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.

Faculty Speak out against proposed OER mandate (SB 2328)

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.

Of course our UHPA Executive Director Kristeen Hanselman testified against this bill.  We also asked for your feedback and faculty responded.  Some of their public testimony is below:

David Duffy

Bill Could End Academic Freedom In Hawaii –  “Senate Bill 2328 is a strong disincentive to teach and will politicize the University of Hawaii.”

Matthew Tuthill

Dear Senator Kahele,
I am contacting you to oppose the proposed SB 2328 concerning OERs be implemented for all UH courses.

As a former student and instructor within the UH System for over 20 years, I have been on both sides of the class and intimately know what works, and what doesn’t for courses. As professors, we choose the best resources for courses, and some of these include OERs, while often times they do not.

I strongly disagree that those not in the classroom or discipline dictate what is best for the course and student. How one teaches and what tools they use have been crafted by examining a multitude of possibilities. I am a professional that works very hard to make the most engaging course for my students, and the STEM student success numbers (of degrees, transfer rates…) at Kapiolani Community College attest that we are achieving and surpassing goals.

OERs can be useful, but often hard copy resources provide more active learning by students… therefore greater success. Numerous studies show that internet/online courses and resources at best equal face-to-face course, but in many cases result in lower student scores. Using OERs is done strategically, but is not the complete answer to many course settings.

More importantly, the UH and the State government should move towards allowing equitable journal access across all of the UH System. Currently an undergraduate student at UH-Manoa has better journal access than a Ph.D. professor at any Community College. VP Morton (and M.R.C. Greenwood before him) are aware of this two-tiered platform and vowed to level the playing field of online resource access. To date though, nothing has changed.

Although the cost of student tuition is stated as a justification of OERs implementation in SB 2328, the reality is that Community College tuition in Hawaii is amongst the cheapest in the nation. These students are just testing the waters of their career and academic lives, and forcing them to use more “passive” methods of OER learning is a disservice to all.

Please consider addressing equitable electronic (journal) access across the UH System, but leave the teaching tools at the instructor level. We do have a driving professional integrity and constantly experiment to find the perfect resources for student teaching and success… and in many cases they are not OERs.
Simply put, I trust you are an expert in your area and discipline, and therefore would not dictate what resources you use to accomplish your work… and neither should elected officials do so for professor’s instruction.

Earl Hishinuma

I oppose this bill because it will decrease the quality of teaching to students at the University of Hawaii by restricting the resources that faculty can utilize and the bill infringes on the academic judgment of faculty. While we should be deeply concerned about the overall rising cost of higher education for our youth and young adults, this bill is not the solution. The broader issue is the “starving” of our one and only state university system for the past several years. Reversal of this “starvation” could result in need-based subsidies of required textbooks/materials for students.

Karla Hayashi

While well intentioned, SB 2328 will result in University of Hawai’i students losing access to current and comprehensive information and resources which provide them with information vetted by credible academic bodies as well as being reduced to relying only on one person’s point of view.

By mandating students use only open educational resources (OER) the breadth and depth of academic information will be severely restricted and handicap our students. OER is still in the infancy of development and of those currently available, not all are appropriate for academic study in all fields. Those academic disciplines where open source materials are unavailable or limited in number would mean students would have no texts and materials to read, review, and learn from.

Additionally, mandating students rely only on instructor-created materials can literally mean students in some academic disciplines will only have access to information in the public domain due to copyright laws. This means students would only be able to learn from information that is minimally 75 years old and older. In a discipline like literature, courses that focus on contemporary literature would be wiped from the catalog. Exploring ideas and hearing voices of contemporary artists would be impossible. Students would be relegated to reading and discussing literature and responses to literature that only exists in the public domain. Students would not be able to further their literary studies through an examination of contemporary issues, a critical component of literary studies.

SB 2328 will severely handicap our students and prevent them from engaging with, reviewing, and learning from carefully vetted, current information as well as reduce their ability to learn from multiple points of view. Limiting students’ access to different opinions also reinforces the growing national voice disparaging facts as “false” as well as policies that call for elimination of words from official communication because one group of people find these words objectionable. Students’ perceptions, understanding, and knowledge will be limited to the point of view of the individual instructor. This defeats the purpose of obtaining a university education, as students’ ability to learn how to think critically will be severely compromised.

