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Sunday, September 30, 2012

A word from our sponsor as the fall quarter begins...

This blog is sponsored by the Faculty Association at UCLA, an independent association for members of the UCLA Academic Senate.

A form for joining the Faculty Association can be found at:

http://www.uclafaculty.org/Join.html

By the way, the Faculty Association is planning a campus event on November 7 dealing with funding UC.  More info will be available on this blog as we get closer to the event.

UCLA Luskin School Election Event in Downtown LA Oct. 17

With the presidential debate coming up on Oct. 3, and with your state voter pamphlet probably arriving around now, you may have an interest in a program offered by the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs later this month (October 17).  Below is an announcement and below that is a link for registering to attend:

After the horse race is over and Election 2012 has been decided, the business of governing is going to get very difficult very quickly. With budget cuts looming and taxes set to rise, voters are struggling to understand competing visions for the future. Is a balanced compromise possible in an atmosphere of extreme partisanship? How does the rhetoric of an election year match our fiscal reality?

Join Mark Z. Barabak, political writer for the Los Angeles Times;Sky Gallegos, political strategist and experienced campaign veteran; Adam Nagourney, Los Angeles bureau chief for The New York Times; Dan Schnur, director of USC's Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics; and Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr., dean of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs for an engaging discussion that's sure to enlighten and inform.
Join us before the program for an All-American reception featuring hot dogs and apple pie!

Event information
===========

Wednesday, October 17
6 p.m. Reception
7 p.m. Panel Discussion
 
   
Japanese American National Museum
100 N. Central Avenue
Los Angeles, California 90012

To register to attend, go to:
http://eamailer.support.ucla.edu/ViewInBrowser/?PID=1EF858FC-1037-4217-9C92-AA2EE0A9C3D8

(Full disclosure: Yours truly was involved in the planning of the Oct. 17 event.)

For the historically minded, he first televised presidential debate - Kennedy/Nixon in 1960 - can be seen at:


Saturday, September 29, 2012

405 Weekend Closure Info

Above is the scene as the bridge over the 405 was being deconstructed this morning. You can get traffic flow information by going to the map at:
http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/roadinfo/metrola.htm and then clicking on the link for road speeds on the lower left.  Or go directly to:
http://www.smartraveler.com/traffic.asp?market=Greater%2BLos%2BAngeles&zone=LosAngeles

Note: The LA Times has a photo gallery showing various stages of construction through the Sepulveda pass beginning in 1929 at:
http://framework.latimes.com/2011/07/13/the-405-a-repeating-history-of-construction/#/0

Brown Signs Bill Offering Private Pensions (Kind of/Maybe)

As readers of this blog will know, public pensions have been an issue in California and for UC.  Recently, Gov. Brown signed a bill that modified public pensions in the state - with exclusions including an exclusion for UC which modified its own plan in 2010.

Democrats in the legislature believe that there would be more public sympathy for government pensions if more private sector workers had defined benefit pensions.  (Of course, most private workers are under Social Security which is defined benefit.)  Private employers, however, have been moving away from defined benefit to defined contribution ("401k-type") plans.  So a proposal arose to create some kind of pension plan for the private sector in California for workers who did not have one.  A true defined benefit plan for the private sector, a version of Social Security at the state level, would be very difficult to operate for many, many reasons.  But there is a pension known as "cash balance" which is a cross between defined benefit and defined contribution.

Under a cash balance plan, the worker has a tax-favored account into which contributions are made (employer and/or employee) similar to a defined contribution or 401k plan. However, the return on money in the account is guaranteed by the offerer.  The plan is a savings plan with a fixed interest rate; the worker does not do the investing.  The guarantee puts some risk on the offerer so the plan is similar to defined benefit in that regard. However, at retirement age, the worker has a lump sum, not an annuity. He/she could use the lump sum to buy an annuity from a private insurance carrier although the costs of such retail annuities can be high.

For the offerer, the higher is the interest rate guaranteed, the greater is the risk since actual investments might not cover the guarantee.  For the worker, the lower is the guarantee, the less attractive is the plan.  Note that most workers without any pension (defined benefit or defined contribution) can open an IRA or some similar tax-favored plan.

A bill in the legislature proposed that the state create a cash balance plan for workers without pensions in the private sector.  Brown insisted that the bill be modified require a study first of economic and legal feasibility and then a separate vote by the legislature actually to establish the plan - if it chooses to do so - down the road.  With that modification, he has signed the bill.  See below from the Sacramento Bee (excerpt):

Legislation designed to pave the way for a private retirement plan affecting millions of California private-sector workers was signed into law Friday by Gov. Jerry Brown. The goal is to create a savings program in which workers who have no access to a pension can count on a guaranteed rate of return for contributing about 3 percent of their salary. Brown's signing of Senate Bill 1234 signals support for the program, but he signed separate legislation, Senate Bill 923, that requires a feasibility study and a final vote by the Legislature before launching it. Sen. Kevin de León, who teamed with Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg to push SB 1234, said Brown's signing could lead to creation of a "national model for retirement savings."
...Unlike a public pension, de León's program would guarantee participants a minimal rate of return for contributions made via payroll deduction. The Los Angeles Democrat contends that neither the state nor private businesses would incur risk. Returns would be assured by private insurance underwriters...
It is interesting to note that the governor signed the modified legislation without any fanfare.  The signing is noted along with a listing of a rash of other unrelated bills he signed or vetoed on his website at http://www.gov.ca.gov/news.php?id=17767.  

