|faculty & students at city hall speakout against proposed CC cuts|
Faculty members and college students gathered at City Hall at noon on Wednesday, December 8th to speak out on the impact of Mayor Bloomberg’s 5.4% cut in City funding for CUNY’s community colleges. The midyear reduction of $13 million will mean a loss of hundreds of class sections and adjunct faculty positions. Increased class size and decreased support services will harm students’ education and hurt graduation rates.
“CUNY students are being punished for a budget shortfall they did nothing to create,” said Barbara Bowen, president of the Professional Staff Congress (PSC), the union of CUNY’s faculty and professional staff. “If a cut of this size is enacted, some students will not be able to take classes they need and may not be able to graduate. It isn’t smart and it isn’t fair to endanger New York’s economic future by erecting obstacles in the path of people who want to learn.”
“More cuts would be devastating,” said Rahime McClaurin, a student at Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC). “BMCC students are already packed like sardines into our overcrowded classes. Fewer faculty would make things much worse. We’re in dire need of help from our lawmakers,” said McClaurin, a board representative of the NY Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG). In response to the midyear reduction, BMCC’s administration has developed a plan that would cut more than 100 adjunct faculty positions and axe about 260 class sections.
The City Council directed additional funds to CUNY this year as community college enrollment soared. Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez, chair of the Council’s Higher Education Committee, noted that even before the mayor’s cuts, the budget for NYC’s community colleges “was barely enough to cover their new expenses with the record-high enrollment” of recent years.
Cutting public higher education when enrollment is growing undermines New York’s economic future, said PSC First Vice President Steve London. “In the 21st century, it is just common sense that we need to invest in working peoples’ education, so that they can contribute more to the economy and to society,” London said. “Without that investment, our economy will be on a shaky foundation.” [Posted 12/8/10]
PSC Testifies at City Hall and Albany Against Cuts. PSC officers and chapter chairs testified Monday, December 13th, at a City Council Finance Committee hearing on the proposed midyear cut to CUNY community colleges. PSC officers Steve London and Arthurine DeSola joined faculty, staff and students from the campuses in calling on the mayor not to impose a further $13 million cut on the community colleges, which have already absorbed a $20 million cut in State funds.
PSC President Barbara Bowen will testify on Tuesday, December 14th, before the NYS Assembly Committee on Higher Education, which has called a hearing on student retention and graduation rates. While citing the need for more careful and nuanced data, the PSC will call for a restoration of State investment in CUNY as the real solution to the problem. [Posted 12/14/10]
3,000 Against CUNY Budget Cuts. A PSC petition against Mayor Bloomberg’s planned midyear cut in City funding for CUNY community colleges was delivered to the City Council on Nov. 22. Signed by 3,000 faculty, staff and students, the petition was accepted by Ydanis Rodriguez, chair of the Council’s Higher Education Committee. Rodriguez said he would argue for CUNY as a priority in discussions with Speaker Christine Quinn and other Council members.
“Our classrooms are already overcrowded,” said Geoff Kurtz, an assistant professor at BMCC who helped deliver the petitions. “The budget cuts the mayor is proposing could lead to more than a 20% increase in class sizes by next year at BMCC.” The mayor’s plan would reduce City support for CUNY community college operations by 5.4%, or $13 million this year and $16.5 million next year.
The CUNY reductions were among a range of cuts to public services that Bloomberg announced Nov. 18, in a plan that was immediately criticized by City Council leaders. “CUNY, libraries, after-school programs, those are services that our middle class utilizes every day,” Quinn said to Gotham Gazette. She vowed that the Council would have a voice in decisions on the midyear reductions, even if Bloomberg structures the package of cuts to avoid a Council vote.
If you haven’t already signed the PSC petition, it’s not too late to add your name. You can sign online here. [Posted 11/29/10]