SB 2328, however well intentioned, takes our state’s public higher education backwards by decades and can result in our students falling significantly behind their peers nationally and globally.

Glenn Ioane Teves

This bill is ill-informed and will decrease the quality of education. Textbooks are written by national experts and contain up-to-date resources on the subject. They become future resources for graduates in their vocation, and part of their library for life. I still refer to text books I purchased in college. This bill will hamstring the teachers ability to educate students with the latest information and will decrease the quality and amount of information students will receive in classes. Open source information is usually generic and basic, and not the cutting edge information Hawaii college students deserve.

Lynn Wilkens

I oppose SB2328. As a UH faculty member, I am irate at the rate of inflation in college textbooks, which has been 4 times the consumer price index. Therefore, I applaud the desire to lower educational costs for students. However, while some of the UH faculty can and do produce stellar educational material, an all UH-derived material approach will not produce a uniformly quality product that the students of Hawaii deserve. Faculty have been working to reduce costs. However, textbook manufacturers have moved to maximum their profits. They are currently 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. Faculty at UH search for the best mix of quality and cost when choosing a textbook. Some use past editions (available on Amazon), halving the cost of the book for students. We should encourage OER material where it makes sense and together think of more creative ways to lower costs for educational material for students.

Amy Nishimura

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. This bill does not consider how disciplines or courses that attempt to teach critical thinking skills in relation to social justice, disciplines such as Anthropology, Sociology, Political Science, Hawaiian Pacific Studies, History, Literature, Philosophy, and many others, ask students to reference and cite the work of Noenoe Silva, Jonathan Osorio, Amy Stillman, Lisa Kanae, Dorothy Fujita, Sara Ahmed, Cornel West, bell hooks, Audre Lorde, and countless others. While I support some facets of OER and look to attend a workshop on our campus this March, 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, and at at time when people of color and women face daily harassment and persecution, cutting edge and recent publications become increasingly crucial for students, teachers, staff, and administrators to engage in dialogue.

 

 

Dividends of your hard work – OER Mandate (SB 2328) on hold!

There was no individual or organization supporting this proposal.

The testimony sent by UHPA faculty members was well received by the Senate Higher Education Committee which has deferred decision making until February 6 at 1:20 pm.

Senator Kahele has indicated he is rethinking this proposal and will be reaching out to UHPA.

What to expect in 2018 – from the Executive Director

Aloha and Happy New Year!

It’s the time of the year we typically send each other best wishes for a prosperous New Year filled with good cheer.I believe the new year will be filled with good cheer but it will take a little more than wishful thinking and hope. It will take a concerted, collaborative effort to face unprecedented change that can affect the quality of life for all UH faculty. I believe 2018 will be a year that will show the resiliency of UH faculty and UHPA like never before.

We don’t need a crystal ball to see what’s in store for us in the year ahead.

The U.S. Supreme Court case of Janus v. AFSCME, expected to be heard in early 2018, may make union member dues optional. Janus is the first step to weaken faculty rights such as tenure and due process by taking away funds to protect faculty. Knowing there is strength in numbers in unions, the goal is to divide and conquer, attempting to make individual union members feel they can go up against employers on their own.

UHPA is buttressing UH faculty rights at the legislative front.

In light of Janus, we need to hold legislators’ feet to the fire to support legislation that protects faculty and preserves collective bargaining. We’ll be keeping a keen eye on the further erosion of retirement benefits for public sector employees. This has been a recurring theme promoted by the Governor and the Employee Retirement System (ERS) executive director in the media.

We can expect to see attempts to further erode faculty rights in the upcoming legislative session in other ways. There will be challenges to HRS Chapter 89 and the role of collective bargaining, which admittedly, many of us have come to take for granted in Hawaii.

Despite all of this, there are silver linings in the midst of all of this.

First, UHPA and UH faculty are vigilant, agile and nimble, ready to respond and take action. Second, 2018 will be an election year — a time when legislators may be hesitant to make sweeping changes that can cost them elections. UHPA will be carefully monitoring candidate races and interjecting ourselves to support candidates that have been supportive of faculty. Needless to say, we will also be tuned into the gubernatorial race, as the role of the governor has a significant impact on the quality of life for faculty.

With so many issues confronting us, 2018 will be a busy year. UHPA has made a commitment to provide more communications to Faculty Representatives and our members so that you can be informed and take appropriate action, as needed.

