| For the Week of March 26, 2012
Last week, Berkeley’s Main Library held an open house, complete with lectures, musical performances and a book giveaway, to celebrate its 100th anniversary. What most attendees didn’t know is that administrators are now quietly scrutinizing (or, in their words, “re-envisioning”) the multi-faceted system for possible cuts to services and consolidation of entire libraries. Over the last year, Berkeley’s students, staff and faculty have responded to library service cutbacks with a series of successful occupations.
The California Faculty Association, which represents faculty in the Cal State system, has just published a report entitled, For-Profit Higher Education and the California State University, a Cautionary Tale. The report attacks a development plan that relies on excessive management salaries, on-line courses, and Extended Education programs, which circumvent the public transparency requirements required of normal programs. This follows hard on the heels of the CSU announcement that it will not be accepting any new admissions for the spring 2013 semester.
The Teamsters, which represents UC’s 14,000 clerical workers, has reached a settlement with UC over layoffs it says were illegally imposed in 2010. Under the settlement, workers will be allowed to take an adjusted amount of personal leave in 2012. The estimated value of the additional leave is $2 million.
Seeking to realize the promise of California’s Master Plan for Higher Education, some citizens have begun circulating “College for California,” an initiative to make state university education tuition-free. Higher income taxes for those making over $250,000 would fund the plan.
UC is pondering whether to ask future UC students to declare their sexual orientation upon admission to the university. AB620, passed by the Legislature in 2011, requires Cal State and community colleges to collect data on sexual orientation. Although legally not binding on UC, an Academic Senate committee recommended in January that UC comply with its terms as well.
A Florida circuit court ruled last week that the state had illegally withheld 3% of the pay of Florida teachers, applying it toward their retirement benefits, and state would have to repay the 655,000 members of the Florida Retirement System. Of course, the state has filed an appeal.
One bit of news that should cheer the hearts of public employees everywhere is that a new poll has found that votes aren’t blaming workers for pension troubles. Meanwhile, the San Francisco Chronicle editorialized in support of changes by CalPERS that could result in reduced retirement benefits for employees.