“Protest season began with a bang at UC Berkeley as hundreds of chanting, fist-pumping students angry about tuition hikes charged into Tolman Hall during a raucous protest and building occupation Thursday, ” reports Nanette Asimov for the San Francisco Chronicle. The Wall Street occupiers end their first week with a vow to remain over the […]

On Saturday September 17th, movement organizers hope to funnel 20,000 protestors into Manhattan’s financial district, set up kitchens and tents, and occupy Wall Street for the next several months. Proclaiming we are the 99 percent, many of the 7,500 persons who have indicated an intention to participate are the highly educated working poor, under-employed with […]

So I’m supposed to be finishing my entry, “Labor,” for the second edition of Bruce Burgett and Glenn Hendler’s widely adopted Keywords for American Cultural Studies. Yay, I’m in the volume, but also totally depressing. I mean, it’s a class war out there and labor’s lost every battle since I started shaving. And by “labor,” […]

Do yourself a favor and give five minutes of any of your 250 or so labor days this year to El Empleo (“Employment”), an extraordinary award-winning 2008 animation by Argentine illustrators Santiago Grasso and Patricio Gabriel Plaza. You won’t need any help interpreting the film’s conceit, which makes visible the complex web of relationships in […]

When we added humorous chapter books (eg Roscoe Riley) to my three-year-old’s story time, we were appalled to find that one of them featured one of the cruder and, we thought, outmoded Asian stereotypes–the New Kid from the Black Lagoon, it turns out, is not the scary blue-skinned alien from Mars that the other kids […]

Twenty years of schoolin’ And they put you on the day shift Look out kid They keep it all hid –Bob Dylan, Subterranean Homesick Blues On March 22, a prominent group of education bloggers agreed to provide statements loosely organized on the theme of “why faculty like me support unions.” Unexpectedly Stanley Fish, a career-long […]

A guest post by Michael Verderame This Sunday a fellow member of the University of Illinois Graduate Employees Organization, Zach Poppel, and I traveled to Madison to support the occupation of the Wisconsin Capitol. We went there in support not just of public workers in Wisconsin, but of the very idea of collective bargaining. Many […]

Most Chronicle readers probably aren’t among the 3 million or so that Neilsen can measure watching the Spartacus prequel miniseries Gods of the Arena, which premiered in January at the number one position among cable shows in its time slot. Episode 5 plays Friday, 2/18 (Starz, but the best way to catch up is in […]

You don’t know the name Elbert F. Tellem, but you will. Just last week, as the acting Director of National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) District 2, Tellem issued a potentially historic decision green-lighting contingent-faculty unionization at Catholic-affiliated Manhattan College. In the process, he threaded his way through some of the most dishonest law in the […]

“Jesus Christ was a man who traveled through the land, A hard working man and brave. He said to the rich ‘Give your goods to the poor.’ But they laid Jesus Christ in His grave…. “This song was written in New York City, Of rich man, preacher and slave, But if Jesus was to preach […]

Over at the Atlantic, business editor Megan McArdle lit up the Beltway blab-o-sphere by posing an interesting question: If “almost every” tenured professor she knows has a “left-wing vision” of workplace issues, why do they accept the “shockingly brutal” treatment of faculty with contingent appointments? Her perception of leftism among the faculty leads her to […]

A new survey conducted for AFT adds confusion to the already muddled debate about the majority of faculty serving outside the tenure system. Ultimately the union is interested in a particular problem–organizing–for which in many states part-time status represents a legal boundary for the construction of bargaining units. This legalistic definition of the group, and […]

I am the seed ground. I am a prairie that will stand for much plowing. Terrible storms pass over me. I forget. The best of me is sucked out and wasted. I forget. Everything but Death comes to me and makes me work and give up what I have. And I forget. It began with […]

In a draft article published to its website today, Scientific American blasts some of the junk analysis bedeviling mainstream higher ed coverage and what passes for policy “thought” about academic labor. “The real crisis in American science education,” the article concludes, “is a distorted job market’s inability to provide [young scientists] careers worthy of their […]

Is your administration using “the economy” as an excuse to extort more work for less pay from an already over-burdened faculty? Buying Howard Bunsis a plane ticket to your campus might be the best investment you can make right now. Bunsis, a Michigan professor of accounting and treasurer of the AAUP, has been tracking administrator […]

Another scarily bad article from The New York Times on the economics of higher education is making the rounds. Purporting to explain why college costs keep rising, columnist Ron Lieber does a job so superficial, so thoughtless, so unresearched and unfact-checked–in sum, so embarassingly bad–it really wouldn’t have passed editorial review in many responsible college […]

The professional opinion of the chair of the George Mason University economics department is mistaken for the punchline to a Cajun joke. Last Thursday, 350,000 faculty members–most of them without any hope of entering the dried-up tenure stream–received a militant blast email from the AAUP: The AAUP serves notice that we are working to end […]

