Monday Memo: news & views about working at UC

For the Week of April 22, 2013

Patient care workers at five UC medical centers have scheduled a strike vote for April 30–May 2 after 10 months of failed contract negotiations. The 13,000 patient care assistants, vocational nurses, radiology technicians, and other hospital staff that AFSCME 3299 represents have been working without a contract since October. The union told the Sacramento Business Journal that UC’s “taxpayer-supported” medical centers are plagued with “chronic understaffing, growing management bloat and unprecedented executive excess.” 

Kathryn Lybarger, AFSCME 3299’s president, outlines many of the problems in a San Francisco Examiner op-ed, noting that the “UC medical centers grossed $6.9 billion last year — up more than 16 percent from three years ago — and banked hundreds of millions in profits.”
UPTE/AFSCME solidarity
UPTE/AFSCME solidarity
Photo from: http://www.afscme3299.org/media/without-the-work-i-do/

Surrendering journalistic integrity, credibility, and editorial independence, the Orange County Register is now publishing a weekly special section on higher education featuring articles written by local universities – in exchange for $825,000. Chapman University, Cal State University, and UC Irvine are each kicking in $275,000 for the privilege of publishing their articles in the newspaper, while the paper barely acknowledges the source of the articles. More troubling to some is the effect the universities’ money is having on thwarting critical coverage of those institutions.

UC's Office of the President released figures showing record low acceptance rates for California’s high school seniors. "The chances of in-state high school seniors gaining admission to the University of California worsened this year" reported the Los Angeles Times, based on the UCOP figures. The Daily Californian reports that UC Berkeley “maintained a nearly identical ethnic composition of freshman admits,” while the Sacramento Bee noted that, overall, fewer California residents were accepted compared to last year, with a clear effect on diversity: “Of the 60,089 Californian's offered admission, 2,518 are African-American, 202 fewer than last year, while 16,613 – 162 fewer than last year – are Hispanic." 

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, UC Merced has gone “from shunned to popular,” which now can’t expand fast enough to meet demand.

A bill to create a “New University of California” has died in the state Legislature after attracting a recent flurry of attention. The bill would have created the “New University of California,” a fourth college system that would have issued credits and degrees to anyone capable of passing exams.

Meanwhile, CSU is expanding its entry into “MOOCs” – Massive Online Open Courses – by teaming up with the online edX to expand an electrical engineering course to 11 other CSU campuses. One tech blog reported that a San Jose State University study found that the “flipped” class, in which lectures are watched online at home while class time is devoted to on-hands labs, increased pass rates to 46%. The university president cited this result as the basis for aggressively expanding CSU’s online courses.

A San Jose Mercury op-ed piece by two UC faculty members cautioned against “legislative mandates that intrude into the curriculum” – a response to legislative bills that would require California universities to grant credit for online classes prepared by outside groups, including for-profit companies.
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