Save the date.
This document sheds light.
Because the economy is improving and state revenues are
increasing the Texas Faculty Association believes legislators need to restore
funding levels for TEXAS Grants at least to 2010 levels. What was supposed to be a one time emergency
provision for funding level has now become the standard.
to Higher Education
The Texas Faculty Association believes that by focusing on
short-term savings and cutbacks, the legislature is sacrificing the long-term
viability of the state and nation and that they should recommit to promoting a
meaningful long-term vision for higher education.
Rainy Day Fund
The Texas Faculty Association believes that the Rainy Day Fund
needs to be used to restore higher education funding. Residents of the Rio Grande Valley are being hurt
by the current funding method.
TFA continues to believe that collective bargaining rights
are fundamental rights for all citizens, whether they are employed in the
public or private sector. Collective bargaining agreements promote stability
and productivity and all Texans would benefit from ending the prohibition of
collective bargaining in public institutions of higher education.
March 2, 2012 – 3:00am
The phrase “post-tenure review” can mean different things to different people.
Talk of “post-tenure review” is in circulation at the University of Texas System after the Board of Regents approved tougher rules earlier this month – requiring tenured faculty members in the system to be evaluated annually and receive rankings from “exceeds expectation” to “unsatisfactory.” Two unsatisfactory reviews can lead to a comprehensive review and a possible dismissal.
To some, “post-tenure review” raises the issue of whether a professor’s tenure will continue. To others, it is a process of evaluating performance to provide valuable feedback.
The latter is how Francisco G. Cigarroa, chancellor of the UT system, put it during a visit to the offices of Inside Higher Ed last week. Cigarroa stressed the importance of “performance differentiation” and how those professors getting unsatisfactory reviews will be helped with a remediation plan. He said one weakness of the previous post-tenure review system was that the best rating a professor could attain was “satisfactory.” And irrespective of what happened in between, a tenured professor would get a comprehensive review only once in six years.
The new professor ratings are: exceeds expectations, meets expectations, does not meet expectations and unsatisfactory. The post-tenure evaluations can be used for salary raises and promotions, and those failing remediation may lose their jobs. The department chair, dean or a peer-review committee will do the initial evaluations with the department chair or dean doing a final review of the evaluation. In case of a comprehensive review, a peer review committee including representatives of the school or department will also be appointed. Individual campuses will set their own policies using the new post-tenure review rules as a template.
Officials were not able to provide data on how many tenured UT professors have been dismissed in the past.
“The new document links annual reviews, post-tenure reviews and possible reviews for termination,” said Alan Friedman, a professor of English who is the chairman of the UT-Austin faculty council and member of the systemwide faculty advisory council. “The annual review that was used primarily for salary increases will take on much greater significance.”
University of Texas professors have been under fire from some quarters in the state, with Rick O’Donnell, a former special adviser to the UT system, calling them slackers. But Cigarroa stressed that the new rules came about after discussion with the university’s Faculty Advisory Council. “This is not punitive but constructive,” Cigarroa said.
Last year, a draft version of a new post-tenure review process, was approved by the UT System Faculty Advisory Council. But this version was not too much different from the system already in place, according to Friedman, and wasn’t to the liking of the chancellor and other administrators.
Another version of the revised post-tenure review rules developed by a task force of faculty council members and administrators was eventually adopted. This version was tweaked before it passed, because it had been criticized by some faculty council members. According to Murray Leaf, a professor of anthropology and political economy at UT-Dallas who is on the executive committee of the FAC, subtle changes were made to the final version. For example, the language was changed to reflect that two unsatisfactory annual reviews “may” lead to a comprehensive review instead of “shall.” Also, a few sentences were added to a section on annual reviews to clarify that they are different from the comprehensive review.
“The way I interpreted it from the information given to us was that the chancellor was in a tough place in regard to the regents and we were being asked to support this plan,” Friedman said. “Some faculty members will be spending a lot more time evaluating productivity than being productive. The chairs of different departments have a major new workload,” he said. Friedman worried that the new review plan would have a negative impact on the reputation of the university. “Many people will see this as an assault on tenure. It will become harder to recruit and retain outstanding faculty,” he said.
The step by UT — one of the largest public universities in the nation, with 5,268 tenured faculty members — not only gives rise to the question of whether more universities will follow suit but also the inevitable question about the viability of tenure.
Daniel Hamermesh, a professor of economics at the University of Texas at Austin, said the revamping of the rules seemed highly visible because it was happening at the state’s top university, and wondered whether the rule changes were more about setting an example for the rest of the state. “I think the changes are pretty minor and there is only a slight change in the rules. I do not think this will make much of a difference,” Hamermesh said. “The new rules are not such a bad thing and the professors will adjust accordingly.”
