Archive | November 2014

List of #UnKoch and Transparency Demands for John Thrasher

In an effort to bring Academic Freedom Back to Life:  We DEMAND:

Photos by Christina Rodriguez de Conte. Academic Freedom, Hope, Student Power and Shared Governance answer the student call and come back to life.

Photos by Christina Rodriguez de Conte. Academic Freedom, Hope, Student Power and Shared Governance answer the student call and come back to life.

LIST OF DEMANDS for JOHN THRASHER

WHEREAS the Charles Koch Foundation has corrupt contracts (2008 and 2013) with Florida State University’s Department of Economics that give them power over faculty hire, graduate assistant hire and curriculum control, and

WHEREAS these contracts are in direct violation of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) 1915 Declaration of Principles on Academic Freedom and Academic Tenure and the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, and

WHEREAS the Florida State University’s “Policy on Academic Freedom cites AAUP’s 1940 Statement on the Principles of Academic Freedom and Tenure and adheres to the concepts outlined by AAUPand

WHEREAS the 2008 Koch contract with the FSU Department of Economics was established as a violation of academic freedom by former AAUP President Cary Nelson, and

WHEREAS Koch affiliates (including, but not exclusive to, American Legislative Exchange Council and Americans for Prosperity) have advocated legislation that restricts transparency between university foundations and private donors essentially hiding the public’s access to the creation of further corrupt Koch-FSU contracts, and

WHEREAS Koch Industries, Inc., and its Koch funded affiliates (including, but not exclusive to, American Legislative Exchange Council and Americans for Prosperity), have collaborated with politicians and Florida State University’s administration to exert further influence over Florida State University’s institutional governance by installing Koch affiliates within FSU’s administration at the highest levels, and

WHEREAS the National Education Association has stated that “Money for influence is the Koch’s stock-in-trade” and “their political agenda is clear: It’s about promoting the interests of the 1 percent” through “attacks on academic freedom on university campuses,” and

WHEREAS Florida State University states that academic freedom and tenure are linked and are essential to teaching and learning, and

WHEREAS the Koch affiliate group American Legislative Exchange Council has promoted legislation that limits faculty’s academic freedom and tenure in the “Academic Bill of Rights”, and

WHEREAS the administration of Florida State University has failed to rectify the threats to academic freedom inherent in the continued relationship with the Charles Koch Foundation and all Koch affiliated groups and individuals.

Photo by Christina Rodriguez de Conte.  The funeral and mourning of academic freedom at F$U because we have a Koch funded President.

Photo by Christina Rodriguez de Conte. The funeral and mourning of academic freedom at F$U because we have a Koch funded President.

WE DEMANDthat you, John Thrasher, acknowledge in a public statement that you have accepted Koch funding and admit that you lied to students about your Koch funding on September 15, 2014, and

WE DEMANDthat you, John Thrasher, acknowledge that Charles Koch Foundation (CKF) contracts violate academic freedom, and that the 2008 contract with FSU’s Department of Economics is a specific threat to academic freedom, and

WE DEMAND, that you, John Thrasher,  publicly renounce the Charles Koch Foundation for the signing of corrupt contracts with Florida State University and that you make a good faith gesture of returning the Koch funding you have received, and

WE DEMANDthat you, John Thrasher, agree to donor disclosure, review, and investigation and that you work to create policies as well as ethics and transparency boards within Florida State University and the State of Florida that will guard academic freedom.  These policies and boards will be created so that the community and public can rest assured that FSU is not being unduly influenced by private interests, and

WE DEMANDthat you, John Thrasher, create and support transparency policies that make all gifts, grants, contracts, or cooperative agreements between Florida State University, and the FSU Foundation, accessible to the public, and

WE DEMAND, that you, John Thrasher, create a review process, with a student/faculty majority, to assure that all existing and future private donor contracts are in line with AAUP and Florida State University’s policies and statements on academic freedom, and

WE DEMAND, that you, John Thrasher, reject any future agreements with the Charles Koch Foundation, Koch Industries, Inc., and their affiliate non-profits, and

WE DEMANDthat you, John Thrasher, will commission a Faculty Senate investigation into Koch conflicts of interest and the circumstances leading to the authorization of the 2013 contract.  This will include an investigation of the administration’s failure to follow through with Faculty Senate and presidential recommendations following the Faculty Senate investigation into the original 2008 Koch contract, and

WE DEMANDthat you, John Thrasher, reject the current FSU contracts with the Charles Koch Foundation and create the processes that will dismantle and destroy those contracts.

