The spirit of Cesar Chavez lives on in the struggle for union rights and justice in the fields of California. Along with Dolores Huerta, Philip Vera Cruz, and others, César created the United Farm Workers (UFW) the first successful union of farm workers in U.S. history. There had been more than ten prior attempts to build a farm workers union. The United Cannery and Packinghouse Workers (UCAPAWA) organized in the 1930's, the National Farm Workers Union (NFW) led by Ernesto Galarza tried to organize Farm workers in the 40's and 50's. In 1959, the AFL-CIO tried to organize again with the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC). AWOC had several weaknesses, including a top down leadership selected by AFL-CIO leaders, not by farm workers, and a strategy of working cooperatively with labor contractors. AWOC continued the prior efforts of Ernesto Galarza and the NFW in struggling against "braceros" or guest workers, contract workers imported from Mexico, from breaking strikes. A renewed "guest worker" bill is presently before Congress. Each of the prior attempts to organize farm worker unions were destroyed by racism and corporate power. Chávez chose to build a union that incorporated the strategies of social movements and allied itself with the churches, students, and organized labor. The successful creation of the UFW changed the nature of labor organizing in the Southwest and contributed significantly to the birth of Latino politics in the U.S. Today, under the leadership of UFW president Arturo Rodriguez, over 28,000 farm workers enjoy benefits on the job. They are incorporated into California's educational, health and civic communities. The UFW has shown the AFL-CIO that immigrants can and must be organized. In 2002 we won significant victories in the legislature and numerous elections. César Chavez, Dolores Huerta, Philip Vera Cruz, and others deliberately created a multiracial organization, Mexican, Mexican American, Filipino, African-American, Dominican, Puerto Rican and Arab workers, among others, have been part of the UFW. This cross racial organizing was necessary in order to combat the prior divisions and exploitations of workers based upon race and language. Dividing the workers on racial and language lines always left the corporations the winners. In the 60's Chávez became the pre-eminent civil rights leader for the Mexican and Chicano workers, helping with local union struggles throughout the nation. He worked tirelessly to make people aware of the struggles of farm workers for better pay and safer working conditions. It is a testament to Cesar Chavez's skills and courage that the UFW even survived. They were opposed by major interests in corporate agriculture including the Bruce Church and Gallo Corporations as well as the leadership of the Republican Party then led by Ronald Reagan. Workers were fired, beaten, threatened and even killed in pursuit of union benefits . Non union farm workers today continue to live on sub-poverty wages while producing the abundant crops in the richest valley, in the richest state in the richest nation in the world. In response to corporate power, Cesar developed new strategies, such as the boycott, based upon his personal commitment to non-violence in the tradition of Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr. César Chavez died in his sleep on April 23, 1993 near Yuma, Arizona. Today Mexican, Mexican American and Puerto Rican union leadership is common in our major cities and in several industries. For myself and others, the UFW was a school for organizing. Hundreds of activists in labor and community organizations owe their skills to UFW training and experience. Along with improved working conditions, salaries, and benefits, training this cadre of organizers remains a major legacy of the UFW. César taught us that all organizations have problems, that all organizations are imperfect. But, if you wait for the perfect organization, nothing gets done. Building popular organizations builds people's power, and democracy. Chavez' legacy to popular struggles, to Chicano/Mexicano self determination and to unions for the immigrant workers is beyond measure. He is present in all of our work. I plan to march on March March 31,2007 in memory of Cesar Chavez' contributions building a more democratic society for working people. You can find our more about this remarkable leader at www.ufw.org And, www.cesarchavezfoundation.org See lesson plans below.
Duane Campbell is a Professor of Bilingual/Multicultural Education at Calif. State University-Sacramento and the author of Choosing Democracy; a practical guide to multicultural education. (Merrill/Pren Hall.2004)
Sacramento March. 10 Am. South Side Park.
California Education Code 37220
On March 31 or on the day determined by the governing board, public schools and educational institutions throughout the state may include exercises, funded through existing resources, commemorating and directing attention to the history of the farm labor movement in the United States and particularly the role therein of Cesar Chavez. The State Board of Education shall adopt a model curriculum guide to be available for use by public schools for exercises related to Cesar Chavez Day.
