March 1st: National Day of Action on Education
(Photo taken by me at UCSD 3/1/12)
March 1st was a national day of action to reclaim higher education for the 99%.
The LA times writes:
- Rallies at college campuses throughout the state are expected to draw thousands of students and faculty Thursday, part of a national day of action denouncing cuts in higher education.
- Marches, teach-ins and protests against tuition increases, class cuts and other issues were scheduled at Cal State campuses in San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Dominguez Hills and Fullerton and at UCLA and other University of California campuses. Most are allied with the Occupy movement.
- Elsewhere, students in Boston plan to rally at Dewey Square and hundreds in New York City are expected to gather at the Department of Education in Manhattan and march to Ft. Green Park in Brooklyn for a rally.
- Protests are also scheduled at campuses in Minnesota, Florida, Illinois and Washington state.
- On Monday, thousands of students and faculty are expected to descend on California’s state Capitol for a daylong Occupy Education rally.
The O.B. Rag published UCSD’s Public Education Coalition’s statement on today’s action:
The Statement from UCSD’s Public Education Coalition:
Students, instructors and staff you have a stake in the future of the UC. The public nature of the UC is under threat, but on March 1st we are coming together to defend it.
Students, mandatory fees set by the regents have more than doubled since 2001 adjusted for inflation. At the same time, UCSD’s average debt at graduation increased 20%. In 2009, 48% of UCSD students graduated with debt at an average of $18,757. Since 1990 expenditure per student has fallen over 19%. At the same time state support per student fell 60% while tuition support more than tripled. The UC shifted from public funding toward personal, private funding. This shift was not and is not inevitable. Students: the ability of many of your qualified colleagues to attend a UC is threatened by this shift, but you can help.
Instructors, between 1995 and 2010, while positions for teaching in the UC system increased 48%, positions in senior management increased 182%. In 2007, a retired UC Berkeley professor estimated the excess growth in senior management to cost the UC $603 million annually. As instructors retire they are not replaced, and some of your colleagues at UCSD were recently recruited to a private institution. The UC is moving from academic to entrepreneur. This movement is not inevitable. Instructors: the priority for the UC to attract, retain and support your colleagues has been misplaced, but you can help.
Staff, starting in 1999 the UC regents began to funnel pension fund money into riskier investments. Since 2004 billions of dollars have been invested through private investment firms which are non-transparent, lightly regulated, highly risky, and which have charged the UC tens of millions of dollars so far. The UC’s pension and investment portfolios lost $23 billion in the 2008 financial crisis, some of which were made against the advice of a former treasurer and in full awareness of the risk. The UC is now asking for workers to pay into the pension system as they cut benefits to absorb its losses. The UC privatized and jeopardized its investments. This was not and is not inevitable Staff: The risks taken by the regents promise to harm you, your families, and your colleagues, but you can help.
Students, instructors, staff and Californians: we have been disenfranchised by a public system in which we all hold a legitimate stake. There are 26 regents. Only four are democratically elected. Only one is a student, chosen by the other regents. Not one is a tenure-track faculty member, even though this is explicitly provided for in the state constitution. Neither non-ladder faculty nor general staff have representatives on the board.
Students, instructors, staff and Californians: we have inherited a prosperous state whose government is fiscally self-destructive. Proposition 13 requires a two-thirds vote to raise taxes, but lets a simple 50 percent majority lower taxes and introduce loopholes. Prop 13 sets a 1% cap on corporate property tax-rate, whose revenues are allocated by the state government rather than local municipal governing bodies. This legislation, among other things, has resulted in almost yearly budget impasses.
Since 2004, this governmental malfunction has been taken out on the UC and CSU systems. That year the governor and both university presidents signed the Compact of Higher Education. That document planned to increase state funding barely above inflation, while asking the UC and CSU to “develop their annual budget plans based on the assumption that student fees will increase by […] 10 percent per year on average over the [following] three-year period [2004 to 2007].” The cost of public higher education was deliberately shifted onto the backs of students, undermining the UCs “fundamental missions [of] teaching, research and public service.”
March 1st is just one day of action in a growing movement, but there are any number of ways to support it.
Students, instructors and staff: when you walk out, teach out, march out, or speak out starting at 11:30 am on March 1st you are demonstrating your commitment to the importance of public education in an egalitarian society; you are demanding your role in shared governance of a public institution; and you are defending future generations who will inherit the political, economic, social and educational systems we create for ourselves.
 Increasing by a factor of 2.55, or 154% both adjusted for inflation. Primary: www.ucop.edu/budget/fees/documents/history_fees.pdf
 Adjusted for inflation. Primary: http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/accountability/index/3.7
 The portion of middle class students enrolled in the UC has fallen from 50% to 41% between 1999 and 2009, a period of intense increase in tuition.
 Primary: http://www.ucop.edu/ucophome/uwnews/stat/
 In the summer of 2011, three UCSD professors were recruited to a private university in Texas http://articles.latimes.com/2011/jun/29/local/la-me-brain-drain-20110629
 Part Two of the “Investor’s Club” report http://spot.us/pitches/337-investors-club-how-the-uc-regents-spin-public-funds-into-private-profit/story
 Article 9 §9 (c) http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/.const/.article_9
 Shrag, Peter. Paradise Lost: California’s Experience, America’s Future. London: University of California Press, 1999. p. 156
 Others include the financially corrupted ballot initiative process and legislator term limits which push away the best staff members to lobbying firms.
Cahn, Alan Mathew, H. Eric Shockman, and David M. Shafie. Rethinking California. New York: Longman Press, 2010.
 “Higher Education Compact Measures”, Introduction www.ucop.edu/budget/documents/compact2004_05.pdf
 To increase funding 3% to 4% when the authors should have expected inflation as high as 3.19% (average annual inflation in California between 1999 and 2005) www.dof.ca.gov/html/fs_data/latestecondata/documents/BBFYCPI.XLS
 Italics added. www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/compact/compact.pdf