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InformED Report 11/07/16

Faculty Members at 14 State Universities in Pennsylvania Go on Strike

Erin McCann and Richard Perez-Pena | The New York Times | Twitter McCann | Twitter Perez-Pena

Thousands of faculty members went on strike Wednesday at 14 Pennsylvania state colleges and universities — a rare escalation in higher education, but one that reflects increasingly widespread tensions between administrators and their faculties.

The walkout is the first in the nearly 34-year history of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education and is one of a handful of faculty strikes around the country in recent years. The Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties, which represents the faculty members and coaches, has been without a contract since June 30, 2015.

Just this year, professors at two of the nation’s largest public university systems came close to striking; a threatened faculty walkout was just days away at the California State University, and weeks away at the City University of New York when new contracts were reached. And more labor disputes are expected in the wake of a landmark ruling in August by the National Labor Relations Board that students who work as research and teaching assistants can unionize and demand to be treated as employees.

“Labor issues are far more prominent on the radar screen of higher education than they were 10 or 20 years ago,” said Terry W. Hartle, senior vice president of the American Council on Education, the nation’s largest association of colleges and universities.

To read more visit The New York Times

What students, faculty are saying about the state university strike

Jacqueline Palochko, Andrew Wagaman and Christina Tatu | The Morning Call | Twitter

What students are saying:
  • “We’ve organized together because we believe in the things the faculty are fighting for. We’re against all the fundamental changes the state is trying to push through to alter the higher education structure. We’re also here to support the faculty and really show them that we appreciate the work they’re doing and the fact that they’re out here fighting on the line for us.” — Liv Sun, 19, Kutztown sophomore arts education major, student coordinator of #PASSHEstudentpower:
  • “All students should be out here. These people are out here fighting our education, so why shouldn’t we be out here supporting them too? The people up in Harrisburg, they aren’t fighting for us. They’re fighting to make themselves more money. “I’ll be out here every day I can because they need the support.” —Morgan Reusthe, 20, Kutztown junior management major
  • “They’re not telling us anything. We were told to still go to class. We don’t have any answers, so we’re just going with the flow.” “I think it’s kind of selfish. We’re stuck with not having any teachers.” —— Lydia Wiley, 18, Kutztown, freshman special education major:
  • “I have nothing better to do … My roommate agreed to text me with updates on what’s going on.” — Kutztown freshman Katie Drury, who was heading to her car to go home to New Jersey.
  • “My professors told us not to go to class, but the school told us to show up just in case. It’s all very vague. I just hope it doesn’t affect our credits.” — Thalita Soto, Kutztown sophomore

To read more visit The Morning Call

Breakthrough In Strike By Pennsylvania Professors

Sonari Glinton | NPR | Twitter

Striking professors reached a tentative three-year contract Friday with the state of Pennsylvania. Faculty members had gone on strike Wednesday at 14 public colleges and universities across the state, according to Katie Meyers of NPR member station WITF.

The Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties and Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education came to an impasse earlier this week. Faculty in the system had been working without a contract for more than a year before union members went on strike.

“I wouldn’t say we got what we wanted,” Kenneth Mash, APSCUF’s president, tells NPR. “They were attempting to diminish quality in order to save money, and we fought that back, or we fought most of it back.”

The agreement includes pay increases and allows the state to reduce health care costs. The union had previously said the state wanted to cut wages for adjunct professors and have graduate students teach more classes, and those proposals were withdrawn.

The deal still must be ratified by the union and the state system’s board of governors.

To read more visit NPR

These states are spending less on education now than before the Great Recession

Emma Brown | The Washington Post | Twitter

When the Great Recession hit, states trimmed — and in some cases slashed — their budgets for public services, including for education. As the recession ended and the economy improved, some states began restoring funds to schools. But by 2014, 35 states were still spending less per student than they did in 2008, before the recession took hold, according to a report released Thursday.

Data for total state education spending in the current school year isn’t yet available. But looking just at general (or “formula”) funding, which comprises the bulk of education spending in most states, 23 states are continuing to spend less per student in the 2016-2017 school year than they were in 2008, according to the report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a left-leaning think tank.

