Davis Faculty Association

Archive for the ‘Privatization’ Category

Continuing deterioration of compensation and benefits

Dear Colleagues,

A year ago Colleen Lye and James Vernon, co-chairs of the Berkeley Faculty Association, drew the attention of faculty across the ten campuses of the University of California to the continuing degradation of their pensions, benefits and salaries.

Faculty were, they noted, still underpaid in relation to their peers at competitor institutions. Despite this salary gap they were being increasingly asked to pay more but get less from their health insurance and pensions. Moreover, the introduction of a new and less generous pension ‘tier’ for those hired after 2013, last year’s chaotic roll out of the new health plans with the prestige UC Care option working only on campuses with medical schools, and the cutting adrift of out of state retirees from all health plans with a good luck lump sum payment of $3,000, created new inequities between UC faculty.

This analysis has recently been confirmed by UCOP’s own study of total remuneration. The executive summary of this document contains the following depressing bullet points:

• Between 2009 and 2014, UC’s total remuneration fell from 2% below market to 10% below market.

• Health and welfare benefits fell from 6% above market in 2009 to 7% below market in 2014, primarily caused by higher medical employee contributions at higher salary bands compared to the market.

• Changes to retirement plan designs since 2009 reduced positioning against market from 29% above market to 2% below market.

• Total retirement decreased from 33% above market to 6% above market.

• Total benefits decreased from 18% above market to 1% below market.

It is the first UCOP study to compare the new (2103) and old (1976) tier benefits for UC faculty with equally depressing results.

• New tier retirement benefits (the defined benefit plan) are valued 16% below old tier retirement benefits.

• New tier retiree health benefits (medical, life, dental) are valued 23% below old tier retiree health benefits.

• New tier retirement benefits (defined benefit plan plus retiree health) are 17% lower than the old tier.

In short, we have moved to a new system where the old deferred benefits of our pension and healthcare helped offset lower salaries to one in which the cash compensation of salaries still lag behind our competitors and in addition benefits have now also been reduced to a point where they are below comparable institutions. In 2009 UC cash compensation by salary represented 68% of total remuneration, yet for assistant professors in 2014 it represents 86%.

The Faculty Associations believe that it will not be possible to retain and protect the quality of UC faculty if their salaries remain uncompetitive and the value of their deferred benefits continue to erode dangerously.

CUCFA response to UC’s plans to raise tuition

Below, please find a letter that The Council of UC Faculty Associations (CUCFA), the systemwide organization of which the Davis Faculty Association is a member, sent today to President Napolitano and the UC Regents regarding their recent proposal to raise tuition up to 5% per year for the next five years:


The Council of UC Faculty Associations holds Governor Jerry Brown’s slashing of public higher education responsible for UC President Napolitano’s recent proposal to budget for 5% tuition increases every year for the next 5 years.

Raising tuition is not the solution. There is a better way: provide California students and their families high quality, affordable higher education, as defined by the California Master Plan for Higher Education.

The reality is that Governor Brown has not been willing to spend the necessary money to do so even though the cost to do so is surprisingly low.

Here are the financial facts:

• In 2001-02, Gov. Gray Davis provided $3.2 billion ($4.4 billion in 2014 dollars) to the University of California. Tuition was $3,964.

• On taking office in 2003, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger cut UC’s budget by 15% to $2.7 billion and pressed for rapid tuition hikes to shift costs on to students and their families. By the time Gov. Schwarzenegger left office in 2011, he was providing just $2.9 billion to UC. Tuition had tripled to $11,279.

• Brown cut UC’s provision to $2.4 billion in his first budget (2011-12).

• While Brown has provided small increases to UC in the last 3 years, his 2014-15 budget only includes $2.8 billion for UC, more than one-third less (in real dollars) than Gov. Davis provided more than a decade before.

• At the same time that governors have cut support for UC by one-third, the university’s student body has grown by nearly one-third: from 183,000 to 238,000 students as UC continued to meet its Master Plan obligations.

• While Governor Brown appealed to UC students to help pass Proposition 30 in 2012, he has only allocated 4.5% of the money it raised to UC.