The American Association of University Professors has long criticized the practice of post-tenure reviews and its leaders said such a system rarely provided any benefits. “It can deprive a tenured faculty member of the presumption of competence and it can have a chilling effect on academic freedom,” said Greg Scholtz, AAUP’s director of academic freedom, tenure and governance.
AAUP’s existing policy on such reviews says that “no procedure for evaluation of faculty should be used to weaken or undermine the principles of academic freedom and tenure. The association cautions particularly against allowing any general system of evaluation to be used as grounds for dismissal or other disciplinary sanctions.”
While the organization approves of reviews for merit raises, it does not call them post-tenure reviews. “We are also not opposed to voluntary reviews that are intended to assist a professor in improving his or her performance. But such a review is not what is usually called ‘post-tenure review,’ ” Scholtz said.
Scholtz drew a distinction between formalized post-tenure processes and a “dismissal for cause”, which can be a way for a tenured professor to be fired but also added that “some post-tenure reviews procedures can, and all-too-often do, lead to a faculty member being dismissed for cause.”
But those cases, because they are so rare, can test the system. The Faculty Council at the University of Missouri’s Columbia campus has been debating the strength of evidence required against a tenured professor to recommend dismissal. The issue revolves around allegations against Greg Engel, an associate professor of engineering at the Columbia campus, who has been accused by three Chinese students of racism and sexism after he gave them failing grades for alleged plagiarism.
A student grievance committee has cleared Engel and a Faculty Responsibility Committee also cleared him because of a “lack of clear and convincing evidence.”
“The question that has come up is whether the Committee on Faculty Responsibility should rule by a ‘preponderance of evidence’ or ‘clear and convincing evidence,’ ” said Clyde Bentley, an associate professor of journalism and member of the Faculty Council. The provost has suggested that the lower standard – “preponderance of evidence” — be used and the case be sent back to the responsibility committee, which could recommend dismissal. A tenured professor can be fired through a decision of the Board of Curators. On Thursday, UM’s Faculty Council recommended that the chancellor uphold the original decision by the faculty responsibility committee.
But is UT’s new review process a harbinger of the future of tenure? The AAUP does not collect data on post-tenure reviews, but Scholtz said his rough estimate was that one-third of universities have such systems in place, based on his reviews of some faculty handbooks every year.
David Adamany, the former president of Temple University and Wayne State University, said he did not foresee widespread adoption of policies that would put the institution of tenure at risk. He said it was hard to foresee faculty committees making decisions that would get their colleagues dismissed.
“Most major universities have an annual form of review. My own view is that a more formal review at periodic intervals of 7 to 10 years is helpful to give faculty members feedback on what their strengths and weaknesses are,” he said. “Faculty members can get a sense of their career trajectory from these kinds of reviews.”
The reason that the demands for post-tenure reviews are more visible now might be connected to the removal of an exemption in 1994 from the 1986 Age Discrimination Act, Adamany said. The exemption allowed colleges, until 1994, to enforce mandatory retirement at 70. “There is a category of much older faculty like me who do not retire and might not be rigorously reviewed,” he said. Such a situation not only makes it expensive for a university but also prevents younger faculty members from finding jobs. “But I do not see any real drive in this country to end tenure,” Adamany added.
Hamermesh, the UT-Austin professor, felt the tenure system might become bifurcated such that the top public universities are not affected, but lesser universities undergo some kind of modification when it comes to tenure.
At UT, some faculty leaders think that the evaluation process would turn the tenure system on its head. “There is no question that the post-tenure review system undermines tenure. Professors will be looking over their shoulders. Their will be no more independent thinking,” said James Aldridge, vice president of the University of Texas Pan American chapter of the Texas Faculty Association. “We fear that the intent of the new policy is to arbitrarily increase the number of professors whose performance is deemed unsatisfactory.”
Read more: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/03/02/what-does-post-tenure-review-really-mean#.T1EZFVFtzuw.email#ixzz1oGsY8beV
Inside Higher Ed
Santorum’s Attacks on Higher Ed
February 27, 2012 – 3:00am
Many Republicans have voiced views similar to those of President Obama on the importance of all Americans obtaining at least some higher education. And even if many Republicans have differed with the Obama administration on many student aid issues and how best to encourage higher educational attainment, few have cheered the idea of Americans stopping their education before the postsecondary level.