In too many states, “public investment in K-12 schools, which are crucial for communities to thrive and the U.S. economy to offer broad opportunity, has declined dramatically in recent years,” said Michael Leachman, a co-author of the report.

Here are the states with the biggest declines in total state spending from 2008 to 2014, on the left, and 2008 to 2017, on the right:

To read more visit The Washington Post

Greed Is Destroying K-12 Education System

We now know the results of rampant greed among the politicians in those states that are cutting education budgets in their K-12 school systems. They would rather preserve the wealth of the wealthiest one percent than see any value in governments or governing of any kind. The cuts are for the most part in red states, causing their educational systems to crumble, which destroys the seed-corn of our democracy: educated children.

The CBPP Center on Public Policies and Priorities just published a study on what has happened to our public school systems in many of those states.

“At least 23 states will provide less “general” or “formula” funding—the primary form of state support for elementary and secondary schools—in the current school year (2017) than when the Great Recession took hold in 2008, our survey of state budget documents finds,” said the CBPP. “Eight states have cut general funding per student by about 10 percent or more over this period. Five of those eight —Arizona, Kansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin enacted income tax rate cuts costing tens or hundreds of millions of dollars each year rather than restore education funding.”

And this is when there are 1.1 million more K-12 students to educate. The poster child for this red-state backlash is Governor Scott Walker’s Wisconsin, which because of an all-Republican legislature and majority Supreme Court has been able to enact draconian budget-cutting policies, as well as cutting taxes on the wealthiest—that included a ban on public employees collective bargaining (except for police and fire), and cutting the University of Wisconsin’s budget in order to turn it into a ‘trade school’, in his words. The result is projected to be a $2.2 billion state budget deficit over the next 2 years.

To read more visit The Huffington Post

Obama highlights record high school graduation rate

Allie Maloy | CNN Politics | Twitter

President Barack Obama touted the highest US high school graduation rate on record Monday while visiting a high school in Washington and encouraged students to continue their education.

“When we understand that no matter what you look like, where you come from, what faith you are, whether you’re a boy or a girl, that you should have great opportunities to succeed and that requires you to put effort into it,” Obama told students at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School.

The White House announced earlier that US high school graduation rates for the 2014-2015 school year was the highest number on record at 83.2%, although significant disparities still exist between groups of students.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, every group — from race to low-income students to those with disabilities — had increases in graduation rates, although the numbers vary from group to group.

Obama spoke about the importance of furthering education past high school and stressed to the students in the audience to fill out FAFSA forms, but also said more needs to be done by federal and state governments to improve education and funding for higher education.

To read more visit CNN Politics

High school graduation rate hits record high of 83.2 percent

The Associated Press | Washington’s Top News 

President Barack Obama welcomed the higher rate as good news, but the gains come against a backdrop of decreasing scores on national math and reading tests.

Education Secretary John B. King Jr. acknowledged worries about sagging achievement. “A higher graduation rate is meaningful progress, but certainly we share the concern that we have more work to do to make sure every student graduates ready for what’s next,” he said.

Obama visited Benjamin Banneker Academic High School, a magnet school in the District of Columbia, to tout the graduation rate for the 2014-2015 school year. “More African-American and Latino students are graduating than ever before,” he said.

Gains also were seen for disabled students and those from low-income families.

The District of Columbia made the most progress in the U.S. in 2014-2015 compared to the previous year, improving its graduation rate by 7 percentage points.

Obama applauded the high school for graduating all its seniors. “It’s been awhile since I did math, but 100 percent is good. You can’t do better than that,” Obama told the audience, which included King, former Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Mayor Muriel Bowser, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

At the same time, he also warned the students they would need more than a high school diploma to succeed in today’s job market. He said that repetitive work done in factories or offices can now be done by machine. They would need critical thinking skills.

To read more visit WTOP

InformED Report is brought to you in cooperation with American ED TV and MindRocket Media Group

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