Wednesday, April 21, 2010

On Deliverology's Claims That Graduation Rates Can Be Accelerated and the Achievement Gap Narrowed

The CSU administration, as most people know, is attempting to impose Sir Michael Barber's Deliverology upon the CSU system. Chancellor Reed and his loyal lieutenants claim that they can thereby accelerate time to degree and bridge the achievement gap with this fine British import. How they think they can accomplish those goals when they are slashing the budget for academic services, reducing class offerings, reducing admissions by forty thousand students, furloughing faculty and laying off staff and faculty, and eliminating programs such as CalWorks (designed to help parents on welfare get a college degree and get off of welfare), is beyond my feeble comprehension. But then, Deliverology perhaps can violate commonsense and pull a rabbit out of the hat. 

In a widely circulated, discussed, and reportedly influential White Paper by one of the CSU presidents in July 2009, however, author President Qayoumi stated explicitly what was reasonable to expect as a result of the budget cuts:

From "Perspectives on CSU Budget Gap," July 24, 2009 by Mohammad H. Qayoumi, President California State University, East Bay, reprinted on this blog here: "I think we can expect that average student course loads will decrease, time to degree will increase, lines (or digital queues) will get longer, and traditionally under-represented groups will be hit disproportionately harder than others."

The only way that Deliverology can produce the results they are claiming that it can produce - and the top CSU administrators know this - is by cutting back on what is expected from students to get their degree. This is why the administrators, for example, have been floating the idea of reducing GE requirements and number of courses required for a degree. They want to cheapen a CSU degree's value, in other words. 

You don't sensibly advocate having someone running faster when the person in question is having trouble walking in the first place. 

Deliverology is a sham. It is not a misguided program with laudable goals but poor implementation. It is a program that from its inception, from its practice in England, and from its premises, is designed not to improve performance but to tighten command and control from the top. Deliverology's imposition upon the CSU would be a disaster for this reason. It must be opposed. 

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

CSU Palin Controversy Incites Hate Messages

Update, April 21, 2010: See also this very good article at the LA Progressive by Joseph Palermo, "Cal State Stanislaus: Let Sarah Palin Speak - Somewhere Else." The comments to his article as reposted at Reader Supported News are particularly good as well, such as this one: "Actually, there are two other options available to CSUS. If there's no contract, CSUS doesn't have to pay Palin a dime! Or if there is a contract, CSUS officials responsible for its shredding can go to jail."

Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Yee threatened with racist, homophobic phone calls and faxes
From Sen. Leland Yee's website
SACRAMENTO – The controversy surrounding an upcoming Sarah Palin event at California State University Stanislaus and calls for greater transparency from Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) has spurred several racist and homophobic phone calls to Yee’s office and even a fax threatening the Senator’s life.

An expletive-laden fax received yesterday in the Senator’s San Francisco and Sacramento offices says, “To: JoBama Rectum Sniffer Fish Head Leland Yee” and then in all capital letters, “WERE YOU TO EXTRACT YOUR HEAD FROM TREASONOUS MARXIST NIG**R HUSSEIN OBAMA’S RECTUM, YOUR BRAIN WOULD STILL FUNCTION AT ITS PRESENT MUCH DIMINISHED LEVEL BUT AT LEAST THE NIG**R SH*T SMELL WOULD EVENTUALLY DISSIPATE.”

The fax, which included a graphic of an American flag adorned pickup truck dragging a noose, also states “FIGHTING The Marxist Nig**r Thug Hussein Obama” and “Safeguard the Constitution, Death of all Domestic Marxists!”

Another fax received by the Senator’s office with a similar graphic says, “NEW WEBSITE COMING SOON:  lyeesucksobamasnig**ras*.com,” as well as “JoBama.  HE IS BRAVE ENOUGH TO KILL OUR UNBORN, JUST NOT BRAVE ENOUGH TO CALL OUR ENEMIES WHAT THEY ARE: Muslim Terrorists!”  The fax also includes a rifle scope targeting a shirt with the communist hammer and sickle symbol dripping with blood.

