I’d love to write some bits of political analysis on what’s going to happen with the State House races, but that can wait till another day.
Now, retrenchment sits heavy. First, the last two days Ken and I have been in membership meetings at Mansfield and East Stroudsburg — two of the three places where faculty received retrenchment letters last month.
Second, tomorrow is a special statewide Meet & Discuss about retrenchment. It is the first time we have meet at the state level to discuss the details of retrenchment (we met in March over just Kutztown, when it was still speculative).
But back to the meetings.
It’s hard to tell people what can be done.
I wish I could tell them all — 16 is the official count — that we can save their jobs.
But I’ve tried to not get in the habit, even in hyperbole, of promising what I can’t certainly deliver.
I wish I could them that I understood why this is happening. I look at the current books, or even the budgets proposed for this year or 2011-12, and cries of “poverty” seem overblown. Kutztown is showing a surplus for 2011-12 &, even with the conservative assumptions, Mansfield is only $500k in the red — or about 1% of their budget. It doesn’t look like a financial crisis, especially given those conservative assumptions.
Instead, all I can promise, all I can say, is that the green book, our CBA, provides the protection of process — which tomorrow only begins to fulfull — and provides retrenchees with preferential hiring rights. If they are qualified for it, they have first claim to job vacancies for three years.
The human carnage is depressing; and so are the prospects that retrenchment holds for us all.
Retrenchment by its very nature is a revocation of tenure. Tenure is a legal concept and it carries with it what is known legally as “interest.” It is not a legal concept that should be revoked lightly. To do so is to cheapen it for us all and doing that cheapens academic freedom. If there’s no high standard for taking one’s tenure — the highest standard of financial distress — then who’s to say that the next retrenchment letter isn’t to someone who has spoken out in a way the administration doesn’t like?
Retrenchment, forgive the pun, is trench warfare: this is where we fight our battles: academic freedom, sharing of information, secure jobs, all as part of institutions that understand that these items are integral to a quality education.
You can count on leadership, both locally and at the state, and staff, to continue to fight the fight for you and for quality education.
Steve & Ken