The assault on state colleges continues, and I hope that you and your colleagues in the opposition will hold the governor accountable. He has vetoed a bargain -- a very modest one at that -- made in good faith by the APA and AFSCME employees at state colleges two years ago. He has done so on a technicality that he blames on the legislature. I surely hope that the Democrats will not sit on the sidelines for this one, and will get an override organized quickly.
Meanwhile, faculty who are now about 30 percent underpaid are being asked to give up important protections and accept near-zero raises. This is being done by free-market purists who argue that government schools should be dismantled. The legislature has allowed the governor to put the fate of public higher education in the hands of a Board of Higher Education that is not serving the interests of the Commonwealth. Incidentally, although they extoll the superiority of private schools, they advocate "reforms" that would never be contemplated at elite private schools.
Did you know that today was senior convocation at Bridgewater State College (one of the leading economic engines of the entire region) and that the faculty seriously debated staying away? Our loyalty to the students prevailed (as always), so we attended, but we made it clear to the students that something is seriously broken in state government.
Some have said that they do not want our hard-working students to become pawns in our battles with BHE. Today I began to see it differently: the faculty, librarians, secretaries, custodians, and professional administrators are pawns in BHE's battle with the students. Some members of the BHE really believe that working families do not deserve higher education -- they should be satisfied with vocational programs. This attitude must be tolerated no more!
I have spoken with your staff several times this year about the possibility of mentioning the state college problem in your quarterly communications with constituents, but nothing has appeared so far. I know that you are a friend of the college, and I have appreciated your participation in our events, most recently the appearance by Gov. Parris Glendening that I arranged last year. I would argue that the college really needs your public support at this time, and I hope you will be able to give it.
Thank you for your consideration.