Senate Bill Puts Quality of Higher Education at Risk

SB 2328 proposes that all courses at all UH campuses be required to use instructional materials exclusively from the OER at the UH, beginning with the 2020-2021 school year.

As the chief advocates upholding the quality of the education at the University of Hawaii, UHPA and faculty members submitted testimony against SB 2328 for a hearing before the Senate Higher Education Committee held on Tuesday, Jan. 30. Legislators were urged to defer or reject the proposed bill for sound reasons.

Our Top 10 Reasons UH Faculty Oppose Open Educational Resources Mandate:

1. Infringement on Academic Judgment

Restricting the resources that faculty can and cannot use for their courses infringes on the academic judgment of faculty. Is this a new definition of a state-run university?

2. Impact on Quality of Education

Open source information is usually generic and basic; it is not the cutting-edge information Hawaii university students deserve. Textbooks are written by national experts and contain up-to-date resources on specific subjects. They become future resources for graduates in their vocation and part of their library for life. Putting constraints on what faculty members must use to conduct their courses hampers their ability to educate students with the latest information. An OER mandate will decrease the quality and amount of information students can receive in their classes.

3. Lack of Important Resources

Higher education is a time for students to spread their intellectual wings and delve deep into subjects with passion. Unfortunately, not all instructional materials are available on open access. This limits academic rigor and holds back students from fully exploring subjects. Libraries continue to play a significant role in universities, but at the UH even our libraries have been subject to budget cuts.

4. Significant Funding Requirements

There are other costs associated with OER that on the surface may not be as readily apparent. Even under the best of circumstances, OER cannot provide instructional and research materials without a substantial investment to develop materials and purchase academic resources that are not subject to open access.

5. Cost of Course Development

The cost to construct course content and the methodology for delivery are also worth noting. Depending upon the area of study, specialized technology and software-based resources are required to meet OER standards.

6. Technological Constraints

Eliminating textbooks creates access challenges for both students and faculty members. With the rapid changes in hardware and software, some may have a challenge accessing online materials because of a lack of appropriate tools, internet access, security, access to technical support, and other obstacles. This creates an uneven playing field for student learning.

7. Need-Based Subsidies

With the increase in the cost of textbooks and other instructional resources, there needs to be a corresponding increase in funding for textbooks through subsidies. By decreasing the out-of-pocket expenses for books, the net effect is lower educational costs for students. This can be accomplished through allocations made by the legislature.

8. Legislative Overreach

Simply commanding faculty members to turn over their intellectual property is not only offensive to academic practice, but also fails to recognize that the content may be subject to peer review. Asserting that faculty are required to make their work available to all is contrary to academic protocols. Already, many faculty members voluntarily share their work among their department and students. It is substantial legislative overreach for the legislature to act as the employer by assigning specific duties to faculty members.

9. Alternative Solutions

OER is not a black-and-white, either-or issue. Textbook manufacturers seek to maximize their profits by releasing new versions of books each year with minor changes, such as reordering exercises and adding modest material, and have reduced the number of books that could be used for several semesters. UH faculty, on the other hand, search for the best mix of quality and cost when choosing textbooks. Some use past editions, available on Amazon, halving the cost of a textbook for students. We should encourage OER material when it makes sense and think of more creative ways to lower the costs of educational materials for students.

10. Non-OER Books Facilitate Dialogue

At a time when so many scholars are engaged in writing about social justice and look to publish their work in the near future, this bill unintentionally subverts attempts for students to become scholars who offer a critical lens about race, class, and gender. By mandating what a faculty member may or may not include for course material, we set back the clock on educational resources for the 21st-century learner. At a time when people of color and women face daily harassment and persecution, recent, cutting-edge publications become increasingly crucial for students, teachers, staff, and administrators to engage in dialogue.

SB 3 Relating to Public Employment (House)

The House Committee on Labor & Public Employment
And
The House Committee on Finance

Wednesday, August 30, 2017
Auditorium
1:00 p.m.

