Category Archives: Public education

We didn’t sing the Helplessness Blues – we were an advocating machine!

Fleet Foxes has a song that just about sums up my feelings about the strike. We have all been taught that we are “something unique”, and we are. But we are also part of something beyond ourselves, and this year, it was the mighty, mighty union, APSCUF.

What strikes me now is that as chapter president, I was indeed a “cog in some great machinery serving something beyond me.” From the students and faculty who worked on campus to the 14-campus group we were all part of, from my local executive council and our officers and strike team up to the state leadership, it was awe-inspiring to be in the middle of a movement. Let’s not forget that.

So, enjoy this song. It may not be your stylistic cup of tea, but it’s mighty inspiring.

Solidarity forever!

Mark

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Filed under APSCUF, Collective Bargaining, Communities, Contingent faculty, Contract Negotiations, Higher Ed history, liberal arts, lobbying, Public education, Public employee unions, Teacher unions, Tenure, Unions, VoteSmart.org, West Chester University

They just never get tired of it

As we all know by now, Governor Corbett’s budget-slashing attacks aren’t aimed solely at PASSHE. He seems willing to destroy any school system at any level if doing so hurts teachers’ unions and allows his private/charter school patrons to make more money.

This account of the situation in nearby Reading, PA from today’s Huffington Post is enough to infuriate even the most heartless person–except members of the Corbett administration, apparently.

As always, the Governor, in a radio interview, tries to pass off the attacks as “tough decisions”:

Representatives from Corbett’s office did not return requests for comment, but Corbett did address the budget on a recent radio program. “You have to make tough decisions, and nobody really likes them,” Corbett told Q106.9-FM.

No, it’s not a tough decision to sell off our schools, systems, students, their families, their futures, teachers, their careers, and the health of our entire Commonwealth to his friends. That’s a really easy, lazy decision, and it’s long past time for him to be at least honest about it. He should have to make clear to voters that he knows when they voted for “fiscal responsibility,” they weren’t voting for him to cut millions of dollars out of school budgets so kids in “America’s Poorest City” couldn’t go to pre-kindergarten. And we should make clear to him that’s not what we meant too.

I better stop there before I say something unprofessional (!).

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Filed under Access, Budget, Budget Cuts, Budget Deficit, charter schools, Collective Bargaining, Communities, Education reform, K-12 Education, PASSHE, Privatization, Public education, Public employee unions, public employees, Shock Doctrine, Teacher unions, Tom Corbett, Unions

Contact the House Government Committee — and tell your Representative

It is critical that we contact members of the House Government Committee today (6/12/12) to stop HB 2442, 2443, 2444, and 2446.  In the coming week, we need to contact our legislators so that the bills do not continue in the process of becoming law.  Many lawmakers are trying to limit the amount of multi-recipient email messages so you will need to send some of them individual messages.  I am providing a sample letter and clickable contact names below.

Now is the time to be active!

In Solidarity,

Lisa Millhous, President of WCU APSCUF

  • House Bill 2442: Deregulates student activity fees, no longer making them mandatory for any student to pay. Students can elect not to pay by signing a form at the start of each semester.
  • House Bill 2443: Prohibits institutions from providing free or reduced tuition for spouses, children, same sex partners, or relatives of employees of the institution or any other.
  • House Bill 2444: Prohibits the System from executing any contract for construction, repair, renovation and maintenance projects, unless the System submits a written request for an exception to the Department of General Services and the department determines, in writing, that an emergency exists and failure to execute a contract would be detrimental to the health or safety of students, employees, or the public.
  • House Bill 2446: Prohibits paid sabbaticals for professors.

TO:  Members of the House Government Committee (clickable links after message)

SUBJECT:  Vote No on HB 2442, 2443, 2444, and 2446

Dear Members of the House Government Committee –

Each of these bills (HB 2442, 2443, 2444, and 2446) will independently harm the State-owned universities, whom you have been entrusted as a steward for the People of this Commonwealth.  Together with the other bills of the so-called “keep tuition affordable” legislative package they jeopardize my ability as a faculty member to help my students achieve their full potential.  Without funding and the ability to generate funding there is no way that we can maintain our quality.

These bills will have far-reaching ramifications and deserve thoughtful debate.  Please take the time to be a good steward of our public resources and consider the destructive outcome that could occur as a result of these bills.

I urge you to vote NO for HB 2442, 2443, 2444, and 2446.  These bills are not ready to leave committee.

