So Cal education, LAUSD, the Cal States and the UCs

Education and the 2012 election: A strategist's analysis

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"The governor [has] got to get out there and say 'Look, this is the California that I envisioned, and in that California, schools play a critical role. It's about the future of our kids. It's about the future of the state and the country. And this is how [Prop.] 30 fits into that," said Darry Sragow, a longtime political strategist.

Over the weekend, I spoke with Darry Sragow, an attorney and longtime Democratic strategist, about education's role in the 2012 election. Sragow has worked on several school bond campaigns at L.A. Unified and the Los Angeles Community College District. I picked his brain on the role of education in the national debate this election season. I also got some of his thoughts on the campaigns for Prop. 30 and Prop. 38. Educators throughout the state support the two initiatives to raise taxes in the hope that voters will approve them next month and school budgets will be saved.

Q: Why is education not really figuring into the national debate during this election season?

A: Education is usually in California the No. 1 issue. If it's not education, it's the economy, and at the moment, it's the economy. Education is not an issue most voters think can be inherently dealt with at a national level. Schools are local and so voters inherently expect to have a dialogue about education in local races and maybe in state races in their state, but it's really a national issue only in a very broad policy sense. That's not insignificant, because at a national level you can set standards, "No Child Left Behind," things like that. But it's tough to address it concretely in the national race. Plus, of course, the big national issue is jobs.

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UC Riverside Chancellor Timothy White chosen to lead 23-campus California State University system

Timothy White

Steven Cuevas/KPCC

Timothy White

After four years as head of U.C. Riverside, Timothy White is leaving that job to become chancellor of the massive California State University system. Cal State made the announcement Thursday after it completed final interviews earlier this week.

White becomes the seventh chancellor of the Cal State system. He’ll take over the nation’s largest university system amid major budget cuts, tuition increases, and reductions in courses and enrollment that have affected the system’s 427,000 students.

“I actually feel very humbled, very honored, very grateful but also very prepared in order to go forward,” White said in a conference call announcing his appointment.

Exiting Cal State chancellor Charles Reed praised White’s selection. “I am really pleased and proud that the board has selected somebody that really understands the California State University mission,” Reed said.

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Cal State trustees allow outside input in chancellor selection process

Ari Lynn Day/Flickr

A sky view of Cal State Fullerton. Cal State trustees announced a list of institutional stake-holders who will participate in the final chancellor interviews next week.

California State University trustees are trying something new as they approach the final stage of hiring a new university chancellor.

On Tuesday, trustees announced a list of institutional stake-holders who will participate in the final candidate interviews next week.

The group includes Cal State Fullerton President Mildred Garcia and Cal State L.A. President Jim Rosser, CSU professors Diana Guerin and James Postma, former trustee Herb Carter, Cal State San Bernardino student David Allison, alumnus Guy Heson and CSU Long Beach staffer Vonetta Augustine.

Cal State spokeswoman Claudia Keith said the university received dozens of online suggestions for the hiring of a new chancellor. “This was in response to some of those requests for additional folks to be in an advisory capacity to our board as they make their decision,” she said.

The California Faculty Association bashed the chancellor hiring process, saying it was shutting out external input in the chancellor selection process. Spokeswoman Keith said the creation of the external advisory group was not a response to the association’s criticism. Keith wouldn’t say how many people are finalists to run the 427,000-student university system.

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Cal State administrators accused of crossing line in Prop. 30 advocacy

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Members of the California Faculty Association at a protest last year. The California State University trustees want to warn students that enrollment and other cuts are likely if voters do not approve an education tax increase on November's ballot.

People fired off a lot of gun analogies at the California State University board of trustees meeting on Tuesday.

Cal State system chancellor Charles Reed told members of CSU’s finance committee that the university needs to raise undergraduate tuition by 5% in case Proposition 30 – a tax increase for education measure – fails at the polls in November.

“There is an automatic trigger and nobody has to do anything. It gets pulled midnight November 6th. The Department of Finance will notify the CSU that we will need to cut our budget an additional $250 million,” Reed said.

To dodge that bullet, Reed said, the university needs to raise revenue with tuition increases.

“I figure, if they can have a trigger, we can have a trigger.”

If Prop. 30 wins, Cal State roll back a nine percent tuition increase that hundreds of thousands of students have had to pay starting this semester. But the 15 Cal State Trustees and the presidents of the 23 campuses - a ready force of high caliber campaign workers – must adhere to limits on how strongly they can advocate for the ballot measure.

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Cal State faculty finally strike a deal in 2-year contract negotiations

After two and a half years of litigious negotiations, protests and a strike vote, faculty at the 23 Cal State campuses overwhelmingly approved a new contract with the university system.

Union members didn’t gain much – the 1% across-the-board salary increase they’d asked for was a no-go. But they did manage to stave off even more cuts.

Lillian Taiz, president of the California Faculty Association, said it was imperative for future negotiations not to concede too much in this round.

“Not being in a hole is a real victory,” Taiz said and added, “We got some small things for our members…Really important elements.” 

Those elements included preventing wage cuts for summer school and extension course faculty, and securing 3-year contracts for part-time lecturer faculty. That’ll provide some job security for more than half the teaching staff at Cal State campuses.

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