Friday, September 28, 2012

If you are worried about the return of Carmageddon...

From the LA Times:

...UCLA researchers say that last year's Carmageddon closure of the 405 Freeway rid Los Angeles of both traffic and another notorious problem: pollution.
Air quality near the closed 10-mile portion of the freeway reached levels 83% better than typical weekends, according to research released Friday by a team at UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability.  More striking, the researchers say, air quality also improved 75% in parts of West Los Angeles and Santa Monica, suggesting that whole swaths of residents stayed off the road in those areas. Overall, air quality across the region was 25% better than normal.

"Seeing such a dramatic reduction [in pollutants] in West L.A. was really quite surprising," said Suzanne Paulson, one of the professors leading the research. "It gives a very dramatic view of how clean the air could be." As soon as traffic returned the following week, the improvements vanished, Paulson said. But area residents have another chance to breathe some fresh air starting Saturday...

Full article at http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-carmageddon-air-quality-20120928,0,3656316.story

So you know what to do:
video

The Thrifty Fifty Online Textbooks

Governor Brown signed twin bills that create a mechanism for producing and distributing free online textbooks for what are described as fifty lower-division core courses at UC and CSU in cooperation with the community colleges.

Exactly how these texts are going to be produced (for no royalties, if I read the new laws correctly) remains to be seen.  There do seem to be some mechanisms for payment for supplying such texts but, again, details are not clear.

The twin bills are at:
http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/11-12/bill/sen/sb_1051-1100/sb_1052_bill_20120905_enrolled.html and
http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/11-12/bill/sen/sb_1051-1100/sb_1053_bill_20120905_enrolled.html


Prop 30 and the Statue Statute

Gov. Brown used the occasion of signing a bill to have a statue of Ronald Reagan in the State Capitol implicitly to promote Prop 30 - Brown's tax initiative.  See below:
LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST

AB 2358, Hagman. State Capitol: Ronald Reagan statue.
Existing law prescribes various duties for the Department of General Services in connection with development and maintenance of the park around the State Capitol Building.
This bill would authorize the Ronald Reagan Centennial Capitol Foundation, in consultation with the Department of General Services, to plan a statue of Ronald Reagan in the State Capitol Building Annex. The bill would require the Department of General Services and the Ronald Reagan Centennial Capitol Foundation to approve the design and any other aspect of the statue. The bill would require that the planning, construction, and maintenance of the statue be funded with private donations through the Ronald Reagan Centennial Capitol Foundation. The bill would prohibit construction of the statue until the Joint Committee on Rules has approved and adopted the plan for the statue, and the Joint Committee on Rules and the Department of Finance have determined that sufficient private funding is available to construct and maintain the statue.
DIGEST KEY
Vote: majority   Appropriation: no   Fiscal Committee: yes   Local Program: no  


BILL TEXT
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

SECTION 1.
 Section 14632 is added to the Government Code, to read:
14632.
 (a) The Ronald Reagan Centennial Capitol Foundation may, in consultation with the Department of General Services, plan a statue of Ronald Reagan in the State Capitol Building Annex.
(b) The Department of General Services, in consultation with the Ronald Reagan Centennial Capitol Foundation, shall accomplish the following goals:
(1) Review of the preliminary design plans to identify potential maintenance concerns.
(2) Ensure Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. Sec. 12101 et seq.) compliance, and other safety concerns.
(3) Review and approval of proper California Environmental Quality Act (Division 13 (commencing with Section 21000) of the Public Resources Code) documents prepared for work at the designated historic property.
(4) Review of final construction documents to ensure that all requirements are met.
(5) Prepare the right-of-entry permit outlining the final area of work, final construction documents, construction plans, the contractor hired to perform the work, insurance, bonding, provisions for damage to state property, and inspection requirements.
(6) Prepare a maintenance agreement outlining the Ronald Reagan Centennial Capitol Foundation’s responsibility for the long-term maintenance of the statue due to aging, vandalism, or relocation.
(7) Inspect the construction performed by the contractor selected by the Ronald Reagan Centennial Capitol Foundation.
(c) If the Ronald Reagan Centennial Capitol Foundation undertakes responsibility to construct a statue under this section, it shall, in consultation with the Department of General Services, establish a schedule for the design, construction, and dedication of the statue, implement procedures to solicit designs for the statue, devise a selection process for the choice of the design, and establish a program for the dedication of the statue.
(d) The Department of General Services and the Ronald Reagan Centennial Capitol Foundation shall approve the design and any other aspect of the statue.
(e) If the Ronald Reagan Centennial Capitol Foundation undertakes responsibility to construct a statue under this section, it shall not begin construction of the statue until the Joint Committee on Rules has approved and adopted the plan for the statue, and only if the Joint Committee on Rules and the Department of Finance have determined that sufficient private funding is available to construct and maintain the statue.
(f) The planning, construction, and maintenance of the statue shall be funded exclusively through private donations to the Ronald Reagan Centennial Capitol Foundation.
(g) If the Ronald Reagan Centennial Capitol Foundation undertakes responsibility to construct a statue under this section, it shall sign a maintenance agreement with the state, as created under paragraph (6) of subdivision (b), to maintain the statue with private contributions.
====
Of course, Reagan did a number of things in the past that some would like to forget - like campaigning for Harry Truman in 1948:



