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The Corporatization of Higher Education and the Attack on American Workers Rudy Fichtenbaum, President.

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Presentation on theme: "The Corporatization of Higher Education and the Attack on American Workers Rudy Fichtenbaum, President."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Corporatization of Higher Education and the Attack on American Workers Rudy Fichtenbaum, President

2 Road Map  Embracing the Corporate Model  Broader Context  Consequences  How to Fight Back


4 You know you have the corporate model when:

5  Administrators & politicians talk about faculty productivity.  Universities & colleges care more about bond ratings than the quality of education they offer students.  Administrators make unilateral changes in curriculum and academic policies.  You have “merit” pay or “pay for performance.”  Promotion and pay for faculty depend on student evaluations.

6  Students are your “customers.”  Your administration says: “the market explains growing inequality among faculty.”  The majority of faculty have no job security, few benefits and are largely excluded from the decision making process on campus.  Your administration tries to break your union.  Your budget system turns each of your colleges into profit centers so faculty will be more “entrepreneurial.”

7  College presidents and politicians call for the creation of “enterprise universities” to complete the privatization of public higher education.  College and university presidents get paid like corporate CEOs.  Grades are out and badges are in (college grades are inflated so that they are meaningless, leading to experiments where badges modeled after patches on Boy Scout uniforms are given– inspired by video games).

8  Professors compete for bonuses based on student evaluations. In Oklahoma, universities are awarding $5,000 to $10,000 to participating engineering professors who score in the top 5% on their semester-end student evaluations. Those who score in the next 15% receive half those amounts. Similar bonuses for “top-rated business professors.” Texas A&M is giving bonuses of $2,500 to $10,000 to faculty receiving the highest scores on student evaluations.

9  Administrators try to lay off tenured faculty for “budgetary reasons.”  You are forced into a “wellness program.”  You are fired or forced to resign for using controversial teaching methods.  Faculty can be fired for “improper use of social media.”

10 Corporate Influence on Higher Ed

11 “Nationwide patterns since 1980 show that the context has transformed through universities’ increasing use of a corporate business model that goes well beyond Justice Brennan’s observation in Yeshiva that universities have become ‘big business.’” --Point Park University Amicus Brief for the AAUP

12  “Faculty have experienced a continually shrinking scope of influence over academic matters.”  “Faculty loss of influence over programmatic and other academic matters reduces faculty influence even in their individual academic course content and research.” --Point Park University Amicus Brief for the AAUP

13 [There] “are embedded structural changes that favor top-down decision-making authority by university administrators responding to market concerns, rather than a collegial process of consultation and consensus-building over academic affairs.” -- --Point Park University Amicus Brief for the AAUP

14 “One outcome of this institutional shift is a growing conflict between university administrations and faculty over unilateral actions taken by administrators either without consultation with faculty or overriding faculty governance bodies’ recommendations.” --Point Park University Amicus Brief for the AAUP


16 To understand why our institutions are being transformed, i.e., corporatized, we have to put this development in a broader social context. That context is the corporate attack on the working class in the United States.

17 The attack is taking place on many fronts but is particularly strong at the state level. In 2011 and 2012: 4 states passed laws restricting the minimum wage 4 lifted restrictions on child labor 16 imposed new limits on benefits for the unemployed --EPI BRIEFING PAPER #364 | OCTOBER 31, 2013

18  15 states passed laws restricting public employees’ collective bargaining rights or ability to collect “fair share” dues through payroll deductions.  19 states introduced “right-to-work” bills, and “right-to-work” laws affecting private-sector collective bargaining agreements were enacted in Michigan and Indiana. --EPI BRIEFING PAPER #364 | OCTOBER 31, 2013

19 State Attacks on Public Employee Collective Bargaining Rights

20 Examples:  Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker proposed sharply curtailing union rights in 2011.  Collective bargaining rights were eliminated for: Tennessee schoolteachers Oklahoma municipal employees Graduate student research assistants in Michigan Farm workers and child care providers in Maine

21 Examples:  States created “emergency financial managers” authorized to void union contracts. Michigan Pennsylvania  States limited public employees’ ability to bargain over health care. New Jersey Minnesota

22 Examples:  Ohio’s SB-5 prohibited employees from bargaining over anything but wages, outlawed strikes, and did away with binding arbitration (the only impartial means of settling a contract dispute without a right to strike) in favor of the state agencies’ right to set contract terms unilaterally.  Ohio’s SB-5 also removed the right of faculty to engage in collective bargaining  Indiana adopted new legislation that prohibits even voluntary agreements with state employee unions (having already eliminated most collective bargaining rights for state employees in 2006).