37220.6. (a) There is hereby created the Cesar Chavez Day of Service and Learning program to promote service to the communities of California in honor of the life and work of Cesar Chavez. The program shall be administered by the Governor's Office on Service and Volunteerism, in collaboration with the California Conservation Corps.
"The Office of the Secretary of Education is the primary education advisor to the Governor and is committed to creating, promoting and supporting the Governor’s policies that ensure access to quality education for all Californians." Gov. Schwarzenegger has yet to appoint a new Secretary of Education. Scott Himelstein is Acting Secretary. This failure to appoint says a great deal about the Governor's lack of attention to ensuring access to quality education for all Californians.
Marshall Ganz, one of the United Farmworkers leading organizers, and now a Professor at Harvard, is discussing politics and organizing this week on Talking Points Memo. Well worth reading. Here are some excerpts. http://www.tpmcafe.com/blog/coffeehouse/2007/mar/27/organizing_for_democratic_renewal
…A University of Chicago student of criminology deeply skeptical of social work, Alinsky was greatly impressed by the organizing successes of the CIO, led by John L. Lewis. Although labor had begun to win a seat at the table at which urban interests were negotiated, others had not – especially those who lived in lower income communities, did not have unions to represent them, or had no other way to get in on the deal making. One answer, he concluded, was to build community organizations modeled on the CIO. They would bring people together, create a venue in which they could discover common interests, and mobilize collective resources to get the power to win their own seat at the table. Unlike the CIO, these associations were organizations of organizations, not individuals, to leverage existing community leaders and their networks. This approach contrasted sharply with two others: that of social workers and that of socialists. Traditional social work ignored the power disparity most often responsible for poverty, and treated its victims as clients seeking public patronage, rather than citizens able to act together to make their voices heard and thus do something about the power disparity responsible for the problem in the first place. And unlike the socialists, Alinsky eschewed any ideological orientation other than that of populist democracy, coupled with a pragmatic interest based approach to program. One institutional leader for whom this approach held real promise was Chicago Bishop Bernard Sheil, soon Alinsky’s partner. Alinsky’s approach to social justice offered an alternative to socialists with which the Church was in conflict and contributed tools for citizen participation less well established in the Roman Catholic tradition than among Protestants…..
Second, the promise of “connectedness” via the Internet is an invitation to a dance that has yet to begin. The Internet is a market place, not an organization. As such it offers motivated participants an opportunity to give money, exchange information, and market causes. Organizations, however, as Alinsky organizers know, are built of interpersonal commitments people make to each other of their time, money, and energy. With skilled leaders, organizations have the capacity to strategize, motivate, and engage in purposeful effective action – and develop more skilled leaders. But in the last election, opportunity created by the Internet was only intermittently translated into action because there were few organizers. This time, perhaps it will be different. Third, the recommitment to organizing by the labor movement during the 1990s, especially by SEIU and its associates, afforded thousands of young people an opportunity to learn organizing skills, acquire experience, and make a real difference. This is true not only of young people recruited from colleges, but also new immigrants, one of the most energized constituencies in America and which has only begun to develop its political potential. Similarly, some campaigns offered unique training grounds for organizers, such as the New Hampshire Dean campaign, the Iowa Kerry campaign, and others.
There is one embarrassing fact left out of Christopher Wright’s defense of No Child Left Behind (NCLB): There is no evidence that it has worked. The President and the Secretary of Education continue to insist that reading scores have gone up, but research says otherwise: Reports from Harvard and Berkeley both conclude that there has been no improvement on national tests of reading since NCLB was passed, and, also contrary to pronouncements from the government, the achievement gap between high- and low-income students remains the same as it was before NCLB.
Mr. Wright claims that the impact of NCLB has been a positive one, but the only ones who appear to have profited are the companies that develop and sell the tests.
The Bush administration has demonstrated its incompetence in its response to Hurricane Katrina, and in the administration of reconstruction in Iraq ("Imperial Life in the Emerald City," by Rajiv Chandrasekaran, )2006.