UC’s leaders have responded to these unprecedented cuts by reducing budgets for teaching and research, boosting class sizes, shifting administrative tasks to faculty (leaving less time for students and research), admitting more out-of-state students, and massive tuition hikes that tripled tuition in 15 years.

Along with his legacy of high-speed trains and long-distance water tunnels, Governor Brown needs to restore the promise of the California Master Plan for Higher Education:

• He should budget for all public higher education, including the State University and Community College systems, at levels that will return them to where they were in 2001-2002, adjusted for inflation and student population growth.

• Tuition should not merely be capped but rolled back to 2001-2002 levels, inflation adjusted ($4,717 for the University of California, compared to the $13,860 planned for UC next year).

Unlike many dreams, offering affordable, high quality public higher education to all is a bargain. It would cost the median California household just $50 a year.  (Details of calculation at http://keepcaliforniaspromise.org/3553/restore-2013-14.)

The UC Regents and President Napolitano must represent not only the institutional interests of UC students, staff and faculty but also the fundamental public interest of all Californians to restore one of the few fair-minded systems of advancement still open to anyone, from any background, who works hard and demonstrates talent.

BFA sponsored talk on September 30, 5pm, at UC Berkeley

The DFA’s sister chapter at Berkeley, the BFA, would like to extend a warm welcome to DFA folk to come to an event they are organizing this coming Tuesday. Please invite your colleagues as well.

*    *    *

The New Normal: What Does It Mean to Work at the UC Today

This event will address the rise of the new managerialism at UC and its implications for faculty research, teaching, welfare, academic freedom, and the tradition of shared governance.

Speakers: Christopher Newfield and Michael Meranze

When and where: September 30, 5pm, Wheeler Hall 300

The_New_Normal

(click on the image for a larger version)

Privatizing UC Instruction, SB520

SB 520, a controversial bill that proposes that California public universities partner with private technology companies to provide general education classes online, continues to move through the state legislature. A June 5th article in the East Bay Express explores the issue, quoting Colleen Lye and James Vernon, Co-Chairs of the Berkeley Faculty Association, a sister chapter of the DFA.

An excerpt:

“In March, The Academic Senate of the University of California released an open letter criticizing the bill’s inclusion of private corporate interests. “There is no possibility that UC faculty will shirk its responsibility to our students by ceding authority over courses to any outside agency,” the letter stated.

“Some of the largest venture capital firms in Silicon Valley have heavily invested in educational technology start-ups like Udacity, edX, and Coursera. Last week, Coursera announced partnerships with ten public universities, including the State University of New York system, to offer for-credit courses to currently enrolled students.

“The UC Berkeley Faculty Association (BFA) and other faculty groups have also expressed concern that private providers may infringe upon their intellectual property rights, which identify the instructor as the owner of its coursework.”

Read full article

A note about proposed online ed legislation

The DFA, in conjunction with CUCFA staff and the other faculty associations, have been busy monitoring the impending state legislation about online courses. In a previous email, we informed you of our letter of inquiry to the UCD Senate leadership and also invited you to sign an online petition opposing Senate Bill 520, which has so far received the lion’s share of attention. If you haven’t already you can still sign that petition (which currently has almost 1500 signatures) at

http://signon.org/sign/uc-faculty-opposition?source=c.em.cp&r_by=985930

Senate Chair Nachtergaele also wrote to the entire UCD faculty this morning providing further details of the Senate’s position on this issue.

There are also other related bills being considered in the Senate or the Assembly, some of them arguably less bad than SB 520, but all of them giving cause for our concern. Some other bills include:

* Assembly Bill 386 – Allows any student within the CSU System to take an online course on any other CSU campus, with some restrictions.
http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/postquery?bill_number=ab_386&sess=CUR

* Assembly Bill 387 Among other things, mandates 10% of new CSU courses be online offerings.
http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/postquery?bill_number=ab_387&sess=CUR

* Assembly Bill 1306 – Establishes a New University of California as the fourth higher education segment. The New University will provide no instruction, but shall issue college credit, baccalaureate and associate degrees to any person capable of passing examinations.
http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/postquery?bill_number=ab_1306&sess=CUR

