Tenure-line faculty members at the University of Illinois at Springfield have formed a union affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers. The new union has 137 members, who organized under the following platform: negotiate for “fair” wages and benefits, share governance with the administration and advocate for the rights of students without fear of professional retaliation.
Faculty members at Springfield’s sister institution, the University of Illinois at Chicago, also are organized with AFT (along with the American Association of University Professors) and signed their first union contract last year. A Springfield spokesman said the university respects faculty members’ right to decide whether or not they want to be represented by a union, and that the union “will have the power to act and speak for faculty in required group-level negotiations on wages, hours and conditions of work.” Some 71 eligible members signed cards in favor of the union, according to information from the university.
A Florida appeals court has upheld, 2-to-1, regulations imposed by the State Department of Education on faculty contracts at the state college system in Florida, CBS Miami reported. The rules have been opposed by faculty leaders in the state, who have argued that the board exceeded its authority in imposing them. Among the most controversial requirements are an extension from three to five years of the period of time before instructors are eligible for a continuing contract equivalent in some ways to tenure, and a requirement that contracts be awarded in part based on "student success." Faculty members say the latter provision will effectively punish those who teach at-risk students.
"[M]any adults want to gain a degree and gain re-employment with as little time in the classroom as possible.... College Credit FastTrack will enable these students to complete a life-changing degree program more quickly and at a reduced cost."
--Nicholas Neupauer, president, Butler County Community College
Board Chair, Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges, in Feb. 2 news release
Good morning! And welcome to Paradise University’s monthly Skype session!
As president of this institution, I am pleased to announce that the accreditation process is moving along smoothly -- and it is with great pride that I can assure you that Paradise U is well on its way to being recognized as the home of the fastest, easiest, most innovative track yet in higher education!
Speaking of home, I am talking to you this morning from our new physical campus, a gift from local company Less Is More, which repurposes old garden sheds as tiny homes. I’ve been following the Twitter campaign #paradiseugonetohell, and I realize that some alums are distressed by this move from our old campus, but let me tell you about the big things that are happening here in our 400 square feet -- and that does not even include the loft, where our operators are crouched, waiting for your texts.
So, fond greetings to all current, past and prospective students. I hope that you’ll agree with me that Paradise is in fact the perfect source for purchasing your life-changing degree.
The new directory is now available. You will note that we no longer have academic advisers at Paradise U; several polls suggested that the use of the word “academic” was confusing and off-putting. Instead, we have a staff of brokers who work with students and who report directly to the vice presidents of innovation, international outreach, consortium dealing, and our newest program, Credit for Just About Anything.
Former full-time faculty members -- and I know the vice presidents join me in this sentiment of wishing them all the best; really, they were a wonderful if cantankerous group -- would certainly find it ironic if not surprising to learn that as of the new year all committees have been officially disbanded.
Like maintaining (some former students would say “enduring”!) classrooms and requiring community service, sustaining the illusion of democratic governance by committee was too costly and just slowed things down. In our new administrative system, the V.P.s and their staffs of assistants, subdirectors, site overseers, lawyers and compliance officers hire brokers; create, approve and assign syllabuses to our fine staff of contingent instructors (a lively body of workers that’s always changing); and form alliances with V.P.s of other institutions that share our mission -- a mission that is constantly evolving.
See our new mission statement, “First in Fast,” which replaces last month’s “Fast, Faster, Fastest.” In the spirit of our newest mission, I am happy to announce that our international program is growing by leaps and bounds. You may recall that Paradise was the leader in arguing that the TOEFL requirement should be obsolete!
Our brokers are available 24/7 to help you find the perfect courses for your needs. As for any classes you took elsewhere before discovering Paradise, rest assured that we will automatically count them all. We have long prided ourselves on having the most generous transfer system in the world! Your personal broker will determine which of your life experiences will count as well. Again, please don’t worry! You wouldn’t believe all the stories we’ve accepted for credit! See our app Enter Paradise for a checklist of personal experiences.
