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Posts Tagged ‘PSEA’

It seems like getting the February issue out took FOREVER! I don’t know if that’s what it felt like for all of you out there, but it was certainly my experience. But, the important thing is that it’s out!  And, it’s kind of cool that we published the February issue on the one year anniversary of the first mass protest of the Wisconsin Uprising against governor Walker’s attack on working families. We are STILL Badgers! I’ll give you a little sense of what’s been going on behind the scenes; but, for the moment, here’s what you’ll find in the February issue:

Reminder: Subscribe and Be Entered in the RCP Monthly Give-Away!

I want to make sure to remind everyone out there to subscribe to Raging Chicken Press. If you subscribe by Monday, February 20th, you will be entered in this month’s Subscriber Give-Away! This month’s Give-Away includes two books hot off the presses: John Nichols’s book, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest from Madison to Wall Street and regular contributor to Raging Chicken Press, Lee Camp’s new book, Moment of Clarity: The Rantings of a Stark Raving Sane Man. All you need to do to subscribe is to enter your email in the subscription form on the right-hand side of the page. Subscribing doesn’t cost you a thing, but it does ensure that you will receive notifications of all new Raging Chicken Press content right in your inbox. Really, can you think of a downside?

Fundraising Campaign: Can You Help? 

I’ve been squawking about this for a while now, but we’re into the thick of it now. Twelve days ago, we launched our first ever fundraising drive on a web platform called WePay. We are attempting to raise $25,000. Yes, that’s what I said, $25,000. I’ve gone back and forth as to whether I should even try to raise this kind of money at this point. It’s a lot of money, I know. But, here’s the deal. I’ve said from the very beginning that I am building Raging Chicken Press for the long haul and I intend on building it in away that is both realistic and sustainable. That is, up until this point Raging Chicken Press exists on whatever money I can stash away, sales in the Raging Chicken Press store, and the affiliate programs we are using. While these sources help, they are by no means sufficient for developing a serious progressive, activist media site.

The $25,000 number comes from thinking about what I’d like to do with RCP in the next few years and what it would take–financially–to make that happen. I’ve talked about some of these projects before, but here’s a flavor of the kind of things I think Raging Chicken Press can do if we get the support:

  • Annual Best of Raging Chicken paperback book and eBook, featuring the best articles of the year. Ideally, we can have the first edition ready for our one year anniversary in July.
  • Three paid internships a year: 1) a fall internship on issues in PA public and higher education; 2) a spring issue focusing on PA policy and budget issues; and, 3) a summer internship on PA environment and sustainability.
  • “Broadside” editions of each issue of Raging Chicken Press to be distributed to regional coffeehouses, bars, hangouts, etc.
  • Annual presence at the PA Progressive Summit and Netroots Nation.
  • Payment for contributors to Raging Chicken Press based upon similar progressive publications’ payment structures.
  • Press passes for Raging Chicken Press reporters.
  • Promotional materials including a banner, fliers, and Raging Chicken Press swag.
  • Shifting t-shirt sales from our Zazzle.com store to locally produced, union printers (the issue here is that in print t-shirts locally in unionized shops, we need to buy larger quantities of shirts and to keep stock on-hand. Buying large numbers of shirts is a chunk of change).
  • Establishing a brick-and-mortar presence on Main Street (or close to it) in Kutztown as a base of operations, meeting space, and store front for t-shirts, buttons, posters, books, and other progressive materials.

This is not a comprehensive list, but representative of some of the major initiatives I’d like to move on in the very near future. Some of these items will require on-going fundraising and grant applications (which I am also working on). The brick-and-mortar presence is a perfect example an initiative that needs up-front money AND a fairly predictable budget.

There is an additional reason for beginning a fundraising drive at this point. I’ve wanted to avoid having to go the advertising route as a way of sustaining Raging Chicken Press. I think the potential strength of this project is dependent upon a decision progressives in our communities deciding to support the development of this progressive, activist media site. In short, I need to know if progressives in PA and beyond believe this project is worthwhile. Are you willing to help build this site? Do you think it is valuable to build progressive alternatives to mainstream media? Do you think it is valuable to have media site that gives progressive writers, videographers, podcasters, artists, and activists an outlet for their work? Those are questions that I don’t have the answer. I need to know from you: Can you help? Can you help build a regionally focused progressive, activist media site?