* Senate Bill 520 – Directs the three higher education segments to identify the 50 most “bottlenecked” courses, creates a statewide pool of these classes, after a standardized review. Approval process allows private vendors to offer these classes for credit.
http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/postquery?bill_number=sb_520&sess=CUR

* Senate Bill 547. Similar to SB 520 but works much more within the current structures. It assigns course development and approval to the Academic Senates of UC, CSU and CCC, working jointly. In contrast, SB 520 assigned it to a 9-member panel which does not yet exist, whose original purpose was to help create free online textbooks.
http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/postquery?bill_number=sb_547&sess=CUR

Meanwhile, Bob Meister, Chair of CUCFA, has drafted an op-ed that will hopefully see print soon. Also, the UCSB Faculty Association has developed a set of bullet points, available here. This is obviously a complex issue and some of us following it closely continue to disagree (including about some of the points made in the UCSB document).

We’ll continue to monitor this legislation as it evolves, and would be happy to hear from any DFA members about their opinions on this legislation.

Best wishes,

Scott C. Shershow
Professor of English
Chair, Davis Faculty Association

Add your voice to a call for changes to SB 520

The Davis Faculty Association is gravely concerned about SB 520, a bill currently being considered by the state legislature, which would mandate acceptance of online courses from any source for academic credit at the University of California, the California State University and Community Colleges.  This proposal seems to us to have profound potential implications for shared governance, educational quality, faculty control of curriculum, standards for degrees, and much more. The DFA recently wrote to UCD Senate Chair Bruno Nachtergaele to express its concern about this legislation, and in response were referred to the Open Letter from Bob Powell and Council Chair Bill Jacob, the chairs of the system-wide Senate, which has already been sent to all faculty.

The DFA writes now to invite you to add your name to the petition linked to below, which originated with the Berkeley Faculty Association, and which is addressed to Sen. Darrell Steinberg (CA-6), the sponsor of SB 520, asking him to withdraw or modify SB 520. Please use the petition’s comment field to note your affiliation with UC.

http://signon.org/sign/uc-faculty-opposition?source=s.icn.em.mt&r_by=7376435

For more information on this impending legislation, see the various links at:

http://utotherescue.blogspot.com/2013/03/the-academic-senate-and-others-respond.html

Senator Steinberg’s proposed online classes bill

Today’s New York Times (and a number of other news sources) had an article about proposed legislation from Senator Steinberg that would require California’s public higher education systems to accept transfer credits from select online course providers for 50 of the state’s most impacted courses (some of these courses would be Community College or CSU courses but some could be UC courses, they have not been selected yet).

The New York Times article is available online at:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/13/education/california-bill-would-force-colleges-to-honor-online-classes.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&hp

Lillian Taiz, the president of the California Faculty Association (the union representing CSU faculty), is quoted in the article:

“What’s really going on is that after the budget cuts have sucked public higher education dry of resources,” she continued, “the Legislature’s saying we should give away the job of educating our students.”

The language of the proposed bill is not available from the Legislative Counsel’s website yet, but I’ve attached a PDF of the proposed language. Also attached is a PDF press release from Senator Steinberg’s office.

Campaign for the Future of Higher Education’s “Funding Higher Education” Campaign

The national Campaign for the Future of Higher Education (CFHE) is about to release their series of papers titled “Funding Higher Education: The Search for Possibilities.”

The Council of UC Faculty Associations contributed one of the papers in the series. CUCFA Vice President Stanton Glantz, as principal author of that paper, will be participating in the news briefing on February 12.

Please help spread the word to your local faculty and local media, or via your social media channels. Details are in CFHE’s press release below:

 


 

Campaign for the Future of Higher Education
For Release: February 6, 2013
Contact: Lisa Cohen, 310-395-2544 or Alice Sunshine, 510-384-1967

FUNDING HIGHER EDUCATION: THE SEARCH FOR POSSIBILITIES

The Campaign for the Future of Higher Education calls on America’s college & university faculty to join
in the search for new ways to fund higher education

NATIONAL TELEPHONE NEWS BRIEFING
Tuesday, February 12, 10 am Pacific/1 pm Eastern
Call (800) 553-0273  / Ask for “Campaign for the Future of Higher Education”

•The three authors of working papers on new ways to fund higher education will explain their proposals and take questions from the news
media, including campus reporters and education bloggers.