Rick Santorum, however, is doing so. As far back as December he was calling colleges “indoctrination centers” for the left, and he has questioned the idea that scientists know what they are talking about with regard to climate change. Starting a few weeks ago — much to the amazement of many academics — he started challenging the idea that more Americans should go to college. He has now repeated his criticisms, this time in front of cameras in an appearance Saturday in Troy, Mich. Santorum again called President Obama a “snob” for wanting all Americans to go to college. There are “good, decent men and women,” Santorum said, who are proud of their skills that were “not taught by some liberal college professor.” He added, comparing himself to President Obama: “He wants to remake you in his image. I want to create jobs so people can remake their children into their image, not his.”
Here’s the video:
While Santorum’s implication is that President Obama wants everyone to have a college education like his (a liberal arts degree followed by a law school, attending elite institutions), most of the Obama push for expanded higher education has been about community colleges and job-training programs. He has spoken far more about the need to give working class people tools to advance their careers (through certificate and associate degree programs) than he has about four-year liberal arts degrees.
On Sunday, Santorum stood by his comments about higher education not being needed by many Americans. On ABC’s “This Week,” he said that ”there are lot of people in this country that have no desire or no aspiration to go to college, because they have a different set of skills and desires and dreams that don’t include college. To sort of lay out there that somehow this is — this is — should be everybody’s goal, I think, devalues the tremendous work” of “people who, frankly, don’t go to college and don’t want to go to college.”
Talking Points Memo, a liberal news site, on Saturday reported that Santorum — in his unsuccessful re-election campaign to the Senate in 2006 — seemed to endorse higher education policies remarkably similar to those of President Obama today. The site found a copy of Santorum’s campaign website from that year, which said: “In addition to Rick’s support of ensuring that primary and secondary schools in Pennsylvania are equipped for success, he is equally committed to ensuring [that] every Pennsylvanian has access to higher education. Rick Santorum has supported legislative solutions that provide loans, grants, and tax incentives to make higher education more accessible and affordable.”
Not only did the website include Santorum endorsing higher education for all (Pennsylvanians), but it even quoted him as supporting federal spending for that purpose: “Rick Santorum supports increased funding for Pell Grants, and since 2001 funding for the Pell Grant program has increased by 47 percent. Pennsylvania students have benefited tremendously from Pell Grants; providing a college education for our state’s youth who otherwise might not be able to afford one.”
Inside Higher Ed asked Santorum’s campaign about the apparent contradiction between his views in 2006 and today and has not heard back.
But The Tampa Bay Times’ PolitiFact news service is reporting that Santorum — since 2008 — has linked higher education to the work of Satan. In a 2008 talk at Ave Maria University, Santorum discussed the way Satan has attacked “great institutions of America.”
Where did Satan start? According to Santorum, “The place where he was, in my mind, the most successful and first — first successful was in academia. He understood pride of smart people. He attacked them at their weakest. They were in fact smarter than everybody else and could come up with something new and different — pursue new truths, deny the existence of truth, play with it because they’re smart. And so academia a long time ago fell.”
Santorum’s broadsides against higher education are producing considerable blog commentary — and may even prompt some college presidents to speak out in ways that they normally avoid. Brian Rosenberg, the president of Macalester College, normally has a strict rule about not speaking out about politicians or policy debates, believing that the role of a president is to provide a space for all views to be heard, not to endorse a particular position or imply that a college has an official position on such issues. Rosenberg feels so strongly about this that he made it the subject of a convocation address that he adapted for an essay in 2009 for Inside Higher Ed.
But Santorum has tested Rosenberg’s limits. He wrote in The Huffington Post that statements Santorum is making about higher ed are so wrong that it’s appropriate for a college president to condemn them. “It is not much of a stretch, I would submit, to see the claims that (1) wanting to see more students attend college is bad for our country and (2) colleges are indoctrination mills, as ones with which a college president should publicly disagree, and that a presidential candidate who makes such claims is at least as much a threat to our collective mission as any law or court ruling,” Rosenberg wrote. “So with all due respect to my responsibilities as a fundraiser and as a guardian of open discourse on my campus, I am prepared to make the case that stating publicly that I am appalled by the views of Rick Santorum is not only my right but my responsibility.”
He added: “I am appalled by the views of Rick Santorum. Now excuse me while I go check on the water flow in the indoctrination mill on the northeast corner of the Macalester campus.”
Read more: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/02/27/santorums-views-higher-education-and-satan#ixzz1nzIrAI8l
Inside Higher Ed
The (Revised) Case Study
June 9, 2011
For faculty advocates, the Bakersfield story is both emotionally disheartening and politically valuable.
