Category Archives: Rally

Preserving Quality Higher Education in PA: Our story so far…

[A message from APSCUF-WCU President Lisa Millhous–I just posted it!]

Preserving Quality Public Higher Education in PA: Our story so far…

[Skip ahead to find out what you can do]

On February 7 Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett proposed his 2012-13 state budget that cuts PASSHE (including West Chester University) by $82.5 million, cuts grants and loans for students (PHEAA) by $27.2 million, and cuts many other educational programs from pre-kindergarten to Ph.D. candidates.
Email the Governor and let him know restoring the funding matters to your family.

On February 29 the PA Senate held a budget hearing for PA State System schools (PASSHE). Senate Appropriations Chair Jake Corman was supportive of restoring funding to the State System. He has said that the State-owned universities have already shouldered their share of the cuts.
Email Senator Cormanto thank him for his support of PASSHE.

On February 29 and March 1 WCU students rallied to show their concern about the budget cuts. Over 1000 post cards were sent to the Governor and more than 500 registered PA voters signed a petition asking their legislators not to approve a budget that cuts education.
Look up your legislators and email them to let them know how important state funding is for your family.

On March 5 the PA House of Representatives held a budget hearing for PASSHE. House Appropriations Chair Bill Adolph also was supportive of the State System and suggested the House would try and reduce the cuts that the Governor had proposed.
Email Representative Adolph and thank him for his support of PASSHE.

Although many have criticized the cuts to higher education, Governor Corbett continues to defend his position. Unfortunately, he regularly uses inaccurate information to support the arguments for cutting higher education. Email the Governor and let him know how restoring the funding would matter to your family.

What can you do?

On March 28th several busses of WCU students and faculty will join students and faculty from all 14 schools in Harrisburg to ask the PA Legislature to restore funding for education.
To see if there is room on the bus, email the WCU APSCUF Office.

On April 24 you can vote in the PA Primary Election (3/26 is the last day to register to vote). A strong student turn-out in the primary will send a message to Harrisburg that we will be out in force in November. And we will remember how the legislature handled the budget this year.

In May and early June we need to find ways to keep our issue alive for the Legislature even though our semester will be over and many students will be home.
You can register to receive text messages or email updates to join our student activities.

WCU Rally videos:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p86zJaSoKKU

http://westchester.patch.com/articles/video-west-chester-students-protest-budget-cuts#video-9228789

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Filed under Advocacy, APSCUF, Budget, Budget Cuts, lobbying, PASSHE, Program elimination, Rally, Tom Corbett, Uncategorized, West Chester University

“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

Governor Corbett’s 2012-13 Budget Proposal

Here we go again.

If you haven’t heard the news already, this morning Gov. Corbett launched, er, presented his budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year. Unsurprisingly, PASSHE is once again in his crosshairs.

Corbett proposed a cut of 20%, or about $86 million, for PA state universities. That’s after a cut of 18% last year (which we fought like hell to reduce from his original proposal of cutting over 50%), and a mid-school-year request from his office to freeze 5% of last year’s already reduced allocation.

Here’s the official response from State APSCUF, posted just a few minutes ago on that blog:

GOVERNOR CORBETT’S BUDGET CUTS TO PUBLIC HIGHER EDUCATION JEOPARDIZE PENNSYLVANIA’S FUTURE
Funding for state-owned universities is necessary to ensure that Pennsylvania students have the opportunity to go to college.

HARRISBURG – Today Governor Tom Corbett revealed his FY 2012-13 state budget proposal, which cuts funding for Pennsylvania’s 14 state-owned universities by 20 percent, or $82.5 million. The president of the association representing 6,000 faculty members and coaches at the State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) institutions expressed dismay that the governor has once again attempted to balance the budget on the backs of students and their working families.

The governor’s proposed budget allocates $330 million to PASSHE, a loss of almost $175 million since Corbett took office. His budget proposal comes just one month after he requested that the State System freeze five percent of last year’s appropriation.

“Since taking office, Governor Corbett has taken every opportunity to decrease funding for our universities,” said Dr. Steve Hicks, president of APSCUF. “We understand that these are challenging economic times, but our students and their families are already struggling to make ends meet. Additional budget cuts are going to put the college dream out of reach for many Pennsylvanians.”

In June, Governor Corbett signed a budget that reduced funding for PASSHE by 18 percent.

