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 […]

An interesting piece in last week’s Chronicle, Goodbye to those Overpaid Professors in their Cushy Jobs, attempts a possibly premature farewell to a stereotype, the enduring myth that “college professors lead easy lives.”  According to reporter Ben Gose, once-rampant complaints about the imaginary prof on a three-day workweek are now hard to find. Nonetheless he […]

Should The New York Times (NYT) exist? Ha–you’re thinking, “What an unfair question!” Or “You’ve framed the debate in an obviously unfair or careless way.” And right you are. But since I’m a rich and powerful chunk of media capital with a stake in the answer, I don’t care what you think, and I’m free […]

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 […]

  Eric Lee’s Labour Start clearinghouse for global labor news has just announced nominees for its first-ever award, Labor Video of the Year. Two of the five finalists are inspired by working conditions in higher ed. I think both are among the three likeliest to win. My top choice is the clever, often hilarious series […]

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 […]

Slow dissolve: Manhattan, fifteen years ago. I walk a few blocks from my place on Third Street– next to an anarchist squat, across from the NuYorican Poets Cafe–to the headquarters of the Modern Language Association (MLA), then in Astor Place. I explain the agenda of the Graduate Student Caucus (GSC) to the director of the […]

The stark contrast between recent imaginative actions by students and the decades of poor data, bad analysis, and foot-dragging by most academic institutions suggests a possibility. Could AAUP and the disciplinary associations could become the next target for the more radical students? For today’s grads, socially conscious unionism no longer represents the left wing of […]

Okay, let’s imagine the impossible of total supply-side control. Clamp off admissions to EVERY doctoral program in history immediately and what happens? They all keep pumping out new PhDs at contemporary levels for ten years. Scratch that. They actually pump out higher levels, because fewer of those enrolled will drop out, believing that they have […]

My piece questioning the supply-side bent to the American Historical Association’s 2010 job report has gotten thoughtful replies by historiann, Alan Baumler, Jonathan Rees, Ellen Schrecker, Sandy Thatcher and others, both here and at Brainstorm. I really appreciate these thoughts, and want to emphasize how much I respect Townsend’s work for AHA over the years, […]

This is the text of an email blast sent out by AAUP to 370,000 faculty, announcing the release of a draft report on conversion to tenure, co-authored by me, and featuring several examples of different ways that different institutions have moved to stabilize their faculty. We’ve already received over 150 comments, most positive and most […]

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 […]

In this week’s lead story at _The Chronicle of Higher Education,_ Robin Wilson has a spread of four pieces scoffing at the notion of a national problem with undergraduate debt: A Lifetime of Debt? Not Likely.Splashed above the fold on the front page — during Congressional hearings regarding major reforms in student lending — this […]

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 […]

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 […]

Literally a decimation. And so many women faculty, toiling out of the tenure stream for incredibly low wages.  Part 1: Key facts and kudos Part 2: Complaints and concerns Part 3: Interview with Paul Lauter Most of my blogging between now and early January will relate to the worst-timed gathering in the profession, the Modern […]

“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 […]

In honor of Labor Day, very interesting posts by Brainstorm comrades Bauerlein (part one and part two) and Barreca. The posts and ensuing conversations are very much worth a look. Above, Professors Take The Long Course in Poverty by Melanie Hubbard, St. Petersburg Times, January 6, 2008

Part 1 of an interview with Melanie Hubbard, a Columbia Ph.D. with articles, an NEH fellowship, and a book contract who has never been interviewed for a tenure-track job while serving on full-time contingent appointments for 10 years. MB. How would you describe your situation? MH. Downwardly mobile! I was a teaching assistant at an […]

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 […]

Part 2 of 4 in my extended interview with activists from Graduate Students United at the University of Chicago. They sing “Ballad of the Marooned Dissertation Writers,” by radical folklorist Joe Grim Feinberg. Graduate employee unionization in the U.S. is more advanced at public institutions, and organizing at private schools stalled for a while in […]

So I’ve been camping out in Stan Katz’s corner of the ‘storm for about 24 hours, off and on. Completely hogging the comments section: there are 45 comments, and maybe 8 of them are long-windedly mine. (It’s still going on, and you may want to get in on the conversation–as good an opportunity as any […]

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 […]

Contrary to administrative propaganda (and the self-image of many faculty members), tenure-stream professors are not tweedy library mice or individualistic mavericks wildly hostile to collective endeavor. In fact, by the calculation of the brilliant, indispensable Gary Rhoades (Managed Professionals and Academic Capitalism in the New Economy), nearly half of all faculty in the tenure stream […]

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 […]

So Brainstorm comrade Dan Greenberg has had a couple of great posts about academic labor in the sciences recently. A few days ago, he commented on the fake undersupply of scientists, essentially pointing out that labor markets are socially structured. When capitalists, universities, and farm employers don’t want to pay fair wages for work, they […]

The AFT-affiliated Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO) walked off the job at 5 am this morning, shutting down classes, construction sites, and loading docks at the University of Michigan, with the support of undergraduates and union workers. The goal of the two-day walkout was to get the attention of the administration during contract negotiations that had […]

In an essential new tract for the majority of faculty who serve contingently, Joe Berry explains how sleazeball administrations game the social-service system to vacuum every last dime from your pocket. It takes a village to pay for the ultra-low wages that most contingent faculty are paid. The math is simple: since paying someone fifteen […]

Thinking of grad school in the humanities? Are you ready to gamble your future–your marriage–your kids’ future–your health–your retirement? In part 2 of my interview with Monica Jacobe, she describes how graduate school resembles a lottery. “You can do everything right, ” she says, “and you still won’t get a job.” After a median 10 […]

On a website decorated with lemons, two graduate students from UC Irvine have posted a parody program of last week’s MLA convention. Under the headline, “When life hands you the MLA,” they hint, make “MLAde.” Some excerpts: “Shuttle Bus: A free shuttle bus will run between Professional Courtesy and Thinly Veiled Contempt. Buses will also […]

says Andy Smith of his years as a nontenurable instructor at a public institution in the great state of Tennessee, where the board of regents imposes a _maximum_ wage, not a minimum wage on its faculty–of, he says, about $2100 a course. For much of that time, he earned just 1,650 per class. Many of […]

Many Linguists Agree that More Loquacious Absurdity can be found at the Mostly Lunatics Assembly, otherwise known as the annual convention of the MLA. Here’s part 2 of the Berube interview, in which he graciously agrees with my various leading questions about the Modern Language Association. Since this is the holiday season, I’ll save the […]

I’m busy editing video I’ve already shot. First lesson learned: use a lapel mike when interviewing folks at a convention! Those interviews and other random video will be up soon. In the meanwhile, another contribution I put up this morning over at Inside Higher Ed in response to a Council of Graduate Schools press release […]