Posts by Marc Bousquet
September 28, 2009, 03:29 PM ET
During last week's massive 10-campus walkout, several dozen students and workers occupied (video) the Graduate Student Commons at the University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC), issuing statements frankly acknowledging their intention to escalate the conflict: "Occupation is a tactic for escalating struggles," they note at their website, "We must face the fact that the time for pointless negotiations is over."
Their supporters aim to initiate some actual thought about the role of higher education in the economy. "A university diploma is now worth no more than a share in General Motors," observes the author of the compelling Communique From an Absent Future:
We work and we borrow in order to work and to borrow. And the jobs we work toward are the jobs we already have. Close to three-quarters of students work while in school, many full-time; for ...Read More
September 23, 2009, 01:46 PM ET
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 Thursday, September 24th.
You are wise. Without you, tuition would soon rise to a point where most Californians couldn't afford it. Public higher education in this state used to be free -- and now it's going to cost more than a new small car every year? Pretty soon a UC bachelor's degree will cost the equivalent of four luxury cars. Who can afford that? Thank you for throwing yourselves into the trenches against the Schwarzeneggers and the Yudofs who want to turn public higher education into a subsidy for the rich.
You are compassionate. You are demanding that cuts not fall on employees earning less than $40,000. Thank you for demanding fairness, a...Read More
September 6, 2009, 01:40 PM ET
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 dailies.
Lieber has just one main source for his piece, a college president MBA with nonacademic experience in management consulting. He tells Lieber that problems one and two with college costs are faculty productivity and faculty resistance to closing departments. Third, he admits that there might also be a bit of an explosion in administrators and service personnel.
Hm--no mention of facilities wars? Marketing? Technology? Venture capitalism and patent questing? Declining public...Read More
September 4, 2009, 09:15 AM ET
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 students, determined to hold the administration of his institution accountable to students and the public.
"Never Let A Good Crisis Go To Waste"
Oakland's administration, Russell contends, is engaging in a version of the sleazy managerial opportunism sweeping the country--using claims of fiscal crisis as a form of extortion, to seize even more control of the institution's mission, raise tuition and fees and further impoverish the faculty.
September 1, 2009, 07:15 PM ET
Last Thursday, 350,000 faculty members--most of them without any hope of entering the dried-up tenure stream--received a militant blast email from the AAUP:
The AAUP serves notice that we are working to end “at-whim” employment for contingent faculty. At its June 2009 annual meeting the AAUP put Nicholls State University and North Idaho College on censure for terminating the services of contingent faculty members who had been teaching in good standing for many years: one had taught as a full-time contingent faculty member for twelve years; the other had taught for thirteen consecutive semesters as a part-time faculty member. The North Idaho College case was the first in which the AAUP has censured an administration for violating Regulation 13 of the Recommended Institutional Regulations on Academic Freedom and Tenure (“Part-time Faculty Appointments”), which draws on some procedural...Read More
August 28, 2009, 08:00 AM ET
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 lousy job with more unpaid overtime and less vacation than the Japanese, health care for the last ten days of your life, but not the first thirty years, etc, etc. The whole pile of crap--which appears irrational until you see how efficiently it operates in its actual purpose, which isn't "health" but to provide second homes, compliant spouses, and boats for a bunch of jerks you were right to despise in college.)
One way the insurance parasites are beating Obama is in allowing their side to be described as the "private option."
Part of what's going on...Read More
August 24, 2009, 11:47 AM ET
Late last night, disabled faculty veteran Gerald Davey posted to the adjunct faculty discussion list (join) to explain that he'd been fired, less than a year after blowing the whistle on San Antonio College administration's scheme to defraud contingent faculty by forcing them to sign waivers relinquishing pay and eligibility they had earned under state law.
The adjunct representative to his faculty senate, not only did Davey refuse to sign, he contacted AAUP and the media, eventually forcing the administration to admit to breaking the law. Essentially standing alone, he was eventually featured in a prize-winning series of articles.
"Those who predicted retaliation in a term or a year were correct," Davey wrote. "Having traditionally taught 6-11 hours per term, I was reduced to 3 hours in the Spring term with the hiring of a new, much less qualified ...Read More
August 15, 2009, 12:00 AM ET
Bob Samuels is the president of UC-AFT, the union representing nontenurable faculty at University of California campuses across the state. Like thousands of others, he recently received a layoff notice in the wake of the chancellor's assumption of 'emergency powers' (the academic equivalent of martial law).
On his blog recently, Bob explained how 3500 U.C. "fat cats" earning over $200,000 are living large while students are being turned away and the teaching faculty--most earning less than bartenders--are being terminated and involuntarily furloughed. Learn more at Remaking the University and the California Faculty Association.
For me the most eye-popping statistic that you've been tracking is the soaring compensation in the upper echelons at the University of California--what you call the "$200,000 club." In the past three years, this group has...Read More
August 14, 2009, 08:00 AM ET
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
Democratic proponents of education as drill instruction like
But Tamar Lewin's recent piece, Study Shows Rise in Average Borrowing By Students, takes a step in the right direction.
Faced with the task of covering an aggressively-spun white paper by higher-ed trade association The College Board (representing "5,600 schools, colleges, universities and other educational organizations") purporting to show that most undergraduate loan debt is "manageable"--Lewin notes the spin job by leading with the ...
August 12, 2009, 07:00 PM ET
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 difficult to do, but it's not. You'd be astonished how much teaching you can buy in India, China and Africa for the $10,000 a year that some U.S. public schools are spending on their students.
That's right. My idea is to combine the outsourcing of education labor with a year abroad for every U.S. high school student. Several years abroad, actually. In fact, all of them.
Let's just move every U.S. middle, junior, and high school to India, China, or Africa.
Just as in collegiate year-abroad programs, now all U.S. students will learn in an environment...