It goes like this: In 2009, facing steep budget cuts, California State University at Bakersfield laid off four math instructors and moved its two developmental math courses — courses meant to get weaker students ready for college-level math — to a fully online format. While tutoring services and supervised lab time were made available to students, it was up to them to schedule an appointment. Other than that, they were on their own. The math faculty was consulted, but their protestations “fell on deaf ears,” says Charles Lam, an associate professor of math.
The results were disastrous. In one course, the student pass rate plummeted from 74 percent to 45 percent. In the other, the rate fell from 61 percent to 37 percent.
The California Faculty Association seized on the figures. “CSU Bakersfield Remedial Math Needs Remediation,” the union declared on its website. California faculty reps in recent years have had their hands full fighting those whose plans for dealing with draconian budget cuts include cutting faculty jobs and replacing them, to various degrees, with online teaching technology. Even beyond California, faculty union reps still hold up Bakersfield as a cautionary tale highlighting the limits of technology as a “replacement” for real, live instructors.
What has happened at Bakersfield in the year since, however, is more open to interpretation. Prior to the 2010-11 academic year, the campus revised its developmental math curriculum to include mandatory lab hours under the supervision of teaching assistants, as well as a once-a-week lecture that would cover both math theory and tips on studying and time management. Bakersfield did not, however, re-hire any of the math instructors it had let go, and the amount of time students spent with live instructors at the ready was much smaller than it had been before the experiment.
Pass rates recovered dramatically in both classes. In fact, they exceeded the pre-experiment rates — rising to 85 percent in the first course and 68 percent in the second, according to a university spokesman. Officials say there were no changes to how students were assessed.
On the one hand, faculty advocates can point to the fact that taking mandatory face time with faculty and teaching assistants out of the curriculum caused pass rates to tank, and putting it back in caused pass rates to recover. Furthermore, the first curricular experiment was conceived with minimal faculty input, while the second was deliberated with “more active” participation by the chair of the math department and by Lam, who runs the math tutoring center and was initially angry that the original changes appeared to have been made by fiat. (Lam says it was he who suggested the partial restoration of mandatory, supervised lab hours; he credits the dean with the idea for the 50-minute weekly lectures.)
On the other hand, deans at Bakersfield and advocates of streamlined online courses can point to the fact that under the second iteration of the new model — absent four members of the math faculty and a good chunk of supervised lab time — students performed even better than they had when Bakersfield had been spending money on those resources. After a rough first test run, the university made adjustments and ended up with a model that, according to this limited data sample, serves students at least as well with an ostensibly lower overhead.(Bakersfield officials could not provide Inside Higher Ed with numbers for how much each version of the courses cost.)
“It is much more an accurate description to look at [Bakersfield] as a place where we actually have been able to effectively think outside the box and serve students within the budget constraints than the other way around,” says Kamel Haddad, an associate dean at the university. (Professors point out that the university arrived at a more harmonious balance between technology and human interaction only after heeding the counsel of faculty members such as Lam.) Haddad added that the decision to rework the developmental math curriculum was not a voluntary attempt to do online education on the cheap, which is rarely a successful strategy, but rather a desperation move undertaken to spare entire programs from the budget ax.
Then there is the point of view that says the Bakersfield example proves little for either side. This year’s pass rate was promising for the new model, but not conclusive, says Lam. “I know that there are still faculty who are not happy with the changes, and I think that we’ll have to observe the data for another year to see if the data works out,” he says.
As far as its implications for the prospects of automated teaching software developmental education, Lam says students taking catch-up courses at Bakersfield are unusual in that many of them have in fact taken — and in some cases, passed — the material in high school. That makes them different from developmental math students who never learned it at all, such as those at many community colleges, Lam says. Students who have never previously learned certain theoretical concepts probably need more hand-holding from instructors, he says, whereas a computer program might do for those who simply need a memory jog.
But this is still more speculation than anything, says Lam. Politics is one thing; science, another. And pass rates from single trials of three different models of developmental learning hardly form a basis for scientific certitude. “We are actually perplexed,” he says. “We have done a number of things, but we’re not sure what works.”
For the latest technology news and opinion from Inside Higher Ed, follow @IHEtech on Twitter.
— Steve Kolowich
Below is a list of legislation that we have been tracking during this session. Some of these bills call for study groups, etc. and hopefully members with expertise in those specific areas will follow the bills and work to have input in the various study groups.
A Higher Education Oversight committee was formed to work for the next two years regarding Outcomes and testing issues. This is the committee that will oversee the Development of the Criteria for Outcomes and Outcomes Based Funding.
