paid it was a modest salary, and made them into career positions that eat up tax dollars?

And:

Teachers are more than teachers. We do the work of educators, counselors, administrators, disciplinarians. We become more than just someone standing up in front of a room lecturing. We become people that are charged with the emotional and physical well being o students in addition to their academic well being.

And we do it all while we are under appreciated, while jobs are being taken away, while class sizes are exploding out of control and the time of the year when we work is dedicated to nothing but work. And we get blamed for everything because we speak out.

Taken together, these two posts underscore the OBLIGATION we have to fight against a radical agenda that doesn’t want an educated citizenry, wants to funnel pubic money into private pockets, and doesn’t much care about what else happens to anybody.

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Filed under Advocacy, APSCUF, Budget, Budget Cuts, Budget Deficit, Collective Bargaining, Communities, Kutztown University, Links, PASSHE, Public education, Retrenchment, Shock Doctrine, Student activism, Tom Corbett, Tuition increase, West Chester University

Why we MUST turn out tonight at the Chester County Public Education Rally

[Please share widely among WCU Faculty, Students, Staff, Family members, Friends]

Tonight’s Chester County Rally for Public Education is on, rain or shine.  Current weather forecast (as of about 11:45 am) says a slight chance of rain the evening.

If you (and students are invited to do this too) want to join the APSCUF Funeral Procession (mourning the death of higher education if Tom Corbett wins) and march up to the courthouse, meet at the APSCUF office around 6’ish.  Wear black if you have it.

If you can’t or don’t want to join the procession, just be on the courthouse lawn @ 7.

If you’re still not convinced that YOU have to YOUR PART in this fight, if you still believe that us loudmouth rabble-rousers will do your part for you, if you don’t think the threat is serious enough to warrant being at the courthouse for one stinkin’ hour, read on.

This is a somewhat modified version of the “speech” I gave at the student-led walkout/rally last week in front of Sykes Hall, starting after the hortatory “thanks for coming” stuff.  –Seth

I have only four things to say today, and I’ll make them very quick.

1.  We’re winning this fight.  If you’ve read or listened to or seen any news in the last couple of weeks, you know that lawmakers in both parties are pushing back hard against Governor Corbett’s original proposal to slash our state budget allocation by more than half.

The reason we’re winning is because we’re doing THIS WORK: rallying, writing, calling, postcarding, petitioning.  Let there be no mistake about that.

2.  Now that we fall all good about ourselves…  We haven’t WON anything yet.  There won’t be a budget in place for weeks, and a lot of bad [oops!] can go down between now and then.

That means we can’t afford to let up.  The gains we’ve made in both legislative and public support are important and impressive but fragile, and the second we stop pushing, the second the hammer falls on us.

3.  Now that we’re all scared again, there are two important things for us to be doing right now.  First is turning out for events like the Rally for Public Education at the Chester Co. courthouse on Wed 4/27.  Second is to make sure our contact networks are alive and well through the summer so we can stay organized and keep fighting together.

4. And finally, whatever happens between now and the passage of our budget; whatever happens between now and full restoration of the budget we need and deserve: don’t ever forget who picked this fight.  It wasn’t us–students, faculty, staff members, university employees, our families, our friends.  It wasn’t us, and the people who did pick it need to pay a steep price for that.

For those of you (and I know who some of you are) who are getting ready to graduate, or who don’t believe the current attacks on public education mean anything to you, I have only this to say:

If you intend to teach in a public school at any level, you’re a target.

If you care about anybody who teaches in, otherwise works for, or attends a public school, you’re a target.

If you believe that anybody besides the wealthiest Pennsylvanians deserve a shot at achieving anything remotely resembling a secure future, you’re a target.

Don’t let the slow place of the budget process lull you to sleep.  FIGHT!

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Filed under Advocacy, APSCUF, Budget, Budget Cuts, Collective Bargaining, Communities, free speech, K-12 Education, PASSHE, Public education, Rally, Student activism, Tom Corbett, Tuition increase, West Chester University

Come mourn public education under Corbett!

If Corbett’s budget passes, faculty will be retrenched, programs will be gutted, classes will grow huge, and service loads will become unmanageable. Our public school colleagues are facing the same problems. CORBETT WANTS TO KILL PUBLIC EDUCATION.

So WCU APSCUF has decided to hold a Funeral for Public Education before the Chester County rally on Weds 4/27.

Join the funeral procession as it marches down High Street. Meet at the WCU campus (exact location TBA) at 6:30 on 4/27. Dress in black and look for the coffin!

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Filed under APSCUF, Budget, Rally, Tom Corbett, West Chester University

The irony is almost too bitter

Consecutive order in my Inbox, right now (Thurs 4/21, 9:42 am):

*Notes from a special Meet and Discuss on Tuesday (which I can’t share), in which management says both that it intends to fully protect the faculty against retrenchment and that retrenchment is possible.  I understand they want to take the position that they’re on our side but can’t guarantee anything, and that it might even be true. 

