PSC Member Board of Trustees Testimony December 2020

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The CUNY Board of Trustees did not host a hearing before their December meeting, not even a virtual one. Instead, the Board accepted written and video testimony submitted via the hearings@cuny.edu email address. PSC members submitted written and video testimony about increasing class sizes, CUNY's failure to implement the 2-percent salary increase due PSC members, the Board’s failure to advocate for the funding CUNY needs, the union’s demand that CUNY rehire all laid-off adjuncts, and other topics.

The Board meeting will be streamed here Monday, December 14 starting at 4:30PM.

Video Testimony Submitted to the CUNY Board of Trustees

 

Testimony of Nora Almeida

 

Testimony of Craig Bernardini

Testimony of Scott Cally

 

Testimony of Kevin Kolac

 

Testimony of Michael Kramer

 

Testimony of Lynne Turner

 

Testimony of Elise Waterston

 

Record your own video testimonial about increasing class size

VIDEO TESTIMONY
To help members submit video testimony, we have set up a FlipGrid page. FlipGrid is a free video discussion board that allows you to easily record video from your webcam or phone and view the videos posted by your colleagues.

  1. Click here to access the FlipGrid,
  2. Click on “Enter your guest password”
  3. Enter: “CUNYNeedsSmallerClasses”
  4. Nivedita Majumdar, PSC’s secretary, had recorded a prompt video to greet you and get you started.
  5. Click on “Record a Response” and give FlipGrid permission to use your webcam.
  6. If you have questions, feel free to contact me if you need help (Fran Clark: 914-364-8925, fclark@pscmail.org).

Written Testimony Submitted to the CUNY Board of Trustees

 

Testimony of Jeff Allred

"Each incremental student adds something like 5% to the already considerable load of grading, fielding tech issues, and the like. The increases mean...a marked decrease in the quality of the courses, removing the robust "active learning" components that don't scale (Full testimony.)
 

Testimony of Susan Aranoff

"...Here are some of the online teaching problems that make major demands on faculty time: Students struggle with internet connections and need individual help with material they cannot access in a timely way. Students submit work via Blackboard, their submission bounces back from BB and they miss the deadline for submission or are unable to retrieve the work at all. The instructor has to evaluate this student's performance in the course and figure out how to help the student catch up at that point. Students have a question that would take a minute to resolve in person but instead takes a lengthy email exchange to resolve. Students submit work through emails, and the instructor is unable to open the attachment, necessitating consultation with tech support to resolve. The same for students who have problems accessing online resources provided by textbooks being used in the course. Students who do not function well in the looser framework of online learning need more support and revised versions of exams and assignments in order to try to catch up on missed work..." (Full testimony.)
 

Testimony of Jessica Burke

"I have to be available for my students at a moment's notice, regardless of when my so-called office hours are, which I must remind you consist of only 1 paid hour per class per week. So on average, I'm working a 50-70 hour workweek and I still get paid for only 9 hours. And that's before I discovered thatnot only won't I be getting my 2% contractually obligated increase for the Spring term, but I may be losing the 2% increase I did receive for this past term? So, increased work for yet another pay cut." (Full testimony.)
 

Testimony of Stuart Chen-Hayes

"...we ensure they have everything they need to graduate successfully. That means spending, on average, 2-3 hours per student paper per class (20 classes averaging two papers each to graduation) to give extensive feedback in writing. It means holding additional office hours where we work on writing skills. It means holding writing skills workshops hosted by faculty on the weekends to ensure student success. It has meant creating a new elective course on Professional Writing for Educators. It means referring students to the Writing Center, the Counseling Center, and the Library. It means dealing with anxiety from not getting what they needed prior to graduate school..." (Full testimony.)
 

Testimony of Testimony of Lorraine Cohen

"I join with my colleagues in affirming that class size matters. Under the current conditions brought about by COVID-19, it matters even more. In the fall of 2019, LaGuardia Community College had capped fully online classes at 22. In the fall of 2020 class sizes in some departments have grown to numbers as large as 38 and 39 students. If 22 was the cap then, it should be the cap now." (Full testimony.)
 

Testimony of Testimony of Mark Dow

"While my students and my colleagues are working hard -- and in the most challenging circumstances -- to make Hunter College as good as it can be, the CUNY administration is gutting Hunter with policies that attack students, teachers, support staff, and education itself." (Full testimony.)
 

