Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Tax rebates hurt public education? 

At our chapter meetings lately we've been discussing the difficulty of working with our union. Many in the group feel it doesn't represent us and have wanted to quit ... and some have. I've been less willing to leave, as I feel some need to try to change it from the inside. When I ask people if they would like to get rid of the union, they don't really want to, but they feel it is unrepresentative. Yesterday I received a letter from the union's central office that simply infuriated me.
The preeminent purpose of public higher education is to provide accessible, affordable, and high quality educational opportunities for students. No one embraces this premise more than the faculty of Minnesota�s state universities. Indeed, students are why we are here and we are why they are here. ...
Reading Invisible Adjunct's comments from "Prof at Big State U." would suggest otherwise.
Big State U.'s mission is to confer the baccalaureate so that the state's residents (voters) can enter the workforce with a college degree on their resume (and a corresponding bump in their paycheck). Education is a byproduct, something that occassionally happily happens because faculty and staff give a damn anyway. Higher tuition and fees defeat the purpose of credentialing if they mean said residents/voters enter the workforce (and the economy) saddled with student loans.
IA somewhat agrees with this and believes "adjunctification" is the result. I had a student come in today to complain that s/he should get her/his money back from a class because her/his textbook contained typos in two different tables. Does that sound like students who view faculty as "why they are here"? Nah.

But that's not what even got me hacked off at the union. It was instead this:

We perceive a genuine lack of respect and lack of appreciation for what we do, rivaling, if not superceding, the actions of past governors, chancellors, and Boards of Trustees. We acknowledge and respect the current economic crisis faced by the state of Minnesota; however, even in better times, Jesse Ventura referred to us as �the black hole.�
And then, in the email version but not the one they posted on their website they included the words, "Remember the tax rebate?"

The arrogance here is remarkable. We are entitled to the money, says the action memo (and according to email I received this was placed by the government relations people at the IFO), and giving it back to taxpayers is "disrespectful". But what have we done to earn their respect? Sue them? Discourage students from attending? Divide departments due to petty disagreements? Or just make pretty PowerPoint presentations and buttons? Gotta give to get, we say.