UFF-FAU

United Faculty of Florida-Florida Atlantic University Chapter

  • Apr
    11

    April 11, 2012. Chorus grows stronger over MJ Saunders’ high-handed style and forced austerity

    Responding to deep cuts in the summer course schedule at Florida Atlantic University, faculty and students are planning protests against what they call unfair and arbitrary reductions which will hurt students, faculty, and academic programs.

    In response they are planning protest rallies on the west steps of the administration building on the Boca Raton campus.  The first, organized by students, will be held at 2 p.m. on Thursday, April 12.

    The second, organized by the UFF-FAU and supported by students, will be held on Wednesday, April 18 at 12 noon.  In addition, everyone is invited to make protest signs in the lobby of the Culture and Society Building at 5 on Monday, April 16.

    Administrators have cut almost a thousand courses from 2011, about a third of the total.

    FAU was hit by the Florida Legislature last month with an unprecedented $30 million in budget cuts for the coming year.  In all, the eleven public universities have lost $730 million in state funding since 2008, and will lose another $300 million this year, half from appropriations and half from their own reserves.

    This last legislative move prompted Moody’s Investors Service to take the unusual step of publicly criticizing the Legislature for damaging the universities’ credit.  Meanwhile, the Legislature and Governor gave corporations another $80 million in tax breaks in addition to the billions they’ve received in recent years, while cutting hospitals and nursing homes in addition to universities.  State colleges have endured similar cutbacks.

    “It’s bad enough that the Legislature and Governor are undermining our state’s future by slashing higher education.  But the university is compounding the problem by using a top-down, one-size-fits-all approach to summer cuts,” said Chris Robe, president of the faculty union, the United Faculty of Florida – FAU.

    Robe points out that cuts have been imposed unilaterally from the provost’s office with virtually no regard for students’ needs or faculty advice in particular programs.  The cuts are also insensitive to the needs of FAU students, many of whom are non-traditional students who have jobs and families, and cannot afford to delay graduation for a semester or a year because a required course is not offered in the summer, and who are thus more likely to drop out.

    In her message to students and parents on the front page of FAU’s web site, President Mary Jane Saunders says that “the most important thing you need to know is that nothing has changed for you at FAU.  Students are still our first priority, and we remain committed to helping you progress steadily toward your degree.  As in the past, we will continue to offer all courses needed for graduation.” http://www.fau.edu/explore/homepage-stories/2012_03budgetcut.php.

    However, a March 21 memorandum from Provost Brenda Claiborne instructs deans and chairs to cut all courses from the summer 2012 schedule which during summer 2011 did not enroll at least 24 students in undergraduate courses or 11 students in graduate courses.  While the provost leaves room open for exceptions, some programs have been hurt very badly, others not at all.

    According to faculty and students in various departments, this edict ignores the need for small classes in lab and studio courses with prerequisites, many of which have simply been cancelled because they did not enroll 24 students last summer.  While some programs have accreditation requirements which protect their course sequences from arbitrary disruptions, some of these programs were cut anyway, while others were not.

    Students in Education, Business, Science, the Visual Arts and elsewhere have had their progress toward graduation interrupted and their lives put on hold.  In other departments, students and faculty have had their class sizes arbitrarily increased, with little regard for academic quality, to accommodate the smaller course offerings, and the problems promise to compound themselves in the fall and spring terms because of delays to student graduation.

    In a follow-up memorandum dated April 10, the provost appears finally to begin to listen to faculty and students and add some courses, but much unnecessary damage has already been done.  Many students have already opted to enroll elsewhere this summer, and faculty summer plans have been disrupted.  Faculty and student leaders remain determined to keep the pressure on until their voices are heard.

    Monique Paramore, a graduate student in Education who is organizing the protest to be held April 12, also created a petition to FAU administrators at http://www.signon.org/sign/students-in-opposition/.  In addition to attracting over 700 signers so far, the petition contains comments from students in numerous programs describing the negative consequences of cancelled courses.  Ms. Paramore describes her protest in these terms:  “I and several other students are concerned with the university’s decision to cut certain courses necessary to our graduation.  On Tuesday the 27th, I created a petition concerning this matter. I currently have 723 signatures and comments. I/we understand the need for certain cuts but I feel that when this decision was made the university failed to take into consideration the differences among departments, the different class schedules, and the specific needs of each program.

