Thursday, September 13, 2012

What if it died... A Big Thirsty From Tingle.

If CM died,
a little bit of me would die, too.

The things I read here,
I do not hear in my faculty lounge.

My colleagues are Pollyannas,
dripping in butter & kindness.

The brainwashing has been complete,
and I trudge between pod people.

But here,
the truth sets me free.

I know I am right because
I have the evidence on this page.

It makes me happy.

Q: But what if it died?


  1. This is the internet. Something would rise. The situation isn't getting any better, and it's getting harder to hide it.

    Hell, they're not even trying at this point. They need CM to live, because without it there would be no relief.

    1. I've written elsewhere that I think the period we are in is unsustainable (the student debt bubble) and when it goes, the flood will take many of the good schools with the bad.

      Nobody wants to hear that; they want the fake Russian with the bloodlust for killing idiot students. And God help you if you go against their favorite crutch (AA, or "the secret world" of emails to the site admin, etc.) - that's when the nightsoil really begins to fly.

      I still hate the idiot students, but really it's the shredded social fabric of America that creates those students; they are the product of all our social failures and our few successes. This is why grade schools in Finland do not issue homework; they know the parents/guardians are involved with their children's education, and scholastic success means success in adult life. So hurting our snowflakes is like kicking a puppy with the mange.

    2. There does seem to be something going on with the combination of student debt, rising costs, and -- the latest wrinkle, exemplified in part by the UVA debacle last summer -- administrative quests/desires to meet said costs at least in part by creating online programs that will supposedly generate revenue at little cost (or at least teach existing classes even more cheaply than underpaid adjuncts can). The problem there, of course, is that there's a limited pool of students who want to take online courses, even ones that carry the imprimatur of reputable bricks-and-mortar schools, and they have an increasingly wider range of choices, unhampered for the most part by geography. So a lot of schools are putting considerable money (mostly in the form of new administrative salaries; to a lesser extent in the form of infrastructure and support/teaching staff) into online programs that they hope will be revenue generators. Since students expect online options, most of those programs will probably survive, but I doubt they'll draw in the large numbers of new, paying, students with relatively low carrying costs (no physical classrooms, no parking, no dorms, no gyms, etc., etc.) for which administrators are hoping. A few schools will stand out, either for low cost or for high quality (the latter, I'd guess, especially in a few specialized fields that lend themselves to online instruction, and in grad programs in fields that do the same). Meanwhile, the underlying problem -- not being able to deliver quality education at a price students and their families can afford -- remains.

      I'm not sure what the solution is. The fake Russian might well advocate putting 50-75% of the administrators up against a wall and shooting them, and I'll argue no further with that than suggesting the relatively merciful alternative of a survivable reeducation/job training camp. But it's going to be hard to unravel, especially since many of the administrators are doing things required by federal and state governments and/or accrediting bodies. Raising teaching expectations (and lowering research ones) for TT faculty at all but a few research-intensive schools would help a bit, and I suspect it's part of what will need to happen, but it's hardly a panacea (partially because so many classes are taught cheaply by adjuncts already). Renewed community investment in the enterprise of higher ed, in the form of tax-supported subsidies at both the federal and state level (bringing funding by state legislatures and federal funding for Pell grants back to the levels of several decades ago) is probably the only real solution, but, even if people are willing to pay higher taxes (and some of us are, as long as the burden is shared in a progressive way), there are other, at least equally urgent, instances of crumbling infrastructure -- e.g. roads and bridges -- and also the problem of a lot of not-fully-funded pension systems.

      At least that's my two cents' worth. Strelly may have an entirely different take. And I suspect we may have hijacked Dick Tingle's thread.

      So, to answer his question: if CM went away, I *might* get more work done, or I might just find even less productive ways to channel my frustration. My department is not full of Pollyannas, thank goodness (though I think there are a few who haven't noticed that the emperor has no clothes, mostly because their own wardrobe is in fine shape). Still, it doesn't do to complain too much onsite, especially about the class inequities now endemic to higher ed., and, besides, this place provides a much more comprehensive view of the landscape.

    3. "a survivable reeducation/job training camp."

      How survivable? I find this idea interesting.

    4. Well, I'm thinking of retraining them for whatever they're capable of. Maybe processing/denying insurance claims? The only problem with that idea is that I'd actually like to see the medical insurance industry, at least as it currently exists, die.

      I dunno, what are administrators good at? Customer service? No, they want us to do that. PR? Maybe. Hmm. . .this is more difficult than I thought.

    5. Manure handling comes to mind...

    6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    7. Contingent Cassandra, I was aiming for social democracy....the problems of American education come from American society, which is why I brought up Finland. There are no perfect societies, but the traditional European-style soc-dem country seems to do better than ours in bad times. America needs a second New Deal.