Now, they have once again demonstrated their incompetence and venal ways. http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2006/10/04/ In the Reading First initiative they looted the federal treasury and money directed toward school improvement to hire young, inexperienced, political operatives and to pass money on to their family friends and associates . Duane Campbell
Report finds Education Department improperly backed aspects of reading program
By NANCY ZUCKERBROD Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Education Department officials and their contractors appear to have improperly backed certain types of instruction in administering a $1 billion-a-year reading program, congressional investigators found.
The Government Accountability Office report supports assertions by the inspector general of the Education Department, who has released several reports in recent months into the Reading First program.
The program is a key part of the 2002 No Child Left Behind law. It offers intensive reading help for low-income and struggling schools.
The GAO, Congress' investigative and auditing arm, surveyed states to get their views on the program.
In a report due out Friday and obtained by The Associated Press, the GAO states that some states said they received suggestions from federal officials or contractors to adopt or eliminate certain programs or tests.
Federal law prohibits the department from requiring certain curricula or directing states to use specific programs.
CFA & CSU ADMINISTRATION AGREE TO A TEN DAY CONTRACT EXTENSION; FACT-FINDING REPORT TO BE ‘FRAMEWORK’ FOR POSSIBLE SETTLEMENT
Today the Collective Bargaining Committee of the Board of Trustees agreed to discussions which would use the fact-finder's report as the basis for a possible settlement. The parties have extended the contract by ten days to allow for the talks.
On the campuses, CFA will continue the work of organizing for a strike. "We are cautiously optimistic," said CFA President John Travis. "We hope that we can reach a settlement but if we do not we are fully prepared to move forward with the strike."
The administration will now have until April 6 to hammer out a settlement with CFA before faculty begin two-day rolling walkouts. CFA has agreed to not initiate possible job actions until the bargaining extension expires.
Cal State University faculty agrees to 10-day contract extension
From the Associated Press
Faculty and administrators locked in a nearly two-year contract dispute at the nation's largest four-year public university system agreed today to a temporary contract extension that could ward off a threatened strike.
The 10-day extension gives both sides time to hammer out an agreement under guidelines in an independent report recommending a nearly 25 percent pay raise for California State University's 23,000-member faculty, officials said.
"I'm optimistic that a settlement can be reached during these 10 days," CSU Chancellor Charles Reed said. California Faculty Association president John Travis called the extension a "positive sign," though the union has not dropped its threat of a strike authorized by faculty voters last week.
The third-party fact finder's report cited a double-digit lag in salary between CSU's faculty and their peers at comparable institutions when recommending the pay hike. The independent investigator's recommendations were "close enough" to the union's proposals to merit the faculty's broad support, Travis said.
In comments attached to the report, CSU vice chancellor for human resources Jackie R. McClain wrote that the recommended salary hike "goes beyond the fiscal priority" of the university.
"We have no idea whether the recommendations can be funded within the money available," McClain wrote.
During a news conference Sunday, Reed would not discuss specific details regarding faculty salaries but said he was committed to using the report as a "framework" for an agreement.
"The fact-finder tried to be fair to both sides and kind of split the difference," Reed said.
The administration's own proposal to increase wages by nearly 25 percent over the next three years has been criticized by union leaders who question whether most faculty would receive the promised raises.
Faculty voted last week to authorize a spring labor strike that could start as early as next month.
Union officials said that despite the extension, faculty continued to prepare for a series of two-day strikes in April in case a settlement was not reached.
The rolling strikes would move from campus to campus to avoid disrupting the education of more than 400,000 CSU students, though a systemwide walkout remained an option, union leaders said.
"We're going to do what it takes to get a contract," Travis said.
As you have seen reported in the news and as we have been saying for months, faculty in the CSU are making history. We are making history as a higher education union and as an issue around which the larger labor movement has rallied.
On March 21 we announced the stunning results of a system-wide strike vote in which 81% of our members participated and in which 94% voted YES in support of job actions. Now, although we don’t want to strike, if the Chancellor and the Board of Trustees do not come to their senses, we will move forward to historic two day rolling strike actions.
