Last week, the NEA sat down with 10 presidential candidates and asked them your questions about how, as president, they would tackle the most pressing issues facing our nation’s public schools, students, and educators.
“Two half-time adjunct jobs do not make a full-time income. Far from it,” Ximena Barrientos says. “I’m lucky that I have my own apartment. I have no idea how people make it work if they have to pay rent.”
We are not sitting on a street corner, or in a welfare office, or in the break room of a fast food restaurant. We are sitting inside a brightly lit science classroom on the third floor of an MC Escher-esque concrete building, with an open breezeway letting in the muggy South Florida air, on the campus of Miami Dade College, one of the largest institutions of higher learning in the United States of America. Barrientos has been teaching here for 15 years. But this is not “her” classroom. She has a PhD, but she does not have a designated classroom. Nor does she have an office. Nor does she have a set schedule, nor tenure, nor healthcare benefits, nor anything that could be described as a decent living wage. She is a full-time adjunct professor: one of thousands of members of the extremely well-educated academic underclass, whose largely unknown sufferings have played just as big a role as student debt in enabling the entire swollen College Industrial Complex to exist.
[UFF Preface: The large decline of numbers reflects the large size of the state. Although Florida has half the population of California, it is behind it in the drop of undergraduate enrollment. Overall, Florida needs more, not less higher education with increased state resources. See population of states here: https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/us-states-by-population.html]
May 31, 2019
By Jane King
More than 350,000 fewer students enrolled in undergraduate programs in the U.S. for the 2019 spring semester than the previous year, according to a new report by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.
The Sunshine State saw the biggest decrease in enrollment, including all sectors of postsecondary education and both graduate and undergraduate programs. The 5.2% decrease from spring 2018 equaled to almost 50,000 students.
Florida was followed by California, Illinois, Michigan and Pennsylvania with the largest declines in the number of enrolled students.
Compared to the spring 2018 semester, 351,264 fewer people enrolled in undergraduate programs for the spring 2019 semester, representative of a 2.3% drop. On the flip-side, graduate and professional programs had a 2% increase, equivalent to 54,043 students.
[UFF-FAU Preface: NEA had projected a loss of as many as 200,000 members in addition to 90,000 agency-fee payers after the Supreme Court decision. Instead, as of March, more than 217,000 new members had joined NEA since the Janus decision, and the Association has more members today than it did last year before the Court’s decision. The American Federation of Teachers (AFT), with 1.7 million members, added 88,500 members by the beginning of this year, which offset the 84,000 agency-fee payers the union lost after the ruling. Even case defendant AFSCME reports that for every member opting out since Janus, the union has gained seven new members.]
In January, Virginia teacher Nicole Loch attended a #RedForEd rally at the statehouse in Richmond. She arrived on a charter bus sponsored by the Fauquier Education Association (FEA), even though Loch had never joined the union—a decision she had resisted for 11 years. “It was a bus full of other educators from my county,” says Loch, a civics teacher at Auburn Middle School in Warrenton.
“When I got to Richmond, I saw the power of mobilization and strength in numbers,” she says. “I knew then I needed to join.”
Loch marched and chanted for a mile—from Monroe Park to the capitol steps—where the crowd numbered 4,000. Standing there—holding a sign with the words “I Teach, I Matter”—she realized that many of the 250 FEA members at the rally had been meeting for months to organize their road trip, produce T-shirts and signs, and arrange meetings in the offices of legislators to discuss education policy and funding in Fauquier County.
[UFF-FAU Preface: The Florida SUS metrics ignore the realities of student poverty by failing to address basic requirements for student success like having access to adequate food and housing. Many legislators wrongly assume most students share their privileged backgrounds and hold the rest in contempt as nothing more than a “burden” upon public higher education. UFF-FAU opposes the state metrics as contrary to the mission of public higher education: providing quality access for all students from all backgrounds.]
Kayla Laterman, The New York Times May 2, 2019
In the coming weeks, thousands of college students will walk across a stage and proudly accept their diplomas. Many of them will be hungry.
A senior at Lehman College in the Bronx dreams of starting her day with breakfast. An undergraduate at New York University said he has been so delirious from hunger, he’s caught himself walking down the street not realizing where he’s going. A health sciences student at Stony Brook University on Long Island describes “poverty naps,” where she decides to go to sleep rather than deal with her hunger pangs.
These are all examples of food insecurity, the state of having limited or uncertain access to food. Stories about college hunger have been largely anecdotal, cemented by ramen and macaroni and cheese jokes. But recent data indicate the problem is more serious and widespread, affecting almost half of the student population at community and public colleges.
