Category Archives: Education

A Contract Campaign from Virtual to In Their Face

Source: Dave Staiger, Labor Notes, September 1, 2017

When confronted with a concessionary demand at the bargaining table, what if you filled the room with rank-and-file members? What would happen?

Kalamazoo, Michigan, teachers received an urgent message in July from their union’s private Facebook account for members: in bargaining, the district was demanding a pay freeze.

Within an hour teachers began to arrive at negotiations; soon they packed the room and turned the bargaining process on its head. All told, 46 members showed up at the union office on a beautiful summer day. The rapid response dramatically changed the course of bargaining…..

Harvard Hopes Trump Will Help It Undermine Unions

Source: John Trumpbour and Chris Tilly, Labor Notes, September 14, 2017

….Like other private universities, Harvard appears to be banking on Trump appointees to the Labor Board to help fight off graduate student unionization. But Harvard’s going the extra mile in seeking to undermine all unions’ right to an accurate list of employees during a union election campaign…..

Related:
Opinion: Are elite universities ‘safe spaces’? Not if you’re starting a union
Source: Thomas Frank, The Guardian, September 9, 2017

For all their trigger warnings and safe spaces, places like Yale and Columbia are not very democratic when it comes to unions. ….

….Once Trump’s members are seated on the Labor Board, there is every likelihood they will revisit the matter of graduate student teachers and reverse themselves on the question, which would in turn permit university administrations to refuse to negotiate and even to blow off the results of these elections.

A radicalized university that lives to coddle young people would sit down immediately at the bargaining table and give those graduate students what they want.

A corporation that is determined to keep its employees from organizing, on the other hand, would stall and delay and refuse to recognize the union until Trump’s new, right-wing NLRB can saddle up and ride to the rescue. And guess what: that is exactly what these universities are doing – refusing to begin contract negotiations, filing challenges to the elections, appealing this and that…..

A New Way to Learn Economics

Source: John Cassidy, New Yorker, September 11, 2017

With the new school year starting, there is good news for incoming students of economics—and anybody else who wants to learn about issues like inequality, globalization, and the most efficient ways to tackle climate change. A group of economists from both sides of the Atlantic, part of a project called CORE Econ, has put together a new introductory economics curriculum, one that is modern, comprehensive, and freely available online.

In this country, many colleges encourage Econ 101 students to buy (or rent) expensive textbooks, which can cost up to three hundred dollars, or even more for some hardcover editions. The CORE curriculum includes a lengthy e-book titled “The Economy,” lecture slides, and quizzes to test understanding. Some of the material has already been used successfully at colleges like University College London and Sciences Po, in Paris…..

…..The CORE approach isn’t particularly radical. (Students looking for expositions of Marxian economics or Modern Monetary Theory will have to look elsewhere.) But it treats perfectly competitive markets as special cases rather than the norm, trying to incorporate from the very beginning the progress economists have made during the past forty years or so in analyzing more complex situations: when firms have some monopoly power; people aren’t fully rational; a lot of key information is privately held; and the gains generated by trade, innovation, and finance are distributed very unevenly. The CORE curriculum also takes economic history seriously…..

Related:
CORE

CORE is an open-access, interactive ebook-based course for anyone interested in learning about the economy and economics.
CORE is a question-motivated way to learn the tools of economics.
CORE is based on recent developments in economics and other social sciences.
CORE is a community of learners and teachers collaborating to make economics accessible and relevant to today’s problems.

Golden Parachutes for Public College Presidents Burden Already Thin Budgets

Source: Jon Marcus, Washington Monthly, August 28, 2017

Even presidents who leave their campuses awash in red ink walk away with big payouts. …. Often hammered out in secret, and seldom brought to public attention except when they explode into controversy, these kinds of golden parachutes for university and college presidents are not unique to Northern Illinois. And while anger often flares up when presidents’ salaries are publicized, salary totals alone don’t come close to exposing the universities’ true financial obligations to their chief executives. It’s these hidden severance deals that increasingly obligate higher education institutions to continue paying long-departed presidents large amounts for years, further thinning already stretched finances…..

The Looming Decline of the Public Research University

Source: Jon Marcus, Washington Monthly, September/October 2017

Cuts in research funding have left midwestern state schools—and the economies they support—struggling to survive. ….

….But university research is in trouble, and so is an economy more dependent on it than many people understand. Federal funding for basic research—more than half of it conducted on university campuses like this one—has effectively declined since 2008, failing to keep pace with inflation. This is before we take into account Trump administration proposals to slash the National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) budgets by billions of dollars more.

Trump’s cuts would affect all research universities, but not equally. The problem is more pronounced at public universities than privates, and especially at public institutions in the Midwest, which have historically conducted some of the nation’s most important research. These schools are desperately needed to diversify economies that rely disproportionately on manufacturing and agriculture and lack the wealthy private institutions that fuel the knowledge industries found in Silicon Valley or along Boston’s 128/I-95 corridor. Yet many flagship midwestern research universities are being weakened by deep state budget cuts. Threats to pensions (in Illinois) and tenure (in Wisconsin) portend an exodus of faculty and their all-important research funding, and have already resulted in a frenzy of poaching by better-funded and higher-paying private institutions, industry, and international competitors…..