What we are doing is momentous in other ways as well. As many of you know, in recent years the labor unions like SEIU, UNITE HERE and others split from the AFL-CIO to form another umbrella organization, Change to Win.
Today, we are making history because CFA’s struggle with the Chancellor and our fight for quality higher education for the working people of California has become an issue around which all parts of the labor movement have coalesced.
On our website are posted two documents. The first is a letter signed by the presidents of some of the largest and most important unions and academic organizations in the nation NEA, SEIU, CTA and AAUP (click here to view: http://www.calfac.org/allpdf/bargaining/resolutions%20of%20support/Ldrs_Mar07.pdf ).
The second is signed by John Sweeney, President of the AFL-CIO. All of them indicate that the fight we are involved in is critical to working people all over the country (click here to view: http://www.calfac.org/allpdf/bargaining/resolutions%20of%20support/AFL-CIO_032007.pdf ).
Although we always hope for a settlement, we should move forward toward job actions with the confidence that the nation’s largest labor organizations stand ready to support our fight.
The educational pundits who seldom spend time in a classroom ( like the Bee’s Daniel Weintraub) have quickly focused in on the recommendation from Getting Down to Facts, to give Principals the power to dismiss teachers who they regard as failing. A problem with this recommendation is that it carries a number of unstated, and unwarranted, assumptions. The recommendation assumes that principals are better prepared and more professional than teachers and that they have the interests of students are their first priority. I know of no research evidence to support these assumptions. In over 34 years of working in schools and working with principals all that I can assume from the data is that principals want a different job. In teacher preparation I frequently encounter people who have not even taught yet, but they plan to become principals. They want the shortest route to the top. They do not want a job working with children and youth. They want a job that is primarily management of resources. And, where they can manage teachers. And where they can get paid much more. During their first years of training most principals spend far more time expelling students and punishing students than time spent educating students. If any readers have evidence that principals have more professionalism and/or more concern for children than teachers, please let me know. My first hand experience contradicts this assumption. The argument that to promote quality education principals need to be able to dismiss a few incompetent teachers. Well perhaps. Again from decades of working in schools and participating in teacher and administrator preparation I then offer a parallel argument. I could accept the process of principals having the power to dismiss a few less than competent teachers – if- and only if- teachers had the power to dismiss incompetent principals and superintendents. There is no evidence that the percentage of incompetent teachers is higher or lower than the percentage of incompetent principals- and I suggest superintendents. Also, as suggested by author Kathy Emory in an excellent post on edjustice.blogspot.com, we should have a process for measuring the quality of researchers who reside in universities and who write reports – Like Getting Down to Facts.
There is some interesting analysis of the just published studies of school funding in California on the Educational Justice blog. One argument is that it nice work for high priced, elite scholars without contributing any thing real to schooling. click on the EdJustice link to the right. Duane Campbell
The opening sentence of the just published report on California education says, “California’s students are far behind those in other states on many measures of achievement. On the 2005 National Assessment of Education Progress, for example, California ranked 7th lowest in eighth grade math in comparison to the 49 other states and the District of Columbia. The story is at least as bad in other subjects. California performed 3rd lowest in reading, ahead of only Hawaii and the District of Columbia, and 2nd lowest in science, ahead of only Mississippi.” www.sacbee.com/links
Why is that? The legislature and governors have meddled and muddled in education, but they have not done their job. Their job is to decide upon a reasonable, fair tax system and to raise the money needed for schools. They have failed at this task for over 20 years while California’s public schools have been forced into a steep decline in quality. Rather than facing the inadequate funding issue , they have mandated school reforms stressing standardized testing as the driving force behind schooling at the k-12 level, particularly in low income districts. The testing mania has not improved schools, improved school funding, nor improved teaching. The current low level testing tells us what we already know, students in low income schools do poorly. (Rothstein, 2004) There is always some new advocate who has a solution to failing schools; phonics, exit exams, etc. rather than to face the fundamental political issue of grossly inadequate funding. The Governor, with a two month advance view of the study, is already trying shift the discussion In fairness, the failure is not the total legislature. The Democratic majority has usually been willing to spend more on schools, but they can not pass a budget without the votes of the Republican minority. Thus, a small group of Republican legislators have prevented adequate school funding. And the Governor’s budget continues that pattern. The politicians – not the teachers- deserve an F for failure.