*A message from President Weisenstein glowing about our recently completed Middle States evaluation process, including among MSCHE’s highest praises for WCU the following:

–      West Chester has been blessed to recruit and retain high quality faculty and staff, who are extremely loyal to the campus and dedicated to ensuring students receive a quality education, both in and outside the classroom.

So let me get this straight.

On the one hand, our local management is doing the delicate dance of simultaneously threatening and saving us from the evil budget boogeyman out there.

On the other, a major multistate accrediting agency is pointing out that one of the major strengths of the university is its ability to retain faculty.

Ouch.

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Filed under APSCUF, Budget, Budget Cuts, Middle States Commission on Higher Education, PASSHE, Public education, Retrenchment, Shock Doctrine, West Chester University

A message from President Weisenstein about Retrenchment

WCU faculty colleagues, just in case you missed this somehow–

PASSHE/APSCUF colleagues, I’d be interested in knowing how your local managers have addressed this situation with you–

WCU students, I believe the President when he says he’s committed to protecting the quality of your education, although we might disagree on how best to do that.  Either way, now that he’s said publicly that this is his TOP PRIORITY, it’s incumbent on all of us to hold him to it.

TO:        The Faculty of West Chester University
 
FROM:  Greg Weisenstein, President
 
DATE:  April 18, 2011
 
RE:       Retrenchment Statement
 
As we are all aware, the state budget picture for PASSHE and West Chester University is full of uncertainty.  This uncertainty requires us to prepare contingency plans for the 2011-12 academic year.  I want to emphasize that as we go through this process, we are focused on our number one priority: ensuring that our students continue to receive a quality educational experience.
 
Given the current high level of budgetary uncertainty and the many issues facing us, retrenchment, layoffs, and furloughs cannot be ruled out for the 2012-13 academic year.  I do want to assure each of you that we are doing all we can to avoid any of these actions.  However, we need to comply with provisions in the collective bargaining agreements between PASSHE and our several unions that require various timeframes for notification of such potential actions.  For example, under the requirements of the collective bargaining agreement between APSCUF and PASSHE, I have sent a letter to Dr. Clifford Johnston, president of the WCU chapter of APSCUF, notifying him of the possibility of actions affecting WCU faculty.
 
It is very important for you to understand that no decisions have been made, nor will they be made until we know how much state funding we will receive and what the tuition rate, set by the PASSHE Board of Governors, will be.  Neither of these funding amounts will be known until the end of June 2011.
 
Even though we need to plan for every possible scenario, we are aware that all decisions we make, both operating and personnel, have an effect on the lives of valued colleagues.  In this uncertain budgetary environment, people are understandably worried.  At the same time, West Chester University’s reputation for excellence is directly built on your achievements and success, and we will not compromise on that excellence.  I ask that we all continue to work hard at supporting our students and one another.  You can be confident that the contributions of each and every one of you are recognized, appreciated, and respected. 

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Filed under APSCUF, Budget, Budget Cuts, Collective Bargaining, Contract Negotiations, PASSHE, Retrenchment, West Chester University

A raise by any other name

From an article published widely around PA today, attributed to the Associated Press:

Chancellor John Cavanaugh told a Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon in downtown Harrisburg that university administrators hadn’t had a raise in two-and-a-half years. The average 3 percent merit raise went into effect Jan. 1 at a cost of about $6 million a year out of a $1.4 billion system budget, a system spokesman said.

To borrow a phrase from everybody’s favorite President, Ronald Reagan: Here we go again…

It’s become common, during negotiations years, for management to claim that they’ve forgone raises for years while those greedy faculty take huge raises at every opportunity. Chancellor Cavanaugh didn’t miss his opportunity to point this out:

Asked if he would return his raise or ask other administrators to do so, Cavanaugh said the system board of governors sets compensation levels. He also noted that the system’s unionized work force of about 12,000 received raises last year.

Of course, as he says this, he leaves out a handful of salient points:

1. I won’t speak for AFSCME (They’ve spoken for themselves here) or the other unions because I haven’t done the research, but I do know that APSCUF raises haven’t kept up with the pace of inflation for many, many years.

2.  Probably more important, the reason we got raises last year and the years before that is that HIS SIDE AGREED TO THEM TOO.  PASSHE had to sign the collective bargaining AGREEMENT just the same as we did.  For the Chancellor then to assert, no matter how tacitly, that we’d somehow have gamed the system if we got raises and they didn’t is absurd.

3.  Along similar lines: we (all the unions) negotiate our raises with management.  But we get nothing to say about management raises!  If they’ve chosen not to give themselves raises, then fine–but to make us complicit in that is misleading at best.

There’s a lot more to say about this, and I’m sure the Office of the Chancellor will provide opportunities to say it.

REMINDER: Rally for Public Education! April 27, 7 pm, Chester County Courthouse!

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Filed under APSCUF, Budget, Budget Cuts, Collective Bargaining, Contract Negotiations, Office of the Chancellor, PASSHE, Rally, Uncategorized