For the thousands of international students and researchers who come to U.S. universities each year, the academy is seen as a beacon of opportunity, where the people who work the hardest and [have] the best ideas rise to the top.
[To] a union representing more than 6,000 postdoctoral scholars (also known as “postdocs”) at the University of California, this promise means something – the majority of our members are immigrants working in the U.S. on guest worker visas, and they are here because they have worked for years to reach the forefront of biology, physics, engineering and other fields. They have already earned PhDs, and come to UC to perform cutting-edge research – think breakthrough cancer therapies, new models for the origin of the universe, stem cell research and more.
Imagine their surprise when after arriving at UC, they are told that although the contract the union negotiated states that health care coverage is available to all postdocs,
The following infographic first appeared with frugaldad.com‘s “College Isn’t Cheap” post and is republished with permission.
As President Obama prepares to nominate his current Chief of Staff, Jack Lew, to the Treasury Secretary position, attention to Lew’s record and loopy signature is at an all-time high. Now, vigilant labor journalist Josh Eidelson has unearthed information on Lew’s pivotal role in busting the NYU grad student union.
The NYU graduate student union, which enjoyed official status from 2000 to 2005, was the only graduate student union to ever exist as a private university. Functioning as a case study for the political swings of the NLRB as well as a number of graduate student and adjunct professor organizing drives, the NYU Graduate Student Union (GSOC) has persevered as an informal organizing group regardless of official recognition.
The GSOC enjoyed support from within NYU and outside of it, and they didn’t lose their official bargaining status without a fight. Eidelson reports for Salon:
While graduate student teachers and researchers are unionized at many public universities,
A few years ago, I was pulled over by the police. I’d reported my car stolen some months earlier and they’d never taken that report out of the system after I’d gotten it back. It was a minor error on their part, but it resulted in a fairly scary moment.
I pulled into a parking lot and noticed a police car behind me, lights on. The officer told me to put my hands out of the car, and open the car from the outside, like on television. When I got out, his gun was pointed at me, and I was handcuffed and placed in the backseat of his car. A few minutes later, he brought me my three-year-old son.
My son, understandably, was terrified, and though the officers cleared up the mistake in a few minutes and bought him a toy (a miniature police car) at the toy store we were going to,
This past June, I walked across the stage in front of thousands of students and family members to receive my bachelor’s degree from UCLA. There was a sea of black robes behind and in front of me, and as I set my feet on the stage and saw the crowd, I felt a rush of excitement. With the diploma in my hand, I felt the weightlessness of unlimited opportunity. Yet I knew that I didn’t get here alone. Two generations before me struggled to give me this chance.
Sitting in the living room at home in Santa Ana, California, my grandfather rocks back and forth as he tells me about his life as a Mexican bracero. Braceros were contract seasonal agricultural laborers who were part of a program between Mexico and the United States that lasted from 1944 to 1962 to help meet the U.S. needs for manual labor. My grandfather would wake up early to go down to the fields.
(The following post first appeared on Dog Park Media and is republished with permission. It describes events that occurred earlier today at a Regents meeting held at the University of California’s Mission Bay campus. A news update can be found here.)
About 500 students are currently blockading entrances to the University of California Board of Regents meeting at UC San Francisco this morning, where the Regents are scheduled to vote on a budget that presumes a 24 percent across-the-board increase on UC tuitions over four years. Picketing students have pledged to shut the meeting down.
According to Charlie Eaton, one of the organizers of the protest and co-author of a report released this week that charged the Regents with employing exotic financial instruments that doubled the UC system’s debt load over three and a half years, as of 8:45 a.m.
Millions of dollars in new tax revenue earmarked for the University of California system as part of the state’s recently passed Proposition 30 will instead be routed to major financial firms, because of bad bets made by a Wall Street-influenced UC Board of Regents.
Over the last decade, tuition and fees for undergraduates in the UC system have tripled, adding enormous debt burdens to UC graduates and pushing lower-income students into the already overburdened state college and community college systems, or out of higher education altogether. Members of the UC Board of Regents, which governs the system and which approved the tuition hikes, have blamed the increases on the bad economy and on politicians.
However, according to a new report written by five doctoral students at UC Berkeley, in the years preceding the 2008 financial collapse, members of the Board of Regents themselves had overseen “a qualitative shift in the financial practices of the University of California” by employing the same kinds of exotic financial instruments that precipitated the meltdown on Wall Street — primarily,
In September, 25,000 Members of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) stood strong on picket lines and flooded the streets of downtown Chicago in rallies, refusing to return to work until the school district and Mayor Rahm Emanuel came closer to their idea of fair in contract negotiations.
They prevailed. The teachers defeated merit pay, forced the district to hire 600 teachers and took care of laid-off workers. In doing so, they showed that teachers’ unions will not lie down, even as privatization encroaches. The teachers and unions also experienced an outpouring of support from activists and the general public.
How did CTU pull it off? What lessons are there to learn from the victory in Chicago?
A recent forum asked how CTU transformed its union in order to draw lessons for the future from the successful campaign. The forum was documented on video (posted above). Featured speakers are:
(The following feature from the American Prospect is reposted with permission. Although it mostly focuses on Propositions 30 and 38, it also examines the leading financial backer of Proposition 32, which Frying Pan News is following in a special series of investigative pieces.)
America has the Koch brothers, and now California has the Munger kids. Unlike the right-wing Kochs, Molly Munger and her brother Charles Jr. entered politics from opposite directions—she’s a liberal Democrat and a champion of inner-city schools; he’s an economic conservative, a social moderate, and a Republican activist. But thanks to the vicissitudes of California politics and the self-absorption that wealth can bring (their father is Charles Munger, a Pasadena attorney and investor who is the longtime vice-chairman of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway investment consortium), they’ve come together in the past couple of days to attack the most important measure on the California ballot: Governor Jerry Brown’s initiative to raise taxes on the rich so that the state’s schools and colleges won’t take a massive fiscal hit immediately following the election.