I just came across Mike Stanfill’s cartoon from last week, which captures a truth about the way the coding of the words “public” and “private” function in our debates about our laughing-stock-of-the-developed-world system of “health care.” (You know, health care for those who can pay and aren’t sick, health care as a reason to stay in a […]

Late last night, disabled faculty veteran Gerald Davey posted to the adjunct faculty discussion list (join) to explain that he’d been fired, less than a year after blowing the whistle on San Antonio College administration’s scheme to defraud contingent faculty by forcing them to sign waivers relinquishing pay and eligibility they had earned under state […]

Bob Samuels is the president of UC-AFT, the union representing nontenurable faculty at University of California campuses across the state. Like thousands of others, he recently received a layoff notice in the wake of the chancellor’s assumption of ’emergency powers’ (the academic equivalent of martial law). On his blog recently, Bob explained how 3500 U.C. […]

Last week President Obama (He Who Must Not Be Criticized From the Left) proposed throwing some chump change at higher education–12 billion or so to community colleges, much of it intended for such great ideas as more spending on facilities, online education, assessment tools, and a standardized national curriculum–excepting where potential employers want to dictate […]

This essay is drawn from the final issue of minnesota review to be edited by Jeffrey Williams, featuring a series of statements of professional commitment or belief–credos–by representative scholars. It’s a very special series of essays, and a worthy capstone to Williams’ extraordinary run as editor. I’ll follow up with more about Williams’ accomplishments, and […]

EVERY DAY MAY DAY!   Thursday, April 30 is May Day for faculty serving contingently, according to the fledgling New Faculty Majority coalition. Major support provided by Bob Samuels, president of the California Federation of Teachers, representing nontenurable faculty at five UC campuses: Berkeley, Davis, Riverside, San Diego and Santa Cruz. Support ’em by wearing red […]

Today the Grey Lady lent the op-ed page to yet another Columbia prof with the same old faux “analysis” of graduate education. Why golly, the problem with the university is that there aren’t enough teaching positions out there to employ all of our excess doctorates Mark C. Taylor says: “Most graduate programs in American universities […]

The most popular interview on my YouTube channel is Play PhD Casino! with Monica Jacobe Saturday’s report on academic employment by the New York Times hangs on the peg of a fact: in many fields, tenure track hiring will be down this year. Accompanying the story by culture reporter Patricia Cohen is a photograph of […]

My son turned one this weekend, and so far, as I’ve said, I can’t see that Obama’s plans to stimulate higher ed will make much difference to Emile’s first year on campus, now just 17 years from today. For the most part, the federal money will replace some state funds. That’s what happened in the […]

Maria Doe is a former NIH-sponsored researcher who struggles with chronic mental illness, tumbling from the tenure stream into contingent appointments and the prospect of homelessness. MB: When did you first begin serving contingently? MD: My first adjunct position was in my own graduate department. The faculty member who was scheduled to teach that class […]

“We’re in the business of education,” Arne Duncan says. The market worshipers have marched out of the building; hurray! Wait–who’s that tall basketball-playing fellow getting ready to sit in the Education seat? As superintendent of the Chicago public schools, Arne Duncan has given us a fair preview of his vision. It’s “a business-minded, market-driven model […]

Part 1: Overview & Key Facts Part 2: Kudos for Recommendations Part 3: Complaints and concerns Part 4: Interview with Paul Lauter There are some problems with MLA’s representation of the needs and circumstances of the nontenurable faculty. If you want to know how they really live and think, watch Linda Janakos’s documentary, Teachers on […]

you gotta watch this Batgirl video! Look, there’s no way to confront how the gated-community crowd has stunk up the economy without core legislation addressing higher education, health care, gender equality and workplace association as human rights. While the five million top consumers were out getting boob jobs, BMWs and blood diamonds, the rest of us […]

Without federal leadership, the crumbling faculty infrastructure will remain disproportionately white and male in the best-paying and most secure positions. With everyone else getting bailed out, higher education is at an absolutely critical juncture, with profound implications for academic actors at all institution types, and their ambitions to serve racial and economic justice. On the […]

 Colbert tells like it is: “Let’s just classify belief in the free market as a religion.” Hint: drag cursor to 4:40 I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for help with dislodging the market fetish, whether I’m talking to undergraduates or economists. Some regular Brainstorm contributors have all been expending a ton of […]

College tuition is free; and executive salaries capped at 15 times the minimum wage. The Yes Men media pranksters have claimed responsibility for a million-copy spoof edition of the New York Times handed out yesterday on Manhattan streets. It captures the gap between what is needed–what we hope and long for–and what we’re likely to […]

