Composed 25,000 feet over someplace mountainous & snowy,
I suspect — no hope — that in the next couple days you will hear from the media several times about the “event” I am returning from in Los Angeles (Monday’s story). The meeting & its results might change the discourse in this country on higher education.
There were somewhere between 60 & 70 people in the room (who can keep them all still for 8 hours? to count them?) from 20+ states. Most had some leadership role, either locally or in state orgs. As you might expect, their were many from California (proximity matters) & almost everyone in the room was from public universities.
Here’s why we were there:
- To change the narrative about the shape of 21st-century higher ed;
- To change it to get higher ed prioritized in state & federal funding;
- To change it to stop paying for a self-evident public good (higher ed) through student indebtedness;
- To change it so our students still have access to the quality education we had, their parents had, or their legislators or administrators had;
- To change it so we can continue as an economic engine for innovation & creativity that creates & retains real middle-class opportunities in this country.
No big deal, right?
But those of you who read this blog regularly (by which I mean Tim) will recognize themes & ideas that have been central to our entries from day one.
Beside talking about these grand ideas, what did we decide to DO?
The news reports will provide more on this but here are some quickshots:
- A working group is developing the principles document, which you can see @ principles, in the hopes that there will be adopted & signed off on (APSCUF Exec Council has already seen them);
- In conjunction with CFA’s “Take Class Action Day” on April 13 (which has a very cool logo), others will try to do something to highlight these issues;
- A national day of action in the future;
- An event around graduation(s) in May or June centered in DC.
It’s ambitious. But it’s imperative.
We need to make sure the university system that is the envy of the world continues to be so.
What we didn’t do was give this grass roots movement a name. We agreed it was a campaign. But all the acronyms with C, HE, Q & a verb form failed to excite, so we didn’t waste precious time wordsmithing that.
But we agreed it’s a campaign. Maybe THE CAMPAIGN of the near future.
I’m sure you’ll hear more about this in the days to come.
On another note: Monday was the first real day when the state legislature is in. We had a morning meeting to talk about Appropriations, even in the absence of the concreteness of Gov. Corbett’s budget. That appears on March 8.
In the meantime, there’s much to do. Legislative Assembly is in 10 days. And negotiations loom.