    8. @Faris: manure handling will do very nicely. Maybe we can tout it as "technology for methane processing," and they won't figure out the truth until it's too late. Bewildering them with gobbledygook is allowable, since turnabout is fair play.

      @Strelnikov: I'll take social democracy (and pretty much anything else that values cooperation in the service of the general social good over mindless competition) any day. But how, short of mass self-deportation, do we get there? Although I'll be voting for the guy his opponent brands a socialist, and I've been happy to see his party embrace communal values just a bit this election season, I know perfectly well he isn't really a socialist.

  2. I disagree that hurting our snowflakes is like kicking a puppy with the mange. The puppy did nothing to deserve the mange: our snowflakes so richly deserve to be picked up by the ears and drop-kicked over the fence. I keep saying, "A real boss in the real world wouldn't like this..."

    But hell, never mind what happens if CM dies. What happens if I die? I am getting much too old for the grad-student lifestyle. If I suddenly croak from a heart attack or stroke while sitting at my computer in my office, like I am now, it wouldn't at all be surprising. Of course, everyone in my department would hate if it I did this at an inconvenient time of year, such as during the term.

    And Strel: I would be interested in hearing more about the student debt crisis.

    1. Private student loan debt outstrips credit card debt (864 billion to 704 billion; total amount of debt held is one trillion dollars), student debtors no longer can declare bankruptcy, collections agencies can ask for unlimited amounts if you default, the debt is hurting the American economy (people paying off school instead of investing in a house or a car) goes on and on. The debt was annoying in the 1980s, now it is absolutely lethal; I've heard an unofficial statistic that 2 million Americans now live abroad because of their SL debt.

      You want to hear horror stories, go to: (Column by Maureen Tkacik on what a fraud the whole thing is.) (Has reams of facts on how bad the system is.) (Turns out Sallie Mae was playing a variation of subprime lending as far back as 2006.)

      Nando of Third Tier Reality (I can hear the boos and hisses) has gone to great lengths to prove what a scam law school is: lots of people chasing few jobs, third tier/fourth tier schools charging $40,000 a year, the machinations of the American Bar Association to put the maximum number of law schools in every state even though there are too many schools as is, etc. My point is, we need to rethink what we are doing with higher education.

    2. I heartily agree. Higher Education used to be Higher Education. Now, it is the default path for too many. Causes dilution of the ideal of Higher education. Too many given loans , when they are not ready or capable to compelte the course of study.

      Perhaps student loans shoud come attached with entrance requirements, especially if colleges are diltuing or voiding entrance requirements, liek proof of a High School Diploma. And GPA results lead to no more loans? Brains as collateral?

      not enough coffee. Reading too many student papers.

    3. It's not the students, it's how certain loans were rigged TO FAIL because THERE IS MONEY IN THE FAILURE.

      This is called "predatory lending" in other sectors of the finance world, AND IT'S ILLEGAL THERE.

  3. One of us would keep it going.

  4. I would sincerely miss a site that I have recently discovered, where the halos get removed and the real dirt is revealed.

  5. Glad to see Dr. Tingle posting again, but I'm really waiting for one of his lovely stream-of-consciousness posts. My fave has to be this one from February 2012.

    1. Just for you, Kimmie, we have posted some of our fave Dick Tinglers above. And to the rest of the readers, Kimmie - although also a fairly regular commenter - is one of the most prolific emailers to the page. There is a whole slew of folks who stay in pretty close contact with the mods, and Kimmie has long been at the top of our favorite list. (Of course there are people who write a lot who are on our SHIT list, but that is most undoubtedly not her.)

      As I think Cal and Leslie K have both noted, one of the richest parts of being a mod is developing these email pals who are quite actively involved in the page, and who take the time to dispute, argue, and discuss the issues in academe.

      Kimmie is a really brilliant person who all of us have gotten to know a bit through our online connection, and I wanted to give her a shout out!

      Holla, Kimmie.

      Fab Sun

    2. Can I also add that after I became moderator I started to get notes from Kimmie. We found out that we had some research interests in common, and we had a meal and a very nice afternoon shopping in Toronto (instead of going to a conference session). I'll let you know, Kimmie, that I wear that one blue amulet nearly every day. We now correspond a bit on email, but I miss her CM mails. She's a treasure.

    3. The academic world would be much better if it was filled with Kimmie. She debated with me about a ton of things, but she was also respectful, sharp, and persuasive. I loved getting her mail. I know others did as well, but I begged her to be more active on the site. You still can! Hi from the late Gordon Presto...

  6. If it died it would be replaced. RYS died, correct? How many dies did we have to wait for CM? Not many if I remember.

    There is space for us to work out these problems, and thanks to Fab and the rest for making such a place.

    I find I talk a bit more freely in my own campus office than I used to, knowing there are others out there like me!

  7. If it died?

    Then it would go to Heaven, of course.


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