Thursday, September 27, 2012

That Feels Sooo Good

The governor has signed legislation that does everything about tuition other than allocate money to stop it from rising.  It is (sort of) voluntary for the Regents and UC. And it feels so good.

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST

AB 970, Fong. University of California and California State University: systemwide student fees.
Existing law, known as the Donahoe Higher Education Act, sets forth the missions and functions of the segments of public postsecondary education in the state. The California State University, which is governed by the Trustees of the California State University (trustees), and the University of California, which is governed by the Regents of the University of California (regents), are 2 of the segments of public postsecondary education. The provisions of the Donahoe Higher Education Act apply to the University of California only to the extent that the regents act by resolution to make them applicable.

Under existing law, the California State University and the University of California are authorized to charge fees to students attending their respective institutions.  This bill would establish the Working Families Student Fee Transparency and Accountability Act as a part of the Donahoe Higher Education Act, and would establish various policies relating to student fees and student financial aid at the University of California and the California State University.

The bill would require the regents and the trustees to comply with prescribed public notice and student consultation procedures prior to adopting an increase in mandatory systemwide fees, and would prohibit them from adopting a mandatory systemwide fee increase before specified dates, except as specified. The bill would require the regents and the trustees, by April 2, 2013, to develop a list of
factors that would be required to be taken into consideration when developing recommendations to adjust mandatory systemwide fees.

The bill, commencing with the 2012-13 academic year, would require the trustees and the regents to provide annual reports on expenditures and financial aid to the Legislature, and would require the Legislative Analyst's Office to annually review and report to the Legislature its findings, conclusions, or recommendations regarding the implementation of policies implemented pursuant to the bill.

Because the provisions of the bill would be added to the Donahoe Higher Education Act, they would apply to the University of California only to the extent that the regents act by resolution to make them applicable.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