23 Attacks on Teachers Unrelated to Student Performance

24 Attacks on Public Pensions States enacting legislation to cut public pensions that were among the best funded and most solvent: Wisconsin Florida North Carolina

25 Layoffs of Public Employees But cuts were not correlated with states that faced the largest fiscal challenges. From January through December 2011, 230,000 jobs were eliminated.  Texas alone cut 67,900 jobs  Many of the budget cuts took place in states where Republicans had just taken control in November 2010.

26 New “All Red States” Alabama Indiana Kansas Maine Michigan Ohio Oklahoma Pennsylvania Tennessee Wisconsin Wyoming

27 New “All Red States”  These 11 states plus Texas accounted for 71.8% of public jobs eliminated in 2011.  These same 12 states accounted for just 12% of the budget shortfall among states.

28 Who Is Behind these Attacks?  Chamber of Commerce National Association of Manufacturers  Club for Growth  Koch brothers–backed Americans for Prosperity.  American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)

29 Why the Attack on Public Employees? The attacks on public unions, particularly in Wisconsin and Ohio, were made under the guise of responding to the fiscal crises. Wisconsin’s Scott Walker: “Our people are weighed down paying for a larger and larger government” “We can no longer live in a society where the public employees are the haves and taxpayers who foot the bills are the have-nots.”

30  In Ohio, John Kasich insisted that he was “empowering taxpayers.”  “Greedy” unionized public employees were the haves and the public were the have-nots.

31 Is Public Employment Growing?

32 Spending on Public Employment

33 Don’t Let a Crisis Go to Waste! Like the trends we’ve observed on our campuses, corporate interest saw the crisis as an opportunity to lock in cuts to public services. 70% of all US school districts made cuts to essential services.

34 Examples of Cuts

35 Despite widespread evidence of the academic and economic value of preschool education, 12 states cut pre-K funding that year, including Arizona -- eliminated it completely Ohio -- repealed full-day kindergarten, and cut its preschool program to the point that the number of four-year-olds enrolled in state-supported preschool is now 75% less than in 2001

36  Pennsylvania also cut back from full-day to half-day kindergarten in many districts— including Philadelphia, which also eliminated 40% of its teaching staff, cut its English-as-a- second-language program in half, and increased elementary school class sizes from 21 to 30.

37  In Florida, the Seminole County school board proposed raising thermostats to 78 degrees, the maximum allowed by law.  In Tucson, Arizona, the school district eliminated geometry, art, drama, and photography classes, increased class sizes to up to 40 students, and was still fined $1.9 million for failing to provide the minimum required instruction hours for seventh and eighth graders.  North Carolina cut its textbook budget by 80%.

38  Legislatures enacted new tax giveaways to corporations and the wealthy while simultaneously slashing funding for schools, libraries, and health care.  Michigan, for example, adopted a bill, authored by an ALEC member, that eliminated the state’s primary business tax and substituted a flat 6% corporate tax—costing the state $1 billion per year in lost revenue—even while cutting K–12 funding by $470 per student.

39  Florida eliminated its corporate income tax for nearly half the state’s businesses, adopting a bill co- sponsored by a quartet of ALEC legislators and hailed by the Chamber of Commerce as the first step toward a complete phase-out of corporate income taxes.  Ohio phased out its inheritance tax—which had only ever affected the wealthiest 7% of estates—forgoing almost $300 million a year in funds that had been primarily dedicated to local government services.

40 Why Attack Unions?  Why the attack on unions, when most workers are not even unionized?  It is not about wages, health care, and pensions.

41 The Attack on Unions  It is about destroying the only organizations that workers have to try to influence the political process.  It is about completing the agenda that started with the Citizens United decision.  It is about the broader corporate agenda of preventing a fight back movement against the growing inequality.


43 The Corporate Model in Higher Ed  David Schultz published a noteworthy essay in Logos entitled “The Rise and Demise of Neo-Liberal University: The Collapsing Business Plan of American Higher Education.”  Two models of higher education since the end of WW II: Dewey model, in which public institutions were central, and institutions promoted a Jeffersonian view of higher education, recognizing an educated citizenry as central to democracy The Corporate University, with top-down authority with administrators and corporate-led boards displacing traditional faculty governance

44 Are We Doomed ?  Contradictory forces have always existed in American higher education. ruling elite in our society the working class majority

45 Contradictory Nature of Higher Ed  Higher education was central in defending both religious and secular values central to the preservation of capitalism.  Somewhat later, as science and technology became more important, the idea of higher education as vehicle for providing “practical training” also emerged.

