Here in California, Governor Schwarzenegger promised that 2008 would be the year of education.
Apparently, the former actor forgot a key part of his line – that this would be the year of education CUTS.
His 2008 budget proposal called for 5 billion in education cuts, including $312 million in proposed cuts to the CSU budget. This would translate into an $875 drop in per-student spending. These cuts will almost definitely result in course reductions, increased class sizes, reduced student services, faculty hiring freezes, and the turning away up to 10,000 eligible students from the CSU system.
As the picture below clarifies, Arnold is woefully impervious to what is going on around him. This picture, taken during the devastating fires in San Diego last October, shows Arnold checking his bicep heft as he stands in the burned remains of someones home. Talk about insensitive. This photo serves as a disturbing metaphor for his attitude to the CSU system specifically, and education more generally. While the CSU system goes down in flames, he seems more intent on flexing his own power as he sidles closer to the white house.
While he makes bank and smiles his tanned smile at press conferences, the California Faculty Association and various CSU newspapers work to expose him as terminating the education system in our state. CSU Student Newspapers from around the state have taken issue with Arnold’s budget in particular. For example, Cal State Long Beach paper called Arnie an “Educ-Hater,” As the paper claims, Arnold seems to indeed be an educ-hater when it comes to students, faculty, and staff.
However, Arnold does not ‘hate’ education executives as he has yet to propose curbing spending at the top of the education ladder (say, for example, a cut in Chancellor Reed’s 374,500 salary – plus over 300,00 in ‘perks’ each year). Instead, the governor recommended another 10% student fee increase (which would be the 6th in the last seven years).
The suggestion that raising students fees is the best solution while ignoring the top heavy salaries of university executives reveals a distinct lack of concern for those who can least afford fee hikes – the students.
Failing to mention that salaries for CSU presidents have been on the rise for years in spite of tight education budgets, the governor instead expects students and faculty to bear the brunt of his cuts. This is hardly surprising coming from a man with a net worth of 100 to 200 million who can easily opt out of his 206,500 governor salary because he doesn’t need it (which, by the way, is less than the typical annual salary of a CSU president!).
The governor’s healthcare plans show a similar lack of awareness that not all Californians have deep pockets. For example, his budget eliminates many benefits for the 6.6 million Californians on Medi-cal such and cuts adult dental care, optometry care, and psychological care. As Julia Rosen puts it at Crooks and Liars, “Sorry poor people, no more access to therapists, dentists, or ophthalmologists.”
Thus, as when Arnold talked himself up as an environmentalist while owning 8 Hummers, his claims that he cares about education and healthcare ring false.
rnie, with his empty rhetoric, tanned visage, and plastic grin has also skirted consideration of the fact that California already spends below the national average on education and recently got a grade of D+ in a national ranking of state education systems (see California Progress Report).
Also handily left out of Arnie’s feel good speeches are the high poverty rates in California and the fact that over half of California students come from family’s that are struggling financially.
Yet, in spite of his 9 billion in proposed cuts to state services, which contradicts the goals of affordable education and healthcare he claims to support, Arnie is enjoying a 60% approval rating among registered voters. Is it the star power that still has people blinded or that ultra white celluloid smile? Does the stale “I’ll be back” line still sprinkled in his speeches and the plethora of Governator merchandise peppered throughout the state bring back enough fond memories of Arnold movies to help our Hollywood saturated state forget about the disservice our governor is doing to those who, unlike him, can’t afford healthcare let alone college? Why are people not appalled with his lack of concern for the racial and class stratifications that plague this state?
The fact that the Walton’s, founders of Wal-Mart, are some of his biggest backers, should concern those of us who believe in a state budget that does only cater to corporations and the rich (see “Wal-Mart flexes, backs Gov. Arnold,” October 31, 2005, CNNMOney.com). After all, how likely is a budget remotely concerned with equity and justice for all Californians that comes from a man who is widely reported to support various tenets of fascism? (See, for example, “Hitler on Steroids: Nietzchean Roots of the Governator.”)
This budget directly cuts the very social services that non-privileged Californians (who, due to the structural racism of this country are disproportionately people of color) benefit from.