Let’s make 2018 a great year. It’s all up to us!

Kris Hanselman
Executive Director

It’s movie season time – make sure your tickets are discounted!

One of our most popular member benefits are discounted movie tickets.   Pickup a book of 5 tickets for either $40  (Consolidated Theatres) or $42.50 (Regal Cinemas).  They do not have an expiration date. Ticket purchases must be made in person at the UHPA office during office hours of M-F 8am to 5pm. Please note our office will be closed for the holidays on 12/22, 12/25, 12/29 and 1/1.  Cash or personal checks accepted. Please call us at (808)593-2157 to check on our supply of tickets on hand before coming in and then enjoy some quality movie time!

Special Salary Adjustment Reports updated

Our Special Salary Adjustment (SSA) database has been updated as of Fall 2017 and includes data from 2014.  Included are both quantity and dollar value of SSAs broken out by campus. Mouse over the bar graphs for detailed information.

 

Retroactive dues fix coming in Jan 5th paycheck

UHPA discovered that the University failed to deduct the appropriate dues from the retroactive paychecks issued on December 5, 2017. As a consequence of this administrative oversight, UHPA notified the University. The University has responded that faculty members will see a slightly higher deduction of dues in the January 5th payroll.

The University has assured UHPA that they will be notifying all faculty members of this event in order to prevent any surprises.
________

Below is a copy of the University’s notice sent to BU07 members on 12/08/17:

Subject: Notice regarding December 5, 2017 paychecks

Aloha,
This email is to notify members of the University of Hawaii
Professional Assembly that UHPA union dues for retroactive pay
increases were not assessed from the December 5, 2017 paychecks. The
retroactive portion will be deducted as required by law, rule or
agreement from the January 5, 2018 paychecks.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. If there are
questions, please contact your respective departmental human
resources office.

Thank you,
Office of Human Resources
https://www.hawaii.edu/ohr/

UHPA Board of Directors votes unanimously to continue offering the Term Life Insurance Benefit of $20,000

Effective January 1, 2018 the $20,000 Term Life Insurance Benefit will be transitioning from Royal State Insurance Company to Pacific Guardian Life (PGL),  ensuring no lapse or break in coverage for existing UHPA life insurance policyholders.  PGL is the largest domestic life and disability insurer in Hawai‘i, with the corporate offices located here in Honolulu, and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Meiji Yasuda Life, one of the worldʻs largest life insurance companies.

Access to additional benefit

As a union member covered under the PGL Life insurance policy, you will have access to a benefit not currently offered through Royal State Insurance Company.  Effective January 1, 2018, you will have access to a Medical & Travel Assistance Program provided through AXA Assistance USA, Inc.  The program offers a broad range of worldwide medical and travel assistance services 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Signup details coming soon

We are currently working closely with PGL on the transition.  In January 2018, you will receive paperwork that will request your primary and contingent beneficiary information, along with optional supplemental life insurance coverage information.

Not a member yet?

This fantastic benefit is FREE for all UHPA members. Becoming a member is easy and takes minutes with our online form.

Identity Theft Restoration Benefit for UHPA Members

As a member benefit, UHPA provides identity theft restoration coverage through ID Experts for all members—at no cost! No registration is required. If you become a victim of identity theft, simply email UHPA at feedback@uhpa.org or call the UHPA office at (808)593-2157.  We will assist you in starting your recovery process by contacting ID Experts for you.  A recovery advocate will be assigned to your case and will contact you typically within one (1) business day.  The information below is needed in order for UHPA to start the recovery process:

  • Member Name
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Preferred contact time?
  • How was your situation discovered? Email/Call/Letter/Credit Report/Other
  • When was your situation discovered?
  • Do you have any known pre-existing identity theft issues? Yes or No

Check your retroactive pay this December

UHPA was informed that some faculty members did not receive the Employer notice sent in late October/early November that there was a delay in payment of the retroactive pay. The payments are to be issued December 5, 2017.

The Employer experienced software problems which delayed the payment. All faculty members were to be notified of this occurrence by their respective campus administration with information regarding the salary adjustment.

On December 5th please review your payroll information. If you believe there are problems with the adjusted amount of compensation to your base pay contact the appropriate fiscal staff at your campus.