Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tenured Radical's Post at Chronicle

Tenured Radical has a blog post that is a terrifying and brilliant indictment of the state of education in the United States. She nails it. To the wall.

Respectful of complaints about reposting articles here, I'll share just the part that made me want to stand up and start cheering...but my kids are asleep so no yelling. Here's my favorite part of her manifesto:

"Committing to a full-time, stable, and well-paid faculty workforce at all levels of education. This is essential to any claim a campus or school has to nurturing education-as-democracy. Education leaders who support education-as-democracy (as opposed to education-as-commodity) will speak out against attempts to disinvest in faculty by manufacturing an ongoing fiscal crisis for education; austerity policies that suppress salaries and expand the contingent faculty and staff labor force; and the simultaneous, and apparently paradoxical, “necessity” for investing in actual space (vast buildings devoted mostly to student recreation and selling the university as a luxury environment), an expanded managerial force and a virtual (teaching through technology) future."

Read the full post here.


  1. Hear, hear.

    (Said without reading the whole article.)

  2. “necessity” for investing in actual space (vast buildings devoted mostly to student recreation and selling the university as a luxury environment), an expanded managerial force and a virtual (teaching through technology) future." Just what's happening here!!! Are we all working for the same place? did my presi-vost go to the same "leadership" conference sessions as yours? Yuck. What a miserable thing to read to start the day.

  3. I lurve Claire Potter, aka Tenured Radical. Occupy Education, indeed.

  4. The problem is that these days, in order to compete for students, universities feel like they have to "sell the university as a luxury environment". This is what happens when the average student comes to college thinking more about their social life and their comfort than their studies. Students also expect the latest bells and whistles with regard to technology.

    I don't know that there's anything we can do about it at this point. Because any school that by circumstance or design fails to take these points into consideration will find itself wanting for students.

    We have an excellent honors program at my university. The best students get everything paid for including books. But the scholarships often go wanting or are filled by less capable students, because we can't offer the luxury or social environment of the huge football school up the road. Honors students there have a brand new dorm. There's a chik-fil-a in the student union. And more students and social opportunities.

    It matters naught that our classes are much smaller, and are all helmed by experienced teachers with PhDs (never taught by graduate students). It matters naught that they get a private-school education at a radically reduced public school price. They look at the honors dorm (old) and the student union (OMG, so depressing!) and they don't care. They want the new and shiny.

  5. Well, god knows a Chik-Fil-A is vital to one's education.

  6. I went to a school without the new and shiny and I've never regretted it.

    However, I was downright embarrassed to show my parents around the place. THEY really thought I should go somewhere with more pizazz. I actually sort of feel like that about where I'm living now--I'm really happy, but my parents don't give a shit unless it's big and splashy (here is not that by any means). I haven't had them visit yet and so haven't had to deal with the fallout of their constant nagging to go back on the market.

    Facilities sell to parents as well, and with today's student far more docile to their parents than my not-that-long-ago generation was, stuff matters and it sucks.

  7. My university, which is located in an area with an increasingly high cost of living, recently built some close-to-campus faculty/staff housing. By the time they were done, the company to which they had outsourced the job had produced "luxury" apartments priced at a level that only the TT (and staff with similar salaries) could afford. I'm sure they work well for mid-level to senior scholars moving to the area (and I'm not sure it would be a good idea for contingent faculty to tie their housing to their job anyway), but they're definitely not "workforce housing."

    And of course, we've also got 3 (or is it four?) gyms, and 3 student centers with national names (Chick-Fil-A *and* Taco Bell!), and numerous shiny new dorms, but money for faculty raises is available only on an emergency basis (and I realize we were very, very lucky to get such a raise recently, and am sure there won't be another one anytime soon. I'm not sure why/how they came up with the money this time, but suspect they were having trouble hiring someone considered truly essential, like IT folks, and were somehow forced to do a COLA for the rest of us in the process).


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