AFT Randi Weingarten has drafted a letter to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan regarding the many shortcomings of the Administration's proposed college rating system. AFT is also asking its higher ed members to send comments to Washington before February 17th.
The proposed college rating system is based primarily on graduation rates, and is largely punitive as institutions with low scores may eventually see cuts in the Pell Grant funding. The proposed system has the potential of harming many institutions, especially those that serve large numbers of low income, minority students. For U of M institutions, the rating system will experience that largest negative impact are the Flint and Dearborn campuses, where graduation rates are much lower, 37% and 52% respectively than Ann Arbor where the approximate rate is 91%. Using graduation rates is highly problematic because it does not consider the variety of factors, such as average student GPAs and ACT scores, that that are used for university acceptance, which surely have an impact on graduation rates.
The U.S. House of Representatives voted along party lines on Thursday to raise the full-time employment threshold in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) from 30 to 40 hours a week. The Republican majority in the Senate is expected to support the legislation, but it faces a certain veto from President Obama. If made law, the 40-hour rule could impact college faculty across the country, perhaps including UM lecturers with a 75% appointment who enjoy health-care benefit eligibilty under the current law.
AFT President Randi Weingarten issued a statement opposing the bill:
“Contingent workers, including college and university adjunct faculty, make up an increasing share of the workforce. If the threshold for coverage is raised from 30 to 40 hours, many of these contingent workers will lose a hard-fought opportunity for employer health coverage. This is wrong and unfair. Rather than embracing the spirit of the ACA to help expand healthcare for all working families, this unwarranted change would subvert the law’s intent to cover more Americans and would close off a much-needed health insurance option.”
From The Nation (Michelle Chen):
On their campus set amid the idyllic northwestern woodlands, graduate students at the University of Oregon stepped out of their classrooms and onto a historic picket line last week. The union, representing some 1,500 graduate teaching fellows, went on an eight-day strike and emerged Wednesday with a final deal, embattled but triumphant.
LEO members from all three campuses gathered in Ann Arbor on October 25 for the union's annual convention.
A budget for 2015 was discussed and approved, as was a constitutional amendment.
Members identified issues of concern to be addressed in the next three years, leading into the next contract negotiations, and agreed on priorities.
AFT Michigan President David Hecker addressed to the convention, urging continued activism in the 2014 state election campaign. Following lunch, a dozen members joined with Hecker to canvas labor-sympathetic voters in Ann Arbor, promoting a strong turn-out at the polls on November 4.
LEO members can view detailed convention notes by logging into the Members Only page.
Paul Fain in Inside Higher Ed:
Critics of for-profit colleges were disappointed by the final “gainful employment” regulations. They said the Obama administration caved to industry pressure and put out a watered-down, inadequate set of rules.
The U.S. Department of Education calls that narrative “misleading.” The department said the regulations are strong, legally sound and will protect students from underperforming academic programs.
At LEO Annual Convention on October 25, members voted to adopt a proposed amendment to the LEO constitution that designates the union's election day as the last working day of September in even numbered years.