We all know that the key to our economic future is a more educated workforce, right? Here, for example, are the “Guiding Principles” of President Obama’s education policies: “Providing a high-quality education for all children is critical to America’s economic future. Our nation’s economic competitiveness and the path to the American Dream depend on providing every child with an education that will enable them to succeed in a global economy that is predicated on knowledge and innovation.”
Now it’s certainly true that a good education is still the best ticket – other than inheriting wealth – to entering the middle class. In the simplest terms, Americans with a Bachelor’s degree or more earn more than the average wage and those with an Associate’s degree earn less. So it makes sense for us to encourage our children to get a good education. But is the president’s assertion that the path to the American Dream in the new global economy depends on providing every child with a good education true?
(Update, June 17: A United Teachers L.A. bulletin has announced the 58-42 percent membership approval of the agreement discussed below.)
My neighbor Rena found her life’s work at the age of 50. Today, 10 years later, she could lose that work and her profession teaching English as a second language.Thousands of teachers in L.A. this week are voting on a proposed agreement to reduce their own pay in order to save adult and early childhood education programs, teacher-librarians, counselors and nurses, and to reduce class sizes. It’s a deal that would make most of us blanch – threaten our own family’s economic health for the common good? No thanks.
In fact, by refusing to raise property and other taxes in California, we’ve essentially left it to the teachers to volunteer for the sacrifices the rest of us are not willing to make for the welfare of our state’s public school children.
I am just a girl who can’t say “no.” In my youth this was actually a fun quality, but now it means that I spend a lot of time manning concession booths, volunteering in Sunday school classrooms, and doing whatever else the local Uber Mom has tasked me with. But make no mistake, I am not the Uber Mom. The Uber Mom is the mom who is always in charge. She knows everyone, runs every volunteer effort, and cooks absolutely everything from scratch.
One thing I have noticed about these moms, whose astounding accomplishments are both impressive and deeply annoying (homemade marshmallows? really?), is that they are not dispersed evenly through society. This became particularly apparent to me when my own children moved from a private and rather expensive pre-school to a public school in LAUSD. Overnight we went (as my husband likes to point out) from being young,
First the Beverly Hills Unified School District ended its tradition of allowing B.H.-adjacent kids to attend that posh city’s schools. Now the local PTA is fighting tooth and French nail to keep subway trains from traveling under Beverly Hills High School via the proposed Westside Subway Extension. The subway has been planned to run through a nine-mile tunnel connecting the current Wilshire and Western terminus of the Purple Line to downtown Santa Monica.
The PTA, according to a Los Angeles Times piece, has released a scare video that predicts “a doomsday scenario” in which students could be incinerated in the event a train somehow ignites a plume of subterranean methane gas left over from the oil wells the school was built on. But if the school is sitting on such a potential box of dynamite, why isn’t it shut down immediately – with or without a subway?
By Jennifer Medina
(Note: This feature appeared on the New York Times Web site February 1.)
CLAREMONT, Calif. — The dining hall workers had been at Pomona College for years, some even decades. For a few, it was the only job they had held since moving to the United States.
Then late last year, administrators at the college delivered letters to dozens of the longtime employees asking them to show proof of legal residency, saying that an internal review had turned up problems in their files.
Seventeen workers could not produce documents showing that they were legally able to work in the United States. So on Dec. 2, they lost their jobs.
Now, the campus is deep into a consuming debate over what it means to be a college with liberal ideals, with some students, faculty and alumni accusing the administration and the board of directors of betraying the college’s ideals.
Budget cuts are bleeding the University of California system. Tuition and fees are skyrocketing. Admission rates of California residents declined this year at all but one of the university’s 10 campuses. (California also operates 23 colleges known as state universities.) All this seems a far cry from the university’s trajectory set more than 50 years ago, and it is turning high school students like myself away from the schools that once seemed so appealing.
Now in the heat of college applications season, many seniors are wondering if the U.C.s are worth attending at all. Earlier this week the university’s regents, fearing massive demonstrations, cancelled a San Francisco meeting scheduled to discuss raising U.C. student fees. Today at Cal State University Long Beach, as protesters chanted outside the chancellor’s office, trustees voted to raise state university tuitions yet again.
When tuition hikes are regular news and corresponding student sit-ins and protests are commonplace,
The L.A. Times had two interesting pieces on college football this last season. The second (don’t worry, I’ll get to the first), is an editorial calling on the NCAA to reform the sport by improving conditions for the so-called amateurs who generate millions of dollars every Saturday.
The piece calls for some sensible and straight-forward steps, largely echoing the basic demands of the National College Players Association, a project sponsored by the United Steelworkers.
Its heart, however, comes from a fantastic piece in The Atlantic by Taylor Branch, best known for his trilogy of books about the civil rights movement; if you haven’t read them, your life is incomplete. That gives him a certain moral authority in describing what he calls “The Shame of College Sports.” Go read this piece. It’s long, but worth it.
Okay, it’s long,
Today’s uncertainty is tomorrow’s unemployment. At least that’s the way it seems to most of us who are teens and young adults. And so far, no one’s told us different.
We are growing anxious. The job market is down. College tuition is up. More and more, it feels as though the deck is stacked against us, with government busy looking out for the unemployed of the present, neglecting the unemployed of the future, and the private sector ignoring the unemployed all together.
Beyond that, we face a decision that seems to be lose-lose. If we graduate high school — which, believe me, many of us do not — we have the choice to go to college (if we can get in) or start hunting for work (if we can get an interview). The former situation guarantees us hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt over our next few decades.