One of the phone messages left after hours in Yee’s office voicemail says, “You know, I heard that Senator Yee wants to nix Sarah Palin from speaking at Stanislaus State…Maybe we ought to have a homosexual with a long enough di*k to where he can stick it up his as* and fu*k himself while he is on stage giving a speech.  That would be acceptable to Leland Yee.  So, good thing you run in San Francisco ‘cause you’d never make it anywhere else.”

These and other messages have been forward[ed] to the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms to investigate.

“It is quite disturbing that such racist and homophobic sentiment still exists in our country,” said Yee.  “It is unfortunate acts like these that demonstrate why we must continue to be vigilant against hate and intolerance.”

The hate messages come after Yee has demanded greater transparency of the CSU Stanislaus administration regarding an upcoming visit from the former Alaska governor.  After the university claimed they had no documents or correspondence pertaining to the Palin visit, students testified that they found pages 4 through 9 of the Palin contract in the administration’s dumpster, which show her visit requirements include a hotel suite, first class airfare or a private Lear jet, pre-screened questions, and “bendable straws.”

The Attorney General has since launched a formal investigation and Californians Aware has filed a lawsuit.

And from Sen. Yee's website on April 13, 2010:

Documents Surface in CSU Stanislaus Palin Case
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Students uncover Palin contract, other public documents – some shredded by university administrators

SACRAMENTO – Students from California State University Stanislaus have uncovered several public documents pertaining to the upcoming controversial visit by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

The documents – including parts of the university’s speaking contract with Palin – were found in the dumpster outside the university’s administration building two days after Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) and Californians Aware were denied such public information by the university, resulting in a request of the Attorney General’s office to investigate.

On Friday, April 9, CSU student Ashli Briggs was informed that suspicious activity (specifically, document purging) was taking place within the administration building.  Alicia Lewis and other students then found the documents after seeing several administrators’ cars in the parking lot on the university’s scheduled furlough day.  Many of the public documents were shredded, presumably by university personnel.

“It is truly shocking and a gross violation of the public trust that such documents would be thrown away and destroyed during a pending investigation,” said Yee.  “Found within the same files as regular university business were financial statements and documents of the CSU Stanislaus Foundation – demonstrating that the foundation is operated by taxpayer-funded employees within the university itself.  How can they possibly claim that no tax dollars are being used for the Palin event when state employees are called in on their furlough day to help avoid public scrutiny?”

“Turning over this information to the Attorney General is important so that any wrongdoing can be addressed and prevented from reoccurring in the future,” said Lewis.  “If this helps push for financial transparency on college campuses, then those of us involved know we did the right thing.”

“My hat is off to these students who had the courage to come forward and report such information,” said Yee.  “They are to be commended for protecting our precious and limited public resources.”

Among the documents found intact where pages 4 through 9 of the university’s contract with Palin.  While the actual compensation – suspected to be nearly $100,000 – cannot be found within the intact documents, pages 4 through 9 shows that Palin is expected to receive:

• “Round-trip, first class commercial air travel for two between Anchorage, Alaska and event city”
• Presumably for Palin’s guests, “full, unrestricted round-trip coach airfare for two between event city and lower 48 US States.”
• If the university chooses to use a private jet, “the Speaker, their traveling party and the plane crew will be the only passengers.”
• Ground transportation in both the originating city and the event city “will be by SUV(s) from a professionally licensed and insured car service.”
• “security arrangements as deemed necessary by [Washington Speakers Bureau] and the Speaker.”
• Accommodations are to include “a one-bedroom suite and two single rooms in a deluxe hotel” as well as a “laptop computer and printer (fully stocked with paper) and high speed internet” and “all meals and incidentals.”
• “For Q&A, the questions are to be collected from the audience in advance, pre-screened and a designated representative shall ask questions directly of the Speaker.”
• The contract also includes other stipulations regarding autographs, photographs, press releases, advertising, recording, lighting, bottled water and “bendable straws.”
Among the papers found shredded are documents dated as recently as March 2010, the same date as on the Palin contract.
Today, Lewis was submitting the documents to the Attorney General’s office to assist in their investigation regarding violation of the California Public Records Act (CPRA), and now potential tampering and destroying of evidence relevant to an ongoing investigation.

CSU Stanislaus Office of the President last week denied public records requests made by Yee and Californians Aware to disclose how much Palin is getting paid for an upcoming speaking engagement as well as documents and correspondence regarding the university’s 50th Anniversary Gala.

