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National leaders discuss organizing, funding ideas at 4th Campaign for the Future of Higher Ed meeting

 

January 23, 2013

The 4th national meeting of the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education last weekend took on some of the toughest challenges confronting the faculty across the country, including the hard-sell push toward online education and the harsh cuts to public funding of state colleges and universities.

Leaders of faculty, students, and higher education staff from 14 states and national organizations heard Jonathan Potter of the Chicago Teachers Union describe the revitalization of his union to take on attacks against teachers and public education.

His talk on “Lessons Learned from the Recent Chicago Teachers’ Strike,” which detailed how teachers built strongly unified faculty-community support for the schools, earned a standing ovation. Faculty participants lauded the connection between teachers and college faculty and noted the similarities in what all educators at all levels are up against.

Learn about the Chicago Teachers Union athttp://www.ctunet.com/

The meeting also followed up on a previous decision to develop new ideas on how to fund public higher education and public support for students.

Three funding ideas were presented as papers that CFHE will release to stimulate discussion and to foster public hearings and other action at the state and national levels.

CFHE participating groups decided to take the three papers back to their respective states and campuses as examples of thinking that will actually rebuild, rather than tear down, public support for higher education. They will write opinion articles in their respective regional media on funding and take the papers as examples to policy makers.

One of these papers, by Bob Samuels, president of the AFT local that represents UC Lecturers, mapped the math that shows it is possible to “Make All Public Higher Education Free” to students by refocusing the money the states and federal government already spend.

Economist and AAUP national president Rudy Fichtenbaum’s paper shows how a very small “Financial Speculation Tax” would not only fund all public higher education in our nation but also help to stabilize the U.S. economy.

Stanton Glantz and Eric Hays, officers in the Council of UC Faculty Associations, provided the calculations on how much money per taxpayer it would take to “reset” higher education funding in California to a more reasonable, recent level. Alert: Not all that much. They are now working on similar calculations for other states.

Meeting attendees also heard about and debated a “Pay it Forward” funding model that would allow students to attend school without advance tuition and to pay a small percentage of their income in the future to fund the next generation of students.

Watch CFA Headlines for the public release of the CFHE funding ideas papers and for a link to a soon-to-be-launched web site to discuss and share ideas on “Funding Higher Education: The Search for New Possibilities.”

Finally, CFHE heard a panel discussion by four faculty members who teach online. They presented ideas on what does and does not work and on how to ensure students get the best possible education using online tools.

They cited some positives. Their students write a lot, since discussion is online. Every student can contribute a thought. It is helpful for non-traditional students with difficult schedules in locations far from a campus.

On the other hand, students indicate they sorely miss the face-to-face college experience. And the faculty cited high attrition rates; they said it works better for experienced students with strong foundations in learning and may be problematic for under-prepared students and for remedial classes.

The group decided to call for papers about online education similar to the papers developed on funding. Specific ideas and papers will be discussed at the 5th meeting of CFHE to take place in Ohio in May.

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