Sincerely,
Lisa Millhous
Taxpayer in the Commonwealth of PA and Employee of West Chester University of PA

TO:  dmetcalf@pahousegop.com; eevankov@pahousegop.com; ggrell@pahousegop.com; mhahn@pahousegop.com; rkauffma@pahousegop.com; Tkrieger@pahousegop.com; mmustio@pahousegop.com; broae@pahousegop.com; jstern@pahousegop.com;

Committee Leadership:

Committee Members:

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Filed under Access, APSCUF, Benefits/Benefit Cuts, Education reform, Public education, public employees, West Chester University

APSCUF-WCU President on Anti-Union Attacks in Education

APSCUF-WCU President Lisa Millhous published this guest column in today’s (June 7) West Chester Daily Local News.

She makes several crucial points, at the core of which is the point that, especially in PA, attacking teacher and other public unions is almost all a diversion from the Governor’s (and his allies’) agenda–selling off public K-16 education to whichever bidder contributes the most to their campaigns. Dr. Millhous doesn’t put the point quite so belligerently, of course, nor should she have!

If you have the stomach for it, feel free to engage the anti-union thugs who tend to populate Comments sections of newspapers and websites. Or, let them have their echo-chamber to themselves since there’s probably not much you can say that will sway them.

Either way, share this piece with anybody you think needs to understand what anti-teacher-union attacks are really about. It ain’t about teachers or students, folks.

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Filed under APSCUF, charter schools, Corporate University, Education reform, K-12 Education, PASSHE, Private higher education, Privatization, Public education, Public employee unions, public employees, Shock Doctrine, Teacher unions, Tom Corbett, Unions

Governor Corbett to receive lifetime achievement award for… Education!

No words I can utter in a semi-professional public forum.

Just read this blog entry, cry, scream, and send messages to the Pittsburgh Opera.

 

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Filed under Public education, Tom Corbett

Let’s hope this isn’t precedent setting

Not the news I wanted to wake up to on an otherwise pleasant Thurs morning. In today’s Inside Higher Ed, a story about a unionized cadre of part-time instructors (the union is an AFSCME affiliate) at the City Colleges of Chicago who have ratified a contract including merit pay for “student outcomes” (read: standardized test results); the merit pay replaces their longevity raises.

I’m willing to listen to the union’s explanation for why they accepted this, but the way it’s reported in this story isn’t very convincing. And any educational plan that Rahm Emmanuel endorses is probably horrible.

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Filed under Access, Advocacy, AFSCME, Collective Bargaining, Contingent faculty, Inside Higher Ed, merit pay, Public education

“Who Does That Help?” (reprised)

About a year ago (Feb 8, 2011), I wrote an entry on my personal blog called “Who Does That Help?”

The post, which you can read if you want, pushes us to challenge every management decision, initiative, policy change, etc by asking for specifics about who benefits from it. Abstractions (flexibility, potentiality, the dreaded ‘fiduciary responsibility,’ and so on) aren’t good enough. They never have been, really, but they’ve become the semantic wall behind which too much of our upper leadership hides in order to make decisions that bring actual harm to actual people.

I’m reposting and reprising that blog entry here because I think it’s incumbent on us to ask that question not just about our local university administration, or even just the Chancellor/Board of Governors, but just as importantly about the Governor’s current budget proposal for 2012-13. Who does it help to slash the PASSHE budget by 20%? Name one actual person, or even group of people, who directly benefits from that decision. I can’t. Maybe you can.

But until you can, trying to have a meaningful debate about the impacts of budget attacks, er cuts, against PASSHE is very difficult. Why? Because nobody is really on the Governor’s side except the Governor and his friends. That is, the fact that there’s nothing to debate should make it really easy to win our argument–because they have no case.

There is, to put it as directly as possible, no benefit to the huge majority of residents of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; students, faculty, staff, or management of the State system; residents of the towns/cities/boroughs that are our universities’ homes; or anybody but the recipients of tax breaks the Governor can afford to give away only by choking and selling off public education. 

We must push the Governor and his allies in the Legislature (and the press) to answer the question at every turn: Who does it help when you slash our system’s budget? Who benefits? Because we win the argument about who gets harmed and by how much hands down, as long as we make that argument loud and clear.

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Filed under Advocacy, APSCUF, Budget, Budget Cuts, Budget Deficit, Communities, Office of the Chancellor, PASSHE, Public education, Rally, Student activism, Tom Corbett, Tuition increase