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.


Race should be part of college admissions process, UC officials say in briefs

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The U.S. Supreme Court will take on the latest chapter in affirmative-action related cases when it hears Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin in October. California and UC, among dozens of others, filed briefs in support of the university's use of race in its admissions decisions.

The state of California, the University of California and dozens of other groups filed briefs today in support of the University of Texas at Austin in a U.S. Supreme Court case challenging its use of race in undergraduate admissions decisions.

Fisher vs. University of Texas at Austin is the latest chapter in a series of affirmative action-related cases that will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. The case will go before the justices in October; amicus briefs were due Monday. Abigail Noel Fisher filed suit in 2008 after she applied to be an undergraduate at UT and was denied admission.

Fisher, who is white, alleges that the UT's use of race as a factor in its admissions process is unconstitutional.

The case has garnered much interest because of the impact such a ruling could have on the continuously changing landscape of college admissions. 


Report: If you teach at a UC school, you're probably underpaid

UCLA Student Protest

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UCLA students protest tuition increases at a Board of Regents meeting. The system has been hit with multi-millions in state funding cuts that officials fear make it less competitive in retaining first-class faculty.

If you teach at the University of California, you're probably paid less than your peers in similar positions at competing schools, according to the system's annual report on employee compensation released today.

The systemwide report on 2011 compensation found that pay for many UC employees is "significantly below market" and that salary increases for non-union employees have been minimal or nonexistent since 2008. 

A 2009 study found that many UC employees received less money than those working in similar positions elsewhere. At the time faculty received about 10 percent less than their peers at competing institutions. Officials believe this problem has likely grown worse, but have not been able to afford a repeat study, said UC spokeswoman Dianne Klein.

"The feeling is the lag is even greater because while everybody is getting raises, we aren’t," Klein said.


UC San Diego's Associated Students denounce DEA mistreatment of student

Oaksterdam raid

David Downs

DEA agents at work.

The Associated Students of UC San Diego has unanimously approved a resolution denouncing the incident in which an engineering student was forgotten by DEA agents in a cell without food, water or a toilet for five days.

The measure, which was approved Wednesday, asks the university's chancellor Marye Ann Fox to take a stance on the issue; it will be voted on by the university's six colleges this week and next, said Angad Walia, a senior at UC San Diego who helped draft the resolution. Walia is the Southern California State Chair for the student organization Young Americans for Liberty.

The news of engineering student Daniel Chong's detainment broke last week, during the university's midterm season, and took most students by surprise, Walia said.

"We wanted to get the word out this has actually happened," Walia said. "Although it has happened on our campus, a majority of the school doesn't know about it. It's important our student body in general stand up against the mistreatment of one of our students.


Study: When times get tough, college is still worth it

Mercer 4060

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CSU Dominguez Hills students graduate.

When times get tough, that investment in higher education can be even more valuable, according to a new study released today by UC Berkeley.

That was just one finding in a study entitled "California's Economic Payoff: Investing in College Access & Completion," which strove to answer two key questions: "What are the benefits of investing in higher education? And is it worth it for Californians?

The answers? Many. And yes.

Researchers at UC Berkeley's Institute for the Study of Societal Issues found that for every $1 California invests in students who go to college, the state will receive a net return of $4.50 on its investment. For those who complete college, the return is $4.80 and for those who enter, but drop out the return is $2.40.

A college degree often translated into higher earnings for the graduate, and therefore higher income taxes paid to the state; additionally, the state saved money on its payout on social services and incarceration costs for these graduates.