The CSU cuts are a case in point – as a system that was designed to offer affordable education for ALL Californians, the CSU system has a long history of being the higher education system most diverse along lines of race, class, gender, and other markers of social difference. It is also, apparently, a system Arnold sees as undeserving. As his is well-documented history of sexual harassment, racist comments, and lust for power attests, Arnold doesn’t care about those disenfranchised by the system and, in fact, claims that ‘Ninety-five percent of the people in the world need to be told what to do and how to behave” (Fantastic: The Life of Arnold Schwarzenegger, by Laurence Leamer).
This, along with his use of sexist phrases such as “girli-men,” and his assertion that “If you gave these blacks a country to run, they would run it down the tubes” shows that his often quoted claim “My relationship to power and authority is that I am all for it” (planterymovement.org) leaves out a few of his key beliefs – it should read, “My relationship to white male power, wealth, and authority is that I am all for it.”
As for Chancellor Reed, he VOLUNTARILY gave back 31.3 million of the CSU budget without a word of complaint, as reported by the California Faculty Association. In addition to willingly giving away desperately needed funds, Reed went on a hiring and raise spree – for, guess who, university executives like himself. For example, he hired nine new vice presidents, some at $225,000 year. He gave raises to those at the top of the university ladder, or the presidents and chancellors that NEVER TEACH A SINGLE STUDENT. For more details on these sickening hires and raises in these times of budget crisis, see the story by Jim Doyle at the San Francisco Chronicle here.
As those at the top enjoy hefty raises, university lecturers and coaches lose their jobs. In my teeny department of nine, five lecturers were not assigned any classes next semester. I have heard similar stories campus wide. Those being cut are, as per usual, at the bottom of the academic rank – those without tenure, the ‘temporary faculty,’ some of whom have been “temporarily” teaching at our campus for 14 years!
At the big-wig meeting in Long Beach last week, the head honchos decided to cap enrollment, which will mean denying admission to 10,000 eligible students for the 2009/10 academic year. Reed blamed “underfunding,” failing, unsurprisingly, to make any mention of the hires and pay rises at the top of the pyramid. The Board of Trustees has not considered an executive salary freeze, a hiring freeze, or layoffs (or even salary reduction). The chair of the board, Jeffrey Bleich, claimed “”That’s always a last resort, and we haven’t got there yet.” Yes, cutting THEIR OWN salaries is a last resort. Cutting student access to classes, raising student fees, and cutting faculty comes first! If anyone was still questioning whether the CSU system has become a corporation, here’s your proof!
All of this news turns my stomach. I went into this profession starry eyed, thinking academia was a moral profession that, at its core, aimed to make the world a better place via education, research, and philosophy. I believe in the power of education to change not only individual lives, but entire societies. Sadly, those in charge of the 23 campus system here in California seem most concerned with lining their own pockets.
Moreover, they do so in hush-hush fashion and only those following news from the California Faculty Association and other ‘whistle blowing’ cites realize what is happening. When discussing these latest atrocities with students last week, many wanted to know what can be done. Here, taken from the CFA website, is a list of what you can do:
WHAT YOU CAN DO
With the Thanksgiving holiday fast approaching, CFA encourages faculty
members to take action now to keep our message in the news and in front of
lawmakers, who return to the Capitol December 1st to begin a new session with
many new members.
Below is a list of actions you can take to help ensure proper funding for the CSU.
1 – SEND A MESSAGE TO THE GOVERNOR
Send a message to the governor to let him know why budget cuts to the CSU are
a bad idea! CFA will collect the faxes and send them when the new legislature
begins in December.
Fill out the form at the following address and return it to your campus CFA office:
2 – SEND EXAMPLES OF HOW “CUTS HAVE CONSEQUENCES”
Send in your own example of how Cuts Have Consequences for the CSU’s ability
to deliver education. Please write us at CutsHaveConsequences@calfac.org
and we will help you get your own message out.
3 – E-MAIL A LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Send email to newspapers editors and to radio and TV news programs that have
published or broadcast stories or commentaries this week. Explain to them why it
is the wrong policy to cut public higher education during a financial crisis, and
encourage them to continue to cover the consequences of cuts to our state
For instructions and email addresses, please see
To learn more contact your campus CFA office:
Also, for a video of last Tuesday’s inspiring protests in Long Beach, see here. Then, do whatever you can to voice your protest, for, if Arnold (and other white males in power such as Chancellor Reed) have their way, the CSU system will terminate the futures of many eligible students, as well as many professors, lecturers, coaches, and staff. Meanwhile, Reed and co. will laugh all the way to the bank.