Tomgram: The Seymour Hersh Mystery A Journalist Writing Bloody Murder…
And No One Notices By Tom Engelhardt Let me see if I've got this straight. Perhaps two years ago, an "informal" meeting of "veterans" of the 1980s Iran-Contra scandal -- holding positions in the Bush administration -- was convened by Deputy National Security Advisor Elliott Abrams. Discussed were the "lessons learned" from that labyrinthine, secret, and illegal arms-for-money-for-arms deal involving the Israelis, the Iranians, the Saudis, and the Contras of Nicaragua, among others -- and meant to evade the Boland Amendment, a congressionally passed attempt to outlaw Reagan administration assistance to the anti-communist Contras. In terms of getting around Congress, the Iran-Contra vets concluded, the complex operation had been a success -- and would have worked far better if the CIA and the military had been kept out of the loop and the whole thing had been run out of the Vice President's office.
Subsequently, some of those conspirators, once again with the financial support and help of the Saudis (and probably the Israelis and the Brits), began running a similar operation, aimed at avoiding congressional scrutiny or public accountability of any sort, out of Vice President Cheney's office. They dipped into "black pools of money," possibly stolen from the billions of Iraqi oil dollars that have never been accounted for since the American occupation began. Some of these funds, as well as Saudi ones, were evidently funneled through the embattled, Sunni-dominated Lebanese government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora to the sort of Sunni jihadi groups ("some sympathetic to al-Qaeda") whose members might normally fear ending up in Guantanamo and to a group, or groups, associated with the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood.
Later this week a report will be released which concludes that California schools are woefully under-funded--one estimate of the shortage was nearly $1 trillion.
http://www.capitolweekly.net/news/article.html?article_id=1320 Anthony York.
The document, a collection several reports, is the most recent comprehensive evaluation of California’s school system. The reports should be considered with care.
After all, the legislature and governors have tried everything else. They have listened to the corporate over seers. They have tried Immediate Intervention in underperforming schools. (IIUSP) They have mandated phonics. They have created API and High School Exit exams. They have mandated assessment driven reform. They have encouraged an A-G (college prep) curriculum. They have imposed tests of teacher knowledge and skills. They have mandated an unproven process of teacher performance assessment. (SB1209) And more.
The legislature and governors have meddled and muddled, but they have not done their job. Their job is to decide upon a reasonable, fair tax system and to raise the money needed for schools. They have failed at this task for over 20 years while California’s public schools have been forced into a steep decline in quality. Rather than facing the inadequate funding issue , major school reform efforts stress standardized testing as the driving force behind schooling at the k-12 level, particularly in low income districts. There is always some new advocate who has a solution to failing schools; phonics, exit exams, etc. rather than to face the real issue of grossly inadequate funding. The testing mania has not improved schools, improved school funding, nor improved teaching. The current low level testing tells us what we already know, students in low income schools do poorly. (Rothstein, 2004) In fairness, it is not the total legislature. The Democratic majority has usually been willing to spend more on schools, but they can not pass a budget without the votes of the Republican minority. Thus, a small group of Republican legislators have prevented adequate school funding. Why has this avoidance of responsibility occurred? Because the legislatures and the Governors do not have their children in these schools. There children and grand children go to relatively well off suburban schools. So, they can easily conclude that the problem is that these poor Black and Brown kids just need to work harder, to take another test. Duane Campbell
The Bilingual Multicultural Education Department at CSU-Sacramento is sponsoring its 13th annual Multicultural Education Conference to provide an opportunity for Sac State faculty and other educators to join forces in their efforts to promote multicultural education in K-12 public schools in the Sacramento region. The conference is part of an ongoing process of developing and maintaining a professional support network for the College of Education faculty, alumni, pre-service teachers, and inservice cooperating teachers who are committed to the goals of multicultural education.
