The University of California may say I’m just taking a few days off. That’s not how I see it.
Reader JG asks my position on this story from the Sacramento Bee:
Some University of California professors are so peeved that UC’s Office of the President has forbidden them from taking furloughs on teaching days that they’re planning to walk out on their classes later this month. The date they’ve chosen– Sept. 24– is the first day of class at several UC campuses, including UC Davis.
Professors advocating for the walkout say they can make political inroads by forcing students to feel the impact of budget cuts prompting the furloughs.
“Instructional furloughs pressure the state to cease defunding the UC system,” says a letter calling for the walkout.
“We cannot allow either the California legislature or the Office of the President to proceed as though cuts to public education do not have debilitating consequences.”
I expressed my thoughts about this in an email I sent to my colleagues last month when there was some discussion of these issues among UCSD professors. Here’s what I said:
I strongly believe that cancellation of classes is a
very bad idea.
The suggestion that it is possible to achieve a significant
reduction in the work expected of a faculty member at UCSD by having us
teach a few less hours in a quarter is a complete joke. The people who
suggested it either see their jobs very differently than I do, or else
they’re trying to make a petty gesture of protest.
The latter is an extremely bad
idea. Students are taking a very serious hit in the form of higher tuition
and fees. Faculty members have also taken a significant reduction in income, and
that should be the basic message that we send to the world. Personally I
would have preferred to see it called “salary cut” rather than “furlough”
for precisely this reason.
There are any number of things that happen in life that may not be as I would have wished. But one of my core principles is never to take that out on the students I am asked to teach.
If some of my colleagues perceive that they now have better opportunities than teaching at the University of California, I’d encourage them to resign so that they can take advantage of those opportunities.
If not, they need to stop whining and do their jobs.
And perhaps even be thankful that, unlike many other Americans, they still have one.