46 A Force for the Common Good  Others (e.g., Thomas Jefferson) have seen higher education as the great equalizer, a vehicle for educating citizens and the “common good.”

47 The Era of Expanding Access During the period leading up to World War II, most scientific research and the innovation that drove American industrial might occurred in private research labs. Bell Labs, Dayton Engineering Laboratories Co. (DELCO), Battelle Memorial Institute. Only after WWII, with the onset of the Cold War, did universities become centers for research.

48 The Era of Expanding Access  The GI bill first opened college admissions to the unwashed masses. The elite universities all opposed the bill; they thought that helping ordinary people who had been drafted go to college would dilute the pool of college students with mediocre students.  However, hundreds of thousands of veterans were returning to the US with little prospect for employment, and left-led unions of the CIO were pushing a social agenda, so the GI bill was enacted.

49 Expanding Access & the Dewey Model  The big expansion of access to college, however, came in the 1960s increased funding for public higher education urban universities community colleges.  Greater access to higher education was a component of the reform era that began in the 1950s the civil rights the women’s rights and antiwar movements.

50 The Social Upheavals of the 1960s  The social upheavals of this era  Greater access to college  Medicare and Medicaid  Clean Air and Clean Water Acts and the EPA  OSHA  Greater income equality  The “Dewey model” was a facet of the of mass movements for social justice and equality.

51 The Death of the Reform Era & Corporatization The death of the reform era by the late 1970s and the rise of the corporate university Part-time faculty have replaced tenure line faculty, undermining both academic freedom and shared governance. These changes must be seen as part of the broader neo-liberal attack on organized labor and the achievements of the 1950s-1970s reform area. We need to ask: “Why should the public care about academic freedom and shared governance?”


53  Changes in higher education do not occur in a vacuum.  If there is any hope of reversing the deleterious effects of corporatization on higher education, it is in faculty and academic professionals aligning ourselves with the labor movement and the broader movement for social justice.

54  Strengthen existing chapters Have a membership drive on campus at least once a year Make office visits to get faculty to join AAUP  Every chapter should have a website and the national AAUP should provide a template for the website. Have a presence on social media, i.e., Facebook and Twitter Use the website to communicate with faculty with an online newsletter and links to other AAUP chapters.

55  Starting a national campaign on contingency and link it to academic freedom, which is needed to maintain the quality of education. Get our chapters to incorporate policies of AAUP in their handbooks and in our collective bargaining agreements.

56 Campaign to Build Public Support for a Charter to Defend Public Higher Education Some possible language adapted from: 1. Higher education is a public good, not a private profit- making institution, and corporations or business interests should not dictate teaching or research agendas. 2. The strategy of a university or college should reflect all dimensions of human endeavor and be built on the full and open participation of all staff and students.

57 Campaign to Build Public Support for a Charter to Defend Public Higher Education 3. The main aim of teaching is the dissemination of knowledge and the fostering of creativity, and is not just about increasing ‘human capital’. 4. The main aim of research is to create new knowledge. It is not just about enhancing the profit margins of corporations, many of which do not even meet their tax obligations. 5. After teaching and research, the third mission of universities is about engaging communities and addressing social disadvantage, and not just about ‘enterprise engagement’.

58 Campaign to Build Public Support for a Charter to Defend Public Higher Education 6. Students are the lifeblood of colleges and universities, and the next generation of enlightened and humane citizens and are not just consumers of education or generators of ‘customer satisfaction’ indices. 7. All staff working in higher education are entitled to a dignified and collegial workplace free of surveillance and control and the arbitrary degradation of working conditions. 8. Information and communications technologies are a great tool for teaching and research but should not be used to impoverish the quality of education or reduce staff- student contact time.

59 Unions: More than Bargaining Contracts  Build alliances on campus with students, parents and unions on campus.  Think about contacting alumni who have a stake in the institution’s reputation.  Build alliances with community organizations including K-12 teachers.  Work to make your state conference more effective.  Build linkages with other higher education unions by participating in CFHE.

60 Political Action  Get involved in politics See if it makes more sense for your chapter or state conference to be a 501c(6). Conduct voter registration drives on campus each year. Your chapter or conference may want to endorse candidates, particularly for state offices based on where they stand on issues that relate to higher education. Mobilize members to work on legislative initiatives.

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