Got the Monday blues? Start your week off right with a helping of useful information and informed opinion. 

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For the week of October 19, 2009

Teach-ins on the UC budget occurred across the state last week, as faculty, staff and students strategized at UCSB and UCLA on how to oppose the regents’ increasing moves to privatize education.

At UCSB, Professor Robert Meister, president of the Council of UC Faculty Associations, traced the connections between UC’s skyrocketing tuition and its bond rating, noting that the university “recently sold more than $1.6 billion in highly rated bonds one month after declaring an ‘extreme financial emergency.’”  UC’s excellent bond rating is based on the fact that it can raise tuition at will, in essence shifting the risk of borrowing to students and their families in what he called a “surreal form of credit swap in which UC funds new construction by getting your parents to risk foreclosure and you to risk insolvency for much of your adulthood.”

Budget critic Charles Schwartz, an emeritus professor at UCB, has written to the regents about this debt-bond relationship.

The original aim of California’s public educational system was to provide free education for all qualified citizens, history professor Nelson Lichtenstein told UCSB teach-in participants.

More events are in the works. Upcoming this week is the statewide conference for public education at UC Berkeley on Saturday, October 24.  The crisis of the public university will be the topic of an all-star panel, also at Berkeley, on Monday, October 26.

The hundreds of UCB students and staff who held a library study-in on October 9 in protest of cuts to public service hours are now celebrating a big victory. A few days after the action, just as activists were planning a second library study in, UCB officials announced that money had been found to keep the libraries open on Saturdays, and that the first branch to open would be the one targeted for a second study-in.

Hundreds of service workers and their supporters at UCLA took the bus to the Beverly Hills home of Joanne Kozberg, a regent who serves on that body’s finance and compensation committees, to talk with her about the sharp cuts to campus bus services.

While UC management is trying to shift the blame for slashing services onto Sacramento, critics call the budget crisis self-imposed and the university’s spin on it misleading. 

Reaction is still coming in to UC President Mark Yudof’s foot-in-mouth interview with the New York Times magazine a few weeks ago, in which he compared managing UC to managing a cemetery. Leaders of all the UC’s Academic Senates wrote a letter to the Times distancing themselves from Yudof’s comments. A student group has used Yudof’s own words to create these postcards you can send to legislators to raise their awareness about the threats to UC from current management.

Limiting salary increases and bonuses for UC executives during bad budget years would seem to be something everyone could agree on. California’s legislators did, overwhelmingly passing a bill doing just that last summer, along with two others improving budget transparency and whistle-blower protections. Last week, Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger ignored that consensus and vetoed all three bills.

Researchers at UC Berkeley’s Labor Center have released a study showing that the state’s 3-day-a-month worker furloughs aren’t very economical. The “poorly designed” plan cuts workers in revenue-generating positions, as well as those who are paid by the federal government and other special funds, and therefore saves less than a 1-day-a-month furlough would. _____________________________________________________________________________________

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