RE: SB 3 Relating to Public Employment

Attention:    Chairs Aaron Ling Johanson and Sylvia Luke,
Vice Chairs Daniel Holt and Ty Cullen and Members of the Committees

The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA) appreciates the consideration the legislature has extended to faculty members during this special session.  We respectfully request the Committee support passage of SB  3 which is a measure to appropriate funds for fiscal biennium 2017-2019 for salary costs for public employees in collective bargaining unit (7) and for certain employees excluded from collective bargaining.

UHPA requests the committee support SB 3.

 

Sincerely,
Kristeen Hanselman
Executive Director

SB 3 Relating to Public Employment (Senate)

The Senate Committee on Labor

and

The Committee on Ways and Means

Monday, August 28, 2017
Conference Rm. 211
11:00 a.m.

RE: SB 3 Relating to Public Employment

Attention: Chairs Jill Tokuda and Donovan Dela Cruz, Vice Chairs J. Kalani English and Keith-Agaran and Members of the Committees

The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA) appreciates the consideration the legislature has extended to faculty members during this special session.  We respectfully request the Committee support passage of SB  3 which is a measure to appropriate funds for fiscal biennium 2017-2019 for salary costs for public employees in collective bargaining unit (7) and for certain employees excluded from collective bargaining.

UHPA requests the committee support SB 3.

Sincerely,

Kristeen Hanselman
Executive Director

UHPA Seeks to Allow Legislature to Appropriate Salary Funds during a Special Legislative Session

UHPA filed a request that the Hawaii Labor Relations Board rule on whether the Legislature may appropriate funds for a collective bargaining agreement during a Special Legislative Session. Over the course of this month, it became clear that there were issues being raised by the Governor’s office and the Speaker of the House that the collective bargaining law, Chapter 89, might not allow an appropriation be made during a Special Legislative Session. To be clear neither the Governor’s Chief of Staff nor Speaker Saiki would reveal their specific concerns to UHPA Executive Director Hanselman. UHPA was informed that the Attorney General was being asked to comment on some technical issues. President Lassner was also not informed of these matters by the Governor’s office.

This lack of candor is antithetical to the practice of good faith negotiations.

UHPA believes that there is no prohibition to the funding of a collective bargaining agreement during a Special Legislative Session. UHPA seeks to have this issue resolved should a Special Session be conveyed this year. There are no decisions previously issued on this matter.

UHPA wants faculty members to receive their salary increases as quickly as possible. Delaying an appropriations until 2018 has a negative impact on the pocketbooks of faculty and retroactive lump payments can have tax consequences.

You will be informed of the outcome of this request for a ruling from the Hawaii Labor Relations Board. Time is critical with a Special Legislative Session tentatively scheduled to begin next week.

 

GM 60 Chairperson and Representative of the Public of the Hawai‘i Labor Relations Board

The Senate Committee on Labor
Thursday, August 31, 2017
Room 225
2:45 p.m.

RE: GM 60  Chairperson and Representative of the Public of the Hawai‘i Labor Relations Board

Attention: Chair Jill Tokuda, Vice Chair Kalani English and Members of the Committee

The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA) supports the confirmation of Marcus Oshiro, as the Chairperson and Representative of the Public of the Hawai‘i Labor Relations Board.

Representative Oshiro brings an appreciation for the role that collective bargaining has played in meeting the needs of public employers while addressing the necessary employee protections and compensation needed to attract and maintain a skilled workforce throughout the state. He has demonstrated he possesses insight and creativity in meeting the changing nature of employer and employee relations as the political and economics of public environment undergo significant stress.

His time as a member of the Hawai‘i State Legislature provides him with a unique understanding of the Statutes that govern the process and procedures involved in Chapter 89.  

UHPA urges the Committee to confirm Marcus Oshiro as the Chairperson and Representative of the Public of the Hawai‘i Labor Relations Board.

 

Respectfully Submitted,
Kristeen Hanselman
Executive Director