Instructors or Obstructors?

In case you had not heard, California is in a very deep financial hole. Given the pensions and everything else which has gone wrong for the state–albeit as a direct result of policies enacted by duly elected officials–the state is currently looking at between 1/4 and 3/4 of a trillion dollars in the red. That is a lot of red. That is enough red for each resident (legal, of course) to owe between $7.5k and $20k.

That’s the context. Here’s the story. The University of California system is part of the red:

The specter and promise of online education is perhaps nowhere more deeply felt than in California, where campus administrators and instructors are faced with a bloodletting. University of California officials have suggested that the system will have to innovate out of the current financial crisis by expanding online programs. (State house analysts agree.) Instructors, meanwhile, are terrified that this is code for cutting their pay, or increasing their workloads, or outsourcing their jobs to interlopers, or replacing them with online teaching software.

The system’s corps of lecturers feels this threat sharply. “We believe that if courses are moved online, they will most likely be the classes currently taught by lecturers,” reads a brief declaration against online education on the website of UC-AFT, the University of California chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, “and so we will use our collective bargaining power to make sure that this move to distance education is done in a fair and just way for our members.”

Fair and just in this context means “we don’t lose anything we currently have.” It would appear that these lecturers are not working in the hard sciences. If they were, they would understand that that which cannot continue, cannot continue. There is a limit to the amount of current debt (and future liability) which California can hold before the public trust is destroyed and the state implodes financially. Uncle Obama will not be bailing them out again.

There was a time when educators educated. That was the goal. That was the purpose. That was, dare I say it, the calling which many of these people had. They admitted it. They were glad of it. Their rewards were in the successes of their students. Apparently, that thinking is history.

Allow me to close with the last section of the article:

But [president of the union Bob] Samuels says he and his colleagues are not taking any chances. “It’s up to us to stop any program we think is going to be counterproductive,” he says.

Counterproductive to education or to the salaries and benefits of the people who still consider themselves educators but are in fact unwilling to learn and change with the reality that is California’s indebtedness?

Class dismissed.