Wednesday, September 23, 2009

California's Master Plan didn't allow for this

This is, I think, first in a series...

Background reading:

Predicting an unaffordable UC system
(LA Times editorial from 2004, not 2003 and I hope they fix their typo)

The UC strike: A teaching moment
(Op-Ed by Susan Straight*)

Tomorrow (Thursday, September 24) promises to be a busy day in the microverse of California higher education. Across the UC and CSU systems there will be walkouts and protests, some better organized than others. (The people who cut their teeth on the rabble-rousing of the 1960s are all over 60 themselves. Some still have the mojo, no doubt, while others just talk a good game.) But you can expect that something will happen on September 24 on most of the state university campuses, including the one where I teach.

My system is on a rather complex schedule of furlough days for its employees and several days of full campus closures. It makes for a confusing fall term, in which students are not always sure which prof is present on which day. For example, I will be in a long-scheduled learning theory workshop on September 24, and my empty office will imply I've either walked out in solidarity, or I'm on furlough and nowhere near the campus. Really, though, I'll just be in the conference room around the corner.

Meanwhile, you can expect media fodder aplenty, but we in academia have been thinking about all this for a while. Some employees (I include the faculty) are just worried about whether they will have a job next year. Others are worried about just how broken the system might be and what it means for the state (and by extension the rest of higher education).

I've been thinking about the California Master Plan for Education in this context, though it's rarely right up front in the conversation. If you didn't know there was one ("you can observe a lot just by watching" as Yogi Berra said, but this isn't one of those cases) here is a link to it, and make yourself some coffee: Current (2002) California Master Plan

If you're an, ahem, old-timer, or you just want to follow the trail back to the original 1960 Master Plan, visit the University of California's "Full Monty" mini-site on the topic.

There's an article in the July-August 2009 Change magazine, "Does California's Master Plan Still Work?" [subscription site] I will comment on it after I've read it.
* Those who were around on the African-American e-mail listservs of old (10 years ago) may recall a kerfuffle over Susan Straight's fiction. It was deemed by many to be "just too good" to be written by a white person about black people. I tend to save my e-mail, so don't deny it. ;-)

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