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Note: This article was published earlier today on Raging Chicken Press. An excerpt appears below. You can read the full article by clicking the link at the end, or you can go to the original article now by clicking here

Last week, Clarion University announced what it called a “bold, ambitious workforce plan” that will result in the elimination of over 40 jobs, including 22 faculty. This is only the latest blow to a Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) university in a state that seems hell bent on gutting public higher education. This past May, Raging Chicken Press reported on plans to retrench – that is, fire – faculty members at East Stroudsburg University and the long battles with austerity-minded administrators at Kutztown University is a familiar story to our readers.

What sets the move at Clarion apart from previous PASSHE cuts is that it may be the lead example of “transformation” at state universities championed by the system’s Board of Governors. PASSHE’s last Chancellor, John Cavanaugh, released a new vision for PASSHE in November 2010 called simply enough, “PASSHE Transformation.” That document laid out in general terms PASSHE’s intention to take the 14 university system in a different direction:

The vision includes four major components, all grounded in the need for transformation: (a) how, when, and where learning occurs; (b) how the resources necessary to ensure learning are pursued, retained, and sustained; (c) how our universities relate to their various communities; and (d) how we partner with the Commonwealth to create and deliver a shared vision for the future. Only through transformation, grounded in a thoughtful reexamination of our historic emphasis on high quality student learning opportunities, will our success be assured during these very difficult economic times [bold in original].

In my review of Cavanaugh’s tenure as PASSHE Chancellor after he announced he was headed out the door for greener pastures in Washington, DC, I note that Cavanaugh’s vision of “transformation” was lock-in-step with what’s happening to public education at all levels across the nation:

Anyone paying attention to what was and is going on in higher education policy, especially in the wake of the 2008 economic crisis, saw the coded language consistent with those seeking to privatize and profitize education at all levels. Take, for example, language from the Broad Foundation, founded by Eli Broad – #157 on the Forbes Billionaire list with a personal net worth of $6.3 billion. Broad is a major contributor to Democratic Party candidates with close associations with Democrats favoring anti-labor, Michelle Rhee-type “reforms” to public education. At the center of the Broad Foundation agenda is, you guessed it, “transformation” of public education. Cavanaugh’s “PASSHE Transformation” memo seemed to signal the austerity to come, squeezing PAASHE’s limited resources and striking a blow to our 6,000+ member union.

While Cavanaugh’s memo was short on specifics, what it meant was not lost on the faculty union. In a scathing piece of satire, “The Great Stalin Plan for the Transformation of PASSHE,” president Steve Hicks and vice president Ken Mash of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) wrote:

Perhaps you’ve seen the Chancellor’s latest on “PASSHE Transformation?”  It’s amazing how a document so short on details can still manage to rankle.  The very notion that students and faculty will be transformed is enough to disturb, but its implicit anti-intellectual message really vexes.  It’s hard to ignore the presumptuousness that could lead some to conclude that “transformation” is necessary or, even worse, that they somehow single-handedly possess the knowledge of what that transformation ought to be and that it should be imposed from above.

Clarion University’s new “workforce plan” reads more like an accounting ledger than it does a document that helps guide the university to best serve students of the Commonwealth. Clarion’s plan is clearly situated within the growing right-wing, “market-based” proposals to “reform” everything public. Rather than putting forth a strategic plan based on an academically sound rationale, we are treated to a consumer vision of higher education: “eliminating academic programs which no longer hold the interest, based on enrollment trends, of our students.”

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MyKUFail FB Square

 

Frustrated with My KU? Gotta story to tell? Now there is a place to tell it. The power of our stories can help end this black hole of resources and time.

My KU FAIL! Facebook Page is here!

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Yesterday I posted a copy of the Commonwealth proposals for AFSCME negotiations.  There was a VERY IMPORTANT page missing.  Page one of the proposals deals with salaries and wages.  For some reason that page failed to scan the first time around.  I now have the complete document uploaded here.

Why was that page so important?  Well, primarily because the Commonwealth is proposing to ROLLBACK worker wages by 4%.

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Surprise!  Yes, another “found document” brought to you by the XChange.  I don’t know if these proposals are already fully public or not, but I do think it is a good idea that all of us take some time to become familiar with the ways that the Commonwealth negotiators are going after our AFSCME brothers and sisters.  Here is a copy of the Commonwealth proposals:

PA Proposals for AFSCME contract 3-29-2011

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What can one little blog do in the face of a direct assault upon working people in Wisconsin and around the country?  That’s a good question and the question posed by this post.  Ideally, every APSCUF member, AFSCME member, every SCUPA member, and every student in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education should be on a bus to Wisconsin for the massive rally planned for Tuesday, February 22nd at the State Capitol building in Madison.  Next best thing would be for the same groups to hold solidarity vigils, marches, and rallies at locations around PA.  And, I am sure, that some of you will be heading out to WI or a solidarity rally on Tuesday.  But, many of you may not want to or be able to attend such an event and yet still want to stand in solidarity with Wisconsin workers.  We all recognize that our own conditions are not that far removed from those of Wisconsin workers.  All of us want to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters not only because it is right, but because their struggle is our struggle.

I wanted find a way for readers of the XChange, APSCUF members at KU and around the state, PASSHE staff and  students to virtually register their support for Wisconsin workers.  So, we’re going to try a little experiment:

XChange Virtual Solidarity Rally
in Support of Wisconsin Workers

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WE ARE ALL BADGERS NOW!

 

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

1) Dress in Red and White (University of Wisconsin colors);

2) Make a sign with a message of solidarity for Wisconsin workers (Use the “We Are All Badgers Now!” — as in Univ. of Wisconsin Badgers
— slogan as a default, but feel free to come up with your own. );

3) Take a picture of yourself dressed in Red and White holding your sign;

4) Email your picture to kuxchange@gmail.com.  Include your name and how you would like to be identified.  If you are affiliated with a PASSHE university, include that information as well.

5) Beginning Monday, February 21st, I will begin posting photos to the XChange.  A permanent Wisconsin Solidarity page linked to the XChange will include all photos

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