Posts Tagged ‘education’

Strike at Berkeley, other UC campuses

This morning, staff, non-tenured faculty and graduate student instructors at University of California campuses begin a three-day strike to protest the imposition of tuition hikes at the public university. Their website is and you can follow events on twitter using the #ucstrike hashtag.

According to the strikers’ website, tuition increases this decade have meant that the cost of an undergraduate education has tripled since 2000. They lay the blame not only at the national economic crisis but the university’s commitment to over $1 billion in new debt for construction of new facilities, saying the system favors “construction over instruction.”

The strike is timed to coincide with a meeting of UC regents in Los Angeles. The governing borad is expected to approve new fee hikes.

Nonprofit of the day: Donors Choose

When I was a high school teacher in the mid-80s, each of the teachers was allowed x number of copies per semester. I had 5 classes of about 28 kids each. Want to know how many copies I was allowed to make for the whole semester? 150. That’s right. 150 impressions on the xerox machine. So I figured out how to run the ancient blue-chemical mimeograph machine in the corner of the Social Studies Resource Room.

Another vignette: One day during a summer school session, I broke up a fight in the hall. My shirt was torn, and frankly I couldn’t afford to buy too many shirts in those days. I went to the principal and reported the incident, and asked naively, “How do I get reimbursed for my shirt which was torn in the line of duty?” Instead of laughing out loud, the patient man said, “There is no budget for that, but tell you what: I’ll open up the supply closet and you can take a box full of stuff.” Yes, that was the compensation for my torn shirt: the principal unlocked the supply closet, which was normally shut tight. That’s the kind of poverty mentality that pervades the public schools. And if you think it’s gotten better since the 1980s, you haven’t been reading the newspapers.

So I’m a little ambivalent about the Donors Choose thing. On the one hand, it allows you to give direct help for specific purposes to classrooms in your town. And they are super good, almost too good, about accountability. Not only do you get an acknowledgement of your donation, you get pictures of the happy, happy kids using the art supplies or whatever you have donated.

On the other hand, there’s a certain pathetic quality about the requests. $200 for 70 copies of a book for kids to read. $250 for a set of math resource materials. $700 for a classroom set of dictionaries.

Dictionaries, people. There are elementary school classrooms in this country without enough dictionaries. How many millions of dollars did that Michael Jackson memorial cost? What the fuck are we doing as a country?

If you can see the website through your tears of rage, I suggest using it to find a worthy project, something you can make a difference on, and giving them money. And then, when you get back the thank-yous and the pictures and all, consider forming a permanent relationship with the school or the teacher you helped.

Save a City College class!

Eight hundred City College classes are being cancelled during the next school year due to the California budget disaster and the generally crappy economy, but you can save a class and have it named after you by donating $6000 to the school.

Just find the cancelled classes in their online schedule — the Music Department, for example, looks like this, with the cancelled classes highlighted in red:


As a late Father’s Day present, how about choosing something your Dad loves, and naming a City College class in the subject after him? For example, The A.E. Pritchard class in electric organ. (I don’t think they have a class in electric organ, but you get the idea.) Does the $6000 sound a little pricy in this economy? How about getting your friends to chip in? Maybe your writing group would like to sponsor a “Basic Writing” class. Because it’s time to stop making fun of people who can’t write and do something about it.

Tales from the MLA: profs and job seekers in the trenches

From the annual MLA conference taking place in San Francisco this weekend, bloggers report:

  • Bev, “English professor at a small college in the Midwest,” says the Hilton is a maddening labyrinth, so “I fought my way out this morning at 6 a.m. (because my body thinks it’s still in Ohio) and walked down Market Street to the Embarcadero and back, accompanied only by the snap-crackle-pop of the streetcars, the snoring of homeless people sleeping on the sidewalk, and the occasional frantic flutter of a flock of pigeons. … Store windows sparkle with dresses I can’t imagine wearing…”
  • The mass interview room at the Hilton, where dozens of career make-or-break interviews take place simultaneously, “is undignified and it stinks.” The same post cites another blogger who reported on a candidate “whose bag fell over spilling a veritable pharmacy of drugs across the floor.”
  • Another blogger reports: “I am not loving the MLA, as I never have loved the MLA. I’m insecure about my lame-ass institution; I can’t find anyone I know, nor did I do a remotely good job of setting up fun reunions… I’m likely to be eating most meals alone.”
  • In the Chronicle of Higher Education, Jennifer Howard reports, “This year the unofficial theme is ‘Who’s getting work at all?’ The numbers look terrible. Job listings in language-and-literature fields are down more than 22 percent from last year…”

The conference continues through Tuesday.

New College set to close

New College of California building, by Steve RhodesNew College of California, a 37-year-old alternative school in the Mission District that offered undergraduate degrees as well as graduate degrees in psychology and law, will close its doors for good tomorrow after graduating its final class.

The school was stripped five months ago of its accreditation and hasn’t paid its staff since November. Professors volunteered their services to finish the school year for the students who didn’t transfer to other local schools such as John F. Kennedy Univeristy in the East Bay.

The future of the Roxie Theater, owned by the school since 2006, is in doubt. A New College graduate took over operation of the theater last year and is trying to put together the funds to purchase it, the Examiner reported.

Flickr photo by Steve Rhodes

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