Sunday, February 28, 2010

One more and I'll get off this subject ....

I spoke with my representative this morning. (We go to church together, but in another state; I voted for him, so I was off the hook on that count. If you're trying to figure out how we go to church in a different state, it's because we live on the border near a big city, another clue.) He didn't know that tuition hikes were off the table. I think they are going to have to raise tuition, but raising taxes is another matter. I would be against raising taxes, fiscal conservative that I am. The long-term effects would be bad. And I think USG students should pay the price for their education, even if it means brown-bagging (which would take care of it for most of our students.) It might thin our ranks some more; we have an inordinate number of students who are in our classes only because they have nothing better to do and have to be on parents' insurance.

Finally, if my pay is going to be diminished by $250 or more a month, I don't see why students shouldn't pay $50.00 a month more.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

http://daltondailycitizen.com/dalton-state-college/x1765867934/Dalton-State-president-discusses-possible-cuts

This link is a discussion of GA higher ed. budget cuts. As a colleague wrote, "If you think education is expensive, try ignorance."

Education is always the red-headed stepchild of the budget wars. Legislators want to protect their jobs, and can always play off the stereotype of "pointy-headed, ivory tower academics." Yeah, right. I defy anyone to work as hard as I do for the money I make, as a general ed prof in an open-access public college.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Georgia Budget Cuts, Revisited

OK, now I'm giving away that I work in a public college in GEORGIA. Yesterday we received a fright-inducing email from our president that our governing body, the Board of Regents, is going to expect us to cut our budget 2.4 million dollars more for FY2011. That may not sound like a lot, but our budget two years ago was only 15 million and now with accumulated cuts will be less than 11 million, despite the fact we have had explosive growth rates.

The email stated that the administration may have to call for financial exigency, which means tenured faculty can get fired. It then stated there would be a meeting today to talk about it; the crowds came out. It seems that firing faculty is going to happen at our college, no matter how vociferously we complain. I do not feel insecure about my own job; I have tenure, am on the SACS committee, teach two necessary disciplines, and don't make that much in the first place! But perhaps up to ten faculty members could be let go, at a time too late for them to look for jobs. This is unethical, especially for Ph.D.s who have left other positions across the country. But it happens. There will be lots of other cuts, some of which are probably reasonable.

The irony, and this is my point, is that the legislature is not going to allow tuition and fee increases. That is bizarre. It is incomprehensible to me. We are saying "we have excellent education but you don't have to pay for it." A credit hour at my college is $84.00; a full load of 14 hours is less than $1400.00. (My son goes to a private college where the tuition is between $8 and 9,000).

The only reason the tuition is not being raised, say, to $2,000 a year, is that the legislators don't want to take the hit on this. So we do. My pay will be reduced by 5% next year because we will be taking ten furlough days; this year we had six. But the legislators want to come out smelling like roses by not raising taxes and tuition/fees, when Georgia has one of the lowest tuition rates in the country. Forty-five states have higher. Check out http://www.libraryspot.com/know/tuition.htm Sounds fishy to me.

I know things are tough all over. I know more taxes is not always the answer. I know, I know. I only ask that students pay for what they are getting.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Diversity

One of the "hottest" topics in the college pedagogy world is "diversity" and/or "multiculturalism." The follower of Christ who works in a college environment, especially as an instructor or professor, is both blessed and challenged in terms of this subject.

On one side, we know our faith and world view transcends culture and we should be (I say should be) able to see beyond cultural limitations and not be affected by prejudices. We know Revelation 5, where people of every tribe and tongue and nation will worship at the throne of God in the future kingdom. We know that God is love and our first job, before we even think of professionalism, is to love our students, to treat those students sitting in our class as God treats us. We know the beautiful, quiet, dark complected girl in the head scarf is as loved by God and as worthwhile to Him as the little blonde cheerleader.

On the other side, the philosophical implications and the practical applications of the "diversity talk" is a problem for us. I will explore this later; I want to stay positive on this blog. But I will end with an experience I had today. It reminds me how complicated the subject of diversity and multiculturalism and sensitivity can be.

I have a student from a South American country. She came to my office for help with her informative speech because she is very new to the country and her English is really not where it needs to be for her to take college courses. She's bright, she'll get there, but why she's in my speech class I don't know (well, I do know, but that's another matter, too.) I asked her how she ended up at our college in our area, and she said she was in Atlanta but had friends in this town. I mentioned that at least here, there were many Latinos and she would at least be around people who spoke her language (the population of the town my college is in has over 50% Latino population, almost entirely Mexican). "Of course," I said, "I know most of them are from a different country, a different culture."

I detected a little offense in her response. You see, she is not Mexican. "I do not want to be around poor people." Her idea of Mexicans, the predominant Latinos in our area, was negative. Spanish or no Spanish (and her version of Spanish is definitely not a Mexican version, even I can tell that), she preferred not to be around the Mexicans even if it did mean someone to speak her mother tongue with).

No matter how hard we try, there's no accounting for human nature's propensity to be suspicious of those who are not our kind. And no amount of multicultural and diversity training is going to free us from it.