FINALLYBE IT RESOLVED, that we, the students of Florida State University defending academic freedom and transparency, WILL NOT recognize you as the President of Florida State University until you accept these demands.

List of #UnKoch and Transparency Demands for John Thrasher

In an effort to bring Academic Freedom Back to Life:  We DEMAND:

Photos by Christina Rodriguez de Conte. Academic Freedom, Hope, Student Power and Shared Governance answer the student call and come back to life.

Photos by Christina Rodriguez de Conte. Academic Freedom, Hope, Student Power and Shared Governance answer the student call and come back to life.

LIST OF DEMANDS for JOHN THRASHER

WHEREAS the Charles Koch Foundation has corrupt contracts (2008 and 2013) with Florida State University’s Department of Economics that give them power over faculty hire, graduate assistant hire and curriculum control, and

WHEREAS these contracts are in direct violation of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) 1915 Declaration of Principles on Academic Freedom and Academic Tenure and the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, and

WHEREAS the Florida State University’s “Policy on Academic Freedom cites AAUP’s 1940 Statement on the Principles of Academic Freedom and Tenure and adheres to the concepts outlined by AAUP, and

WHEREAS the 2008 Koch contract with the FSU Department of Economics was established as a violation of academic freedom by former AAUP President Cary Nelson, and

WHEREAS Koch affiliates (including, but not exclusive to, American Legislative Exchange Council and Americans for Prosperity) have advocated legislation that restricts transparency between university foundations and private donors essentially hiding the public’s access to the creation of further corrupt Koch-FSU contracts, and

WHEREAS Koch Industries, Inc., and its Koch funded affiliates (including, but not exclusive to, American Legislative Exchange Council and Americans for Prosperity), have collaborated with politicians and Florida State University’s administration to exert further influence over Florida State University’s institutional governance by installing Koch affiliates within FSU’s administration at the highest levels, and

WHEREAS the National Education Association has stated that “Money for influence is the Koch’s stock-in-trade” and “their political agenda is clear: It’s about promoting the interests of the 1 percent” through “attacks on academic freedom on university campuses,” and

WHEREAS Florida State University states that academic freedom and tenure are linked and are essential to teaching and learning, and

WHEREAS the Koch affiliate group American Legislative Exchange Council has promoted legislation that limits faculty’s academic freedom and tenure in the “Academic Bill of Rights”, and

WHEREAS the administration of Florida State University has failed to rectify the threats to academic freedom inherent in the continued relationship with the Charles Koch Foundation and all Koch affiliated groups and individuals.

Photo by Christina Rodriguez de Conte.  The funeral and mourning of academic freedom at F$U because we have a Koch funded President.

Photo by Christina Rodriguez de Conte. The funeral and mourning of academic freedom at F$U because we have a Koch funded President.

WE DEMAND, that you, John Thrasher, acknowledge in a public statement that you have accepted Koch funding and admit that you lied to students about your Koch funding on September 15, 2014, and

WE DEMAND, that you, John Thrasher, acknowledge that Charles Koch Foundation (CKF) contracts violate academic freedom, and that the 2008 contract with FSU’s Department of Economics is a specific threat to academic freedom, and

WE DEMAND, that you, John Thrasher,  publicly renounce the Charles Koch Foundation for the signing of corrupt contracts with Florida State University and that you make a good faith gesture of returning the Koch funding you have received, and

WE DEMAND, that you, John Thrasher, agree to donor disclosure, review, and investigation and that you work to create policies as well as ethics and transparency boards within Florida State University and the State of Florida that will guard academic freedom.  These policies and boards will be created so that the community and public can rest assured that FSU is not being unduly influenced by private interests, and

WE DEMAND, that you, John Thrasher, create and support transparency policies that make all gifts, grants, contracts, or cooperative agreements between Florida State University, and the FSU Foundation, accessible to the public, and

WE DEMAND, that you, John Thrasher, create a review process, with a student/faculty majority, to assure that all existing and future private donor contracts are in line with AAUP and Florida State University’s policies and statements on academic freedom, and

WE DEMAND, that you, John Thrasher, reject any future agreements with the Charles Koch Foundation, Koch Industries, Inc., and their affiliate non-profits, and

WE DEMAND, that you, John Thrasher, will commission a Faculty Senate investigation into Koch conflicts of interest and the circumstances leading to the authorization of the 2013 contract.  This will include an investigation of the administration’s failure to follow through with Faculty Senate and presidential recommendations following the Faculty Senate investigation into the original 2008 Koch contract, and

WE DEMAND, that you, John Thrasher, reject the current FSU contracts with the Charles Koch Foundation and create the processes that will dismantle and destroy those contracts.

