Our Weekly Reader for the Week of 3/31/13

The academic year enters the home stretch with snow, and some news, but more going on behind the scenes. As always, please suggest articles and pass these links along to those you think would be interested. — Bruce
1. After last week’s three-day strike, the University made SEIU an offer which has been recommended for approval by their membership. No official word yet about the results of that vote.http://www.news-gazette.com/news/business/employment/2013-03-27/ui-union-reach-tentative-contract.html


2. Pensions.a. The State Legislature is in recess: House is adjourned until April 8, Senate is adjourned until April 10. For an authoritative summary, go to the SURS Advocate Legislative Edition. At this point, several “reforms” have passed the House. Nothing has passed the Senate. Nothing has been signed by the Governor. Nothing has been vetted as constitutional by the Judicial System.
April Newsletter Now Available   (SURS Legislative Edition)

b. Lots of commentary on pensions from various points of view.

http://www.news-gazette.com/opinions/editorials/2013-03-24/guest-commentary-sec-and-illinois-pension-fraud.html [John Kindt]

http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20130328/OPINION/130329782/illinois-pensions-and-education-are-losing-to-gambling [John Kindt again, but mostly about gambling]

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-legislature-break-0324-20130324,0,719653.story (3/24)

http://www.pjstar.com/opinions/ourview/x1522344037/Our-View-Wanted-Legislators-who-can-read-Constitution-and-do-the-math (3/24)

http://www.news-gazette.com/news/politics-and-government/2013-03-25/tom-kacich-pension-reform-okd-not-downstate-officials.html (3/25)

http://www.news-gazette.com/opinions/editorials/2013-03-27/pols-ducking-tough-votes.html (3/27)

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-03-28/news/ct-edit-pension-0328-jm-20130328_1_pension-reform-pension-bill-pension-costs (3/28)

c. Past OWRs have pointed out that there are several good fair proposals out there with the fatal flaw that they are not proposed by legislators themselves (we don’t want no bill that nobody sent), and they don’t penalize workers enough. Here’s the latest on a proposal which came from some U of I faculty.
d. Pensions will certainly be an issue in the 2014 governor’s race. On Monday, Gov. Quinn said he would support a guarantee that all future pension payments be made. Potential candidate Bruce Rauner responded by saying: “After years of continued mismanagement, Governor Quinn continues to reveal his true colors: a lackey to the government union bosses.” See further commentary at:http://capitolfax.com/2013/03/27/explanations-and-theories/
3. Administrators treating each other very nicely at other schools and not sharing governance in Indianahttp://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-11-21/the-troubling-dean-to-professor-ratio (From last fall, but still timely)
4. What would OWR be without MOOC stories? The first one may be the most telling. Harvard Prof. Gregory Nagy has taught a course called “Concepts of the Acient Greek Hero”, taken by more than ten thousand students over the last 30 years. This year it is being offered as a MOOC with 27000 online  students. This week, Harvard appealed to alumni who had taken the course at the university to “volunteer as online mentors and discussion group managers.” Draw your own conclusions about the future of paid instructional activity. Mine aren’t pleasant.http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/26/education/harvard-asks-alumni-to-donate-time-to-free-online-course.html
3/25  — pp.2-5 (Various) Pension commentary
3/25  — pp.12-13 (Trib) “3 Chicago State trustees not reappointed to board”

3/25  — pp.22-23 (Chron) “Average pay increases for academic professionals trailed inflation this year”

3/25  — pp.25-27 (AAUP) “Warnings from the trenches” From a high school teacher on NCLB and Race to the Top and their effect on incoming college students
3/25  — pp.63-65 (NYT) “With political savvy, A&M chancellor charts a smooth course for big changes”3/26 — p.11 (AP) “Quinn: no more skipping pension payment”
3/26 — p.12 (SJ-R.com) John Kindt’s op-ed, see above for its appearance in NG,
3/26 — p.14 (Trib) “Second NIU worker sees case dropped”
3/26 — pp.16-18 (CBSTV, Chi.) “Students squeezed for higher tuition as administrative salaries rise”
3/26 — pp.23-24 (NYT) “Harvard asks graduates to donate time to free on-line humanities class”, see above
3/26 — pp.33-35 (WSJ) “Startup sees profit in state’s financial woes” — advances money to vendors owed late state payments, for a fee of course3/27 — pp.2-3 (NG) “UI lobbying costs among tops in nation” Tom Kacich column.
3/27 — pp.6-7 (DI) “Searches underway for 3 vacant dean positions” So that’s our problem: we’ve been looking for “vacant deans”.
3/27 — pp.11-12 (CBSTV,Chi) “BGA: doctors getting rehired while collecting state pensions” (As can profs, if  total salary doesn’t exceed the previous one.)
3/27 — p.17 (Chron) “State budget officers call on states and colleges to fix higher-ed finance”
3/28 — p.1 (DI) “UI, workers come to tentative agreement”, see above
3/28 — p.5 (DI) “Trustee appointment shouldn’t be made by just Gov. Quinn, Alumni Association”, editorial
3/28 — p.7 (Trib) “Sausage-making on pension reform”, editorial, see above
3/28 — pp.9-10 (Trib) “Chicago State execs get big raises”, see above
3/28 — p.17 (educationnews.org) “Banks write off $3 billion in student debt already this year.”
3/28 — pp.18-19 (IHE) “California academic leaders oppose outsourcing plan”, see above

3/29 — p..1 (NG) “Audit cites 30 irregularities in UI system”