The real scandal of Hershey’s exploitation of hundreds of international student workers is that it isn’t actually news. Kudos to the students, who revolted en masse after paying a labor contractor $3,000 to $6,000 apiece to get $8.25/hour summer warehouse jobs in sweltering central Pennsylvania, and also to the U.S. labor associations to whom they […]

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 […]

“Waiting For Superman (WFS) portrays our schools as undemanding; Race to Nowhere says the opposite — that we are killing our kids, figuratively and sometimes literally,” observes John Merrow of PBS. “Hours of homework produce unbearable stress; stress produces cheating, cramming to pass tests and then forgetting everything; that false learning then means remediation when […]

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 […]

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, […]

Does your idea of public higher education include values like fairness and diversity? Yeah, me too. Ditto for the several hundred grad students drumming in the rain in Illinois today, after their union struck to defend tuition waivers.Get updates and join their 2,500 fans on the GEO Facebook page. Charging tuition to working graduate students […]

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”). […]

With a 150-person sit-in at Berkeley and members of the two UCSC occupations beginning a southern tour of talks at several campuses near Los Angeles this week, the movement appears to be gathering steam. In the next 24 hours, occupiers will explain their strategy for movement building–“demand nothing, occupy everything” at UCLA, Irvine, and Cal […]

In lower Manhattan, students demonstrate in solidarity with protesters at UC Santa Cruz. The Occupy California group peacefully ended their weeklong occupation of a UCSC facility last Thursday, but announced that they left “in order to escalate” their confrontation with the state and campus authorities. During the event, messages of solidarity poured in from Britain, […]

I’ve previously complained about the New York Times’ coverage and opinion regarding higher ed, which it treats more as a culture and lifestyle choice than as a critical social concern and economic enterprise. Moreover, it has drifted to the right on K-12 education, delivering soft coverage of charter schools, union busters like Michelle Rhee and […]

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 […]

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. […]

The Dow plunges 40% in one year. You tell me: which fella looks like Herbert Hoover and which one looks like FDR? I recorded this interview with the University of Pennsylvania’s Adolph Reed just about a year ago, while the Dow was still cheerfully flirting with 14,000, and it originally ran on How The University […]

This is part 1 of 4 in my series of interviews with NYU GSOC activists. In this segment they reflect on the lessons learned from the 2005 strike, concluding that no union can stand alone. MB: So why don’t we talk about the lessons learned. I think one of things that graduate employees, at whatever […]

“There’s no way I could have kept my scholarship if I didn’t use it.”   I’m working on a piece about undergraduate academic freedom that relates changes in campus culture to changes in the culture of schools. One area of particular interest is the medicalization of youth relations with authority. In a previous section, I […]

Loyal readers will have seen some of this before, but I’ve just cross-posted this to the Chronicle of Higher Ed Brainstorm and The Valve.  NYU has made a pdf of the entire chapter available for free download: it’s written for general readership and is suitable for undergraduate reading. Ask your students about their working lives–you’ll […]

This week’s posts are all inspired by the Rethinking the University: Labor, Knowledge, Value conference in Minneapolis April 11 to 13. One of the sessions will feature Jeff Williams, Heather Steffen, David Cerniglia, and Eric Leuschner on the importance of engaging undergraduates in debates about the meaning, purpose, funding, and nature of higher education. This […]

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 […]

I’ve been asked to update this piece by several folks with a link to the Chronicle discussion, and some commentary on the student’s memoir. Rather than hazard a translation myself, I am providing, warts and all, a few paragraphs from the Dictionary.com translation. (Yes, we reside part time in Quebec, but my francophone neighbors wisely […]

I was appalled to read some of the reader comments at the Chronicle of Higher Ed to a news wire story about books by two of the estimated 40,000 students in France who may have turned to sex work to finance their educations (as a result of a steady turn toward the U.S. model of […]

Completely tuition-free public higher education for everyone who wants it is a practical, realizable ambition, says the University of Pennsylvania’s Adolph Reed–a canny investment in our collective economic wellbeing, he argues, as well as a long-overdue step toward greater equality. We could do it for less than $50 billion annually. In part 1 of the […]

NYU Press has kindly made available a pdf of chapter 4, which is suitable for undergraduate reading. It discusses the nightmarish experience of working-class students recruited to work midnight shifts five school nights every week at UPS on the promise of education benefits that few persist to receive. Per shift, they earn about what administrators […]

That was the headline on an interesting story on IHE reporting on students who demanded and received a  big tuition increase at Augustana College. Part of the increase went to aid money, part to student-directed educational spending, including on unpaid internships. This isn’t that surprising. (“A Big Tax Hike… Requested By Democrats”) If you think […]

Harvard just announced long-overdue improvements in its aid calculations, admitting that it has an “Upstairs/Downstairs” student population, with half the students coming from families in the top 1% income bracket, and the other half so burdened with debt and work to pay tuition that their “Harvard experience” was serving the other half. In an interview […]

In response to an Inside Higher Ed columnist advocating that colleges devote more energy to professional development for their employees, I point out that the model of “quality” management has long ago shifted the costs and responsibility for professional development to the employee–typically by requiring them to purchase higher education services. The old days of […]

Tuition soared 38% between 2000 and 2005, out pacing nearly every other economic indicator.Where does the money from stratospheric tuition and slashed faculty salaries go? At for-profit institutions, the answer is obvious: it goes into shareholder pockets. Lacking even the veneer of a tenurable stratum, the dollars squeezed from a 100% casual faculty joined tax […]

On many campuses, the largest segment of campus workers are students, outnumbering faculty, staff and other workers combined.Undergraduates work for their degree-granting institution as painters, maids, janitors, cooks, groundskeepers, truck loaders, physical therapists, daycare staff, teaching assistants, computer technicians, coaches, security guards and administrative assistants, typically for wages at or near the national or local […]

Undergraduates now work longer hours in school, spend more years in school, and can take several years to find stable employment after obtaining their degrees.In fact, undergraduates increasingly find that their period of “study” is in fact a period of employment as cheap labor. The production of cheap workers is facilitated by an ever-expanding notion […]

A response to the “making opportunity affordable” report funded by the Lumina Foundation and assorted education profiteers, which circulates the tired old canard that there are still inefficiencies to be found in higher education after forty years of downsizing. My response: there’s fat to be trimmed all right–but you’re not gonna find it in the […]

The first copies of How the University Works: Higher Education and the Low-Wage Nation should be available at the MLA annual convention–just drop by the NYU booth. Or else you can order it from Barnes and Noble ($17.60) or Amazon ($17.25). I’ll be there, shooting a bunch of video interviews–with Cary Nelson, Jeffrey Williams, Vincent […]