As a result, PASSHE was forced to raise tuition 7.5 percent.

“PASSHE has a state-mandated mission to provide accessible, affordable, ‘high quality education at the lowest possible cost to students.’ Our universities cannot continue to meet these goals without critical state support,” Dr. Hicks stated. “The governor’s proposal puts current funding for the State System below 1989-90 levels. This short-sighted budget fix will have a lasting impact on the future of the Commonwealth.”

“Our campus communities must stand together for quality education,” Hicks said. “I urge the legislature to reaffirm the promise of affordable higher education for the working families of Pennsylvania.”

The governor’s budget proposal includes cuts to higher education totaling $265.4 million. In addition to the State System reduction, three of the four state-related universities will see cuts totaling $146.9 million, community colleges, $8.8 million, and the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, $27.2 million.

For understandable reasons, State APSCUF’s response is somewhat restrained in its tone. And if what I’m about to say seems unrestrained, you should see what it looked like when I first wrote it.

Understand the context:  these proposed cuts coincide with the Governor’s firm refusal to tax gas extraction companies that are volunteering to pay taxes as they begin fracking up our state; I’m not advocating fracking, but it’s doubly outrageous for the Governor to want it both ways. He can’t just let his fracking friends destroy the state and not pay a penny in taxes for doing it.  The cuts further coincide with the Governor’s refusal to make businesses and wealthy residents pay their fair share of the operating costs of our state, even as many of those businesses are benefiting from state contracts (read: taxpayer dollars), from the squeezing of public services, and so on. None of this is news.

I understand other states, especially California, have faced bigger cuts to public higher ed budgets, and other states (WI, OH, FL, MI, TX) have Governors who are more drooling, insane whackjobs.

Nonetheless, for those of us who live in PA, it’s about time to throw down the gauntlet. The reason the Governor keeps making these outrageous decisions is that nobody is stopping him. We’re not the only organization deeply harmed by the Governor’s stance, and it’s incumbent on all of us not just to defend our system and our students, but our state.

Be on the lookout for calls to act coming fast and furious now that the budget proposal is official. More important, when you see those calls, ACT!!!

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Filed under Advocacy, APSCUF, Benefits/Benefit Cuts, Budget, Budget Cuts, Budget Deficit, Communities, free speech, lobbying, PASSHE, Privatization, Public education, Public employee unions, public employees, Rally, Shock Doctrine, Student activism, taxes, Tom Corbett

Statewide “Call” to Action for Public Education

Folks:

An organization called Education Voters for PA is organizing a Statewide ‘Call’ to Action phone-in campaign for Monday, Dec. 5.

From their website–

Education Voters, joined by several allies, is organizing our firstStatewide “Call” to Action for Public Education! One week from today, on Monday, December 5th.  Thousands of people will set aside 5 minutes to call their local State Representatives and Senators with a short message about education being our highest priority as taxpayers and voters. CLICK HERE to pledge to call!

  • Class sizes are increasing in many communities.
  • Kindergarten, tutoring, arts, sports …. all being cut.
  • We keep reducing education to the point where someday soon, we could be teaching only subjects that will be on standardized tests.
  • We are raising taxes at the community level, putting more pressure on property taxes instead of having a statewide funding formula that is aligned to learning standards, fiscally responsible, fair and both Constitutional and ethical.

APSCUF members and other people concerned about education should support this effort. For further details, check out their website. All they ask is that you make the call to your legislator and then notify the organization that you’ve done it. It’s five minutes if you feel chatty with whoever answers the phone at your legislator’s office.

Please share with people you know who care about public education in PA, anywhere in the state.

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Filed under Advocacy, APSCUF, Budget, Budget Cuts, Communities, K-12 Education, Public education, Rally

APSCUF’s own Chuck Bauerlein on Occupy Wall Street

I should have reposted this sooner–been a little behind recently. This is Chuck’s post on his own blog. I’m reproducing it in full. If you want to comment on the original, just click the link. Otherwise, read on.

 

The movement that won’t go away


Eight days ago I went up to Washington Square Park in New York city, carrying the sign pictured here, to see for myself what all the Occupy Wall Street protests were about. It was beginning to garner some media attention with predictable results from the print pundits and AM radio shouters.

