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Posts Tagged ‘PA Budget’

In case you missed it over on Raging Chicken Press,  I was talking about my recent article, “Wall Street on the Susquehanna: PASSHE Bond Scheme Bleeds Education Budget for Beautiful Buildings,” on the Rick Smith Show this past Tuesday night.

Click on the image below or CLICK HERE to listen to the interview:

Mahoney on Rick Smith PASSHE Bond Schemes 10-22-13

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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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Swamp White Oak Trees. 15 of them to be precise. 

I arrived on campus this morning to find workers from the Reading, PA based Spayd’s Landscaping planting fifteen good-sized trees along the sidewalk between Lytle Hall and Beekey Education Building. I asked two of the workers what kinds of trees they were and they told me “Swamp White Oak” trees. 

Given that KU’s administration just announced that the university is facing a $8.2 million budget shortfall, I can only assume that these trees are helping – somehow – reduce that shortfall. Maybe the company is paying KU to plant these trees? Maybe KU will open the campus to deer and squirrel hunting (since Swamp White Oaks attract these critters due to their plentiful acorns), or maybe KU will host a competitive leaf raking fund-raiser each fall (Swamp White Oaks are noted for being quite messy – but very long living if taken care of). Another example of President Cevallos and his administration working for YOU. 

Or, maybe these are memorial trees planted for the number of jobs that will be cut this year. At least we’ll have shade. I want to remember this day. I suggest you do to. Here’s to Swamp White Oak day!

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I am just watching tonight’s Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC.  Rachel Maddow has been breaking down the Republican’s national anti-work, wealth-transfer strategy every night for the past several weeks.  Tonight she turns her critical eye on Pennsylvania and the wonders of fracking.  Check out The Rachel Maddow Show later tonight at midnight on MSNBC or stream the show from their website:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32545640

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

In the meantime, a graphic to accompany your MSNBC viewing:

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I just got word that some KU students have initiated a call for a protest next Thursday, March 17th — that’s right St. Patrick’s Day! — in opposition to Governor Corbett’s Higher Education Cuts.  You can find details on their facebook event site, but here’s the basics:

Protest Governor Corbett’s Higher Education Cuts

  • WHEN: St. Patrick’s Day! Thursday, March 17, 2011 from 11am – 1:30pm.
  • WHERE: In front of President Cevallos’s house on Main Street (across from Administration building, corner of Main and College)
  • WHAT: Below is the description from the facebook event site:

For those of you who don’t know, on Tuesday Governor Corbett presented his budget to both houses of the PA legislature. In this supposed budget, Corbett is proposing to cut the higher education’s budget by more than 52%. 52%!!! From 465 million to 232 million dollars.

What does this mean to you? This is obviously an attack on the future of availability of higher education for current and prospective students. Not only is Kutztown currently facing a 12 million dollar deficit, and this was before this budget was presented, now that figure is sure to become much larger! For those of us who value our teachers and the affordability of our education this budget is a slap in the face. We have to take a stand together for the future of Pennsylvania. We cannot win the future if our public education system is continuing to take a shellacking by this Governor and by Governors around the union. This is why we need to form this protest and others to continue to show the Kutztown Administration and the Governors’ office that we students will not stand for these cuts!

Join us in front of President Cevallos’ house on campus on Thursday March 17 at 11:00 am. I know its St. Patty’s day and people would rather do other things, but this issue is very important to the future of our education at Kutztown and for the rest of the state. Join us Please!!! Invite your friends and professors to this event. Together we can!

I agree with these students: together we can! Will you be there?

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I want to warn you ahead of time that I am working on second or third hand info here, but I hope this might get the ball rolling so we can figure out what the leaders of PASSHE are cooking up to respond to the Governor’s draconian budget cuts.  I was under the impression that all the PASSHE presidents were calling an emergency meeting next week in Harrisburg.  However, it turns out that they “met” yesterday via conference call.  At this point, I am not sure if the conference call was with the entire PASSHE Board of Governors, the Chancellor, or both.  [here’s a useful doc re: PASSHE for the uninitiated.  It’s basically a fact sheet published by PASSHE].

Before I let you in on what I found out, I want to thank those from across our State university system who decide, for whatever reason, to pass me information.  It seems like times like these ask people to make a decision that runs head-on into their values.  Luckily, every once in a while, people decide that their values are more important than their narrowly defined job descriptions.  There are times that I wish I could just recognize those people here, but many times info comes anonymously and other times thanking that person (or people) publicly can put their jobs in jeopardy.  Thank you nonetheless.

Here’s what I learned this afternoon:

  • Based upon Governor Corbett’s current budget, [read his budget address here: Governor Corbett’s Budget Address – March 8 2011] Kutztown alone would have to cut about 250 positions just to cover the gap.  Those positions include faculty, staff, administrators, and, presumably, student workers.  I assume that number assumes that nothing else is done to meet the budget gap, like fund-raising or raising tuition.
  • On raising tuition, apparently there was a push by some of the university presidents to get the Board of Governors to make a decision regarding tuition rates for the 2011-2012 academic year so universities could more effectively plan.  Apparently, that proposal was summarily rejected.  It seems that the Board of Governors is willing to wait until the current academic year is over before such a determination is made.  My guess is that the Board of Governors is making a political determination here: by waiting until after the semester is over, they can avoid dealing with student protests and they can indirectly use tuition rates as leverage at the table in their current negotiations with faculty, staff, and coaches.  If tuition goes up, my bet is that PASSHE will blame faculty (primarily) and staff for the tuition increase, thereby strengthening the Governor’s anti-education agenda.
  • Finally, I was told that there was a proposal made to privatize some of the PASSHE universities.  From what I was told, I am not clear how much support that proposal had or how many university presidents would back such a measure.  Nonetheless, the very fact that a meeting of PASSHE university presidents would entertain this option, should give us some clarity as to how serious this situation is.  From the information I have (and forgive me if I am reading too much into things) also seems to suggest that some university presidents may be seeking a “different” relationship with PASSHE if not a break altogether.  My guess is that such considerations are coming from the same people who advocate privatization.

In the coming days, I hope to be able to secure some documents or at least more specific information that will help sort some of this stuff out.  In the meantime, I think it is critical that we begin to mobilize now.  I also want to encourage any and all readers of the XChange to track down pieces of this puzzle as well.

Thanks again to XChange readers for your part in this.

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