TFA worked very hard with other groups to help defeat HB354 – concealed handguns on campus, and to mitigate the harm of HB9 outcomes based funding. We also spoke in favor of SB67, assault leave for faculty. Congratulate yourself for the calls and emails which helped us with these measures.
However, remember the saying “IT’S NOT OVER ‘TIL IT’S OVER”. Governor Perry has until June 19 to sign or veto any pieces of legislation, so the final curtain has yet to fall. Keep tuned.
Last Minute Update: ALL BETS ARE OFF. HB 1811 – SCHOOL FINANCING DID NOT PASS; ALONG WITH SEVERAL OTHER BILLS NECESSARY TO BALANCE THE BUDGET. GOVERNOR PERRY HAS CALLED A SPECIAL SESSION STARTING 8:00 am, Tuesday, May 31. Pieces of legislation that we have been fighting may come back again as amendments. Please pay close attention to any special sessions this summer because votes may be based on a simple majority.
*HB9 Representative Branch – Outcomes Based Funding. The bill would emphasize the need to evaluate student achievement based on objective indicators of relative performance, such as degree completion rates, and to align those student outcomes with the state’s educational goals and develop funding policy based on that evaluation. (Bill was changed dramatically for the better in Zaffirini’s Senate Higher Education Committee). Sent to Governor
HB33 Representative Branch – Relating to measures to increase the affordability of textbooks used for courses at public or private institutions of higher education. Sent to Governor
HB50 Representative Lucio III – Relating to the establishment by The University of Texas System of a law school in the Rio Grande Valley. Died
HB104 Representative Brown – Relating to abolishing the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and transferring the coordinating board’s functions and activities and the State Board of Education’s statutorily assigned functions and activities to the Texas Education Agency. Died
HB275 Representative Pitts – Relating to making an appropriation of money from the economic stabilization fund for expenditure during the current state fiscal biennium. (Using Rainy Day fund to balance this year’s budget). Sent to Governor
HB399 Representative Castro – Relating to requiring general academic teaching institutions to offer personal financial literacy training. This will probably be taught by Community College faculty. Sent to Governor
HB736 Representative Patrick, Diane – Relating to required online information regarding public institutions of higher education. Sent to Governor
HB899 Representative Gutierrez – Relating to the use of certain professional titles by licensed specialists in school psychology. (SB709 – Van de Putte) Died
*HB1000 Representative Branch – Relating to the distribution of money appropriated from the national research university fund; making an appropriation. (HB2626 – Branch; Duplicate Bill). Sent to Governor
*HB1244 Representative Castro – Relating to developmental education courses and the assessment of student readiness under the Texas Success Initiative for public institutions of higher education. (Single Assessment Test). Sent to Governor
*HB2365 Representative Eissler – Relating to certain responsibilities of education research centers and to a joint advisory board for education research centers.
HB2385 Representative Geren – Relating to the DNA database at the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth. (SB1359 – Harris). Sent to Governor
+HB2463 Representative Reynolds – Relating to access to certain records regarding an employment discrimination claim – Public Information. Died
HB2756 Representative Lavender – Relating to the authority of a person who is licensed to carry a handgun to openly carry the handgun. Died in the House; pun intended.