SECTION 1.  The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) The California 1960 Master Plan for Higher Education declared that a tuition-free higher education is in the best interest of the state and should be continued for all California residents.
(b) The state has long recognized the value of providing broad access to postsecondary education to the state's diverse residents and has demonstrated that commitment by investing in postsecondary education. This act seeks to continue the state's historic commitment to ensuring affordability and access and maintaining quality through the state's public universities, while recognizing the fiscal challenges that confront both the state and postsecondary education.
(c) Despite large increases in the number of high school graduates, state General Fund spending on postsecondary education has declined notably. In 2010-11, the state spent $1.6 billion less on postsecondary education than it did 10 years earlier. According to the 2012 Public Policy Institute of California report, "Defunding Higher Education," the University of California and the California
State University have responded to funding cuts by reducing course offerings and limiting enrollment, as well as increasing tuition and fees.
(d) The state's working families who have children attending the state's public colleges and universities have endured significant increases in mandatory systemwide student fees. While financial aid has alleviated some of the impact from this increase in fees, the increased cost of a college education remains of concern for working families.
(e) A report by the California Postsecondary Education Commission, published in 2011 and entitled "College Costs and Family Income: The Affordability Issue at the UC and the CSU," detailed that rising costs are making an education at California's public universities more of a financial strain for many Californians as their incomes have not kept pace with these increasing costs.
(f) Between 1990 and 2009, costs for a University of California student living on campus rose by 70 percent. Costs for a California State University student living with his or her family rose by over 80 percent. In this period, median family income in California grew by only 16 percent. With rising costs, and flat or falling incomes, the cost of supporting a student is taking an increasing percentage of the incomes of these families.
(g) In 2009, the total cost of attendance for a student living on campus at the University of California was $27,100, an increase of 18 percent from three years earlier. Costs at the California State University increased by 23 percent, to $20,100, during that period.
(h) Even with grants and fee waivers, the net cost of a year of attendance at a University of California or a California State University campus is one-third of annual income for a lower income family. Net costs for middle-income families are about one-quarter of annual income. As a result, students may have to work additional hours or increase their debt burden to meet college expenses.
(i) Increased costs can hinder a student's progress toward a degree, forcing students to cut their class load to work more hours, leave for semesters at a time, or drop out of school entirely.
(j) According to the "Student Expenses and Resources Survey" conducted by the Student Aid Commission during the 2006-07 academic year, approximately 74 percent of all undergraduate students in the California State University system worked for pay for an average of 24 hours per week. Fifty-one percent of these students reported working over 20 hours per week on average. In the University of California system, approximately 54 percent of all undergraduate students worked for pay for an average of 17 hours per week, and 23 percent of these students reported working over 20 hours per week on average.
(k) The Institute for College Access and Success, in its report "Student Debt and the Class of 2009," showed that average debt accumulation for California students at public universities has risen by 18 percent since 2005. In California, the average student debt for students who completed a bachelor's degree was $17,326, and national data show that some of the lowest income students who generally have family incomes under $50,000 are much more likely to borrow, and borrow more than their higher income peers, impacting job opportunities and choices after graduation.
(l) The Regents of the University of California have raised mandatory systemwide student fees by 68 percent since the 2007-08 academic year, and over 200 percent in the past decade. The Trustees of the California State University have raised mandatory systemwide student fees by 76 percent since the 2007-08 academic year, and over 242 percent in the past decade.
(m) The state does not have a proper accounting of the total costs of educating students at either the University of California or the California State University, or the actual uses of student fee revenues, and it is critical for the state's public colleges and universities to demonstrate transparency and accountability to the general public.
(n) The state, in partnership with the state's colleges and universities, is committed to ensuring that all financially needy students have the financial assistance necessary for them to enroll in institutions of higher education and complete their postsecondary education objectives.
(o) The principles expressed in this act seek to continue the state's historic commitment to ensuring access to the state's public universities for all Californians by ensuring sufficient notification to the general public, students, and the state's working families of any increases in student fees, proper consultation with students, and accountability and transparency with respect to student fee revenue.
(p) Changes in resident student fees or in student financial aid funding or packaging policies should take into consideration the total cost to the student of attending the university, including mandatory campus-based student fees, housing and living expenses, as well as all other expenses associated with university attendance.
(q) Any increases in mandatory systemwide fees should be accompanied by appropriate increases in funding for need-based student financial aid.
SEC. 2.  Article 3.7 (commencing with Section 66028) is added to Chapter 2 of Part 40 of Division 5 of Title 3 of the Education Code, to read:

