Friday, August 28, 2009

A CSU Degree: Now with Less Education than Competing Brands!

After CSU experienced a $584 million cut, followed by announcements to implement furloughs on faculty, staff, and administrators, followed by the CSU Board of Trustees decision on July 21st to raise student fees another 20%, is it any wonder that the first week of classes for many campuses would be mired by chaos and despair?

San Francisco State is reporting a $30.2 million cut this year, with 354 course sections less than what it had last year, resulting in students dropping out, or faculty accepting additional students way beyond the capacity of their classroom, let alone their ability to provide a quality education to such a large group.

And while 354 cut course sections is nothing to downplay (especially since SFSU had to cut almost as much from the year before as well), over at CSU Fresno, they're reporting a $44.6 million cut, causing, amongst other things, the elimination of 1,200 course sections, which, the Fresno Bee reports, is literally 1 out of 5 classes cut from last year.
But students and faculty aren't meekly accepting their fate. The California Faculty Association and Students for Quality Education have been hosting a "Vent Tent"where students have been making videos of their stories to send to legislators, and fill out complaint forms documenting how the courses that have been cut are delaying their graduation and destroying their education.

But many folks in the CSU system area already familiar with the CSU receiving budget cuts, resulting in fewer course offerings and higher fees. The real difference this year are the furloughs, forcing faculty to take essentially a 9.23% pay cut, which means that students will be learning 9.23% less than they should be.

Jose Palermo, an associate professor of history at CSU Sacramento, summed it up best in his editorial in the Sac Bee:

The degrees from CSU awarded during these furlough years might lead future employers to look upon them as suspect, perhaps even as inferior. The teachers, nurses, technicians, journalists, criminal justice professionals and others we teach could have the quality of their training questioned.

It's not fair to the students and their families to be forced into buying an inferior product for grossly inflated prices. Students are paying more than ever for a CSU education even though they'll be spending less time with professors, have fewer course offerings and be crammed into overcrowded classrooms.

These budget cuts and student fee increases have gone on for years, but 2009-10 will be the cruelest year of all. In past budget cycles, CSU Chancellor Charles Reed and the board of trustees have responded with a shrug, saying simply: "We'll manage." Reed recently told the media that CSU is still a "bargain" compared to other institutions. Really? A "bargain?" Or is it a bargain basement sell-off?
The real crime here as the CSU opens to a year of furloughs is that CSU students are paying 32% more this year, for only 90% of an education they should be receiving. How much longer before a CSU degree is considered a joke by employers and other comparable higher ed institutions?