•The briefing begins a drive by CFHE for faculty to step up our role in the search for new possibilities that will save access to higher education and strengthen our nation’s middle class.

•The briefing takes place on Abraham Lincoln’’s birthday. Lincoln signed the 1862 Morrill Act that initiated America’s public higher education system, starting with Land Grant Colleges. Today that system spans the nation but is on the road to elimination.

FOR RELEASE FEBRUARY 6, 2013 — In the United States, quality public higher education was once accessible to most Americans able to benefit from it.

The way it worked was simple—taxpayers funded public colleges and universities sufficiently so that students who were prepared to work a few hours a week could complete their degrees in a relatively short time with a minimum amount of debt. For those with even greater need, government provided state grants and Pell grants.

This system worked well for decades and opened the door to opportunity for millions of Americans.

Now, we are told we can no longer afford this. We believe that is wrong.

The Campaign for the Future of Higher Education has begun a drive to involve our nation’s college and university faculty in the search for better solutions than funding cuts, privatization, soaring tuition and academic shut-downs.

Our nation has arrived at our current quandary for a variety of reasons. One is surely a failure of imagination, a set of assumptions that profoundly limits our ability to think about possibilities.

Three working papers released by the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education aim at stimulating a more thoughtful, fact-based, national conversation about paying for higher education in this country.

THREE IDEAS TO FUND HIGHER EDUCATION IN AMERICA

Two of the CFHE working papers address the common assumption that funding higher education through public means rather than through
skyrocketing tuition is simply impossible.

One explores the notion of free higher education and examines what the actual cost to provide such an ideal would be. Bob Samuels, a University of California faculty member in Los Angeles, argues we could make big strides towards free public higher education by
reallocating current governmental expenditures for higher education and by eliminating regressive tax breaks.

The second paper, using the state of California as a test case, looks at the real magnitude of returning to recent, more adequate levels of state funding for higher education. Stanton Glantz, a professor at UC San Francisco, describes that resetting” higher education funding to more adequate past levels would require only very small adjustments in the median income tax return.

The third paper explores a currently unused tax revenue source that could be tapped if there were the political will to provide adequate public funding for higher education. Rudy Fichtenbaum, an economics professor at Wright State University in Ohio and national president of the American Association of University Professors, explains how to achieve vastly improved funding for higher education through a miniscule tax on selected financial transactions.

Members of the news media, including campus/student reporters and bloggers on education issues, are invited to a news briefing on Tuesday, February 12 (10 am Pacific/1 pm Eastern) to hear a short discussion by the three authors and to ask them questions about their proposals.

To join the call:
Call (800) 553-0273  / Ask for “Campaign for the Future of Higher Education”. You may dial up to 5 minutes before the start time.

To see the papers in advance:
•Send an email request to dchernow@calfac.org or go to http://biz127.inmotionhosting.com/~future58/workingpapers/

Please note: the CFHE web address will change on Sunday, February 10. After that time, you can see the papers at www.futureofhighered.org/workingpapers.

These working papers are meant to encourage discussion, foster debate, and generate action. We invite faculty members and higher education supporters, particularly those with direct experience in America’s classrooms with students, to add thoughts about these models and ideas about others through the comment section of the CFHE website.

We also invite you to post on the CFHE Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/FutureofHigherEd and to follow CFHE on Twitter @FutureofHE or using #FutureofHE.

BACKGROUND

We must provide the advanced education needed to sustain our economy and to undergird our democracy. America is not broke, and these creative ideas show that we can afford to keep the doors of opportunity wide open. Indeed, we cannot afford to shut them.

It is unfortunate for our nation that leaders and policy-makers are giving up the dream of affordable public higher education for Americans. The door into the middle class is slamming shut for those who want to rise and the position of middle-class Americans and their children is shaky, at best.

