Our Weekly Reader for week beginning November 25, 2012

1. Lead story right now is the potential GEO strike this week. For up to date information, don’t read this, go to

https://cfaillinois.org/tag/geo2012/

http://www.uigeo.org/

1b. Google-news-ing led to a piece on wsws.org, which appears to be a website written through a Trotsky lens.

http://www.wsws.org/articles/2012/nov2012/grad-n20.shtml

Their point of view is very much anti-AFT and the essay concludes: “Teaching and graduate assistants cannot wage their battle alone. The broadest possible appeal should be made to the undergraduates and other sections of the university workforce—professors, secretaries, and maintenance and food workers—and the local community for a joint struggle to defend the right to higher education and decent living standards. This can only be carried out if the fight is waged independently of the Democratic Party politicians, the Illinois Federation of Teachers and the AFT.”

2. You probably heard already about “Squeezy, the Pension Python”. See 11/19-20 E-Summary for several newspaper reports. Here is commentary from capitolfax.com and Huffington (thanks, SD)

http://capitolfax.com/2012/11/19/a-snake-really/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/barbara-popovic/chicago-newsroom_b_2143952.html

3. Following up on last week’s capitolfax report, see.

http://www.news-gazette.com/news/education/2012-11-20/ui-scales-back-civic-leadership-program.html

4. Final item collects corporatization links. I suppose we should be grateful that the Illini Union Bookstore is still locally owned, though it’s awfully hard to actually find a book on the main floor:

http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/11/21/university-looks-combat-textbook-prices-through-contracts-bookstore-vendors

When it comes to textbook costs, publishers are often seen as owning all the levers. But Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) recently decided to take a novel approach to reducing textbook costs for its students by reworking its contracts not with the companies that sell books, but rather those that control the bookstores.

The crucial step in this effort for SNHU, which operates both a traditional undergraduate campus and a lucrative array of online programs, was forgoing the commission it took in past years from the company that ran its physical and online bookstores, Follett Higher Education.

The university had been earning an 11 percent commission (and 12 percent of every sale once revenues exceeded $4 million), according to an internal analysis provided to Inside Higher Ed. In the 2011-12 academic year, the university made $500,000 from this commission.

As large vendors like Follett have taken over bookstores on many campuses, it has become common for universities to accept such commissions in exchange for giving the vendors the opportunity to cash in on the local demand for textbooks. And while other universities have struck deals with publishers for discounts on behalf of their students, attacking the cost issue by taking a pass on that kickback seems to be a rare move.

http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/11/20/college-cuts-adjuncts-hours-avoid-affordable-care-act-costs

Only three days of E-Summary this week.
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11/19 pp.1-7 (NG) Salary story in last week’s OWR, with some comments.
11/19 pp.9-10 (NG) “Union signs off on strike”, also in last week’s OWR
11/19 pp.11-13 (Trib) On Chinese undergraduate students in US schools. “The growth has been especially explosive at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which has 2,112 undergraduates from China, up from 93 in the fall of 2007.”
11/19 pp.20-25 (Trib,SunTimes,NG)) “Quinn’s pension marketing push is derided as `juvenile’: Governor unveils plan and `Squeezy the Pension Python’ mascot to win support for pension reform”, etc., part of capitolfax above.
11/19 pp. 33-37 (Trib) NIU story in last week’s OWR.

11/20 p.2 (NG) Civic leadership program, see above
11/20 pp.3-5 (NG,Trib) Squeezy the Pension python
11/20 pp.18-22 (NYT) “College of future could be come one, come all” — front page MOOC story
11/20 pp.27-29 (Trib) Financial incentives for Rutgers and Maryland to join the Big Ten

11/21 pp.4-5 (InsideHigherEd) — “Struggling Rutgers follows Maryland to Big Ten” (struggling in an athletic sense)
11/21 pp.15-16 (InsideHigherEd) — “University looks to combat textbook prices through contracts with bookstore vendors”, see above.
11/21 pp.17-19 (Ch.2 Chicago) — Quinn and AFSCME