HB2909 Representative Branch – Relating to increasing awareness in this state of the importance of higher education. (You wouldn’t notice it based on what happened this session). Sent to Governor
**HB2910 Representative Branch – Relating to agreements between the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and certain organizations for increasing degree completion rates. Sent to Governor
HB2973 Representative Hunter – Relating to encouraging public participation by citizens by protecting a person’s right to petition, right of free speech, and right of association from meritless lawsuits arising from actions taken in furtherance of those rights. (SB1565 – Ellis). Sent to Governor
HB2999 Representative Lewis – Relating to a fixed tuition rate program for certain students who transfer to a state university after completing an associate degree program. (SB1727 – Zaffirini). Died
HB3025 Representative Branch – Relating to the filing of a degree plan by undergraduate students at public institutions of higher education (To facilitate timely graduation). Sent to the Governor
HB3461 Representative Margo – Relating to transferring adult education and literacy programs to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board from the Texas Education Agency. (SB1763 – Rodriguez). Died
*HB3468 Representative Patrick, Diane – Relating to high school readiness, to the assessment of public school students for college readiness and developmental education courses to prepare students for college-level coursework and to teacher certification to teach at certain grade levels in public school. Sent to Governor
HB3577 Representative Gonzales, Larry – Relating to priority consideration and eligibility for Texas Educational Opportunity Grants, TEXAS grants, and other state financial aid. Sent to Governor
SB28 Senator Zaffirini – Relating to eligibility for a TEXAS grant and to administration of the TEXAS grant program. (Must meet 2 of 4 criteria). This bill says that since there is not enough money to cover everyone who qualifies that once the pool of eligible students is determined then the money will be given starting with the neediest and moving up the income ladder until the money is exhausted. (HB10 – Branch). Sent to Governor
*SB36 Senator Zaffirini – Relating to methods for increasing student success and degree completion at public institutions of higher education. (Academic advising). Sent to Governor
SB67 Senator Zaffirini -Relating to leave for junior college district or university system employees who are physically assaulted while on duty. (HB158 – Raymond). Died
*SB162 Senator Shapiro – Relating to developing a developmental education plan for students entering public institutions of higher education. (HB2625 – Branch). Sent to Governor
SB176 Senator Huffman – Relating to student eligibility for tuition rebates offered by general academic teaching institutions. (HB3514 – Branch). Sent to Governor
SB354 Senator Wentworth – Relating to the carrying of concealed handguns on the campuses of and certain other locations associated with institutions of higher education. (HB86 Simpson – This bill had 85 sponsors and we still beat it!!! and HB750 Driver which was Open Carry). Died on a Point of Order in the House thanks to Villarreal
SB517 Senator Watson – Relating to the appropriation of certain unclaimed money. Would be used for higher education financing. (HB1001 – Morrison). Died
+SB602 Senator Rodriguez – Relating to allowing a governmental body to redact certain personal information under the public information law without the necessity of requesting a decision from the attorney general and the calculation of certain deadlines under the public information law. (HB1671 – Marquez) Public Information. Sent to Governor
+SB677 Senator Gallegos – Relating to the enforcement of the public information law; providing for the imposition of a civil penalty. Died
SB851 Senator Zaffirini – Relating to a uniform deadline for student financial assistance for public institutions of higher education other than public junior colleges. Sent to Governor
*SB975 Senator Hinojosa – Relating to the operation of dropout recovery programs by certain public junior colleges in partnership with school districts. (HB2913 – Munoz, Jr.). Sent to Governor
SB1348 Senator Van de Pute – Relating to higher education curriculum review teams to review public school curriculum standards for college readiness purposes. (HB3263 – Strama). Died
*SB1564 Senator West – Relating to developmental education courses and the assessment of student readiness under the Texas Success Initiative for public institutions of higher education. Died
SB1581 Senator Ogden – Relating to state fiscal matters, and certain administrative and business matters, related to public and higher education. (HB3639 – Pitts). Died on Point of Order
#SB1666 Senator Duncan – Relating to the authority of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas to invest in hedge funds. (HB738 – Otto). Died
#SB1668 Senator Duncan – Relating to purchase of service credit in the Teacher Retirement System of Texas. (HB3355 – Truitt). Sent to the Governor
#SB1669 Senator Duncan – Relating to the resumption of service by retirees under the Teacher Retirement System of Texas. (HB3353 – Truitt). Sent to Governor
*SB1726 Senator Zaffirini – Relating to the development of measurable learning outcomes for undergraduate courses at public institutions of higher education. (No due date for finalizing report). Sent to Governor
SB1728 Senator Zaffirini – Relating to a requirement that developmental coursework required for entering undergraduate students at four-year public institutions of higher education be completed at a public junior college. (HB3286 – Guillean) Died
SB1736 Senator Van de Pute – Relating to the establishment of the College Credit for Heroes program. Sent to Governor
SB1763 Senator Rodriguez – Relating to transferring adult education and literacy programs to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board from the Texas Education Agency. (HB3461 –Margo). Died
SB1811 Senator Duncan – Relating to certain state fiscal matters; providing penalties. (Not necessarily a HE bill, but it was the bill to which the Concealed Handgun bill was attached as an amendment and was later stripped off). (HB3790 – Pitts). Died on a Point of Order (Senator Wendy Davis short Filibuster)
SB1909 Senator Lucio – Relating to The University of Texas at Brownsville, including its partnership agreement with the Texas Southmost College District. (HB3689 – Oliveira). Sent to Governor
SJR50 Senator West – Proposing a constitutional amendment providing for the issuance of general obligation bonds of the state to finance educational loans to students. Filed with Secretary of State to be placed on ballot in November 2011
*Items in which faculty can have ongoing input.