The responses from Campus Compliance Officer Gina Leguria state, “The University has no documents that are responsive to your request.”

CSU officials have often declared foundations as separate private entities even though the CSU Stanislaus Foundation is entirely located within the public university:

• the foundation chair is campus president Hamid Shirvani, a state employee who makes upwards of $300,000/year;
• the executive officer, the treasurer, and the secretary of the board are all employees of CSU Stanislaus;
• every staff member listed on the foundation website are CSU Stanislaus employees, with the exception of one;
• the foundation’s website and the Palin Gala website are located at the;
• the Palin fundraiser solicitation and information line is a university telephone number at the university advancement office;
• the foundation’s offices are housed within the campus administration’s building and fully staffed by university employees;
• the work of the foundation is conducted using CSU Stanislaus email accounts, telephones, computers and other taxpayer-funded resources.

“There is not a fine line or even a blurry line between the foundation and the public university; there is absolutely no line,” said Yee.

Prior to denying the CPRA request by Yee and Californians Aware, CSU Stanislaus officials stated that they could not release Palin’s compensation due to a confidentiality term in her contract.  State law, however, specifically prohibits a state or local agency from allowing an outside entity to control the disclosure of information that is otherwise subject to the CPRA.  In addition, a 2001 case involving Fresno State required the university to disclose documents they held regarding the operations of their foundation.

Several recent examples demonstrate the need for increased public oversight and accountability at public college and university foundations and auxiliary organizations:

• At Sonoma State, a $1.25 million loan issued to a former foundation board member two days after he resigned.  He has since defaulted on that loan, which leaves less money in the foundation’s endowment for scholarships and other important causes.
• At Fresno State, a no-bid managing contract was given to a foundation member to build a theatre complex in which he held a financial interest.
• At San Francisco City College, a campus executive has been indicted for using money from the San Francisco City College Foundation for personal and political purposes.
• At San Jose/Evergreen Community College, the chancellor recently resigned after it was found she engaged in several financial improprieties at the foundation’s expense, including lavish travel, purchasing expensive art pieces, and even buying coffee and mints on her work credit card.
• Sacramento State recently acknowledged their campus is being audited by the Attorney General in relation to inappropriate expenditures of campus auxiliary money, including $200,000 to remodel the school president's kitchen in 2007.  Additionally at Sacramento State, $6.3 million of public funds was transferred to University Enterprises Inc., a campus auxiliary, to backfill losses from a property acquisition.

According to the CSU Chancellor’s Office, 20 percent of its $6.7 billion budget, or $1.34 billion, is held in their 87 auxiliaries and foundations.

“It is time for CSU and UC administrators to stop acting like they are running private country clubs,” said Yee.  “These are public institutions that should embrace transparency and accountability, and not be finding creative ways to do the public’s business behind closed doors.”

This session, Yee is authoring SB 330 to clarify that campus foundations and auxiliary must adhere to the CPRA. 
Contact: Adam J. Keigwin
(916) 651-4008

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Et Tu, Ortiz?

The following Letter to the Editor appeared today, April 13, 2010, in the Poly Post newspaper. There is also another Poly Post news story entitled: "Tempers Flare at Brown Bag," (a follow-up to their initial article), about the April 6 Brown Bags event. The story reports some of the students' and staff's comments and reactions to the administration's actions, conveying a sense of the stakes for students and staff due to these cuts and the perversity of the administration's statements and actions.

I wrote this Letter to the Editor below a few days ago, prior to Ortiz's Monday, April 12, 2010, message that's the subject of my previous post here on this blog.

Et Tu, Ortiz?

By Dennis Loo

California’s higher educational system faces an unparalleled crisis. The CSU administration speaks of radical, transformative changes and the cuts of CalWorks, the tennis teams, and so on [at Cal Poly Pomona], are only part of the deep cuts that are coming.

What, in the face of this terrible news, are our top administrators doing to protect the CSU system? Rep. Torrico introduced a bill to protect California’s universities, AB 656. AB 656 would impose a severance tax on the oil companies.