You can contribute any amount over $2. EVERY LITTLE BIT HELPS! We hope that there are enough of us out there who want to join with us to help build progressive media alternatives. I, for one, think we are going to need it.

Call for Submissions for March Issue

Yeah, I know we just published the February issue, but I’d like to get a jump-start on the next issue. Give the deep cuts being proposed by PA governor Tom Corbett and the ramping up of the election cycle, I want to put out the call for the March issue sooner rather than later. Here’s the deal:

Deadline for Submissions for March Issue: Saturday, March 10th. 

If you think you’ve got something to send our way, check out our submission guidelines. If you still have questions, drop me an email at ragingchickenpress@gmail.com.

Wrapping Up for Now

I’m going to leave things there for now. There are a couple more things that I want to tell ya, but this post is long enough already. I will say that I will be looking for your input for the 2011 Best of Raging Chicken Press book pretty soon! Look for your chance to help pick which Raging Chicken Press articles will make it into our first-ever “Best of” book!

Bread and Roses,

Kevin Mahoney
Founder and Editor Zero, Raging Chicken Press

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Earlier today I made one last appeal to faculty to GET ON THE BUS for tomorrow’s NAACP rally in Harrisburg.  The theme of the rally is “Save Public Education in PA.  This will be the first rally  in the current budget battles that faculty from higher education will join their K-12 colleagues and students from all levels of public education in PA  on the Capitol steps.  There are still seats available.  Students, faculty, and community members are welcome.  If you want to join, send an email to apscufku@kutztown.edu asap!  If you like to procrastinate, you can just show up in the parking lot behind Beekey tomorrow morning!  Bus leaves at 8am.

Here’s my email to faculty:

Dear colleagues,

I want to make at least one last call for faculty to join the NAACP rally in Harrisburg tomorrow.  The theme of the rally is “Save Public Education in PA.”  The rally will consist of a march of public school children on the Capitol, speakers representing all aspects of education – K-12 and Higher Ed.  Our work has already made a difference as several key Republican legislators have been calling for a reduction — if not elimination of Corbett’s education cuts.

APSCUF-KU still has seats left on tomorrow’s bus to Harrisburg.  If you can make it, please join us.  We keep on hearing the call for “shared sacrifice.”  Let our sacrifice be our time in making our voices heard publicly in the State Capital!  In a time when the dominant argument among politicians and the media attempt to keep us afraid and NOT raise our voices (keep your head down and be good), we need to resist such cynicism.  After all, we’ve been working our tails off all along and that hasn’t been a sufficient argument to prevent us being the focus of budget cutting and public attacks.

As I’ve said on a number of occasions now, Pennsylvanians have taken it on the chin over and over and over again.  Solid industries have given way to casinos.  As faculty and educators, we are in a relatively privileged position. If WE are not willing to speak out, who will?  Should we punt the ball to out of work Steelworkers?  Should we punt the ball to our students?  I don’t think so.  We need to lead by example.  We often seek to instill in our students a critical consciousness and a willingness to be active citizens.  What does it say to our students if we are not willing to fight for our profession and their education?  What does it say that we’re willing to miss a day (or days) of class for a professional conference but not a rally to defend public education?

But, it’s not too late.  APSCUF-KU still has seats on the bus. We are leaving bright and early tomorrow morning @ 8am from the parking lot behind Beekey.  We hope you will join us.  And if you can’t make it, we hope that you will support your colleagues who can.

Reserve your seat on the bus: contact APSCUF-KU secretary, Karen Epting, at 610-683-4277 or email her at apscufku@kutztown.edu.

**DRIVING YOURSELF?**

If you can’t make the bus and are considering driving yourself, you can find parking at the River Street garage or surrounding streets. For information on location and cost of River Street garage go to http://www.harrisburgparking.org/

I hope to see you there!

Best,
Kevin Mahoney

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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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As APSCUF enters into a contract negotiation year, this report recently issued from the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) should be mandatory reading.  The report discusses the all-but-collapse of the tenure system, the out-of-control rise in contingent faculty, and ways to stabilize higher education.  APSCUF’s contract makes the report–specifically Article 11 Sec. G and H, which address the conversion of temporary faculty or temporary faculty lines.  [Thanks to Bob Derstine for sending this link my way.]

To see more on Article 11 Sec. G. and H. check out an interview I did for Academe Online.

Interview by Marc Bousquet with Kevin Mahoney

I did that interview with Marc following last year’s APSCUF/PSEA Conference on Labor in Higher Education.  That gives me an opportunity to plug (once again) the rapidly approaching 2nd Annual APSCUF/PSEA Conference on Labor in Higher Education.  And for you observant observers out there…you are correct.  Both of your XChange writers…Amy Lynch-Biniek and Kevin Mahoney are in the picture to the left.  It was taken during Marc Bousquet’s Key note address at last year’s conference.

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Since my most recent post to the XChange containing the independent auditor’s report for KU for the year ending 2009, several people have gotten in touch with me asking if I posted this report because it was some kind of “smoking gun.”  The short answer to this question is “no.”  The more nuanced answer is, “but it might be.”  That is to say, I put these documents out because I think it’s better to have multiple eyes on them.  The more information we can put in members’ hands, the better.

Case in point: I received and email from an Accounting Professor at another PASSHE university who is doing a cross-institutional analysis of the accounting practices of different PASSHE universities.  The faculty member expects to present the findings at the Second Annual APSCUF/PSEA Conference on Labor in Higher Education this fall in Harrisburg.  As a side note, I can’t thank former APSCUF Vice President, Amy Walters, for getting this conference off the ground.  The conference encourages this kind of labor scholarship–scholarship that is immediately useful in our current struggles.  Bravo.

Access to this information is even more critical since there is VERY contradictory information out there regarding Kutztown’s and PASSHE’s “budget crisis.”  You may recall posts on the XChange earlier this year on some of the “budget crisis myths” being offered up by KU’s administration, KU’s questionable use of breakage funds, and PASSHE’s contradictory claims about the “crisis.”

The latest bit of info that points to serious contradictions in both KU’s and PASSHE’s claims about their budget crisis comes from the world of bond ratings.  Yesterday, Fitch.com released bond rating numbers for PASSHE: Fitch determined that

In addition, Fitch affirms the ‘AA’ rating on PASSHE’s $825.3 million of outstanding revenue bonds.

The Rating Outlook is Stable.

That’s nice to know.  You might also be interested in this little nugget:

Generally stable operating performance has allowed PASSHE to maintain an adequate liquidity cushion. Available funds of $958 million at the end of fiscal 2009 covered over half (53.7%) of operating expenses for that year and 103.1% of total pro forma system debt. Unlike many colleges and universities, PASSHE’s conservatively invested financial cushion increased during fiscal 2009, despite the global financial market turbulence.

Once again, there is a serious gap between the claims being made by the local and state administrations and what independent analyses suggest.  [click here to check out Fitch’s full report].

OK, I’ve got to run off and do the next round of English placement for incoming students.  Can’t wait to hear your thoughts.

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As I sit here in the mountains, I am grateful for this little phone I’ve got. While the phone reception is in and out, the web comes through just fine.

I am even more thankful for this analysis coming out of PSEA. The only way we all get out of this “budget crisis” for real is to resituate the public discourse…to refeame how these issues are understood.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10139/1059083-109.stm

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As you know, there has been a lot of hub bub about a “crisis” in Pennsylvania’s Public School Employee Retirement System (PSERS).  As we approach another negotiations year, we need to keep in mind how irresponsible management has led to these “crises” and demand accountability.

NO BAILOUTS on the backs of faculty!

Check our this article from the Pennsylvania State Education Association:

Why is PSERS at risk?

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