In place of the tested and successful engine of opportunity—state colleges and universities—corporate reformers are calling for privatization, higher tuition, and even shuttering traditional colleges for middle-class and working Americans.

Millions who persist in pursuing college confront enormous debt that will shackle them for the rest of their lives, threatening our national economy on a scale equal to the home loan debacle.

Saddest of all, few who are calling for this brave new world of higher education are considering a lesser education for their own children. Harvard, Stanford, Yale, and many flagship public universities will remain in place for elites to enjoy. Rather, this lesser education will be reserved for those who cannot afford an increasingly rationed liberal arts curriculum.

And yes, the need is immediate and urgent. Consider this report published in the February 2012 issue of Postsecondary Education
Opportunity, ominously titled “The Race to Zero.” This report takes historical data on state spending and projects future state expenditures for higher education based on that data.

The study finds that if current trends in funding public higher education continue, in 2022 Colorado will be the first state to hit zero funding for higher education. Alaska will follow in 2027. More than a dozen other states will hit zero by 2050. California will reach zero funding for public higher education in 2052. By 2100, state support for higher education will zero out in 24 other states, leaving roughly 10 states with continued support.

The “new normal” myth driving this trend is based on the lie that there is no money to fund public higher education and the misguided notion that students should be responsible for their own education because they benefit the most from it.

While CFHE takes no position on these proposals, we do believe that the current trend of publicly defunding higher education is an educational crisis that needs our attention.

Until we as a nation entertain options other than privatization of public higher education, which has reaped gigantic profits for
edu-businesses but massive debt and dashed dreams for millions of Americans, we will not solve the problem.

We do not pretend to have exhausted all possibilities with these papers. We urgently need a national conversation about one, whether we want to head in the direction that “new normal” politics is taking us, and two, what better ideas can help us do the best possible job as we address changes in our society and our nation.

In reality, everyone benefits from an educated population and America has prospered more when excellent public higher education was
affordable. These papers, we hope, will start a discussion about alternative models to fund higher education in our nation.

FA Cross-Campus Faculty Gathering October 28

Please see the following invitation.  The DFA is co-sponsoring a meeting of a group of faculty from northern UC campuses on Sunday October 28 from 12-2 PM, to discuss possible actions we can take in defense of the public nature of our university.  Please join us if you can.

What is to be done? A gathering of faculty taking action for the public university
Sunday October 28, 12:00-2:00
Wheeler 330, UC Berkeley
RSVP (info@cucfa.org) if possible, but feel free to join even if you were not able to respond beforehand

Dear friends and colleagues,

We are in the early days of what promises to be a turbulent year at the University of California. Whether Proposition 30 passes or not, the University and all its campuses are facing major decisions about what sort of institution we are and want to be, in the face of ongoing pressures toward privatization at all levels. Both students and campus unions are discussing steps for after the election. Now more than ever, it is urgent that we, as faculty, are speaking publicly for the values we understand to be fundamental to the educational project.

On Sunday October 28 from 12-2 pm, a group of faculty drawn from the northern UC campuses will gather to discuss the multiple kinds of actions and interventions we can engage in, in defense of the public nature of the University. Please join us. This follows on a meeting held on September 30, in which an initial group from Berkeley, Santa Cruz, Davis and UCSF gathered to share challenges for each campus and for the larger system and to envision our role in protecting the University as a public institution. Notes from that meeting, including both minutes and graphic records of the conversation, can be found here:

http://ucbfa.org/2012/10/september-30-workshop-minutes/.

All are welcome on October 28. Please join us, whether or not you attended the first meeting.

And please forward widely.

The meeting is sponsored by the Davis Faculty Association, the Berkeley Faculty Association and the Faculty Organizing Group at Santa Cruz.

For more information or to RSVP, contact info@cucfa.org.