Article 3.7.  Working Families Student Fee Transparency and Accountability Act

66028.  This article shall be known, and may be cited, as the Working Families Student Fee Transparency and Accountability Act.
66028.1.  For purposes of this article, the following terms have the following meanings:
(a) "Consultation" or "consult" means a meeting between representatives from the University of California or the California State University and their respective statewide student association representatives in which the representatives from the institutions provide, at minimum, all the following information at least five days before the meeting:
(1) A justification for a fee increase proposal, setting forth the facts supporting the fee increase.
(2) A statement specifying the purposes for which revenue derived from a fee increase will be used.
(3) A description of the efforts to mitigate the impact of the fee increase on needy students.
(4) The potential impact to students, including, but not limited to, the changes to the minimum workload burden for all students, if applicable, institutional financial aid awards, and the average student loan debt for undergraduates.
(5) Alternative proposals that can be considered in lieu of the proposed net student fee revenue proposal.
(b) "Cost of attendance" means the mandatory systemwide fees, books and supplies, room and board, transportation, and miscellaneous personal expenses for an undergraduate California resident student, as used in determining financial aid eligibility.
(c) "Mandatory systemwide fees" means the fees that resident students enrolled in the California State University or the University of California, as applicable, are required to pay in order to enroll in courses for the academic term pursuant to any law or any policy adopted by the trustees or the regents, as applicable.
(d) "Regents" means the Regents of the University of California.    
(e) "Resident" means a student who is exempt from paying nonresident tuition pursuant to Chapter 1 (commencing with Section 68000) of Part 41.
(f) "Trustees" means the Trustees of the California State University.
66028.2.  The following state policies apply to student financial aid for resident students, and mandatory systemwide fees charged at the University of California and the California State University:
(a) As any changes in mandatory systemwide fees and financial aid resources are considered, the impact on students should be explained to students, including, but not limited to, changes to the minimum work or loan burden for all students, if applicable, institutional financial aid awards, and the average student loan debt for undergraduate students.
(b) Students should be consulted before increases on mandatory systemwide fees are proposed, so that students can provide input and ask questions regarding the need for any increases in mandatory systemwide fees.
(c) Adequate advance notice should be provided to students regarding any future mandatory systemwide fees, thereby allowing the students and their families greater time to prepare for the mandatory systemwide fees to be assessed.
(d) In order to ensure that access is not precluded for any eligible student, and particularly for financially needy students, all current and prospective students should be provided with timely information concerning student financial aid, including the processes associated with applying for and obtaining student financial assistance.
(e) In order for the general public to maintain confidence in the state's public colleges and universities, every effort should be made to ensure increased transparency in the uses of mandatory systemwide fee revenue and the rationale for implementing mandatory systemwide fee increases.
66028.3.  (a) Ten days prior to holding a meeting to discuss or adopt an increase in mandatory systemwide fees, the University of California and the California State University shall provide public notice of the proposed mandatory systemwide fee increase as a discussion item in the public agenda for a meeting of the respective governing board. The public notice shall allow for comments to be received, both verbally and in writing, at the meeting and during the 45-day period required pursuant to subdivision (c). The public notice of the proposed mandatory systemwide fee increase shall, at a minimum, include all of the following:
(1)  A justification for the fee increase proposal, setting forth the facts supporting the fee increase.
(2) A statement specifying the purposes for which revenue derived from a fee increase will be used.
(3) A description of the efforts to mitigate the impact of the fee increase on needy students.
(4) The potential impact to students, including, but not limited to, the changes to the minimum workload burden for all students, if applicable, institutional financial aid awards, and the average student loan debt for undergraduates.
(5) Alternative proposals that can be considered in lieu of the proposed net student fee revenue proposal.
(b) The University of California and the California State University shall consult with their respective statewide student associations at least 30 days prior to providing public notice of the proposed mandatory systemwide fee increase. The range of potential mandatory systemwide fees under consideration for the next fiscal year shall be discussed with appropriate student representatives at the time of consultation before public notice of the mandatory systemwide fee increase proposal.
(c) The regents and the trustees shall not act to adopt a mandatory systemwide fee increase until at least 45 days after a public meeting is held to discuss the fee. The regents and the trustees shall provide a summary of the comments received pursuant to subdivision (a) in the public notice provided before the meeting to adopt a mandatory systemwide fee increase.
(d) The regents and the trustees shall not adopt an increase in mandatory systemwide fees after the 90th day prior to the commencement of classes for the academic year. This prohibition shall not apply to an increase in mandatory systemwide fees for a summer session.
(e) (1) In cases where the Governor's proposed budget reduces General Fund appropriations from the prior annual Budget Act for the support of the operations of University of California or California
State University, the Legislature enacts or authorizes reduced General Fund appropriations from the prior annual Budget Act for the support of the operations of University of California or California
State University, the Legislature enacts a budget reduction for the General Fund support of the operation of the University of California or California State University in the middle of a fiscal year, or the Governor implements a budget reduction for the General Fund support of the operation of the University of California or California State University in the middle of a fiscal year, subdivisions (a), (b), (c), and (d) shall not apply.
(2) In the instances described in paragraph (1), the University of California and the California State University shall discuss with their respective statewide student associations proposals for mandatory systemwide fee increases at least seven days before posting notice of action to increase those fees. An increase in the mandatory systemwide fees at the University of California or the California State University shall not become effective until at least 30 days have elapsed after the date on which the fee increase was adopted.
(f) Following the adoption of an increase in mandatory systemwide fees in accordance with this act, the University of California and the California State University shall notify matriculated students of the mandatory systemwide fees to be assessed in the upcoming academic year or the upcoming quarter or semester. In addition, the respective institution shall simultaneously inform students about the availability of student financial aid and the procedures for obtaining that financial aid in order to assist students with meeting the increased costs of attendance.
66028.4.  (a) On or before April 2, 2013, the regents and the trustees each shall develop a list of factors that shall be taken into consideration when developing recommendations to adjust mandatory systemwide fees consistent with the policies set forth in this article. The factors shall include, at a minimum, the level of state support, total cost of attendance, impact on various categories of students, including historically underrepresented students and low- to middle-income students, as well as efforts to mitigate the impacts.
(b) The factors, and any subsequent amendments to those factors, shall be developed in consultation with the appropriate statewide student body associations and shall be formally adopted by the regents or the trustees in an open and public meeting.
(c) Nothing in this section shall be construed to exempt any increase in mandatory systemwide fees from the requirements of Section 66028.4.
66028.5.  (a) The regents and the trustees are urged to maintain their commitment to institutional financial aid program funding by ensuring that at least 33 percent of the revenues of an increase to existing mandatory systemwide fees charged to resident students is set aside by the regents or the trustees, as applicable, for institutional student aid to assist students and families in meeting the total cost of education.
(b) The regents and trustees shall report their compliance with this section in their respective annual reports on institutional financial aid pursuant to Section 66021.1.
66028.6.  (a) Notwithstanding Section 10231.5 of the Government Code, commencing with the 2012-13 academic year, the regents and the trustees shall annually provide the Legislature, by February 1 of each year, with detailed information regarding expenditures of revenues derived from student fees and uses of institutional financial aid, and shall provide information regarding the systemwide average total cost of attendance per student. For purposes of meeting the requirements of this section, the regents and the trustees may include this information in their respective annual report on institutional financial aid pursuant to Section 66021.1.
(b) Notwithstanding Section 10231.5 of the Government Code, commencing with the 2012-13 academic year, the Legislative Analyst's Office shall annually review, by March 1 of each year, institutional compliance with the policies set forth in this article, and report, in writing, to the Legislature its findings, conclusions, or recommendations regarding the implementation of these policies. This report shall include an assessment of the information provided by the regents and the trustees pursuant to subdivision (a).
(c) A report submitted pursuant to this section shall be submitted in compliance with Section 9795 of the Government Code. 