+Relating to Public Information Requests – for handling grievances
#For those of you in TRS
**This bill started out saying organization – seems they had someone in mind. Now it is organizations – plural – thanks to Senator West. We need to watch and see who gets these contracts
HB 400 misses House deadline, dies but…
House Bill 400, the bill that would have increased class sizes, cut teachers salaries and weakened teacher employment rights, failed to win House approval before a midnight Thursday deadline. Public Education Chairman Rob Eissler, the sponsor, was recognized for a motion on the bill at mid-afternoon. He moved to postpone it to 6 p.m. and never was recognized to bring it up again.
Thanks to all our TSTA members and other friends for all your calls to your state representatives urging votes against the bill. Your calls obviously were a factor in stopping the bill.
But there are 18 more days in the legislative session, and all or most of the features of HB400 could be resurrected as amendments to other legislation in the Senate. We will keep you posted on future developments, and you may soon need to start calling the Capitol again.
The International Assault on Labor
Wednesday 4 May 2011
by: Noam Chomsky, Truthout
May Day march in Lansing, Michigan on May 1, 2011, organized by the Lansing Workers’ Center and the NorthStar Center. (Photo: Peace Education Center)
In most of the world, May Day is an international workers’ holiday, bound up with the bitter 19th-century struggle of American workers for an eight-hour day. The May Day just past leads to somber reflection.
A decade ago, a useful word was coined in honor of May Day by radical Italian labor activists: “precarity.” It referred at first to the increasingly precarious existence of working people “at the margins” – women, youth, migrants. Then it expanded to apply to the growing “precariat” of the core labor force, the “precarious proletariat” suffering from the programs of deunionization, flexibilization and deregulation that are part of the assault on labor throughout the world.
By that time, even in Europe there was mounting concern about what labor historian Ronaldo Munck, citing Ulrich Beck, calls the “Brazilianization of the West â?[ the spread of temporary and insecure employment, discontinuity and loose informality into Western societies that have hitherto been the bastions of full employment.”
The state-corporate war against unions has recently extended to the public sector, with legislation to ban collective bargaining and other elementary rights. Even in pro-labor Massachusetts, the House of Representatives voted right before May Day to sharply restrict the rights of police officers, teachers, and other municipal employees to bargain over health care – essential matters in the U.S., with its dysfunctional and highly inefficient privatized health-care system.
The rest of the world may associate May 1 to the struggle of American workers for basic rights but in the U.S. that solidarity is suppressed in favor of a jingoist holiday. May 1 is “Loyalty Day,” designated by Congress in 1958 for “the reaffirmation of loyalty to the United States and for the recognition of the heritage of American freedom.”
President Eisenhower proclaimed further that Loyalty Day is also Law Day, reaffirmed annually by displaying the flag and dedication to “Justice for All,” “Foundations of Freedom” and “Struggle for Justice.”
The U.S. calendar has a Labor Day, in September, celebrating the return to work after a vacation that is far briefer than in other industrial countries.
The ferocity of the assault against labor by the U.S. business class is illustrated by Washington’s failure, for 60 years, to ratify the core principle of international labor law, which guarantees freedom of association. Legal analyst Steve Charnovitz calls it “the untouchable treaty in American politics” and observes that there has never even been any debate about the matter.
Washington’s dismissal of some conventions supported by the International Labor Organization contrasts sharply with its dedication to enforcement of monopoly-pricing rights for corporations, disguised under the mantle of “free trade” in one of the contemporary Orwellisms.
In 2004, the ILO reported that “economic and social insecurities were multiplying with globalization and the policies associated with it, as the global economic system has become more volatile and workers were increasingly shouldering the burden of risk, for instance, though pension and health care reforms.”
This was what economists call the period of the Great Moderation, hailed as “one of the great transformations of modern history,” led by the U.S. and based on “liberation of markets” and particularly “deregulation of financial markets.”
This paean to the American way of free markets was delivered by Wall Street Journal editor Gerard Baker in January 2007, just months before the system crashed – and with it the entire edifice of the economic theology on which it was based – bringing the world economy to near disaster.
The crash left the U.S. with levels of real unemployment comparable to the Great Depression, and in many ways worse, because under the current policies of the masters those jobs are not coming back, as they did through massive government stimulus during World War II and the following decades of the “golden age” of state capitalism.
During the Great Moderation, American workers had become accustomed to a precarious existence. The rise of an American precariat was proudly hailed as a primary factor in the Great Moderation that brought slower economic growth, virtual stagnation of real income for the majority of the population, and wealth beyond the dreams of avarice for a tiny sector, a fraction of 1 percent, mostly CEOs, hedge fund managers and the like.
