Garnering less attention are the fee increases and policy shifts affecting the California State University system. On Tuesday, the California Faculty Association, who represents faculty members of the CSU system, issued a “white paper” chronicling the restructuring of the CSU system that will fundamentally change its mission.
“What is happening is a “restructuring” of the CSU that goes far beyond “belt-tightening” in hard times and is, in fact, a radical change in the mission of the system. This profound shift in public policy concerning the CSU’s mission is proceeding rapidly with no public debate in any forum—not at the Board of Trustees, not in the legislature, and not with the people of California.”
The site as evidence an “internal memo” written by CSU’s Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer, Benjamin Quillian, dated October 2, 2009.
“The Quillian memo requested campus administrators to detail their plans for significant reductions in the faculty and staff workforce as well as drastic cuts in student enrollment. The Chancellor emphasizes his commitment to reducing the number of students enrolled in the CSU by indicating that any campus exceeding its enrollment target will see its next year’s budget allocation reduced by an amount equal to the revenue generated from that enrollment.”
However, they cite a portion of this memo that suggests that what the Chancellor’s office is planning is a drastic change in scope.
I urge you to think creatively and recognize that tinkering with reductions at the margins will be insufficient. It will be necessary to change radically business processes and service delivery systems so that personnel costs and other expenditures can be reduced significantly on an ongoing basis. Campuses need to collaborate and work together to reduce unnecessary duplications of effort and create synergies to leverage strengths and minimize weaknesses. Twenty-three independent plans will not get the job done. If we expect to continue effectively fulfilling the mission of the CSU, the budget reduction strategies must yield a fundamental transformation of the ways we meet the needs of our students, faculty and staff.
The faculty argue that these policy changes mark a fundamental shift in the nation’s largest higher education system from being a non-competitive admissions university to a competitive one. The hallmark of the CSU system has been to allow any student to receive a quality and affordable education.
Most alarming from their perspective–and indeed from all of our perspectives–these shifts at CSU are not the result of the changing of the states philosophy to reflect making the campuses more competitive in admissions. Rather they are driven by the necessity of deep budget cuts in the state. Budget cuts that have led the university’s leaders to attempt to shrink enrollment at a time of rising demand.
In a release sent out on Tuesday, they cite that CSU campuses have received 419,000 applications to date, a figure that represents a 19 percent increase from a year ago. These increases are attributed to a a rising high school population and years of increasing competitiveness for the University of California campuses.
Last year, two-thirds of applicants were admitted, but this year that ratio is expected to go down significantly. Last year, just 6 of the system’s 23 campuses were “impacted” in admissions, already this year that number has doubled to 12 and may still go higher. Already 14 campuses ceased accepting new applications on November 30, last year that number was just 6.
The “white paper” suggests that one thing that stands out in this massive change
“the utter lack of outrage–or even concern–publicly expressed by CSU administrative leaders in the Chancellor’s office or on the campuses. That fact alone is really quite stunning and certainly helps explain why the public is not up in arms about what is happening to California’s state universities.”
Further they move beyond this to attempt to frame a new debate:
“In addition to challenging administrators’ managerial language, we must also expose the long-term social effects of the changes they propose. While it appears that each campus will have its own campus-specific plan to “transform” education, the examples being implemented right now make clear that these changes will have an especially negative impact on low-income people and communities of color and raise real questions about the civil rights implications of these actions. In fact, the provision of a broad liberal education for communities that might have no other access is at the heart of the CSU’s mission and at the heart of what is under attack.
We also must understand the pattern of the assault on our public universities in a broader historical and political framework. What is happening to us in the CSU is not new, and it is not unique. As Naomi Klein chronicles in “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism,” crises of various sorts, from economic crises to natural disasters, have been used around the world for decades to strip down social programs, privatize government, destroy democratic institutions, and create enormous wealth for a tiny group of individuals.”
On these pages, we have spoken too much about cuts to education in our local community and California. The budget cuts in California have had profound impacts on education at the K-12 level that we have not even begun to recognize. We may get outraged in our community when they talk about laying off public school teachers or closing a school. I have covered late night school board meetings jam-packed with angry parents and anxious students.
Making these cuts all the worse is the fact that we are facing an additional $3.5 million in cuts to our local schools. We have cut all that we can cut in terms of fat, we have finessed all that we can finesse, this year, what we cut will be all bone and all very painful.
This is not going to be a short term problem that goes away. We are looking at more billions cut from the state budget which means more billions cut from education–K-12 and higher education. And there is no end in sight.
The point that needs to be made is that while we get fired up–and rightly so about our local schools–and we get fired up locally because of changes to UC Davis that will impact that students who share our community and the faculty and staff that live in our community–all of these changes of course have direct impact on our community. However, so do changes to CSU where countless students from our community each year go to CSU for their education whether it is Sacramento State, across the causeway or any of the 22 other campuses.
The economists have suggested that the recession–the longest since the Great Depression–is now over. That may be. On a national level this was a recession about financial institutions, borrowing and lending practices, home ownership, and other huge and fundamental structural issues. However, the lasting legacy may be in places like California, where this recession may fundamentally and permanently change the way we educate our children.
Not only are we talking about the short-term impact of budget cuts, but fundamental changes to admissions policies at UC and CSU. Fundamental changes to who can afford to go to school. Fundamental changes to who will be able to gain admissions to school.
Estimates have suggested that already we may not have enough college educated youth to run our economy in the future. Now we are in danger of not only creating a lost generation of California youth, but we are in danger of making that permanent.
Californians do not want to pay more in taxes. They do not want to change Prop 13. They do not want to change the way our legislature passes budgets and therefore they do not want to remove structural impediments to real reform and restructure. If Californians want a great educational system, if they want to restore their great higher educational system, they are going to have to make choices, because unless something fundamentally changes, our education system will the lasting legacy of this recession and not in any good way.
—David M. Greenwald reporting