Are you hesitant to speak with students about contentious issues such as the state budget, Connecticut politics, higher education reorganization, or problems in the CSU system?
To help you broach such issues with your students in a productive and intellectually honest manner, please consider using any portion of the materials below in your classroom. If you have assignments that accomplish the same goal, then please share them with us by commenting below.
The CCSU-AAUP invites you to use these materials to help our students understand what is going on and how they can have their voices heard. There will be a “Class Action” on Friday, April 29 on the CCSU campus. We invite faculty, staff, and students to participate. For information on how you can participate in the Class Action, contact Jason Snyder (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Connecticut residents have lost money, their jobs, and their homes. They shouldn’t lose our great public universities. The CSU system is facing a potential 10% budget cut and reorganization, with the threat of increased student fees, higher tuition, fewer class offerings, loss of campus identity, increased faculty workload, and further erosion of tenure-track faculty positions.
The people of Connecticut, the students of the CSU system and their faculty and staff have all been blasted with the economic crisis and are being asked to shoulder an unfair share of the burden.
We must insist on fairness during hard times. By standing together we can send a strong message to the state to do the right thing by keeping cuts and other measures away from the classroom. The CSU system can do better than devoting only 28% of the operating budget to instruction. We – faculty, students, and staff – are the voices of the CSU: If we don’t stand up for ourselves, no one else is going to.
We must also voice our concerns to our legislators. They need to hear from faculty, staff, and students about the need for public higher education as an investment in our state’s future. Find your legislators.
Below are some Lesson Plans, Discussion items, and Classroom Activities you might be able to adapt to your classroom or lab.
Sample assignment ideas:
- WRITING: write an Op-Ed about the implications of budget cuts on students and their families; extra credit if it gets published somewhere.
- SOCIAL RESEARCH METHODS – quantitative/surveys: design and conduct a survey about the ways in which budget cuts are affecting CSU students, faculty, staff, or other affected group. In designing the research, students should determine what type of survey design would be most effective and practical given the constraints of the assignment, include a sampling plan including the pros/cons of the chosen sampling method, and administer the survey.
- FILM/MEDIA/JOURNALISM: film and edit a video or photo essay about the budget crisis and way the campus administration has handled it. Find ways to visually express some of the contradictory ways the university operates during this period of budget crisis.
- BUSINESS/FINANCE/ACCOUNTING: Find and examine a copy of the CSU’s budget for the past five years. Examine how the CSU’s finances have changed over these years. How has the revenue stream been affected by the budget crisis? What choices have been made by administrators to deal with the budget crisis? What does the budget tell you and not tell you?
- ETHNIC STUDIES: Decisions resulting from the budget crisis in Connecticut are affected by the demographics of the state and have a different effect on different communities of color. Examine and discuss these themes.
- LABOR STUDIES/HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGEMENT: SEBAC and the state are in discussions about $2 billion in concessions that the governor is requesting from state employees. Find out what issues are most pressing and examine the implications of each sides’ demands for students.
- BUSINESS/FINANCE/ACCOUNTING: Find and examine a copy of the CSU’s audited financial statements. Using what you have learned about public institutions, what conclusions do you draw about the financial health of the CSU system?
- POLITICAL SCIENCE/PUBLIC POLICY: Find out which state legislators are most influential in determining how the state budget allocates funding to the public universities. Schedule a meeting with a senator or assembly person who represents your campus to discuss the budget proposal for the CSU. Write up your impressions of the meeting.
- SOCIAL RESEARCH METHODS: qualitative/interviews: conduct an in-depth interview with someone from your campus community about one of the issues motivating the April 29 day of action. The interview might be with a student, a staff person, an organizer, or even an administrator. Assignment should include the list of interview questions. The assignment might include interviewing multiple individuals who could be expected to have different perspectives about the same topic (such as a student and a faculty member).
- SOCIOLOGY/SOCIAL MOVEMENTS: Some say there is a growing national movement around public employee collective bargaining rights that started in Wisconsin. Is this a social movement? Why or why not?
- POLITICAL SCIENCE/PUBLIC POLICY: In public discourse, public institutions and public goods are often framed as beneficial only or especially for the working class and the poor. Find examples (or counter-examples) of this is the mainstream media. Analyze the veracity (or lack of) of this position.
- WOMEN/GENDER STUDIES: Analyze the various ways in which the state budget and political process that determines the budget is gendered. How is this expressed on campus?
- SCIENCE: Analyze the jobs available to CSU graduates in the science field, how will the state’s future and student lives be impacted by budget cuts to science courses and curriculum?
Adapted from: Lesson Plan for CSU Professors. Found at: http://www.calfac.org/pod/lesson-plan-csu-professors