FINALLY, BE IT RESOLVED, that we, the students of Florida State University defending academic freedom and transparency, WILL NOT recognize you as the President of Florida State University until you accept these demands.

Rick Scott’s Forgotten (and Deleted) Higher Ed Agenda

Recent reporting on Rick Scott’s Higher Education record has left out some interesting things.

In 2012, if you visited FLHigherEd.org, you would have found a report by Gov. Rick Scott’s Blue Ribbon Education Task Force (BRTF) on State Higher Education Reform. The link is dead now, but in 2012 it lead to an undownloadable report [pdf]. The task force was made largely of Florida Chamber of Commerce representatives and outlined a highly aggressive attack on the State University System. In a set of recommendations on accountability, funding, and governance, the report details a power grab by the Executive Branch and Florida’s political-corporate elite over the State University System.

Some of the most extreme recommendations involve transferring power over the State University System (SUS) to the Board of Governors (BOG),  82% of which is Governor appointed. The report suggests that university funding be entirely performance based using metrics created by the BOG, and that the BOG have total budgetary control over the SUS, an authority that lies constitutionally with the legislature.

The report also suggests that universities realign their goals and mission statements to meet BRTF recommendations. These recommendations have accountability metrics that include measures of how many bachelor’s degrees are created in areas of “strategic emphasis”. The majors that are considered “strategic” are conveniently left to the BOG and the voices of industry in Florida.

Another accountability metric is the average salary of graduates, which invariably deprioritizes many (and increasingly more) courses of study. The report also states that degrees in majors of “market determined demand”, tuition should be lower, and state funding higher.

The BOG was to create “rewards” for universities who complied with their metrics, and was to have more influence in Presidential searches. See a quick breakdown here. Though the report received little media attention, it was rejected in full by the Florida State University Student Government Senate in a series of resolutions, and was opposed in the Florida House and Florida Senate by FSU Progress Coalition.

In the 2013 legislative session that followed the BRTF Report, a brutal 83 page education bill passed through the House and Senate with little notice. This legislation took considerable steps toward accomplishing Gov. Scott’s Blue Ribbon recommendations, most notably giving the BOG the power to cut off state funding to any university that it deems out of compliance with it’s operational directives, effectively giving it veto power over a legislative appropriation (sec. 1, 28). It authorizes the BOG to designate majors of “high demand” and strategic emphasis (sec. 5, 8) which are then used as criteria for performance funding. Additionally, the bill:

  1. establishes bonus pay for public university employees (sec. 3) [think University Presidents]
  2. allows preeminent universities to charge “Market Rate” tuition, different tuition for different majors (sec. 9)
  3. require that the BOG create a new college placement test (sec. 26)
  4. restructures the Higher Education Coordinating Council to be increasingly Governor and Industry appointed (sec. 11)

Rick Scott’s Market Based University System

This makes pretty clear the specific Higher Education goals of a second Scott administration. Coerce  universities into conforming to the demands of private interests. Majors picked on “market determined demand”, and then subsidized, and cranked out as cheaply as possible under threat of executive audits.

Market Based Missions/Tuition/Curriculum/Governance and the creation of rewards and punishments for compliance… this is a system by which the universities have no choice but to conform to BOG/corporate demands. Industry determined “strategic interest” is simply private interest. The justification for this is the false assertion that the education system is to be held responsible for “economic growth”.

Rick Scott’s entire Blue Ribbon Education Task Force, and his 83 page education bill, are in line with Charles Koch’s statement in 1974 that industry should support “only those programs, departments or schools that “contribute in some way to our individual companies or to the general welfare of our free enterprise system.

Rick Scott’s Higher Education agenda creates an environment where universities have to compete for funding by striving to satisfy industry demands.  This competitive capital-driven model corrupts the nature of the traditional liberal arts public education system and subjects it completely to the will of corporate and political interests.

But this style is all too familiar to anyone acquainted with the ideology of Charles Koch’s free market organizational philosophy Market-Based Management®.

In fact, the system of performance metrics are not new for Rick Scott either, as this system of management is what cultivated the culture of fraud and corruption while he was CEO of HCA.  It resulted in $1.7 billion in criminal and civil fines for Medicare fraud.

AND, Rick Scott did meet with Koch in 2011 to discuss education, remarking that “it was very interesting”.

If Rick Scott wins a second term, we will see just how interesting things become.

Ralph Wilson