On Jan. 31, this paper endorsed a new California State University system, which entails Chancellor Timothy White's plan to solve the many ills CSU currently faces. The paper called it "focused, measurable and doable."
But just one sentence later, the paper admitted that while White wants to commit $50 million toward student achievement, he couldn't say where the hefty sum would come from.
The paper neglected to ponder where these cuts would come from. Likely, they will have to come from general fund areas, which will directly affect students' quality of education.
What we end up with is the paper acclaiming a hazy plan while in the same editorial bemoaning that CSU has been crippled by budget cuts for far too long. There is clear cognitive dissonance here.
The editorial then goes on to offer two pointless pointers to White: first, stay focused! Unless White secretly planned on not being focused at his job, this is an empty bromide. Second, it cautions White not to let "powerful unions" distract him from his goal. Sure. Fine. It wouldn't be an editorial from this paper without a flailing whiff at organized labor.
But consider: who exactly are these "powerful unions?" They are the teachers and staff at CSU. The paper implies the rich salaries of these people are somehow responsible for skyrocketing tuition.
However, a basic Internet search would reveal a bevy of recent studies and articles on why tuition in higher education is soaring, and more importantly, where that money isn't going.
Firstly, the paper ignored the exorbitant "retirement salary/farewell packages" of upper management, especially for retiring university presidents. A recent Boston Globe study revealed many universities paying "retired" presidents anywhere from $210,000 to $600,000 a year, for several years. One college president was receiving $1.2 million in "end of service compensation."
Last December, Douglas Belkin and Scott Thurm wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal citing U.S. Department of Education statistics, including this: "Across U.S. higher education, non-classroom costs have ballooned, administrative payrolls being a prime example. The number of employees hired by colleges and universities to manage or administer people, programs and regulations increased 50 percent faster than the number of instructors between 2001 and 2011."
Beyond full-time faculty ranks declining, there is an additional wrinkle -- the reliance on, and exploitation of, part-time faculty. The New York Times highlights this shift in a Feb. 16 editorial citing a report released by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce: "In 1970, adjuncts made up 20 percent of all higher education faculty. Today, they represent half. ... As a rule, adjuncts have few or no benefits. They are generally paid per course, and paid poorly -- the median pay for a standard three-credit course is $2,700."
After exscinding all this information, the paper had the nerve to end the editorial with this exhortation: "Providing these students with a solid, meaningful education will help California become a little wealthier, a little smarter and a lot better place to live."
With one hand, the paper elevated student success and achievement as noble goals. With the other, it discarded the daily efforts and sacrifices of teachers and student-support staff by alluding to them only as a scary, monolithic obstacle instead of as powerful allies to that noble goal.
The paradoxical editorial wants us to accept the absurd premise that teachers and support staff want students to fail while playing no role in their success. Any freshman could tell them their logic doesn't fly. Any freshman doing so would instantly demonstrate academic success and achievement by exercising critical thinking and by exemplifying the use of data over cheap shots.
Philip Hu is a former, full-time, tenured professor at both CSU and community colleges for nearly 20 years. He is now assistant general manager of Public Employees Union, Local 1, an independent union representing more than 13,000 public sector employees in Northern California.