To the Fox News propagandists, the protesters were castigated as “unwashed hippies and anarchists.” On the left-wing blogs and websites they were lauded as “radical revolutionaries.” As usual, both takes on the protesters were naive, silly and too frequently based on the biases of the reporter. No one was able to articulate a clear understanding of who was leading the protests or what they wanted.

I have my own biases, of course, but I am growing confident the Occupy Wall Street protest is not going to go away any time soon. It’s gaining traction by the day. A particularly harsh winter may slow it down (conservatives like New York’s Mayor Bloomberg are crossing their fingers) but my gut tells me by the end of November it will be too big to ignore and it may help shape the public agenda for the 2012 Presidential elections.

And this will likely be bad news for the Republicans. (It was with no small amusement yesterday I read Eric Cantor’s weekend remarks that endorsed one of the main sentiments of the OWS protesters: that too much of the nation’s wealth was held by the top 1 percent of Americans. For a sycophant of the very wealthy like Cantor — R. Va. — to admit such a claim is ground-breaking news….and it suggests the GOP is watching Occupy Wall Street with a growing sense of alarm.)

The signs I saw last Saturday in Washington Square poked fun at both the left and the right. There were plenty of signs attacking Wall Street and lambasting the GOP as the “Party of Greed.” But there were also plenty of signs reprimanding the Obama administration for wasting the nation’s treasury on foreign wars, for bailing out the banks and for not prosecuting those most responsible for the economic meltdown and the mortgage fiasco.

The protesters I spoke to were upset with the whole political system, with politics as usual. In that sense, they ARE kin to the uber-conservative libertarians who comprise the Tea Party. And like the Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street protesters want transparency in government and an overhaul of the political structure of the nation. They want tangible changes….but not the changes the Tea Party wants: less taxes and smaller government.

What the Occupy Wall Street protesters want is a strengthening of the American middle class. They want the very wealthy to carry the burden of restoring America’s economic strength. Most of all, they want jobs. The overwhelming majority of them are Americans who are educated but can’t pay off their college loans because there is no work for them.

They blame the two wars that George Bush started and the Bush tax cuts on the very wealthy for the broken American economy. But they blame Bill Clinton’s North American Free Trade Agreement on the erosion of thousands of American jobs over the last 15 years. They see the nation’s politicians catering to the interests of the monied elite, the same multi-millionaires who subsidize political campaigns and who help keep politicians in office.

They see both parties as corrupt, the entire system in need of a shakedown. And their message is resonating with other disaffected, disgruntled Americans and it is resonating far across the oceans. It is a people’s movement and, so far, it has been following the blueprint Mahatma Gandhi used to gain independence for India: non-violent political resistance. Police antagonism only strengthens the will of the people; police brutality will only bring more people to the cause.

Because there are ordinances against the use of bullhorns in New York City, the organizers of Occupy Wall Street have developed a unique way of communicating with the masses at their protests. It’s called “the people’s mic.” When someone wants to say something, he or she will stand on a park bench and shout out half a sentence or a phrase. Then the people in his immediate circle will shout the line back to the speaker. People who cannot hear the speaker can hear the chorus, so the message gets amplified. It is an encouraging template for Democracy in action.

There were all kinds of people in Washington Square last Saturday. The first people I spoke to were a married couple in their late 60s who had flown from the Netherlands to bear witness to the growing movement. The husband had gravitated to me because of my pro-union sign and he suggested the unions needed to throw their weight behind the movement to help give it some direction.

I didn’t disagree with him. Mine was about the only pro-union sign in the square. But I am not sure the movement needs the help of organized labor. Labor should support it, but it seems to have a life of its own now that is impervious to parties and platforms. It is a movement about justice.

The people I saw at Washington Square were mostly young and well-educated. They are asking for a chance to make a difference in the world. That would start with jobs. But right now, they have a more important calling: they are seeking economic justice. Their message will not go away until justice happens.

They are not revolutionaries. They are our sons and daughters. They want the same things we all want. They want a chance to live the American dream; a dream that speaks to all humankind.

They are tomorrow’s leaders. We should consider ourselves blessed they are finally starting to assert themselves.

To hear more about the people who form the rank and file of Occupy Wall Street, please cut and paste this link into your browser and listen to an ABC interview with Fordham University professor of history Mark Naison.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jrRj83BunNE&feature=related

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Filed under Advocacy, Communities, Occupy, Public education, Public employee unions, public employees, Rally, Unions

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