The official MCE Conference Program is now posted on the Sac State College of Education website: http://edweb.csus.edu/bmed/conference/2007/conference0309.pdf
The keynote speaker is Dr. Sonia Nieto. Duane Campbell will present a workshop on teaching about Cesar Chavez and the United Farmworkers movement. The conference is free and open to the public For those who wish to develop an informed opinion about school reform:
Number of California Schools Facing “Restructuring” – No Child Left Behind’s Controversial Last Consequence – Increases Sharply California Struggles to Find Effective Remedies
WASHINGTON – February 28, 2007 – California educators face an uphill battle to improve schools in restructuring – the No Child Left Behind Act’s ultimate sanction for struggling schools – according to a new study from the Washington, D.C.-based Center on Education Policy. The number of California schools facing the sanction nearly doubled in the last year, increasing from 401 schools in 2005-06 to 701 in 2006-07, or roughly 8 percent of California schools.
The study, Beyond the Mountains: An Early Look at Restructuring Results in California, examined the restructuring process in California. Schools are placed in restructuring when they have missed adequate yearly progress (AYP) targets for five or more consecutive years; these schools must undertake reform strategies intended to boost their performance. More than 60 percent of California’s restructuring schools are in urban areas and one-third are in suburban areas – a higher share of suburban schools than in the previous year.
California has more schools facing this mandated reform than most other states not only because it is a large state, but also because it began implementing test-based accountability systems sooner than most states. California started calculating AYP under the federal law that preceded No Child Left Behind.
Of those schools in restructuring’s implementation phase, 207 have failed to make AYP for seven consecutive years, and 10 have failed to make AYP for eight consecutive years. Meanwhile, only 10 schools that were in any phase of restructuring made achievement gains that were sufficient to allow them to exit school improvement in the last year.
Contrary to the assumption behind the U.S. Department of Education’s recent call for disallowing “minor” restructuring strategies in favor of replacing staff or reconstituting the school’s governance structure, CEP’s study finds that California schools that replaced staff were no more likely to increase the percentages of proficient students on state tests than restructuring schools in general. Instead, officials at schools that improved student achievement attributed their success to analyzing school data and tailoring interventions to the needs of the particular school.
The report also finds that few California schools in restructuring converted into charter schools (2 percent) or turned their operation over to an outside entity (10 percent). Instead, 30 percent replaced staff and 89 percent of schools implemented the “undertake any other major restructuring of the school’s governance that produces fundamental reform” option. In California this approach has taken a variety of forms, including designating a district-level coordinator, changing school schedules, hiring coaches to improve instruction, and adding instructional programs to improve achievement for English language learners. The percentages of schools choosing various options do not total 100 percent since some schools used more than one restructuring strategy. Center on Education Policy..
As a blogger I certainly rely upon the mainstream press for some good comedy material. Frequent readers will know that I have been working on and criticizing the legislature for passing SB 1209 an Omnibus Education bill last year. The bill, and its predecessor SB 2042 have created havoc in teacher preparation programs and have not improved the preparation of teachers- but they allowed Legislators to appear to be doing something. The detailed story of what is wrong with SB 1209 and 2042 is here: http://coefaculty.csus.edu/campd/index.html Read the link entitled Problems with California Legislation on Teacher Performance Assessment and PACT.
“There are two things you don’t want to see made-sausage and legislation.” Former German Chancellor Otto Von Bismark. A major reason for SB 2042 was to create and institutionalize BITSA, and alternative teacher preparation program which directs significant funds to school districts rather than to universities and which created whole new promotion possibilities for school districts. Well, more has become available. The Sacramento Bee on Friday had an editorial on Schmoozing for Dollars; and featured former legislator Marian Bergeson; the major advocate for BITSA. I encourage you to read the editorial and see how money gets allocated in California. here: http://www.sacbee.com/110/story/131209.html And, second, in my earlier reports I frequently mentioned that I was seeking the help of a legislator to introduce a piece of legislation to undue the harm of SB 1209, including a process that will cost each future teacher $300 – $500, to take a test to find out what we already know. ( But test creators are happy) Well, the Saturday Bee was helpful. On page A 3 was a column by Steve Wiegand and a news story on the bill to provide a Baby Bonus. Whacky project. Except you see, the bill to provide a baby bonus that has many at the capitol shaking their heads was authored by my Senator Darrell Steinberg. You guessed it- the same Senator that did not have enough room in his list of bills to include the proposed bill to fix last year’s problems created by the Legislature in SB 1209. Now Darrell is a good guy. I have worked for him in a number of elections through my union and individually. I respect him and usually respect his decisions. But, my Senator did not have time for a bill to save future teachers $500 each, and thus encourage people to become teachers, but he did have time for the moon beam proposal for baby bonuses. Go figure. Duane Campbell
Capitol bid to rein in CSU execs Legislation would add oversight of the state university system
Jim Doyle, Chronicle Staff Writer Thursday, March 1, 2007 State lawmakers have introduced legislation calling for more governmental oversight of the California State University system, which has come under criticism after reports that some of its top executives were receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in extra compensation without public disclosure.
