Two weeks after negotiating a 10.5 percent pay hike, the union that represents California State University faculty helped lead an effort to kill legislation that might have helped some students graduate within four years.
As if CSU’s abysmally low graduation rates are acceptable, the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday rejected Senate Bill 1450 by Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, to provide incentives to graduate on time.
Glazer’s bill failed to receive the requisite votes when Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, and Connie Leyva, D-Chino, voted against it, and Bill Monning, D-Carmel, and Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, didn’t vote.
Fewer than 20 percent of CSU students graduate in four years. Sacramento State’s rate is 9 percent. At Fresno and Stanislaus State, 16 percent of students graduate in four years. San Luis Obispo is top among CSU campuses, with 47 percent of students getting their degrees in that time.
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To provide incentives to students, Glazer, a former California State University trustee, proposed guaranteeing students that their tuition would be frozen and that they would receive priority registration for classes. In exchange, they’d have to complete 30 units per academic year and maintain good grades.
The California Faculty Association warned of “unintended consequences,” saying the bill “could disproportionately advantage those students already close to graduating in four years at the expense of other students.” Pan explained his “no” vote by saying he worried that if CSU were to freeze tuition for some students, others might pay more.
Many CSU students don’t graduate in four years because they need remediation or work full time. They should receive help, too. But freshmen who arrive prepared and are able to attend classes full time should not be prevented from graduating in four years because classes are unavailable. If more students graduate in four years, CSU could admit more qualified students.
During professors’ negotiations leading up to the pay package, students demonstrated in support of the faculty. We don’t begrudge Cal State professors a raise. Their pay was stagnant for years. But the faculty has a responsibility to help fix the broken system, even if it means agreeing to teach some classes they don’t want to teach, or perhaps take on extra classes.
On Wednesday, however, the professors’ union and Senate Education Committee members turned their collective backs on students they ought to be serving.