California's vaunted systems of state universities and community colleges are going through a systematic decline in quality because Republicans in the Legislature have steadfastly blocked funds for their maintenance and improvement, contends an array of higher-education leaders.
The Chronicle's education reporter, Nanette Asimov, has the story: "Both systems together lost $1.3 billion in state funding this year after Republican lawmakers invoked a pledge not to raise taxes, and the Legislature passed a budget with deep cuts."
"As a result, community colleges are offering 5 percent fewer courses across all 112 campuses this year, with an unprecedented 670,000 students turned away for lack of space, Chancellor Jack Scott said."
"Across CSU's 23 campuses, students will find fewer instructors and more crowded classrooms this year, while library shelves will be left unfilled and roofs allowed to leak, Chancellor Charles Reed said."
Speaking of colleges and universities, they are bracing for a round of mid-year budget cuts because incoming revenues for the state budget fell below expectations. The LA Times' Carla Rivera tells the tale.
"Students starting the school year at California Community Colleges this week will pay higher fees and have fewer courses from which to choose. At California State University campuses, students will find their classes packed, fewer library books available and the ranks of part-time faculty thinned."
"That dismal picture could worsen if the state's financial problems force colleges and universities to make additional budget cuts mid-year, leaders of the systems said Monday during a conference call with reporters."
"As it is, the state's 112 community colleges will offer 5% fewer classes this fall, Chancellor Jack Scott said. Based on projected annual demand, an estimated 670,000 students who otherwise would enroll in at least one class will not be served, he added."
And still more from the colleges: The outgoing president of San Francisco State, Robert Corrigan, lobbed some broadsides at Gov. Jerry Brown, who Corrigan said doesn't understand the needs of higher education.
From Jennifer Gollan in the Bay Citizen: "In a telephone interview shortly after announcing his retirement, SFSU President Robert Corrigan accused Brown of not doing enough to protect higher education from deep budget cuts."
"Corrigan, 76, is retiring at the end of the school year after nearly 24 years as the university’s president. He said the state's budget crisis will take years to resolve."
“I think we are looking at a five-year [budget] problem in California,” Corrigan said in a telephone interview. “At my age, I am not likely to be around for five years." Corrigan plans to return to his research in American history after retiring. "The next president needs to deal with the Legislature and the governor as best that they can,” he said."
Amazon may be cheap when it comes to collecting sales tax, but it digs into its wallet when it comes to fighting it poltically: The online retailer has now spent some $5.25 million to block at the ballot California's law requiring online sellers to collect the levy. Aaron Glantz in the Bay Citizen tells the tale.
"According to newly released campaign filings, Amazon made a $2.25 million campaign contribution on Aug. 10. That's on top of $3 million the online retailer contributed to the initiative in July."
"Ned Wigglesworth, spokesman for the "More Jobs Not Taxes" committee, which is running the repeal campaign, would say only that Amazon's second multimillion-dollar contribution in as many months was necessary "to cover costs associated with the first phase of the campaign."
"Wigglesworth said his committee was working with a "growing coalition of taxpayer groups, consumers, small businesses" to overturn the new online sales tax law — although so far state records show Amazon to be its only contributor."
And from our "High Professional Standards" file comes the tale of the government workers who sent emails to each other trashing their bosses and colleagues with such nicknames as "Psycho" and "Monster," and comparing them -- the ultimate putdown? -- to Wal-Mart customers.
"They called their supervisor, Don Grove, “Teen Wolf” and the commission’s executive director Beth Townsend, “Night Ranger,” as they gossiped about their management styles. They criticized colleagues’ looks, social skills and mannerisms, quoted vulgar rap lyrics and received and sent offensive pictures — all while they were supposed to be investigating complaints of housing and employment discrimination."
“Dude Where’s My Car and Psycho are talking about food — a match made in stoner/fatty heaven!” Drayton wrote to the other two on March 4 in one of many such examples."
"The emails were submitted as evidence in recent legal proceedings in which Drayton, Howard and Buenger have sought unemployment benefits after their firings on June 16. The AP obtained them from Iowa Workforce Development, along with audio recordings of hearings for Drayton and Howard and decisions denying them benefits."
Your tax dollars at work....