The high priest of this magnificent economy was Alan Greenspan, described by the business press as “saintly” for his brilliant stewardship. Glorying in his achievements, he testified before Congress that they relied in part on “atypical restraint on compensation increases (which) appears to be mainly the consequence of greater worker insecurity.”
The disaster of the Great Moderation was salvaged by heroic government efforts to reward the perpetrators. Neil Barofsky, stepping down on March 30 as special inspector general of the bailout program, wrote a revelatory New York Times Op-Ed about how the bailout worked.
In theory, the legislative act that authorized the bailout was a bargain: The financial institutions would be saved by the taxpayer, and the victims of their misdeeds would be somewhat compensated by measures to protect home values and preserve homeownership.
Part of the bargain was kept: The financial institutions were rewarded lavishly for causing the crisis, and forgiven for outright crimes. But the rest of the program floundered.
As Barofsky writes: “foreclosures continue to mount, with 8 million to 13 million filings forecast over the program’s lifetime” while “the biggest banks are 20 percent larger than they were before the crisis and control a larger part of our economy than ever. They reasonably assume that the government will rescue them again, if necessary. Indeed, credit rating agencies incorporate future government bailouts into their assessments of the largest banks, exaggerating market distortions that provide them with an unfair advantage over smaller institutions, which continue to struggle.” In short, President Obama’s programs were “a giveaway to Wall Street executives” and a blow in the solar plexus to their defenseless victims.
The outcome should surprise only those who insist on hopeless naivete about the design and implementation of policy, particularly when economic power is highly concentrated and state capitalism has entered into a new stage of “creative destruction,” to borrow Joseph Schumpeter’s famous phrase, but with a twist: creative in ways to enrich and empower the rich and powerful, while the rest are free to survive as they may, while celebrating Loyalty and Law Day.
© 2011 Noam Chomsky
Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate.
Truthout has licensed this content. It may not be reproduced by any other source and is not covered by our Creative Commons license.
© 2011 The New York Times Company
Truthout has licensed this content. It may not be reproduced by any other source and is not covered by our Creative Commons license.
Noam Chomsky’s most recent book, with co-author Ilan Pappe, is “Gaza in Crisis.” Chomsky is emeritus professor of linguistics and philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass.
I know that we have many problems in Higher Education this legislative session, however if HB400 passes relating to K-12 it will be a disaster for everyone: parents with children in public school, future higher ed students and all union members. Please take time to read this and call the 800 number below. Do not use state equipment and identify yourself as a TFA member.
Mary Aldridge Dean
Executive Director, TFA
May 5, 2011
House will try again to pass House Bill 400, a major anti-teacher bill!
House Bill 400 is back and is as bad as ever. Although it was delayed last week on a technicality, it has been rescheduled on the House calendar for tomorrow (Friday, May 6), and it remains a full-scale assault on teacher pay and employment rights that will do PERMANENT damage to the public schools. Please alert your members to call their state representatives to demand they vote against House Bill 400.
If they already have called, urge them to call again!
Here is a reminder of some of the bill’s worst provisions:
* Permanently raises the 22-1 cap in K-4 to 25-1, making it easier for school districts to fire more teachers.
* Permanently eliminates the requirement that districts cannot pay teachers less next year than they earned this year. It also eliminates the state minimum salary schedule and lets districts set their own compensation systems with their own rules.
* Permanently allows school boards to furlough teachers and reduce their salaries accordingly.
* Permanently allows a district to declare a financial emergency at any time for purposes of doing a reduction in force and permanently deletes seniority as one of the factors used in determining who is terminated if a RIF is implemented.
* Permanently changes the date for notice of non-renewal to the last day of instruction.
* Permanently eliminates the use of a neutral hearing officer for mid-year terminations and replaces that with a hearing before the board.
NOW is the time to call your state representative and let him or her know what these changes will mean for you, your classroom, your school and your community. We must stop House Bill 400, and your call is critical! If you have called before, please call again.
To contact your state representative, call 800-260-5444, and we will connect you. You can call any time, TODAY, TONIGHT or TOMORROW. Leaving a voice message with your representative’s office is just as good as talking to a staff member.
It is important to include the following points in your conversation or message:
* Your name, that you are a TSTA member and that you live and vote in their district.
* Your own story, how laying off educators, ordering furloughs and cutting their pay would hurt the quality of education in your school and for your students.
* Ask your representative to refuse to participate in this unwarranted attack on teachers and public schools.
This will take only a few minutes of your time, and it will be time well spent. Your representative needs to hear from you NOW!
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