Two recent letters written by UC senate faculty show how professors are getting engaged in defending the importance of public education in the state of California. One letter, originating from UC Santa Cruz, begins in the following manner: “The future of the University of California, and public education in California more generally, is under extreme threat. Governor Schwarzenegger and the State Legislature have slashed funding, and the UC Regents, Office of the President, and campus administrations have responded with measures that undermine the core teaching, research, and service mission of the university: student fees have been raised dramatically, hiring has been frozen, faculty and staff have been furloughed, lecturers have been fired, and many staff positions have been consolidated or eliminated, even as salaries of the highest UC executives have been increased. Market standards have superseded the values of intellectual creativity and excellence. Next year’s planned cuts will only accelerate these trends. The defunding of public higher education makes a college education inaccessible to many Californians, especially those already most disadvantaged; it endangers the vibrancy and livelihood of the state; it lowers the quality of life of all of its inhabitants” (click here for the entire letter)
Faculty and Chairs from UCSB have also circulated the following letter in support of the March 4th protests and rallies: “We, as Department Chairs in the Social Sciences and Humanities and Fine Arts at the University of California, Santa Barbara, endorse the statewideDay of Education on March 4, 2010. We support the efforts, organized by representatives of the entire educational community--administrators, teachers, staff, students, alumni, and concerned parents and students of
the UC, CSU, CC and K-12 systems--to demonstrate the need for a renewed commitment to public education. As UC faculty, we struggle with increased workloads and reduced pay. We see austere student fee hikes, overcrowded classes, graduate students squeezed, overworked and demoralized staff, worker layoffs, shrinking departmental and curriculum budgets, and eroding funding to student services. How long can the UC maintain itself as a top quality, Tier I research university? Meanwhile, K-12 schools face severe budget cuts and curricular pressures created by the demands for standardized testing, a situation of concern to us since the products of the K-12 system become our students and the country's future citizenry.
It's time to stop and reverse this steady defunding and degradation of our educational system and to defend a first-rate public education. We urge you to support our students' organizing efforts in support of the statewide March on Sacramento on Thursday, March 4.”
These letters show that the UC faculty are not only concerned about their own institutions, but they are also worried about the plight of public education in general in the state of California. Moreover, these letters call for all of us to participate in actions on March 4th. Next week, everything changes.