As the song says, it feels so good (to pass legislation like this), although the Good Times in terms of budget allocation are definitely not rolling:

How Jerry Brown Views Higher Ed

If you are wondering what Governor Brown thinks about higher ed, you might be interested in the excerpt below from the transcript of an interview with the LA Times which appeared on the web on 9-24-12:

…So here’s an interesting point. This is Page Smith. He was in the history department in Santa Cruz. You went to Santa Cruz. Do you remember Page Smith? Well, he was one of the original guys. He kind of left in disgust when they started going more conventional. His wife I made the first head of the arts council and I got to know Page Smith.

This guy wrote a book, he’s the founding provost of UC Santa Cruz. He was there with Paul Lee. All these characters. And Bateson was there. Anyway, he writes a book very critical of higher education and he’s a humanist …

William James wrote an essay called the Moral Equivalent of War. He said men get really get their courage in war, it brings out the best in people. But it’s very costly. We need the moral equivalent of war.


When (President) Roosevelt started the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps, a Depression jobs project), this Harvard guy, I won’t mention his name here, had a thing called Camp William James which was one of the CCC camps and the notion was the CCC was going to be that initiation where people go into a camp, work on trails, build things, and that builds the kind of character and comradery that you can get in war.

So, that’s something that inspired me when I created the California Conservation Corps. And even now as we close down the fire camps, can we find more money and get more kids going off to these fire camps?

The CCC used to have, like, 27 camps. Now they have like 4 or 5. And my whole idea was to get people out of the city. I know we’ve got LA and San Francisco, but I wanted to get them out of the city into some rural backwater, working on clearing streams and trails – whatever. And I’m still doing that.

So, you have CCC, we have an idea William James, you have an idea and there’s a continuity there. Same with the university. What’s the university all about? We’re always talking about tuition and about cutting but there’s a lot of question there on what’s going on at the university.

And people talk about especially at Cal State – it’s (about) workforce. We’re creating people for the workforce. In other words, you’re a cog and I’m putting you in a machine and the machine’s going to run better because we have better cogs.

Well, there’s idea that the university is not about training, it’s about opening your mind. That’s what he talks about.

Well, how can I apply that? Well, maybe I can appoint certain people. I haven’t appointed anyone to the regents yet. Well, who should I appoint? That’s a good question. What are they going to do?

I’ve appointed some people to the Cal State and I’ve appointed some interesting people on the state board and I’m looking, but what impact does that make? If you want to make change, can the state board make an impact? Can the Cal State make an impact? Things are very conservative in how they run.

Before when I used to go to the regents, I’d go armed and I was attacking. But it’s totally marginal. You can’t influence ... So now it takes more time, you’ve got to be more subtle, you need more allies. You need a long-term game plan.

So, I have a longer term game plan than I had 30 years ago, even though I’ve got less time because I’m 74, I’m not 36. I’m thinking through how I can influence or move in a direction that take the more creative and more productive of those values that I think are important. And those values with the university are truth, beauty …

I also know these boards are not affected by one or two people, so there’s no rush. There are a lot of people I know. Blum I know, the lady who’s the president, she was the president of one of the movie studios. They’ve got people there.

I’ve put in some people on Cal State that I know. I looked for people. I appointed a guy that was in the Jesuits with me. Just like on the OMI board I appointed three people who I went to high school with.

(Oakland Military Institute: Presumably Brown is talking about the period when he was mayor of Oakland.  See http://oakmil.org/domain/3.)

Now, I know I can’t just take my old friends from the '50s and put them in positions. Actually, there’s two people who I knew from the seminary who left and went into the CIA. And I put one of them on OMI and I put one of them on Cal State.

But I’m looking for different … But I know that three appointments can’t make (a difference). It really takes ten. But by the time you get to ten, and you listen to this group and that group, and I gotta take care of that and you have diversity and this influence person – by the time you get your ten people, they’re so different that you have no impact anyway.

So this idea that you can influence by your appointees, you have to take care of all your various constituencies and then you end up replicating what is. And that’s why things don’t change very much.

Now, I am more strategic now since I understand this better and I’m patiently looking for openings. I know that I don’t just want change for the sake of change because that’s superficial.

If you want to do something that you know is good but is different, the last place you’re going to get it done is UC. The second to last place you’re going to get it done is Cal State. And the place more likely would be the community colleges, because they’re more flexible.