“It seems that anyone who attempts to have a frank discussion about labor and/or capitalism finds themselves staving off the same arguments again and again.”–The Girl Detective @ Alas, a Blog All year long over at the Chronicle’s Brainstorm, I’ve been grappling with market fundamentalists (Why doncha go where the Market will pay ya! My […]

I’m humbled and touched by a slew of spring/summer 2008 reviews, by Stanley Aronowitz (below), Jan Clausen (below), Louis Proyect (the Unrepentant Marxist), Jon Whiten of In These Times, Mr. Adjunct Whore , Anna Creech at BlogCritics, Gregory Zobel at Adjunct Advice,  Delight and Instruct, and Paolo Do in Posse (Italian only), and of course the very […]

In response to the fake teacher shortage “requiring” some communities to import education workers from abroad, one of my colleagues at “Brainstorm” (hereafter simply “BS”) wondered whether we should send higher education faculty serving contingently into schoolteaching. To which I replied as follows. Faculty who serve contingently are not surplus labor that need to be […]

Use this living wage calculator to find out who’s eligible for food stamps at your school. Before I get to the proper business of this post, here’s something that really deserves a post of its own, but I know I’ll neglect if I don’t just link to it now. Must-read bloggery over at Historiann on […]

Teaching in Hell very short fiction by Richard Dean He just might get part-time teaching work at one of the several universities in the area, but there were no guarantees. He might well end up working at a grocery store, or a bar, or, if things went really badly, at a convenience store or fast […]

University of Chicago grads march on the provost to protest unequal stipends Chicago remains one of the few bastions of labor militancy in the United States and graduate employees have had enough at the biggest private and public campuses in the city. Last week at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where unionized graduate student […]

Frank Donoghue argues that  professors of the humanities have already “gone too far to rescue themselves.” This week’s posts are all inspired by the Rethinking the University: Labor, Knowledge, Value conference in Minneapolis April 11-13. In attendance will be plenty of Minnesota folks, like Paula Rabinowitz and Lisa Disch as well as a great lineup […]

I posted yesterday on the campaign of 900-member United Part-Time Faculty at Wayne State, an AFT affiliate, to win job security for faculty serving contingently. Like workers in most fields, they believe that serving part-time doesn’t exempt faculty from workplace due process, seniority, and continuing appointment. I wrote my letter to WSU president Irvin Reid […]

In recent years, faculty serving contingently have rung up a series of important successes through unionization, often raising salaries substantially. They’ve also begun to bargain for job security. At some public institutions, notably Cal State, faculty have a contractual pathway to renewable appointments. At private schools, the UAW contract with the New School guarantees not […]

With the whole first-time dad thing, I’ve been a bit behind on the video project! I have twenty interviews on the external hard drive and another thirty or so scheduled for this spring (I’m taking advantage of my book tour to collect more important testimony than my own). At the rate of one interview a […]

What does a young Yalie think it takes to fix our “broken schools”? $125,000 a year for teachers. I’m not generally a big fan of “charter schools,” which more often than not are sleazy operations that combine experimenting on other people’s children with transparent attempts to break schoolteacher unions. But one NYC charter school really […]

In this final season of David Simon’s The Wire, we see the dystopic contemporary Baltimore created by the class war from above. It’s a city ravaged by “quality management,” the same philosophy that administrations across the country have adopted in shunting the overwhelming majority of college faculty into contingent positions. As Time magazine television critic […]

In our abortive exchange over at Brainstorm, Stephen Trachtenberg a) repeatedly ignored my very polite request to talk about the circumstances of the overwhelming majority of faculty, those who serve contingently; b) said I could leave the academy if I didn’t like it; c) affected that I was a tricky fellow using rhetoric and d) […]

I was a bit surprised that Stephen Trachtenberg chose to ignore my second invitation to talk about the plight of the majority faculty–those who serve contingently–and, instead, indulged in a speculative ad hominem flight of fancy that ends with inviting me to leave the academy! I’m sorry Mr. Bousquet is so unhappy in the academy… […]

One of the co-contributors over at Brainstorm, Stephen Trachtenberg, president emeritus at G-Dub, recently posted on the importance of “safety nets” for administrators, then followed it with a post in which he questioned the usefulness of tenure for faculty, at least for those profs he described as “burnt-out”: The academy needs better, more imaginative ways […]

In a couple of recent posts, I raised questions about both Democratic candidates’ health plans–Obama’s really won’t cover many people and Clinton’s enthusiastically endorses tiering of care. As we move closer to the likelihood of an Obama presidency, isn’t it time to start moving the candidate toward questioning his own lousy health-care plan? His plan […]

In the very unscientific polls I placed at DailyKos and the Chronicle of Higher Ed nontenure-track forum, a 3/4 majority responded, “neither–we need a single-payer system.” This seems to reflect at least one of the candidate’s own judgments: Clinton appeared to acknowledge in the last debate that single-payer was preferable, just not in her view […]

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