The Effects of Tulsa’s Pre-K Program on Middle School Student Performance

Source: William T. Gormley, Jr., Deborah Phillips, Sara Anderson, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Early View, August 23, 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
As states have upgraded their commitment to pre-K education over the past two decades, questions have arisen. Critics argue that program effects are likely to fade out or disappear over time, while supporters contend that program effects are likely to persist under certain conditions. Using data from Tulsa Public Schools, three neighboring school districts, and the state of Oklahoma, and propensity score weighting, we estimate the effects of Tulsa’s universal, school-based pre-K program on multiple measures of academic progress for middle school students. We find enduring effects on math achievement test scores, enrollment in honors courses, and grade retention for students as a whole, and similar effects for certain subgroups. We conclude that some positive effects of a high-quality pre-K program are discernible as late as middle school.

More Than 77 Million People Enrolled in U.S. Schools, Census Bureau Reports

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Release Number: CB17-142, August 28, 2017

The number of people enrolled in America’s schools reached 77.2 million in 2016, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Since 1996, total school enrollment has grown 9.9 percent.

Enrollment in kindergarten through eighth grade has not significantly changed during the past decade, increasing from 36.1 million in 2006 to 36.6 million a decade later. These 2016 figures show that non-Hispanic whites made up nearly 51 percent of all students in kindergarten through eighth grade, while Hispanic or Latino students made up 25.1 percent. Black students were 15.1 percent of the total; Asian students were 5.4 percent

The number enrolled in high school remained steady between 2011 and 2016, while full-time college enrollment (undergraduate and graduate) increased over the same time for both men, women and all race groups. Full-time college enrollment in 2016 was 75.1 percent of all college enrollment, up from 70.0 percent in 2006 and 66.3 percent in 2000. ….

Unionized College Faculty Are Winning Themselves a Lot of Money

Source: Hamilton Nolan, Splinter, August 25, 2017

Unions are not just a feel-good sort of thing to do. New research about higher ed unions shows just how much workers have actually gained from organizing, in a short period of time.

One of the most active areas of new union organizing in America is higher education: adjunct professors and other academic and non-academic workers on college campuses, who tend to have shockingly low pay and poor job security even though they tend to be highly educated and work in prestigious settings. Those are the sort of ingredients that can motivate people to unionize. And voila: it has been so. And the gains have been clear. Duke University non-tenured faculty members who signed their first union contract this summer immediately got double digit raises and improved job security…..
Related:
SEIU Contract Highlights: The Union Difference
Source: SEIU, Faculty Forward, [2016]
….Unionized contingent faculty often have a higher rate of pay, regular salary increases and pay protections on work done outside of the classroom.
– Across the country, median pay per course was 25% higher for part-time faculty that had union representation…..
Job Security, Improved Benefits and Professional Development
Unionized contingent faculty have an increased level of job security, better benefits and 90 percent of SEIU faculty contracts have established professional development funds….

Unionizing Pays Big Dividend for Professors at Regional Public Universities
Source: Peter Schmidt, Chronicle of Higher Education, April 3, 2016

Full-time instructors at regional public universities earn an average of about $21,000, or nearly 25 percent, more in pay and benefits annually if they belong to a union, concludes a groundbreaking new study of compensation at such institutions. The location and size of the employer also makes a big difference. Those in larger suburban public universities, the highest-paying category of institutions studied, earned an average of nearly $17,000, or 20 percent, more in pay and benefits annually than those at midsize rural institutions, the lowest-paying category.

A Lost Decade in Higher Education Funding: State Cuts Have Driven Up Tuition and Reduced Quality

Source: Michael Mitchell, Michael Leachman, and Kathleen Masterson, Center on budget and Policy Priorities, August 23, 2017

From the summary:
A decade since the Great Recession hit, state spending on public colleges and universities remains well below historic levels, despite recent increases. Overall state funding for public two- and four-year colleges in the 2017 school year (that is, the school year ending in 2017) was nearly $9 billion below its 2008 level, after adjusting for inflation. (See Figure 1.) The funding decline has contributed to higher tuition and reduced quality on campuses as colleges have had to balance budgets by reducing faculty, limiting course offerings, and in some cases closing campuses. At a time when the benefit of a college education has never been greater, state policymakers have made going to college less affordable and less accessible to the students most in need.

As states have slashed higher education funding, the price of attending public colleges has risen significantly faster than what families can afford. For the average student, increases in federal student aid and the availability of tax credits have not kept up, jeopardizing the ability of many to afford the college education that is key to their long-term financial success.

With many states facing revenue shortfalls in the current or upcoming fiscal year, state lawmakers must renew their commitment to high-quality, affordable public higher education by increasing the revenue these schools receive.[2] By doing so, they can help build a stronger middle class and develop the entrepreneurs and skilled workers needed for a strong state economy…..

Ohio Teachers Win Back Regular Raises

Source: Myra Warne, Labor Notes, July 27, 2017

In 2014, members of the Maysville Education Association voted to accept a deal that would end our pay freeze, which dated back to 2011, in exchange for replacing our traditional pay scale with a new merit-pay system.

Local union leaders were warned by Ohio Education Association staff that a return to the step-and-ladder system of regular raises might be impossible—or require a strike. But this year, as the money for sweeteners and incentives dried up, a group of members committed to winning back our old pay scale…..