The oversight plan, which includes adding two legislators or their appointees to the CSU Board of Trustees and requires that executive contracts be approved in public session, comes in response to The Chronicle's reports on special compensation packages for current and former executives of the nation's largest university system.
"This is an effort to earn back the public's trust," said state Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-La Cañada Flintridge (Los Angeles County), during a news conference Wednesday at the Capitol in Sacramento. "The general public must have trust in the institutions of higher learning where we put our children."
Portantino, the bill's author, cited the newspaper's two-day series in July as the genesis of his legislation. The stories revealed that as much as $4 million in special perks and extra compensation has been paid to departing CSU officials during the past decade without public disclosure by the chancellor or Board of Trustees.
Beneficiaries included those who remain on the payroll while taking jobs elsewhere and others who receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in consulting contracts from the CSU after their retirement. For example, former executives Peter P. Smith of CSU Monterey Bay and CSU Executive Vice Chancellor David Spence took paid transitional leaves in 2005, a perk that enabled them to receive most of their six-figure salaries for a year after they left office and took six-figure jobs elsewhere.
The legislation, introduced last week as The California State University Reform, Trust and Responsibility Act, would authorize the appointment of two state legislators or their designees to the CSU Board of Trustees. The additional two members would be appointed by the state Senate and Assembly.
Clara Potes-Fellow, a CSU spokeswoman, said the university system has not yet taken a position on the bill.
Portantino, who chairs the Assembly Higher Education Committee, said the bill would restore confidence in the CSU by "giving the Legislature a voice on the Board of Trustees, open up future meetings on executive compensation and eliminate any suggestion of impropriety ..."
It would also give the governor and lieutenant governor -- who hold ex officio positions on the 25-member board -- seats on the board. Each could designate someone to attend CSU meetings on their behalf.
The bill calls for the trustees to approve all executive contracts in public session and reveal all benefits, not just salaries and housing. It also requires CSU executives who are paid for professorships to actually teach classes, and that their compensation could not exceed the amount a full-time professor in the CSU system would be paid for similar teaching duties.
"The priorities are upside down when a handful of top executives are receiving record raises at the same time that faculty are struggling to negotiate fair contracts and students are being hit with tuition increases," said Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, D-Santa Monica, a co-author of the bill. Brownley, who chairs the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education, served 12 years on a school board.
State Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, the majority leader and a CSU professor on leave, called the legislation a "very direct and clear message to the chancellor of this university ... the students, and the citizens who share their outrage. Quality education begins in the classroom, not the upper echelons of the ivory tower. The days of trustees operating in the dark of night, giving away additional perks to executives, are over. This is a sunshine bill."
Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, introduced a bill last month that also aims to compel CSU trustees to meet in public when discussing and deciding executive compensation issues.
Susan Meisenhelder, a CSU professor and statewide political action chairwoman of the California Faculty Association, said the university system's faculty union supports the bill because it will make it more difficult for CSU executives "to further pad their compensation."
She cited a provision of the bill that would require the California Post-Secondary Education Commission to track certain data and report regularly on state funds going toward instruction compared to administration in the CSU system. She said the faculty union has tracked some of these dollars and found that in recent years the percentage of state funds used to pay for CSU instruction has declined while the percentage for CSU administration has increased.
"This is a bill about good government. It's not a partisan bill," Portantino said.