California’s the only state that doesn’t impose this tax. Under Sarah Palin as Alaska governor, Alaska hiked its severance tax to over 20%, more than twice the rate that AB 656 would impose. Texas supports its well-endowed public university system with their severance tax. AB 656 would solve our problems entirely, as it would raise between $1-2 billion annually. This would be a tax on oil companies whose quarterly profits run in the tens of billions of dollars.

So there is a way to prevent students from being blocked from realizing their dreams. There is a way to prevent more faculty from being furloughed and laid off. We can even hire the people who’ve been laid off and we can hire more badly needed professors. There is a way to protect this system that has been California’s pride and joy. You would think that our administrators would be pushing for AB 656’s passage with all their might, wouldn’t you?

But Chancellor Reed is opposed to AB 656. Reed says he doesn’t want to be forced to spend the money raised only on teaching. The Chancellor’s Office has, they say, many other things they want to spend the money on besides teaching.

This is like my offering to pay my friend’s grocery bills and having my friend refuse the offer because he wants to have no strings attached to what he can spend the money I’m giving him on.

When I pressed President Ortiz last Tuesday to declare in favor of AB 656 he offered various extraordinary excuses not to support it and then finally declared that he was for it after all. I was pleased to hear this, as were the others in the crowd. Shortly after this public declaration his spokesman, Ron Fremont, informed the Poly Post that Ortiz’s declaration in support of AB 656 was only his personal opinion and it did not reflect the views of the Cal Poly Administration.

Here is my question for President Ortiz: If the Cal Poly Administration can take a position contrary to your own on a question so vital to Cal Poly as AB 656, then who is really running Cal Poly? Is it Chancellor Reed? If it’s Chancellor Reed, then why are we paying your nearly $300,000 salary annually? Why don’t we dispense with your position and have Reed order what he wants directly? And if Reed refuses to support a bill that would save our system, why are we paying him more than twice what Obama’s paid? Why don’t we ask for his resignation?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Cal Poly Pomona President Ortiz's Comments on April 6 Brown Bag Event

As I wrote on this blog here, a rather fiery exchange took place between myself and President Ortiz during the April 6 Brown Bags with the President's event. During that exchange, part of which is visible in this video at the Poly Post's website (right hand column) with the Post's story on the left, Ortiz came out for the first time publicly and on the record supporting AB 656. AB 656 is a severance tax on oil companies, the monies from which would go to California's higher educational system, with the majority of the funding going to the CSU. AB 656 has been endorsed by the UC system leadership, even though they wouldn't get most of the money. CSU Chancellor Reed is opposed to AB 656, and all of his loyal lieutenants, the presidents of the twenty-three CSU campuses, and their provosts, are also against AB 656. I do not know if the CC administration has come out for AB 656, but here is the list of those endorsing it as of April 5, 2010:

"[T]he 700,000-member Courage Campaign, the University of California Student Association, the California State Student Association, the Student Senate for California Community Colleges, California Faculty Association, Faculty Association of California Community Colleges, California Teachers Association and the Service Employees International Union."

AB 656 would raise upwards of $2 billion a year and solve entirely the budget crisis engulfing California's Higher Educational System. Texas uses its severance tax to fund its very well-endowed university system. Alaska under Governor Sarah Palin raised its severance tax to over 20%. AB 656 would impose a 12.5% tax on Big Oil.

Shortly after the Brown Bags event, Ortiz (apparently) instructed his spokesman, Ron Fremont, to tell the Poly Post that his public endorsement of AB 656 was Ortiz's personal opinion only and not that of the "Cal Poly Pomona administration," of which, of course, Ortiz is the head.

Since he didn't want to express a position on AB 656 at first during the Brown Bags, and since he began by misrepresenting AB 656, by saying, among other things, that the oil companies were already overtaxed in California, and since I basically shamed him into declaring his support for 656, the fact that he would turn around shortly afterwards and have his spokesman disavow his administration's support for what he had just publicly claimed support for, was, shall I say, disappointing? Or, perhaps, I should say, it was revealing of whose hand feeds Ortiz's mouth.

Ortiz's further remarks on this are below in his message to Cal Poly released today:

Monday’s Message – April 12, 2010

Good afternoon everyone… Thank you for joining me today.