Testimony of Herbert Hartel

"...I have tried to supplement the in-person experience with audio clips for my PowerPoint slide lectures on art historical objects...Many students and faculty don't have the computer equipment or experience with online teaching to handle this new way of teaching and learning...Providing useful feedback on written assignments is not as easy with online teaching platforms as some might think and reading the papers in such large classes requires a lot more time that adjuncts like me are not paid for. Clearly, the pandemic has allowed the administration to think classes can be packed like virtual subway trains and that this is acceptable or somehow nobody will notice or mind." (Full testimony.)
 

Testimony of Elyse Kane

"My classes in the past ranged from 30-40 students, this semester I had 65 students. I found it very difficult to optimally teach... the large class put a huge strain on me. Grading assignments every week took 3-4 full days. Each week 10-25 students would need to redo an assignment because they didn't get it right the first time, so instead of grading 65 assignments, I had to grade 75-90 assignments." (Full testimony.)
 

Testimony of Frimette Kass-Shraibman

"Class sizes have always been a problem for us in the accounting program at Brooklyn College. Before the pandemic, I had about 35 to 40 students in my in-person introduction classes. Now, I have 45 students in those foundational classes conducted online and 30 in my upper-level auditing class, a writing intensive course; the previous course cap was 25. One of my colleagues has a class of 114." (Full testimony.)
 

Testimony of Cecelia McCall

"At this moment of deep polarization and racism in this city and country, departments committed to teaching and disseminating information about difference and marginalized communities are vital...The expertise of these faculty in race theory must lead the way in developing anti-racist curricula and courses, but also expanding the knowledge of their colleagues about the rich history of people of color." (Full testimony.)
 

Testimony of Maura McCreight

"I have 65 students in my Art History survey course at Brooklyn College - an increase from my in-person classes which averaged 50 students...The added challenge of teaching 65 students via Zoom each week has been overwhelming and would be more manageable with a smaller class size. Students that require more support are harder to focus on with a larger class size as well, and unfortunately, as a result are neglected because of an overcrowded CUNY system." (Full testimony.)
 

Testimony of Testimony of Linda A. Pelc

"Please keep CUNY adjuncts who have contributed so broadly, deeply and richly to communities throughout the city working and serving." (Full testimony.)
 

Testimony of Testimony of Holly E. Reed

"...we are doing more with less, but more does not mean better. Efficiency at a public university should not be a point of pride, but rather a call to lobby Albany and Washington for the critical funding we need to do our jobs well." (Full testimony.)
 

Testimony of Kara Schlichting

"A smaller class allows all students to engage discussion, showing them that the time they put into class matters, and allows me to give time and attention to everyone's ideas equally. Small classes also help prevent students from falling out of touch and slipping through the cracks. Fall 2020 has been challenging, and I have had more students 'disappear' from class than ever before. Reaching out to those students, making sure I know who they are and that I see they are missing, building foundations for trust, getting them back on track--all of this takes time" (Full testimony.)
 

Testimony of Testimony of Joyce Timberlake

"Increasing class sizes would lead to lower efficacy in learning this skill and the negative implications are clear. Large teams are less cohesive. This creates feelings of isolation in some students. If these students drop the class, this leads to lost revenue for the university. Overall, the outcomes are unjust for students and faculty." (Full testimony.)
 

Testimony of Testimony of Rebecca Vaughan

"I would like to know where the buck stops. I understand that the governor has decided to withhold twenty percent of CUNY’s state funding. What are the BOT and Chancellor Matos Rodriguez doing to challenge that? We know that a well-funded CUNY acts as an economic driver in the city. We know that CUNY expanded during the Depression, creating Brooklyn College and two other campuses. I would also like to know why CUNY continues to sit on the second tranche of CARES Act money, the remaining $119 million, which should be used to rehire adjuncts. " (Full testimony.)
 

Testimony of Testimony of Dick Veit

"At CSI, we are fed the line that class sizes will double (especially laboratory sections of classes) and that this will not entail extra work for faculty because the exams are all online and "will be graded for you" by computer (that is, all multiple choice questions). This is a travesty of good education, and the students will learn less because of it." (Full testimony.)