Tuesday, April 8, 2014

PSC Address to the Stated Meeting of the Faculty

Address to the
Stated Meeting of the Faculty
By Alex S. Vitale
Brooklyn College Chapter

April 8, 2014

The de Blasio administration has expressed interest in getting bargaining started with the over 150 municipal unions without contracts. Right now there is haggling over whether cost savings in health care should be tied to contractual raises. The Municipal Labor Council, which represents all municipal unions and the City have said they want to avoid increasing premiums. In addition, the MLC leadership has said that city nurses, teachers, and professors should be the first to bargain with the City, since they have gone the longest without a contract. The City hasn’t agreed to this idea, but hopefully this will move us up on the list. The PSC continues to talk with management about a number of non-financial issues, and is ready to begin bargaining in earnest at any time over a full contract.

I’m sure you will hear more on the budget from President Gould. I’ll just point out that the governor reneged on his pledge to maintain the baseline CUNY budget and use new revenue generated by tuition increases to expand funding. In fact, both the governor’s proposed budget and the final budget failed to fund mandatory cost increases such as inflationary cost increases for utilities and other services, forcing CUNY to plow new tuition dollars into maintaining existing services. This is in essence a new state tax on our students. So while the governor has prioritized tax breaks for banks and the very wealthiest New Yorkers, he is happy to raise taxes on our students, who are among the poorest in the state.

The battle over Pathways continues CUNY-wide. While the central administration has changed its position on some key issues, opposition and resentment remain widespread. CUNY has refused to commit to any kind of meaningful outside evaluation of Pathways, so the union is undertaking its own review. We are asking that faculty members and departments concerned about the impact of Pathways on specific courses or programs of study share their stories with us. We have already obtained many of these stories and shared some with the City Council, which has taken up the issue of Pathways and we have reprinted several in the most recent issue of Clarion. I will be sending out a more specific request to all faculty soon.

The PSC recently delivered over 5,000 signatures from HEO union members across CUNY to the Chancellor demanding that CUNY rethink its use of timesheets for these employees. On many campuses 70-80% of HEOs signed the petition, including here at BC. HEO’s view this as a move to deprofessionalize their work and experience the process as demeaning. I urge faculty to talk to the HEOs they work with about this important issue and I would like to state that the faculty chapter here formally endorses their calls for major reforms of this system.

One of the reasons we are gathered here is to support the Faculty Council’s general education development process. The Executive Committee of the PSC chapter strongly urges you to get involved in this process. If we are to argue that the will of the faculty must be respected in curricular matters, then we must take the process seriously and do everything we can to develop the best possible educational program for our students. The ongoing Faculty Council review has included faculty, professional staff, administrators, students and alumni. We have talked about best practices and budget implications as we deliberate on the best general education curriculum for our students. This is exactly what faculty responsibility for the curriculum entails. The administration has said that they support the Faculty Council review process, and faculty control of the curriculum in general. We need them to go on the record that they respect the process and will accept any curriculum changes it might produce, even if they are different from what the local or CUNY central administration would prefer.

I would now like to move the following resolution on general education:

Resolution on General Education

Whereas, Faculty Council is currently undertaking a process to develop new general education requirements at Brooklyn College; and

Whereas, Brooklyn College’s governance plan states that it is the faculty who determine the college’s curriculum and degree requirements; and

Whereas it is the faculty who are best positioned to assess the educational needs of students and determine the best ways of meeting those needs; and

Whereas we have no confidence in the CUNY Board of Trustees as currently constituted to make curricular decisions; and

Whereas Pathways has significantly undermined the educational standards at Brooklyn College, including the elimination of science labs, speech, and foreign language requirements; and
Whereas the purpose of general education requirements is more than just ease of transfer and improvement of 6 year graduation rates, 

Be it therefore resolved that the Brooklyn College Faculty call on the Brooklyn College administration to implement whatever general education requirements are adopted by the Faculty Council,

And be it further resolved that the Brooklyn College Faculty call on the CUNY Chancellor and Board of Trustees to respect the historic role of the faculty in developing curriculum and approve all general education requirements adopted by the Brooklyn College Faculty Council. 

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