So, if you say, what’s the role of online learning? It’s pretty interesting stuff. I don’t say it’s a total solution in any sense but it could play a role in making sure every kid could get out in four years if they want. Could the state actually say we will make sure you have an opportunity to do only four years or could we have a different kind of degree? I’m looking at that.

And what would be the role of community colleges, what would be the role of state colleges? Could they all work and interact? OK, I can’t figure all that out. I can’t think of everything. …

The full interview is at http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/california-politics/2012/09/jerry-brown-interview.html.  The exact date of the interview is not specified.

Say Again How This Is Going to Work

Gov. Brown has signed the law on universities and social media.  As a prior blog post pointed out, it is unclear how subsections (a) and (c) in section (2) of the law fit together.  See the text below:
=====

SB 1349, Yee. Social media privacy: postsecondary education.

Existing law establishes and sets forth the missions and functions of the public and independent institutions of postsecondary education in the state. This bill would prohibit public and private postsecondary educational institutions, and their employees and representatives, from requiring or requesting a student, prospective student, or student group to disclose, access, or divulge personal social media, as defined, information, as specified. The bill would prohibit a public or private postsecondary educational institution from threatening a student, prospective student, or student group with or taking specified pecuniary actions for refusing to comply with a request or demand that violates that prohibition. The bill would require a private nonprofit or for-profit postsecondary educational institution to post its social media privacy policy on the institution’s Internet Web site.

Digest Key

Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

Bill Text

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:

SECTION 1.

The Legislature finds and declares that quickly evolving technologies and social media services and Internet Web sites create new challenges when seeking to protect the privacy rights of students at California’s postsecondary educational institutions. It is the intent of the Legislature to protect those rights and provide students with an opportunity for redress if their rights are violated. It is also the intent of the Legislature that public postsecondary educational institutions match compliance and reporting requirements for private nonprofit and for-profit postsecondary educational institutions imposed by this act.

SEC. 2.

Chapter 2.5 added to Part 65 of Division 14 of Title 3 of the Education Code, to read:
CHAPTER  2.5. Social Media Privacy
As used in this chapter, “social media” means an electronic service or account, or electronic content, including, but not limited to, videos or still photographs, blogs, video blogs, podcasts, instant and text messages, email, online services or accounts, or Internet Web site profiles or locations.
(a) Public and private postsecondary educational institutions, and their employees and representatives, shall not require or request a student, prospective student, or student group to do any of the following:
(1) Disclose a user name or password for accessing personal social media.
(2) Access personal social media in the presence of the institution’s employee or representative.
(3) Divulge any personal social media information.
(b) A public or private postsecondary educational institution shall not suspend, expel, discipline, threaten to take any of those actions, or otherwise penalize a student, prospective student, or student group in any way for refusing to comply with a request or demand that violates this section.
(c) This section shall not do either of the following:
(1) Affect a public or private postsecondary educational institution’s existing rights and obligations to protect against and investigate alleged student misconduct or violations of applicable laws and regulations.
(2) Prohibit a public or private postsecondary educational institution from taking any adverse action against a student, prospective student, or student group for any lawful reason.

A private nonprofit or for-profit postsecondary educational institution shall post its social media privacy policy on the institution’s Internet Web site.

===
Unclear how this will work:
video



Will Prop 30 Pass the Voters' Test?

As prior posts on this blog have noted, Proposition 30, the governor's tax initiative endorsed by the Regents, is polling marginally ahead. But it does not have a comfortable lead and the campaign is really just starting.  So will it lose its marginal lead, thus causing trigger cuts to UC? Ethan Rarick, California Fellow at the Institute of Governmental Studies at UC-Berkeley, does some analysis of past initiatives and concludes that the answer is - TA TA! - maybe yes/ maybe no.  Non-tax initiatives at this point in the campaign with poll numbers in the range of Prop 30’s do seem to pass.  But tax initiatives tend to lose more support than others as Election Day nears.  Certainly, Proposition 30 is no sure thing.
  
(You probably knew that.)



Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Cool Million for Pepper

NPR is reporting that the settlement in the UC-Davis pepper spray case was a cool $1 million.

See http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2012/09/26/161839245/uc-oks-1-million-settlement-in-pepper-spray-suit

Update: Detail from the Sacramento Bee at:
http://blogs.sacbee.com/crime/archives/2012/09/pepper-spray-settlement-about-1-million.html

Listen to Regents Investment Committee: 9-25-12

The Regents Committee on Investments met on Sept. 25, 2012 to review investment strategies regarding the general UC endowment and the pension fund.  There was also a review of campus foundation investment policies and results.  Generally, the staff presentations involved requests to lift various constraints on investments.  Much of the explanation was that if we had more flexibility, we could have higher returns.  At one point, the presentation seemed to say that if we are constrained to emulate the benchmarks, we can’t out-perform the benchmarks.  That proposition is true, of course.  But you can’t underperform either. 