At last week’s Brown Bag with the Presidents, we heard – firsthand – how relatively small programmatic cuts can cause severe pain to those affected. When you are forced to cut nearly $31 million, there is no magic fix, no way to delay until things get better, and no way to postpone planning. This is what keeps me up at night.

As announced recently, the Division of Student Affairs must cut $3.2 million. The first wave of those reductions came with the decision to close the CalWorks office, the National Student Exchange, the Visitor Center and to discontinue intercollegiate tennis. These four programs will account for less than a quarter of the total cuts in Student Affairs. What’s more, these cuts pale in comparison to the fiscal challenges and reduction plans facing Academic Affairs, the largest division on campus. Every division is facing similar challenges. These cuts hurt – at a deep, personal level.

If you were in the Quad last Tuesday at noon, you heard emotional and heartfelt stories from our CalWorks students. If you don’t know, these are student‐parents who are seeking to move out of the welfare system through the pursuit of a college degree. Many have experienced countless challenges in their lives, and they cannot understand why their program has been targeted. While Vice President Freer and others have developed a strong contingency plan for CalWorks, the students feel as if they have been sacrificed.

I only wish our state representatives could hear their stories and come to grips with the real outcomes of their decisions to underfund higher education.

What is equally frustrating is the well‐intentioned, but uninformed impression that there is an easy solution to the crisis. It disturbs me when members of our community irresponsibly tell students, faculty and staff that the Chancellor’s Office is not doing everything in its power to prevent these cuts and acquire new revenue.

That kind of reckless rhetoric and finger pointing only damages our efforts to achieve real change in Sacramento. Just as important, it creates a false sense of reality. It’s not you versus me. It’s not us versus them. We ALL clearly care about this university.

Once again, there is no magic fix to the very real and very painful budget cuts we must endure. Greater support for higher education in California will only come from a united front of passionate educators, students and parents as well as industry and civic leaders.

From my perspective, the only real solution to our long‐term funding crisis is the Governor’s proposal to amend the California Constitution. Under his proposal, no less than 10 percent of taxpayer money would be allocated to fund public higher education and no more than 7 percent would be allocated to support the state prison system.

To give you a point of reference, this year the CSU received only 1.8 percent of the state general fund budget. In 2009‐10, California spent 45 percent more on prisons than universities. Those are the types of facts that should make each of you angry.

I remain committed to fighting the good fight for our students. I am calling on each of you to work with me so we can collectively achieve a better future.

Again, thank you for joining me.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Sacto Bee's Editorial on the Cal Chamber of Commerce

The Sacramento Bee

Editorial: Cal Chamber goes on an ad attack

Published Thursday, Apr. 08, 2010

Over the last year, UC President Mark Yudof and other higher education leaders have been crisscrossing the state, making the case for Californians to reinvest in their public universities and community colleges.

Speaking to the UCLA Daily Bruin in October, Yudof noted that extra tax revenue may be needed. "I wish they'd pay a little bit more in taxes and support us, but we've been unwilling to do that," he said.

Why are taxpayers reluctant? One reason is the rhetoric and aggressive campaign tactics of anti-tax groups, who relentlessly claim that new taxes and fees - whether on oil extraction, alcohol sales or other vices - are disastrous to the state economy.

One of these groups is the California Chamber of Commerce, which, as it turns out, has a large board of directors that includes Yudof, CSU Chancellor Charlie Reed and Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott.

This week, the Cal Chamber fired off its latest cannonball of dishonesty, by claiming that the state's current economic troubles have something to do with Jerry Brown's past support for tax increases.

"California's lost 1 million jobs," says a female narrator in an attack ad financed by the Cal Chamber. "We're $200 billion in debt. And Jerry Brown has a 35-year record of higher spending and taxes."

We have no problems with the chamber taking shots at Jerry Brown. He has an extensive track record, and all of it is fair game for groups that want California to be more business friendly.

Yet on the issue of taxes, the chamber's television ad is both misleading and hypocritical. While Brown supported tax increases as governor, so did Ronald Reagan and Pete Wilson (another chamber board member) during their terms in office.

The ad also hits Brown for initially opposing Proposition 13, the 1978 initiative that limited property taxes. Apparently the chamber has forgotten its own opposition to Proposition 13, with its president at the time calling the initiative "a can of worms, horribly flawed, poorly
written and researched."