    I received my undergraduate degree from FAU and have continued to be a dedicated Owl. I am hurt and upset at the way the university has handled this matter. I created this petition to bring attention and awareness to this situation. Even after the petition gained several hundred signatures, the administration refused to answer our questions, listen to our suggestions or simply apologize. So I decided to continue my protest by leading my fellow students in a rally against the course cuts. All I/we want is the opportunity to get some questions answered and to figure out our options as it pertains to future class offerings and graduation. We simply want the chance to suggest other options and to have our voices as well as those of our department leaders heard!”

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  • Aug
    12

    August 12, 2010. NEA’s “Speak Up for Education & Kids” campaign propels Education Jobs bill through House.

    (Received 8-10-10)

    Just moments ago, the House passed the education jobs/FMAP bill by a vote of 247-161 . We will forward the roll call vote as soon as it is available. This means the bill only has to go to the President for signature and it becomes law!!! The President will sign the bill this evening at 5:00pm, so that the implementation process can begin immediately! New figures from the U.S. Department of Education estimate that some 161,000 educators who had received pink slips will be heading back to school this fall.

    This victory is a result of an amazing team effort involving every level of this Association. The participation by members, the multiple contacts with every single congressional office, the calls, e-mails, and personal visits by affiliate leaders and staff were unprecedented. Together, we put together an unstoppable, persistent campaign that spanned the breadth of the Association, worked tirelessly on our members’ behalf, and overcame multiple pronouncements of the bill’s death by the press, advocates, and Members of Congress.

    Our efforts were recognized as very impressive by congressional leaders, the media, our allies, and most importantly, by our members. The following provides a short summary of our campaign efforts, along with a brief discussion of next steps, including immediate actions we are taking to thank Members of Congress as well as efforts to make sure you have all the information you need about how states will receive the funds.

    NEA’S EDUCATION JOBS CAMPAIGN: We launched a national “Speak Up for Education & Kids” campaign plus a targeted media campaign to draw attention to the education jobs crisis. Mobilizing NEA members: · 101,636 phone calls were made to congressional offices, including patch-thru programs and our toll-free Speak Up line. · 3,642 members signed petitions in support of education jobs funding. · 32 Affiliate presidents recorded robo calls, which went out to 1.1 million NEA members. · We sent out 42,000 postcards for our members to share their story and deliver to their member of Congress. These postcards were delivered back home and during Capitol Hill visits in Washington, D.C., by Association leaders. · 21,000 organizing packets were developed for state Representative Assemblies and other local meetings. Packets included petitions, worksite flyers, and the postcards mentioned above. · NEA sent 14,264 text messages to our activists with legislative updates and calls to action. · A number of state Presidents/Execs/leaders dropped everything to fly into DC to make personal visits to key

    Senators: o AR, Donna Moray – Senator Pryor o CA, David Sanchez – Senator Feinstein o CO, (meeting in CO) – Senators Bennet; Udall o FL, Eric Riley – Senator Nelson o IA, Chris Bern – Senator Harkin o IL, (in state calls): Jim Reed, Cinda Klickna – Senator Durbin o IN, Teresa Meredith – Senator Bayh o LA, Joyce Haynes – Senators Landrieu, Vitter o MA, Paul Toner – Senator Brown o MD , Clara Floyd– Senators Cardin; Mikulski o ME, Rob Walker, Tom Major – Senators Collins; Snowe o MI, Joyce LaLonde o MO, Paula Hodges o NM, Sharon Morgan – Senator Bingaman, Senator Udall o OH , Pat Frost-Brooks – Senators Brown; Voinovich o OR, Jerry Caruthers – Senators Wyden; Merkley o SD, Sandy Arsenault – Senator Johnson o VA, Rob Jones – Senator Webb o WA, John Okamoto – Senators Murray; Cantwell NEA members who had been laid off came to DC for personal Hill visits: ·

    Nine states sent member lobbyists to D.C. Twelve Member Lobbyists and four Local Leaders came to D.C. Fourteen House and twelve Senate offices were visited: o CA, Laid off Teachers: Clarissa Barragan, Brianna Clegg, Christopher Rieder; Local leaders: Peter Boyd, Bradford Barnes, Tahnya Noder, John Seybold; Visited Rep. Jane Harman, Rep. Jim Costa, Rep. Dennis Cardoza, Rep. Loretta Sanchez, Sen. Feinstein o IL, Angie Hallock, visited Sen. Durbin, Rep. Quigley, Rep. Foster o IN, Lisa Koester visited Rep. Ellsworth, Rep. Donnelly, Rep. Hill, Sen. Bayh (staff Jonathan) o LA, Carla Lowe visited Sen. Landrieu, Sen. Vitter o ME, Lee Libby visited Sen. Collins, Sen. Snowe o MA, John Lynch visited Sen. Brown o MO, Jeffrey “Tof” McWilliams visited Sen. McCaskill, Sen. Bond o NC, Gina Frutig visited Rep. McIntyre, Rep. Price, Rep. Shuler, Rep. Butterfield, Sen. Hagan; Bethany Banks visited Sen. Hagan o OK, Mitzi Ridinger visited Sen. Inhofe, Rep. Boren ·

    The Massachusetts Teachers Association sent an Action Alert from member lobbyist John Lynch · The Maine Education Association sent an action alert to members highlighting the efforts of member lobbyist Lee Libby. · Back Home press was done after the visits in CA, IN, ME, and NC · NEA Today Stories: Laid-off Oklahoma Teacher to Congress: ‘Our Kids Need Your Help’; Laid-Off Educators Go to Washington to Fight for Jobs Legislative and Political Advocacy: · Every congressional office was contacted—multiple contacts were made with all 100 Senate offices and all targeted House members. NEA lobbyists made hundreds of in-person visits with congressional offices on the jobs issue. NEA staff visited every Senate and House offer to hand-deliver letters, state-state-by charts showing jobs that would be created, and other materials. · NEA Board members visited 243 congressional offices in May. · NEA field staff members in town for a meeting visited 37 congressional offices and delivered 35 education jobs information packets to 35 additional House targets. · NEA staff and governance had numerous conversations with Department of Education and White House staff about the need to pass an education jobs fund. · Over 280 delegates at the NEA Representative Assembly videotaped messages to their Senators in support of the jobs bill (http://www.youtube.com/user/NEAABS). NEA sent links to these video messages to the Senate offices. · Our intergovernmental relations staff made countless contacts with intergovernmental organizations and state and local elected officials, including highlighting the issue at the National Conference of State

    Legislatures meeting, and working closely with the DGA. The result was an unprecedented show of support from elected leaders, including letters from governors (NC, MA, OR, MD, IL, IA, KS, CO, OH, MI). Letters from governors are posted on the NEA website (www.nea.org/lac). In addition, three governors released press statements in support of the jobs package (NV, OR, IA); 25 governor s signed a letter supporting FMAP and an extension of the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (AR, CO, DE, IL, IA, KS, KY, ME, MD, MA, MI, NH, NM, NY, NC, OH, OR, TN, VI, WA, WI); and 25 governors signed a letter in support of the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010 (AR, CO, DE, IL, IA, KS, ME, MD, MA, MI, MT, NM, NY, NC, NH, OH, OK, OR, PA, TN, VI, WA, WI, WV). Social Media: We used the Education Votes website (www.educationvotes.nea.org), the Legislative Action Center (www.nea.org/lac), Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/#!/speakupforkids), and Twitter (http://twitter.com/NEAtoday)—to mobilize members to contact their Members of Congress about the education jobs bill.

    The Speak Up for Education & Kids Facebook page now has 35,621 fans and is still growing. · 301,126 e-mails were sent to Congress through our Legislative Action Center and we garnered 145,786 NEW e-mail activists. · State and local affiliates sent hundreds of thousands of emails to members. · We had 60,460 visits to the Education Votes website and 92,889 page views. · Over 350 personal stories about the impact of layoffs were submitted through the Education Votes site. · Our NEA Today on line site (www.neatoday.org) posted 47 stories on the jobs campaign.

    Earned /Paid Media: · Television spots (http://www.educationvotes.nea.org/speakup/) aired in 3 states and Washington, D.C. The markets were: Tallahassee and Panama City (FL-02 Boyd); Mobile (AL-01 Bonner); Lexington (KY-06 Chandler), and Washington, D.C. · Radio ads (http://www.educationvotes.nea.org/speakup/) ran in 12 markets, with more than a thousand spots total. Ads aired in these districts: AR-01 Barry, AR-04 Ross, CO-03 Salazar, FL-02 Boyd, GA-02 Bishop, IN-08 Ellsworth, MD-01 Kratovil, TX-17 Edwards.

    Internet ads ran in 7 markets, with at least 2 million impressions. Internet ads ran in AL-01 Bonner, CA-20 Schiff, IN-08 Ellsworth, FL-02 Boyd, KY-06 Chandler, OK-04 Cole, TX-17 Edwards, and on The Hill website. We also ran an ad that took over the front page of The Hill’s website. · Print ads ran in 12 markets (29 papers) and in The Hill. Markets included: AR-01 Barry, CO-03 Salazar, FL-02 Boyd, GA-02 Bishop, IL-10 Kirk, IN-08 Ellsworth, KY-06 Chandler, MD-01 Kratovil, OK-04 Cole, PA-08 Murphy, TN-04 Davis, TX-17 Edwards. The Hill ads ran on 5/26 and5/27.

    We scored interviews on national news outlets—including CBS News, NBC News, MSNBC, FOX News, The Fox Report, CNN, C-SPAN, New York Times, Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, McClatchy wire service, Associated Press, USA Today, NPR, and CBS Radio. We also leveraged national events—like the naming of the 2010 Teacher of the Year and President Obama’s commencement address at a high school in Michigan—to draw more public attention to the education jobs bill.

    Dennis Van Roekel participated in a press conference with Representative Obey (D-WI), Senator Harkin (D-IA), and Secretary Duncan in May. This event generated considerable press coverage, including in the Washington Post and on CNN radio. Coalition work: Through our extensive coalition efforts, we:

    • Gained the support of over 190 diverse organizations for passage of the education jobs bill.
    • Built a solid union coalition along with the AFL-CIO, AFSCME, AFT, and SEIU that hung together and ran–with the cooperation and engagement of our state affiliate leaders–coalition grasstops efforts on the ground in 10 swing Senate states.
    • Helped solidify the education community’s voice and activities, notably through engagement in our Speak Up effort, Learning First Alliance coordination and outreach, Forum on Educational Accountability actions, and collaborative work through the Committee on Education Funding.
    • Launched a major initiative to gain parent and family voices in support of the jobs legislation, including specific outreach and collaborative work with the National PTA, Public Education Network, National Coalition for Parental Involvement in Education, Coalition of Title I Parents, Coalition of Community Schools, Boys and Girls Clubs, and NEA’s Public Engagement participants.
    • Engaged in a major outreach effort to the ethnic minority and civil rights communities, gaining visible support for the education jobs legislation from a wide array of these organizations, including action alerts and member involvement from American Indian Higher Education Consortium, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), ASPIRA, Black Women’s Roundtable (BTR), Latino Elected and Appointed Officials National Task Force on education, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), National Association for Asian Pacific American Education (NAAPAE), National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL), National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (NCBCP), National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL), the National Indian Education Association and the National Indian School Board Association (NISBA).
    • We will be sending you additional materials and information in future e-mails and ask that you keep an eye out for those communications. Thank yous to Members of Congress:
    • We have already sent out a press release (see attached) praising Speaker Pelosi for calling the House back in and urging people to vote for the bill.
    • We will be pitching an op-ed by Dennis Van Roekel to media outlets following the vote. Dennis will also appear on MSNBC today. · Thank you letters will go to all Members of the House who supported the bill.
    • Thank you letters were sent last week to Senators who voted for the bill.
    • We have updated our Legislative Action Center to provide talking points to thank Members who voted yes and express disappointment to those who voted against the bill.
    • We will be sending out a special “Ed Insider” this afternoon to all NEA cyberlobbyists urging them to thank Members of Congress. · Stories about the victory will be posted on neatoday.org and Education Votes and will also appear in the next NEA Express and NEA Today publications.
    • We have already run print ads in Maine, Washington State, and Nevada thanking Senators Snowe, Collins, Murray, and Reid (see Reid ad attached). Additional thank you ads and other media activities are planned.

    NEXT STEPS: We will be undertaking a number of steps in the coming days and weeks both to thank Members of Congress who supported us and to ensure that you have all the information you need regarding how states will receive the funds.

    Distribution of Funds: Governors have 30 days to apply for the money; otherwise, Secretary Duncan can distribute it to another entity/entities, such as school districts. You should have received an initial e-mail from us yesterday with preliminary information about the bill and implementation issues. It is very important that affiliates:

    1. Contact, preferably in writing, your state department of education and/or your governor’s office and urge them to apply immediately for the money;

    2. Figure out which distribution method – the state funding formula or Title I formula – will save the most jobs in your state, based on the density of layoffs.

    We are also working with the U.S. Department of Education on guidance about the urgency of getting this money to flow.

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