If you listen to the audio, you get the impression that not all committee members were able to understand fully what was being proposed, although eventually what was proposed was endorsed.  This area is really complex and the Regents could have benefited from another independent “second opinion.”  There was a consultant on hand.  But there are top financial experts on the faculty at various UC campuses that might have been consulted through the Academic Senate.  Apparently, however, the only real expertise the committee had from the academic side of UC was a graduate student observer – an MBA student interested in finance – who was grateful to be there and said so in a short statement at the end of the meeting.

In some cases, if we were to have significant portfolio losses in the future, the joking around at the hearing - on the public record - could come back to haunt us.  Members were reminded at the beginning that the meeting was going out on the Internet - but it is easy to forget that people are listening.  The larger problem is that the argument that allowing more flexibility could produce higher returns – sometimes with after-the-fact anecdotes cited as evidence – by itself is too abstract to make a judgment.  More flexibility could also produce lower returns.  The precise incentives given to investment managers can sometimes produce perverse results, a kind of asymmetric reward for risk taking. That is one reason why constraints are imposed.  That’s why true due diligence would involve obtaining more independent analysis and why getting such advice from faculty financial experts would have been a Good Thing to do.  It may be that everything ultimately endorsed by the Regents was for the best.  Yours truly can only judge the process, not the outcome.

Review of the campus foundation endowments was rather perfunctory.  An earlier post on this blog noted that UCLA’s endowment investment strategy, as reported to the Regents, seemed somewhat unconventional.  But it was noted also that whether in the long-term or the short-term, UCLA seemed to be getting lower returns than the median for the UC campuses.  UCLA was described as “aggressive” in its investment strategy at the meeting but all the campuses’ strategies – including that of UCLA - were blessed.  The presentation concluded that the analyst was “comfortable” with all the campuses.  It may be that the Regents feel they have less of a role in campus-level endowment management than they have for the UC-level endowment and pension.

You can hear the meeting at the link below.  Audio quality varies.  In some cases, the live-stream seemed to freeze and had to be restarted.  Hence, some brief audio is missing.  The audio below has been edited to shorten the silent periods during which the audio was lost.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Real Downer

Inside Higher Ed today has a feature story on falling SAT scores.  There has been a long-term decline over the past 20 years since the test was change, the report indicates:

...College Board officials have long cautioned against reading too much into a one-point gain or one-point drop in a given year, but over the years since the new SAT was introduced, the average total score has fallen by 20 points, and scores have fallen in all three categories...

A chart from the article is below.  The full article - which also has data by race.ethnicity - is at:
http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/09/25/sat-scores-are-down-and-racial-gaps-remain
Watch where you fall:
video
Update: The LA Times has a related article at:
and the College Board (that gives the SAT) has a report at:


Monday, September 24, 2012

Rival Initiative Campaign

As readers of this blog will know, although there are three tax propositions on the ballot, two are essentially rivals.  The governor put Prop 30 on the ballot, a combination of income and sales taxes, which has been endorsed by the Regents.  Prop 38, which is an income tax increase earmarked more directly for local schools, is supported by a wealthy backer, Molly Munger.  Prop 38 hasn't polled well but Munger is putting money into its campaign. Prop 30 has been showing a marginal majority in recent polls.  The concern among Prop 30 supporters is that the campaign for 38 could undermine the marginal support for 30.

The pro-38 campaign has now released a TV ad which makes clear it is an alternative to 30, although it does not explicitly say "Prop 30."  Below is the ad:

From Metro on “Closure II” This Coming Weekend

Excerpt from the Metro website:

The demolition of the north side of Mulholland Dr Bridge has been scheduled for Saturday, September 29 and Sunday, September 30, 2012. As with the demolition of the south side of the 608-foot-long bridge, the I-405 through the Sepulveda Pass will be closed in both directions that weekend to allow for demolition.  As with the south side demolition, Metro and Caltrans are concerned that closing the freeway will result in severe congestion on the I-405 and adjoining freeways, perhaps effecting [sic] freeways throughout the region. Motorists throughout the State of California are asked to “Plan Ahead, Avoid the Area, or Eat, Shop and Play Locally.”

To reduce the impacts on local traffic flow, the Mulholland Dr Bridge will be demolished and reconstructed in two separate phases. During July 16 and 17, 2011, the south side of Mulholland Dr Bridge was demolished. The north side of the bridge is expected to be completed 12 months after demolition. During reconstruction, the Mulholland Dr Bridge will accommodate one lane of traffic in each direction.

The Mulholland Dr Bridge will be the third bridge demolished and reconstructed to accommodate the widening of the I-405 freeway and to add a northbound high-occupancy vehicle lane through the Sepulveda Pass. When completed, the expanded Mulholland Center Dr Bridge will be widened by approximately 10 feet and will be designed to the latest seismic standards.


In addition, while eating, shopping, and playing locally, someone needs to refer to:
http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/affect-versus-effect.aspx

And you can decide this weekend whether to stay inside or outside: