What If They Gave a Higher Ed Summit and the Faculty Weren’t Invited?

By Jennifer Proffitt, UFF President

On May 5, 2016, Governor Scott announced that he was convening an invitation-only summit regarding higher education in Florida titled, Degrees to Jobs Summit, held at the swank Loews Portofino Bay Resort at Universal Studios May 25-26. The purpose of the event, according to the Governor, was to discuss “how we can better prepare students to get a great education for a high-skill, high-wage job and graduate with a great career in the Sunshine State.” Most of us would agree that higher education is about much more than getting a job in Florida, but even if we were to accept this job training model of our colleges and universities, it is important to note that not one faculty member was invited to speak. At least as far as we can tell from media reports and the Governor’s office’s response to our statement below, no faculty were even invited to attend. We called the Governor’s office several times to see if we could score an invitation, but our calls were not returned. Despite the fact that Scott said that the panel with three football coaches and the attendance of a few administrators demonstrated that there were “plenty of faculty” at the summit, I think it is safe to say that the lack of faculty representation at a summit about higher education is extremely problematic and incredibly shortsighted.

But it became crystal clear why faculty were not invited when we heard State College of Florida Board of Trustee member Eric Robinson (who is running for Sarasota County School Board) encourage other colleges to get rid of continuing contracts for new faculty as the Trustees did at State College of Florida, saying, “I think it’s the right thing to do…We’re the first ones to do this and people are still applying to come to our college. Our college has not closed down. The doom and gloom hasn’t happened.” (Important safety note: the decision to eliminate contracts for new faculty was only rammed through in January of this year). To make matters worse, another excellent speaker featured on this panel was Allen Norton & Blue shareholder Mike Mattimore, chief negotiator for management at several of our institutions, who advocated for advancing management priorities through the use of the impasse process (see http://thefloridachannel.org/videos/52516-governors-degrees-jobs-summit-part-2/ around 1:14; Eric Robinson was on the same panel around 1:05). It’s not clear how anti-union and anti-faculty policies help students get jobs; instead, this panel demonstrates how disingenuous the summit really was.

What is clear from this summit and recent press accounts is that higher education is in the crosshairs of the Governor’s office and the Florida Legislature.  This new focus brings with it many challenges and perhaps many opportunities, and with your help, the United Faculty of Florida will be able to navigate these potentially treacherous political waters for the betterment of our institutions.

What If Everything You Thought You Knew About Teachers Unions Turned Out to be Wrong?

EDUSHYSTER

An economist finds that teachers unions raise teacher quality and increase kids’ educational attainment… 

EduShyster: It’s a well-known true fact that teachers unions make it much harder to get rid of bad teachers. But you conducted a study for the National Bureau of Economic Research that purports to find the opposite. In fact, you titled your study The Myth of Unions’ Overprotection of Bad Teachers. Tell us about what you found.

Eunice Han: What I found is that the facts are the opposite of what people

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Colleges Set Up Pantries to Aid Hungry Students

LAKE WORTH — A single mother of four doesn’t just rely on Palm Beach State College to feed her mind. Jenie Hoben knows of one who relies on it to feed her family.

“Sometimes her kids come in and help her carry out boxes of food,” said Hoben, who directs the counseling center that oversees PBSC’s food bank for students on its Lake Worth campus.

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Misaligned Priorities: Dept of Ed Study on Spending on Prisons and Schools

(from Academe Blog: The Blog of Academe Magazine)

The Department of Education Policy and Program Studies Division has released a report on State and Local Expenditures on Corrections and Education.

Here are the highlights of the report:

–From 1979–80 to 2012–13, public PK–12 expenditures increased by 107 percent (from $258 to $534 billion),4 while total state and local corrections expenditures increased by 324 percent (from $17 to $71 billion) ― triple the rate of increase in education spending.

–Over the same 33-year period, the percentage increase in state and local corrections expenditures varied considerably across the states, ranging from 149 percent in Massachusetts to 850 percent in Texas. PK–12 expenditure growth rates were considerably lower, but still varied widely across states, ranging from 18 percent in Michigan to 326 percent in Nevada.

–All states had lower expenditure growth rates for PK–12 education than for corrections, and in the majority of the states, the rate of increase for corrections was more than 100 percentage points higher than the rate for education.

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Successfully Negotiated Contract: Raises In Order

On Tuesday, the FAU Board of Trustees unanimously ratified the 2015 –2018 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). This means that salary increases (merit and/or equity up to 3% of base salary) for the 2015 –2016 contract year should begin with the first regular paycheck in August. Salary increases for the 2016 – 2017 contract year (also merit and/or equity up to 3% of base) will begin in October. So, potentially, faculty could expect to see a 6% increase in their base salary by October.

We hope to have the new CBA posted on the UFF-FAU website in the next few weeks.

For the UFF-FAU Collective Bargaining Team

Bob Zoeller

UFF-FAU Chapter President

More Evidence that Florida’s Corporate Model of Higher Education is Failing: High Tuition, Low Salaries, and Unrealistic Expectations

Fading Affordability

(from Inside Higher Ed)

College affordability has declined in 45 states since 2008, with low- and middle-income students in particular feeling the pinch, new study finds.

April 28, 2016

Overall college affordability has worsened in 45 U.S. states since 2008, creating a significant financial burden for students of modest economic means.

That’s the top-line finding in a new, state-by-state study by researchers from the Institute for Research on Higher Education at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education, Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development, and the Higher Education Policy Institute.

The report defines affordability as reasonable estimates of the total educational expenses for students and families in each state, calculated as a percentage of family income. Educational expenses include tuition and costs of living, minus all grant-based financial aid from federal and state governments and institutions.

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Collective Bargaining Update, April 19

UFF met with the BOT representatives on Friday, April 15, 2016.  We have tentatively agreed that faculty will receive the following raises:  3% based on 2014-15 evaluation, 3% based on 2015 evaluation; and 2% on 2016 evaluation.  Raises will not be retroactive despite our best efforts.

However, we are still negotiating the details of the distribution of equity raises. Additionally, and importantly, another salary issue concerns raises for FAU Schools (FAUS) teachers. Currently they are offering NOTHING for teachers with Permanent status.

Other contentious issues are FTE for Instructional Assignments (e.g.,.20 vs .25) and the inclusion of sustained performance evaluation in the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

When these issues are resolved, the first raise will be forthcoming shortly after ratification in the first regular pay check (not summer).

The second raise is scheduled for October 2016.

The next meeting is tentatively scheduled for April 29 at 9 am in the Provost’s Conference Room. (We wanted to meet sooner but this was the soonest BOT representatives were available)

For the UFF-FAU Collective Bargaining Team

Bob Zoeller

UFF-FAU Chapter President

UFF President Dr. Jennifer Proffitt Vows to Press On to Keep Firearms Off College

Tallahassee – Earlier this week, the Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus held an awards ceremony in New York City to commend the work of key leaders in different states to defeat proposed laws to allow individuals to carry dangerous firearms on college campuses. The organization, founded in large part by individuals directly impacted by campus gun violence, has worked in states across the nation to keep university and college campuses gun-free.

Proffitt, a communications professor at Florida State University, has been a leader in the opposition to bills in the Florida Legislature over the past two years that would lift Florida’s current ban on firearms on university and college campuses.
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