Soon after the chamber launched this week's hit on Brown, we contacted Yudof to see if he had reviewed the advertisement beforehand or supported its message.

"President Yudof was not aware of this ad and did not participate in its approval," Yudof's office said in a statement. "As a leader of a public university, he is nonpartisan. He is looking into the circumstances surrounding the advertisement."

We hope he does.

But he shouldn't stop there. Yudof, Reed and Scott need to send a clear message to the chamber's executive team that its attack ads are unacceptable. They stamp out debate on how California can rebuild itself, and undermine the credibility of higher education leaders who
are trying to spark this debate.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

CSU President Declares Support for AB 656

Additional material at the end added 4/7/10 at 12:21 pm PST:

If you go to the Poly Post page with the article, in the right hand column of the page there is a video entitled "Brown Bag with the Presidents" of parts of the event, including the impassioned protests of CalWorks staff and students, the students who arrived with chants and signs/banner, part of the very colorful exchange I had with President Ortiz, and the insightful commentary on Ortiz's "declaration" by Student President Richard Liu.

From the [Cal] Poly Post on its website:

BREAKING NEWS: Ortiz declares support for new tax to fund higher education


Published: Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Jonny Tai/Poly Post

President Michael Ortiz addresses the crowd during Brown Bag with the Presidents on Tuesday, April 6.

President Michael Ortiz declared at today’s Brown Bag with the Presidents that he supports a proposed oil extraction tax aimed at providing funding for higher education in California.

California Assemblyman Alberto Torrico (D-Fremont), who has sponsored AB 656, said the bill, if passed, would generate up to $2 billion.

Ortiz was initially reluctant to take a position on the bill, but after being pressed by Dennis Loo, a Cal Poly sociology professor, he said he would support it.

"Why aren't you taking a position on a bill that was specifically introduced to fund the budget shortfall for the university system?" Loo asked.

"I believe that if you are to secure that funding, it would just be removed from our general fund dollars," Ortiz said.

The verbal exchange between the two men continued for several more minutes before Ortiz clarified his position.

Loo: How come the CSU, which is going to get most of the money is against [AB 656]?

Ortiz: You have taken a position and taken the chancellor's position to indicate that is the position of all 23 presidents.

Loo: It is!

Ortiz: That is an error.

Loo: Who supports [AB 656] then?

Ortiz: I do

Loo: You support AB 656?

Ortiz: I do

Loo: You're on the record?

Ortiz: I'm on the record.

Loo: I'm glad to hear that.


University Spokesman Ron Fremont later told the Poly Post that Ortiz's support for the bill reflected only his personal opinion and was not indicative of the Cal Poly administration's position.

More details coming soon.


Here's the comment that I left today at the Poly Post's website on their article:

Thank you Justin and Poly Post.

Ron Fremont's "clarification" of Ortiz's position after the fact doesn't even make sense. How can Ortiz's position be to support AB 656, but the Cal Poly administration, of which Ortiz is the head, be against it? This would be the equivalent of the White House spokesman saying to the nation, "President Obama personally is in favor of ending the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, but his administration wants to continue the wars, so the wars are going to continue."

It is a major embarrassment for the top CSU administrators, beginning with Chancellor Reed, and on down, that they are against AB 656. It reveals what side they are really on, and that is not on the side of the students and faculty and of protecting higher education.

Ortiz, to his credit, recognized the non-tenability of that position in the exchange yesterday before everyone and had to back down from his position of being against the very bill that would solve the budget crisis entirely.

Who, I wonder, ordered Fremont to issue this denial afterwards? Ortiz? Chancellor Reed? Why, we should ask, is the CSU administration opposing restoring funding to the CSU system? If this were basketball, it would be the equivalent of having the referees determine that the ball belongs to Cal Poly and the Cal Poly coach (Ortiz), refusing the ball and saying, give the ball to the other team. The state legislature, led by Rep. Torrico is offering a solution to the CSU system and our "leaders" won't have it. As I said yesterday at the event, Reed's office's sorry excuse for opposing AB 656 (a bill that the UC system supports, by the way, as they should) is that they "have other things they want to spend the money on, not just on teaching."