We offer over 300 graduate programs, along with 200 undergrad programs, including our 1-year B.A., and countless certificate programs -- all cobbled together from offerings from various schools in our grand consortium. And with our new Paradise Plus EvenFasterTrack, you can now earn two (or even three!) degrees at once. Your broker will be happy to give you the details. Be sure to check out testimonials from recent graduates (@paradise #ParadiseFound).
If you’re still not sure that Paradise is for you, you can sample one of our new pilot programs. During the month of February, get three credits for watching one TED Talk! (Do the math, if you can: TED Talks are 18 minutes long, so that’s 1 credit for every 6 minutes of watching YouTube.)
Before I let you return to your busy lives, I have a message for everyone still enrolled in our liberal arts division: the deadline for all completed midterm exams is March 1, 2015, 4:00 p.m. GMT. Remember to use @paradise #mydeepesthought.
Thank you for your interest and support. Paradise is here for you: we can help you make your life-changing move quickly, painlessly and effortlessly. We’d also like to point out that the word “education” appears only once in this talk, just after “higher” in the opening lines, and we hope that you will be inspired to join us.
Carolyn Foster Segal is a professor emerita of English at Cedar Crest College.
U.S. Representative Dave Brat, a Virginia Republican, is in his first term in Congress and is best known for having defeated Eric Cantor, who at the time was the House majority leader, in the Republican primary in their district last year. Brat, an economist, taught at Randolph-Macon College before entering Congress, and he cited that experience last week during committee debate on programs to support elementary schools. Brat's theme was that education funding isn't needed.
“The greatest thinkers in Western civ were not products of education policy,” he said. “Socrates trained Plato on a rock and then Plato trained in Aristotle roughly speaking on a rock. So, huge funding is not necessary to achieve the greatest minds and the greatest intellects in history.” (In the video below, Brat's comments start at around 45:45.)
On Friday, the National Bureau of Economic Research released a study (abstract available here) on the impact of increases in state spending on public schools. The study found that significant increases can be linked not only to an increase in the number of years of education that students receive, but to higher adult wages and lower adult poverty.
The University of Scranton's president has announced plans to end its health insurance coverage of abortion, which was covered only in cases of rape and incest and when the life of the mother was endangered by a pregnancy. A letter to the campus last week from the university's president, the Rev. Kevin P. Quinn, said that coverage of any abortion was inconsistent with the university's Roman Catholic faith. "[T]he moral teaching of the Church on abortion is unequivocal," wrote Father Quinn, citing Vatican documents on abortion. "Circumstances, 'however serious or tragic, can never justify the deliberate killing of an innocent human being,' and '[n]o one more absolutely innocent could be imagined' than the unborn child."
His letter acknowledged the contract with the faculty union would need to be adjusted and said that he would personally meet with the union's negotiating team to discuss the issue. Michael Friedman, head of the faculty union, said that union leaders were talking to members and gathering opinions before taking a stand on the president's plans. He said he has received numerous calls and e-mail messages about the president's announcement.
In that case -- which many called a major win for unions and a blow to long-standing legal precedents challenging the right of tenure-line faculty members at private institutions and faculty members generally at religious institutions to freely form unions -- the board said adjuncts at Pacific Lutheran could form a union affiliated with Service Employees International Union. The board based its decision on its opinion that adjuncts at Pacific Lutheran don't perform specific religious functions that might cause them to fall outside its jurisdiction, and on the opinion that the faculty members lacked the managerial duties that might prevent them from forming a union.
A majority of Duquesne adjuncts voted in 2012 to form a union affiliated with the United Steelworkers, but the university appealed their right to form a union, citing its Roman Catholic affiliation. The union has been on hold since. Experts say these remands are largely procedural, but some adjuncts at affected institutions say they're cautiously optimistic that their union bids are one step closer to becoming real.
Also on Friday, the NLRB remanded to a regional office an earlier decision granting Saint Xavier University a review of a regional director’s decision regarding its would-be adjunct union. That remand was made in light of the recent (2014) U.S. Supreme Court decision in NLRB vs. Noel Canning, which successfully challenged the constitutionality of some NLRB appointments made during a Congressional recess. Some have argued that the decisions made by implicated appointees -- including the Saint Xavier decision -- are not legal. The case already had been remanded back to the regional director in light of the Pacific Lutheran decision.