Recent news about the University of Illinois furlough program shows a touch of class in two senses (Illinois Education Association, “In the News, Jan. 5“). It’s great that Governor Quinn excused workers who earn less than $30,000; it also shows that the public can only handle the tiniest little whiff of the class hierarchy. Or, at least, that our so-called populist governor doesn’t feel he can get away with much populism at all.
It’s too bad that the higher paid administartion and faculty– say, those making over $90,000– aren’t taking an active stand on the inequities of the current fiscal crisis. Almost across the board it’s students and low paid staff that are taking the biggest hit. It’s true, of course, that this is in the end a political problem– a kind of deadlock between the governor and the legislature over funding, particularly over the state income tax– and no none should have to sacrifice much of anything.
Still, wouldn’t be great– a refreshing touch of class– if a few very highly paid administrators, or faculty, or even a coach, got together and called for a salary freeze above a certain level as well as a process that would address the huge gaps between the best and the worst paid in Illinois education. So far the crisis seems to have only created an opportunity for the well off to consolidate their positions via these ‘we all share the sacrifice’ initiatives. It’d be great to see a few privileged academics do more.