Monday Memo: news & views about working at UC
For the Week of September 17, 2012

“Anyone who needs a lot of money, as the University of California says it does, gets thinking about the fastest, easiest ways to bring in cash: Cut employees' health care plans: $100 million. Raid the endowment: $20 million. Charge more for parking and shift money to the pension plan: Could rake in millions.” That was the lead in the San Francisco Chronicle, covering last week’s UC regents meeting in which officials put forth more than a dozen ideas for cost-cutting to avoid an estimated $300 million budget gap this year.
 
Both the UC regents and the board of the California State University system have endorsed this fall’s Proposition 30, put together by California Governor Jerry Brown in coalition with several unions. The measure would raise taxes by 1 to 3 percent on residents who make over $250,000, and institute a temporary ¼ cent sales tax. According to the Los Angeles Times, the CSU system is even sending letters to those who applied for admission this fall that they won’t hear back until after the November election, and that if the proposition fails, fewer students may be admitted.
 
The conservative Howard Jarvis Taxpayers’ Association is running radio ads that oppose Proposition 30, saying it won’t raise money for education. The San Jose Mercury News says the ad is “extremely misleading,” noting that the measure would restore billions of dollars to California’s struggling schools and universities.
 
More students are leaving California to go to college elsewhere than ever before, due to budget cuts, higher tuition, and fewer courses, reports the campus newspaper for the California State University at Stanislaus, The Signal. “Students are finding the cost of out-of-state tuition to be worth the move, with the promise of graduating sooner, more course selections and less debt through more readily available scholarships and financial aid on the horizon,” they write.
 
George Blumental, UCSC chancellor, called for renewed investment in California’s public universities.
 
In a closed-door meeting, the regents approved a cash settlement to 21 students and alumni who sued UC over the pepper spray incident last November.
 
US News and World Report’s annual national university ranking placed UC Berkeley as the nation’s top school among public institutions and 21st overall. UC Davis moved up one notch to number 8. Four other UC campuses -- UCLA, UCSD, UCSB, and UCI – placed within the top 50.
 
A prestigious education won’t be available to undocumented immigrant children. UCLA’s Center for Labor Research and Education helped organize a “National Dream University” for students eligible for the American Dream Act. After drawing fire from Fox News, UCLA has cancelled the program.
 
The ultra-conservative, ultra-rich Koch brothers have just dumped $4 million into California’s Proposition 32. Dubbed “Citizens United on steroids,” Proposition 32 would prohibit union political contributions and sweep aside the last counterweight to unlimited corporate political spending.
 
A strike by Chicago teachers enters its second week, as The Nation reports that the city’s Board of Education has made “major concessions” that will send the teachers back to work with a “significantly better contract.” Thousands of teachers have been on strike since last Monday, in what many are calling a battle for the soul of public education. To learn more about their issues, check out the Chicago Teachers Union website.
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