A survey released this week by Temple University’s Hope Center for College, Community and Justice indicated that 45 percent of student respondents from over 100 institutions said they had been food insecure in the past 30 days. In New York, the nonprofit found that among City University of New York (CUNY) students, 48 percent had been food insecure in the past 30 days.
Stop & Shop’s stores were ghost towns during the recent strike. With workers standing outside in picket lines, customers stayed away , leading to one of the most effective strikes in recent memory.
The grocery clerks and bakers and meat cutters holding signs were protesting proposed cuts to their benefits, but their plight also resonated with the public because they represented something bigger: working Americans across the country whose wages are barely budging while the cost of living skyrockets in such places as Boston and corporations rake in record profits.
In the recent wave of strikes nationwide, unions have effectively linked their cause to the broader fight against income inequality that ramped up nearly eight years ago with Occupy Wall Street. And for the most part, they have succeeded in fending off cuts and even adding new protections.
These battles are being waged as anger grows over the widening gap between rich and poor and public support for the labor movement is at a 15-year high, even as union membership continues its long, steady decline. But with nearly 15 million union members nationwide, and young people, professionals, and people of color bringing new energy to the movement, unions are showing they can still be a formidable force.
“What we’re seeing is an increasing resistance to the fundamental unfairness of a system that’s so skewed both economically and politically to the wealthy,” said Benjamin Sachs, a Harvard Law School labor professor, noting that when Uber goes public, former CEO Travis Kalanick’s stock is expected to be worth upward of $6 billion — an amount that would take a full-time Uber driver 150,000 years to make.
[UFF Preface: The American Association of University Professors allies with your union and our national affiliates, NEA and AFT, on virtually all issues. The whole country is watching as the Florida Legislature attempts to undermine academic freedom. As the article indicates, UFF strongly opposes House Bill 839, and the union has collected petition signatures at universities and colleges all over Florida. Our UFF-FAU chapter collected signatures on this and other issues on “Red for Ed” Wednesday, April 17. You can still write your state Representative on this and other issues before the legislative session closes.]
from Academe Blog HANK REICHMAN
Last year the AAUP’s Committee on Government Relations released a report, “Campus Free-Speech Legislation: History, Progress, and Problems,” which concluded that campus free-speech laws and academic freedom are “false friends.” Nevertheless, such legislation continues to advance in several states. Especially troubling is a proposal that has moved out of committee in the Florida House of Representatives that would require the state’s universities, and if an amendment passes its community colleges, to conduct annual “viewpoint diversity” surveys. Specifically, House Bill 839 states: “Each institution shall conduct an annual survey of students, faculty, and administrators that assesses the extent to which competing ideas, perspectives, and claims of truth are presented and members of the university community feel safe and supported in exploring and articulating their beliefs and viewpoints on campus and in the classroom.”
The proposal poses a direct and serious threat to academic freedom in the state. The senate of the United Faculty of Florida, the union representing faculty in the state’s universities, voted unanimously in February to oppose the survey.
“I shouldn’t be forced to tell the state of Florida how I feel about certain political matters,” said Florida State University professor and UFF member Matthew Lata. He raised concerns about whether survey results would prompt the firing of liberals or conservatives in an attempt to have balanced viewpoints on campus. “Let’s say in political science you have 20 people and the survey determines 15 are liberal and five are conservative. Are you going to fire the liberals and hire more conservatives? What would happen?” Lata asked.
[An insightful article, but UFF-FAU holds some reservations towards online degree programs and courses that at times overlook the disparities between student success given their socio-economic backgrounds and the ways such programs have the potential to undercut faculty solidarity by fragmenting the workforce among other concerns.]
Kevin Carey, April 1, 2019
The price of college is breaking America. At a moment when Hollywood celebrities and private equity titans have allegedly been spending hundreds of thousands in bribes to get their children into elite schools, it seems quaint to recall that higher learning is supposed to be an engine of social mobility. Today, the country’s best colleges are an overpriced gated community whose benefits accrue mostly to the wealthy. At 38 colleges, including Yale, Princeton, Brown and Penn, there are more students from the top 1 percent than the bottom 60 percent.
Tuition prices aren’t the only reason for this, but they’re a major one. Public university tuition has doubled in the last two decades, tripled in the last three. Prestige-hungry universities admit large numbers of students who can pay ever-increasing fees and only a relative handful of low-income students. The U.S. now has more student loan debt than credit card debt—upward of $1.5 trillion. Nearly 40 percent of borrowers who entered college in the 2003 academic year could default on their loans by 2023, the Brookings Institution predicts.
The colleges would have you believe that none of this is their fault. They would point out that public schools took a huge financial hit during the recession when states slashed their education budgets. This is true, but that hardly explains the size and pace of the price hikes or the fact that tuition at private schools has exploded, too.