The Public Refusal of Privatization: On the “Political Content” of the US Bank Blockade (A Refutation of Brownstein and Amar)

On March 21, 2012, the Board of the Davis Faculty Association issued a petition in support of UC Davis students and faculty facing criminal charges due to their alleged participation in a blockade of the US Bank Branch on campus. The cases of the students and faculty charged were forwarded to the District Attorney for prosecution at the request of the UC Davis administration. The DFA petition called upon the UC Davis administration to “recognize the political content of the US Bank blockade rather than treating it as a criminal matter,” and it asked the administration to pressure the District Attorney to excercise his option to drop the charges against student and faculty protesters who had allegedly participated in the blockade.

On April 27, Alan Brownstein and Vikram Amar published a Viewpoints piece in the Sacramento Bee in which they argue that the DFA’s petition misunderstands the “basics of freedom of speech and academic freedom,” and they therefore suggest “the need to use this episode as a ‘teachable moment.’” As law professors, Brownstein and Amar feel they are in a position to offer some instruction about these “basics.” But their lesson fails to address either the content of the DFA’s petition or that of the political action under discussion.

The petition issued by the DFA does not, in fact, appeal to free speech or academic freedom in its treatment of the bank blockade. It does not appeal to the First Amendment. Since Brownstein and Amar consider themselves experts on the First Amendment, it is convenient for them to ignore this fact and focus on what they think they know. Thus they write, “the important starting point in our First Amendment analysis is that a blockade is not constitutionally protected speech.” This “starting point” already misses the point, because “constitutionally protected speech” is not what is at issue in the DFA petition. While Brownstein and Amar may be considered experts on the law, they do not demonstrate their expertise in reading texts and reconstructing arguments. The DFA petition urges the UC Davis administration to “recognize the political content of the US Bank blockade rather than treating it as a criminal matter.” What does this mean?

To recognize the political content of the blockade, one has to understand its context: UC Davis has a special contract with US Bank, which generates funding for the university from US Bank revenue, in exchange for special advertising services and privileged branch and ATM placement. US Bank profits from student loans, and therefore from rising tuition. The administration gathers funds from US Bank profits, and therefore has an incentive to increase tuition, rather than opposing state cuts to UC funding. Moreover, a US Bank logo appears on all UCD student cards, and these can be used as debit cards at US Bank. To recognize the political content of the US Bank blockade is to understand it within this context. Demonstrators argued that, at a public university, this sort of contract with a private corporation constitutes a conflict of interest. That is: they argued that it is contrary to the public character of the UC.

What this argument brings into focus is a serious problem which Brownstein and Amar fail to understand. They write: “the argument that a public university should pick and choose whether obstruction should be permitted or not based on the political content of any particular blockade is also a dubious proposition.” They fear that if a public university did so, the consequence would be that “the university…morphs into a political institution committed to particular perspectives – so much so that it excuses violations of law in support of its own political positions.”

These arguments indicate a curious incapacity to recognize a basic fact, a fact central to the political content of the US Bank blockade: because the University of California is a public university, as Brownstein and Amar note, it must be “committed to a particular perspective”: quite precisely,that of a public university. The “political position” of the US Bank blockade is precisely its insistence that the University commit to this perspective. So then, here we have a political position to which the University of California can, should, and must be committed: that of upholding its character as a public institution.

This is what the DFA petition asks the UC Davis administration to recognize in pointing to the political content of the US Bank blockade. And this is what Brownstein and Amar are unable to recognize. Their arguments are question-begging, because they assume exactly what is compromised by the process of privatization, which the US Bank blockade opposes: the public character of the University of California.

In a longer version of their piece published in the Jurist, Brownstein and Amar close their piece by stating that “the communicative power of civil disobedience gains its force by protestors demonstrating the strength of their convictions by their willingness to be arrested and sanctioned for violating the law.” But the willingness of demonstrators to be arrested and sanctioned for violating the law does not mean they should be arrested and sanctioned, and the point of civil disobedience actions is precisely to make clear this disjunction—a disjunction which depends upon the political content of the action. In fact, the “communicative power” of a civil disobedience action does not fundamentally rely upon a willingness to be arrested, but rather upon the capacity of citizens to recognize the political content of the action, its contextual justification. It is this sort of recognition which the DFA petition demands.

Nathan Brown, on behalf of the Board of the UC Davis Faculty Association

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