Stranger Fruit

Apparently I have to take 12 9 days of unpaid furlough before May 15th. And it can?t be days I teach on, i.e. it has to be Monday or Friday. All because the Republicans in the state senate want to gut K-16 education in Arizona. Seriously, in a state that hasn?t raised state taxes in 20 years, we?re having to do this to keep education afloat. A read somewhere that a 1c sales tax on alcohol would keep the K-16 system afloat, but no that would be raising taxes.

What galls is simply this. Staff on furlough will go home and rest. Sure, they?re not being paid, but they will at least rest. Faculty will do what faculty do – prepare classes, read, grade, maintain labs; all the usual stuff we do, except for twelve days we?ll be working for free. We?d love to have the balls to take those days off but it?s not like we can say to our students, ?Sorry, yesterday I was on furlough so I didn?t prepare the class so talk among yourselves.? We have a commitment to the students that we made when they signed up for our classes so we don?t get to take days off.

Don?t get me wrong I?d rather have this than lose my job, but I cant help but feel that the administration realizes that the faculty will keep on trucking because, hey, that?s what we do. Do they save money? Yes. Do we work any less? No.

Update: Looks like it is only nine days altough I’ve had no official confirmation. What makes everything better. Yeah, right!

Comments

  1. #1 D. C. Sessions
    January 29, 2009

    We went through that last quarter, with a week of unpaid leave during Q4. It was a disaster, because of course the professionals still had work to do and tended to do it from home anyway. Despite that, it made it harder to put together meetings and screwed with schedules. The Management cut the experiment short and did the honest thing: manufacturing personnel are furloughed for scheduled chunks of time (enough to draw unemployment) and the rest of us take a straight-up pay cut.

    Nobody likes it, but when it was announced one of us stood up to thank the CEO and pretty much everyone else applauded.

    As for the Legislature and taxes: “no tax increases” is a bit disingenuous since Arizona income tax is a percentage of Federal. Also, up until 2008 the State was running a budget surplus. (And, yes, it was doing it in part by reducing the per-student funding to universities.) Prolly too complicated a picture for a blog post.

  2. #2 Jamie
    January 29, 2009

    It seems that ASU is folding like a flan in a cupboard. Student funding is getting cut by 50%, student’s professors will not be paid for 12 days, administrative staff will be taking 15 days, campuses might be closed, class sizes will be raised, the number of classes offered is going to be cut, and worst of off a tuition hike of 40% is being proposed. All this means that it will be harder for new students to get accepted to a state university, it will take them longer to graduate, and cost them more money.

    I do not envy the decisions that Jan Brewer and Pres. Crow are making, but seriously think about it! We are already second from the bottom in education we are aiming for dead last.

  3. #3 jay
    January 29, 2009

    Seriously, in a state that hasn’t raised state taxes in 20 years,

    This is a bothersome argument. The tax is based on percentage, as population grows, as inflation happens, etc. the amount of money provided by that percentage grows as well.

  4. #4 jay
    January 29, 2009

    One more thing…

    Many people (including some close to me) are LOSING JOBS. I think any of them would much rather have lost 12 days pay.

  5. #5 SteveN
    January 29, 2009

    A very good point. Teaching a lecture course–if one is revising lectures and bringing in the latest peer-reviewed literature–is a 7 day/week job. The idea of “furloughing” a professor is absurd. We need a better system for raising revenues that can’t be scuttled by politicians’ reluctance to raise taxes.

  6. #6 Greg Laden
    January 29, 2009

    As a taxpayer and citizen, and a pro education activist, I totally support your saying: “Sorry, yesterday I was on furlough so I didn’t prepare the class … so talk among yourselves.”

    Just do it. Make little cards that say it and hand them out to the students so they can take the cards home to mom and dad.

    Just make sure you make the cards on your own time, of course.

  7. #7 Zuska
    January 29, 2009

    Higher ed has been eliminating faculty lines in favor of adjunct faculty, and screwing over those adjunct faculty, for years, in the name of saving money…now the squeeze is getting even tighter and they are screwing over the tenure track faculty too. Eventually everyone will be teaching for a pittance. I’m with you, though; I blame the Republicans for the long term de-funding of public education.

  8. #8 ChrisE
    January 29, 2009

    Ugh, sorry John. I’ve been following this in the news with some dread, and thinking about you.

  9. #9 DLC
    January 29, 2009

    A 40% tuition hike ? so they want to drive students to other states ?
    Me, I was kinda hoping that, with Obama in office, we would see some boost in federal education funding, but of course there hasn’t been time for that yet.
    A small increase in the liquor tax would work, or in the (already rather high)tobacco tax.
    They could try the “Libertarian” idea and sell ASU trading stamps ? you know — collect enough of them and you get to audit a class for free ? put them on sale at circle K or Basha’s. Maybe trading cards of your favorite professors?
    I’m just tossing out ideas here.

  10. #10 Joanne Cacciatore
    January 29, 2009

    I like the idea of professor trading cards. Creative, outside the box. Beyond that, can we just be more responsible with our spending ie eliminate the systemic Wilbur (pork) problem? To ding faculty – research and teaching/tenured and tenure-track – feels dangerous close to inviting the best thinkers to leave when we’d just recruited some stellar minds (because as you said, we don’t take time off…we don’t have time to take time off even when we should (at least many of us).

    Just my .03

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