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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 […]

Patrick J. Sullivan: “The people who control our schools … don’t send their own kids to these schools. They have one idea of education for our kids and an entirely different one for their own. The core principle of the Bloomberg administration … is condescension: … one idea for their children and a different idea […]

You’ve probably been watching or reading about a remarkable event here in California–a group of parents at Compton’s McKinley Elementary using the nation’s first “trigger law” to transfer management of the school. It’s an important story, raising interesting questions about a potentially useful law that is already being imitated across the country. The problem is […]

Jesus asked his followers to address the whacking huge piece of lumber in their own eyes before performing optical surgery on others. And I can’t think of a better case study of His wisdom than good old U.S. higher education, where the 5,000 nonprofits–many of them pushing what they perceive as Christian values–are engaging in […]

I’d like you to imagine the following. Suppose we are going to have a national summit on health care. Do you not suppose that a substantial number of the voices included would be from professionals in health care, including doctors and nurses? Would you have 3 people with just the head of the AMA to […]

President Obama’s 2010 back-to-school address is notable largely for lack of controversy. Apparently, by now most Republican pols have gotten the word: psst, on education, he’s on our side! The message–if you can call it that–(noses to the grindstone, kiddies!) was deliberately free of any content that could be directly related to the upcoming midterm […]

When the president named Arne Duncan as his first Secretary of Education, he was doing a lot more, and a lot worse, than just naming a Chicago crony and basketball buddy to a critical Cabinet position. He was adopting one of the most aggressive, least tested, top-down, pro-corporate philosophies toward education administration ever promoted in […]

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 […]

Only way to please me turn around and leave and walk away –Alabama Getaway, lyrics by Robert Hunter Many who learn that the University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB) amputated a $650,000 state appropriation, not to mention a flow of grant money, just to rid itself of a labor center (and Glenn Feldman, the accomplished historian who […]

Just last year, Stanley Fish was playing Clint Eastwood with his manifesto: Do Your Job, Punk! (or, My Tinfoil Hat Keeps Politics Out of My Teaching–Get Yours Today!) In that widely panned book, he argued that the role of the faculty was to produce and distribute knowledge magically apart from the mundane and political. Earlier […]

Across the planet for the past two years, university management has been opportunistically putting the screws to faculty, staff and students with bogus claims that “the economy made us do it.” Professor of accounting and AAUP Secretary-Treasurer Howard Bunsis has made a second career of flying around North America debunking these hilariously dishonest claims, a […]

As usual, your friends at the New York Times let higher education employers off the hook. After finally picking up on the nationwide scandal of unemployment claims denial, a story that Joe Berry broke years ago specifically in connection with higher ed employers, the Times mentions the complicity of just about every kind of employer […]

In a surprise move today, President Obama fired all 5,000 Department of Education staff members, including Secretary Arne Duncan. “Education is a failed Cabinet office,” he said. “We needed a clean sweep.” Spokespersons for the administration said the president was forced to act by a little-known federal law mandating the radical progressive de-funding of any […]

  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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Bérubé How many submissions did you receive for The Institution of Literature? Williams 385, not counting the nine essays you submitted, eight of which sucked, if you don’t mind my saying so. Bérubé Not at all. I totally respect your opinion when it comes to essays of mine that suck. Williams Well, they did. As […]

Arrests of 52 students at UC Davis and others at UCLA ended 1-day occupations at both places, and at San Francisco State, but a new occupation has begun at Berkeley, where the occupiers report that police beat and pepper-sprayed students to re-take the building’s first floor. Students appear to hold the second floor at this […]

The 2000 students sitting in at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts ignited occupations at a handful of neighboring buildings and campuses, then leapt across Austria and into Germany (where already last summer a quarter million students, faculty, teachers, and parents struck to fight various sleazy American-model* initiatives being pushed by the aptly-named “Bologna Process”). […]

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 […]

Dear University of California students, staff and faculty: Thank you. As a California parent, I am grateful for your courage in standing up to this administration in the massive walkout you’ve planned for tomorrow, September 24th. You are wise. Without you, tuition would soon rise to a point where most Californians couldn’t afford it. Public […]

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 […]

I’m acquainted with Joel Russel, chemistry prof and president of the AAUP chapter at Michigan’s Oakland University. Courteous, soft-spoken and gentle to the point of self-effacement, he’s naturally conflict-avoidant and careful with his speech. But yesterday’s scheduled start of classes found him walking a picket line with most of his colleagues and several hundred supportive […]

