Lesson Plan For CSU Professors
In Preparation For April 13 "Class Actions"

Some faculty are hesitant to speak with their students about contentious issues such as the state budget, California politics, or problems within the CSU system. Below is a Lesson Plan to help you think about how you might broach such issues with your students in a productive and intellectually honest manner.

There will be “Class Actions” on 4/13/11 on all campus, with participation from faculty, staff, and students. Your students deserve to know what is going on and how they can have their voices heard.

Please consider using any portion of the below material in your classroom in the weeks leading up to 4/13 and encourage your students to participate in the campus 4/13 activities.

Student Learning Goals:

After this discussion students will learn how to:

  • Speak their voice
  • Send a message to Chancellor Reed
  • Write to their Legislator
  • Empower themselves
  • Join their fellow students, the staff, and the faculty on 4/13
The Problem

Californians have lost money, their jobs, and their homes. They shouldn’t lose our great public university. The CSU system is facing a $394M budget cut, with the threat of increased student fees, enrollment caps lowered/students kept out, and faculty work increased, with the threat of layoffs for staff and faculty—3000 faculty have already been laid off.

The people of California, the students of the CSU system and their faculty and staff have all been blasted with the economic crisis, from lost wages and lost jobs to mortgage foreclosures. It is time to End the Rip-offs.

The Solution

We must insist on Fairness During Hard Times. By standing together we can send a strong message to Chancellor Reed that he must “Do the Bright Thing” by maintaining a student-centered public university which keeps a minimum of 50% operating budget devoted to instruction. Currently only 42% of the CSU budget goes directly to instruction and student services. We are the voices of the CSU: If we don’t stand up for ourselves, no one else is going to.

We must also voice our concerns to our legislators. They need to hear from faculty, staff, and students about the need for public higher education as an investment in our State’s future. Find your state representative.

Below are some Lesson Plans, Discussion items, and Classroom Activities
you might be able to adapt to your classroom or lab.

Pop Quiz:

Student fees have gone up X% in the last 5 years.
(Answer: 94% in 5 years, 242% in 9 years)

X thousand students have been denied access to the CSU due to budget cuts.
(Answer: According to Chancellor Reed 30,000 students were denied in the
last two years.)

X thousand course sections have been cancelled.
(Answer: According to the Chancellor’s Office 10,000 course sections were cancelled in the last two years.)

True or False: Campus President, __name__, gets $1,000 per month as a car allowance.
(Answer: True)

True or False: CSU Chancellor Reed says student fee increases don’t really affect students who are on financial aid because their aid covers the increase.
(Answer: True)

True or False: CSU presidents and Chancellor Reed imposed a freeze on pay raises to help deal with the budget crisis.
(Answer: False: Faculty and staff did not get raises but hundreds of upper-level managers did.)

Sample assignment ideas:

  • WRITING: write an Op-Ed about the implications of budget cuts on students and their families; extra credit if it gets published somewhere
  • SOCIAL RESEARCH METHODS – quantitative/surveys: design and conduct a survey about the ways in which budget cuts are affecting CSU students, faculty, staff, or other affected group. In designing the research, students should determine what type of survey design would be most effective and practical given the constraints of the assignment, include a sampling plan including the pros/cons of the chosen sampling method, and administer the survey.
  • FILM/MEDIA/JOURNALISM: film and edit a video or photo essay about the budget crisis and way the campus administration has handled it. Find ways to visually express some of the contradictory ways the university operates during this period of budget crisis.
  • BUSINESS/FINANCE/ACCOUNTING: Find and examine a copy of the university budget for the past five years. Examine how the university’s finances have changed over these years. How has the revenue stream been affected by the budget crisis? What choices have been made by campus administrators to deal with the budget crisis? What does the budget tell you and not tell you?
  • ETHNIC STUDIES/CHICANO: Decisions resulting from the budget crisis in California are affected by the demographics of the state and have a different effect on different communities of color. Examine and discuss these themes.
  • LABOR STUDIES/HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGEMENT: The CFA and the CSU administration are in the midst of contract negotiations. Find out what issues are most pressing and examine the implications of the each sides’ demands for students and instruction.
  • BUSINESS/FINANCE/ACCOUNTING: Find and examine a copy of the university’s audited financial statements. Using what you have learned about public institutions, what conclusions do you draw about the financial health of your university?
  • POLITICAL SCIENCE/PUBLIC POLICY: Find out which state legislators are most influential in determining how the state budget allocates funding to the public universities. Schedule a meeting with a senator or assembly person who represents your campus to discuss the budget proposal for the CSU. Write up your impressions of the meeting.
  • SOCIAL RESEARCH METHODS – qualitative/interviews: conduct an in-depth interview with someone from your campus community about one of the issues motivating the April 13 day of action. The interview might be with a student, a staff person, an organizer, or even an administrator. Assignment should include the list of interview questions. The assignment might include interviewing multiple individuals who could be expected to have different perspectives about the same topic (such as a student and a faculty member).
  • SOCIOLOGY/SOCIAL MOVEMENTS: Some say there is a growing national movement around public education that was given a kick-start on March 4, 2010. Is this a social movement? Why or why not?
  • POLITICAL SCIENCE/PUBLIC POLICY: In public discourse, public institutions and public goods are often framed as beneficial only or especially for the working class and the poor. Find examples (or counter-examples) of this is the mainstream media. Analyze the veracity (or lack of) of this position.
  • WOMEN/GENDER STUDIES: Analyze the various ways in which the state budget and political process that determines the budget is gendered. How is this expressed on campus?
  • SCIENCE: Analyze the jobs available to CSU graduates in the science field, how will the state’s future and student lives be impacted by budget cuts to science courses and curriculum?