Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Kogan focuses on the politics of education

Just yesterday I complained that VOICE OF SAN DIEGO shortchanges education coverage, so I was delighted to see Vladimir Kogan's story today about Greg Campbell, who was apparently fired for working to organize a union at Art Institute of California.

Kogan writes:

"In a statement issued Tuesday, and in a subsequent interview, Art Institute President Elizabeth Erickson declined to discuss the details of Campbell's dismissal, though she denied that it was related to his work on behalf of the union

"'I cannot comment on any personnel issue, but I have never and will never make an employment decision based on union activity/affiliation,' she said in a written statement.

"Erickson has made no secret of her opposition to the union. In several letters distributed to staff at the college, Erickson has urged faculty members to not sign the union authorization cards.

"She ended one memo on the drive, dated April 26, with a sentence written in bold capitals: "You may be signing up for more than you bargained for!" (Erickson said her intention was to warn faculty that signing the union cards would entangle them in a legally binding contract.)"

Obviously, Erickson thinks she has plausible deniability, but I think most people would understand from her words that she was threatening the jobs of people trying to form a union.

Erickson stated further that a union "would only reduce her ability to work personally and one-on-one with individual faculty members."

She refused to answer a question about her position on an academic senate without a union. She said: "I would say that I don't choose to answer that question."

If Erickson were really interested in education, she'd be in more of a learning mode herself. She obviously thinks she knows all there is to know about the subjects and methods that would benefit her students.

That's not too likely. I think the school would benefit from more input from the faculty.

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