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 […]

x-posted: Swift Notes, April 2010 Since it’s long been proven by solid metrics, such as admittances to the best colleges, that private boarding schools are the best schools, creating the best sort of citizens and leaders (“decision makers” or “deciders”), I think we should arrange private boarding schools for everyone. You’d think it would be […]

Are you ready to give shared governance an F? Maybe it’s time we learned our lesson about shared governance. Four decades of earnest collaboration with management have done little for the tenure stream partners in governance–except to see their steady replacement by instructors, moonlighters, staff specialists and student workers, including undergraduates. This summer’s events on many […]

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 […]

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 […]

If modern man’s producing power is a thousand times greater than that of the cave-man, why then, in the United States to-day, are there fifteen million people who are not properly sheltered and properly fed? Why then, in the United States to-day, are there three million child laborers? It is a true indictment. The capitalist […]

Take students out of the workforce and create real jobs for educators. This week, lawmakers will meet to forge a compromise between the House and Senate versions of the stimulus bill. The likely consequence will be something similar to the Senate version, which targeted education funds for aggressive reductions—chopping an average almost $1 billion per […]

“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 […]

Unless you’re currently afflicted by the GI bug that my family just survived, you’ll want to play this shockwave data visualization of, as LumpenProf puts it, “how quickly the Wal-Mart pandemic has spread from a single outbreak in Arkansas in 1962.” I think it captures more than one “side” of the Wal-mart debate: on the […]

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 […]

Turkey at the top is always intensely competitive. This year’s contenders included first runner-up Robert Felner, the U of Louisville dean indicted for conspiracy to commit fraud, money laundering, and tax evasion in what the feds allege are repeated acts of embezzlement of grant monies amounting to over $2 million. Not content with these escapades, […]

It’s nice to see the electorate finally rejecting the same old Raw Deal. On the other hand, we’re pretty far away from a new New Deal, except for bankers. In fact, we could be in for a long tour of Hooverville. I know, that’s not what you want to hear about The One. He’s pretty. […]

Once upon a time, Derek Bok was a scholar of the labor movement, co-authoring a massive, landmark study of the role of labor unions and workplace democracy in fostering a more just, equitable–and productive–America. A few years later, he had to be restrained by the study’s co-author, John Dunlop, from his campaign to bust the […]

Emile had a visit with his physician upon our return from Quebec, and at 7 1/2 months, he was up 11 pounds and 11 inches. The eleven inches part is kind of scary when you think about it–1.5 inches a month! He also has 3 teeth, nearly 4, and pre-verbalizes, we would like to believe, […]

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

The Moore College of Art and Design has been trying to crush its faculty for two decades. Since 1990, when it employed mostly tenure-stream faculty, it has been converted into an academic Wal-mart, with 31 full-timers on contracts and 70 adjuncts, draconian violations of shared governance and academic freedom norms, including a code prohibiting artists […]

When I showed up at my first tenure-track job in a right-to-work, kind of Southern state, adjunct writing faculty were being asked to pay tuition for a summer pedagogy seminar run by the writing director in an illegal “pay-to-work” scheme. (Unless the prospective adjuncts were spouses of tenure-track faculty, in which case they still had […]

Founded in 1960, the minnesota review has long served as a leading outlet for literary fiction and poetry, and, under Jeffrey Williams’ editorship since 1992, established itself as a foremost outlet for cultural-studies scholarship and reflection about the increasingly sorry state of the profession under managerial domination. It has grown into a uniquely influential voice […]

News flash today: the number of folks on food stamps in Ohio alone has doubled since 2001, now at over 1.1 million. There’s more: Another half million are eligible but aren’t enrolled. One reason they aren’t enrolled? What they get is about $1 per meal, or a little more than a thousand bucks a year. […]

When you teach for love, how do you pay your teaching assistants? I completed my app. with style and perfection Now I wonder how long before you make your selection I hope you don’t mind that I’m being persistent But, I really want to be your teaching assistant –“JD,” March 13, 2008, applying for a […]

Note: discussions on this thread, including a post by Marina herself, have begun separately at the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Brainstorm and The Valve. “Dude, her metrics are awesome!” Teaching for love, indeed. Youtube phenom “Hotforwords” raises the ante on the “teaching for love” canard. In the process, she schools us on how teaching really […]

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 […]

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 […]

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