Don’t worry, the primary purpose of this blog is to keep you informed about what’s going on specifically at SIUC. However, the situation at SIUC is reflective of things going on in the state and around the country and to help identify and fix the problems we have here, we should be looking at the local, state, and national contexts for ideas and answers (or even illustrative cautionary tales). So, where news merits it, I will be linking up posts and news stories that are related to higher education, higher education, unionism, and politics and higher education.
Campaign for the Future of Higher Education (CFHE): launched Tuesday with a missions of ensuring “that affordable quality higher education is accessible to all sectors of our society in the coming decades.” This is a grassroots effort to address the changing political and public opinion on higher education — particularly about the value of a degree. The CFHE lays out some of the problems higher education is facing, including public defunding (which produces higher costs and excludes many poor, working class, and minority students), accountability and efficiency reforms (which are then used to cut programs and classes students need), “streamlining” the graduate process so more students finish (which often excludes students), and many more problems. Definitely worth keeping an eye on.
Speaking of access to higher education, Inside Higher Ed reports that the California legislature introduced a bill to create “extension programs” in California’s community colleges. Essentially, the bill calls for colleges to offer separate classes — placed at cost — to cover classes that may be cut due to decreased state funding. This boils down to the legislature urging colleges to create a two-tiered classroom, where the students who can afford it have access. Perhaps even more worrying about the bill is, as one faculty member points out in the article, that something like this is the legislature basically shouting “we don’t want to fund higher education anymore; if you want it, you pay for it.”
For something a little closer to home, Inside Higher Ed notes the University of Illinois-Chicago is challenging the right of the faculty to unionize — because the bargaining unit includes both tenure and non-tenure track faculty. Another thing to watch in the coming months (or years, potentially) as this plays out.