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Posts by Marc Bousquet

February 10, 2009, 03:21 PM ET

Stimulating Higher Ed

cross-posted from

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 state in funds that would largely have gone to help meet payroll for teachers.

In the absence of the state aid, hundreds of thousands of education jobs could be lost.

Boy, is that going in the wrong direction. As I’ve been grumpily pointing out since before the election (in company with the likes of Paul Krugman), we aren’t in New Deal territory yet. Far, far from it: As Krugman emphasizes, the New Deal itself was hardly enough of a commitment to public works to do the trick.

The ...

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February 2, 2009, 07:30 PM ET

Meet Maria, Part 1

cross-posted from

This is Part One of my interview with Maria Doe, a former NIH-sponsored researcher who struggles with chronic mental illness, tumbling from the tenure stream into contingent appointments and the prospect of homelessness.

MB: When did you first begin serving contingently?

MD: My first adjunct position was in my own graduate department. The faculty member who was scheduled to teach that class was awarded a large grant to work on an international research committee and plan an international meeting. The university gave him a course release, and the granting agency matched the university in funding an adjunct. I was very well paid at the time, $4,000, for the class. I did a horrible job, but I learned a lot about teaching.

The next time I adjuncted, I was in my NIH fellowship. I taught for a smaller private school, and I did a much...

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February 2, 2009, 07:29 PM ET

Meet Maria, Part 2

cross-posted from

This is Part 2 of my interview with Maria Doe, a former NIH-sponsored researcher who struggles with chronic mental illness, tumbling from the tenure stream into contingent appointments and the prospect of homelessness.

MB: How do you think the academy should address chronic mental illness?

MD: You would think that academics, and especially social scientists who supposedly stick up for the poor and marginal, would be more comfortable with and forgiving of mental illness, but they are not. It’s part of a larger social phenomenon of stigma. There’s a lot of work being done on mental health recovery (not cure) being done at Yale. One of the team there came to the VA here to give a talk, I can’t remember his name. He pointed out that meaningful engagement in productive work was a big part of recovery. The idea is no longer to get someone...

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January 28, 2009, 02:18 PM ET

An NLRB Victory for Grad Employees

January 27, 2009, 06:15 PM ET

America's Least Dangerous Professors?

cross-posted from

Cary Nelson observes that the majority of faculty now enjoy few protections of their academic freedom

At the annual convention of the Modern Language Association last month, David Horowitz once more shared a panel with AAUP President Cary Nelson, who has previously replied to Horowitz’s exaggerated claims of bias in the classroom. As Chronicle Review Editor Liz McMillen’s coverage pointed out, there wasn’t much actual debate in this overhyped appearance, which featured almost as many security guards as audience members.

The real draw was the more timely panel featuring Stanley Fish debating critics of his notion that faculty should shut up and “do their jobs.” (Staging a meeting between Horowitz and an articulate critic has been done before.)

As many others have pointed out, where students have been given the chance to protest...

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January 19, 2009, 10:17 PM ET

Hello to All That

cross-posted from

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 for education,” concludes Andy Kroll for the Nation Institute’s “His style of management is distinctly top-down, corporate, and privatizing. It views teachers as expendable, unions as unnecessary, and students as customers.” Input from community leaders, faculty, and parents’ organizations “regularly fell on deaf ears.”

As Kroll points out, privatizing Chicago’s schools was the centerpiece of Duncan’s vigorously-resisted “Renaissance 2010” proposals, pushing to close existing institutions an...

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January 15, 2009, 04:43 PM ET

Diablo Cody Meets Steven Spielberg

cross-posted from

Seems I attract the Czars of Obsession, even when I’m not pasting Che posters to the Temple of the Free Market (People, However, Chained to Their Desks).

My fairly light-hearted post on early learning, for instance, sparked a little rage: “It’s All Fun and Games, Pal, until Someone’s Child Injects Themselves with Autism!” and “How Dare you JOKE about Penises!”

So I hesitate to admit that last night I stumbled upon The United States of Tara, the latest venture by Diablo Cody (Juno), and found it hilarious and moving. Produced by Steven Spielberg for Showtime, the show takes a Kansas woman’s struggles with dissociative identity disorder (DID) as the premise of a half-hour comic drama.

While there are many broad (and implausible) strokes about living with mental illness here, the show charms by emphasizing authentic emotions in a...

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January 13, 2009, 02:29 PM ET

Early Learning

cross-posted from

One of the things that child rearing has taught H. and myself is that parenting is the new mystical Belief System in Many Flavors. Like the old belief systems still causing wars around the planet, Parenting Choices (PC) are not really suitable dinner conversation.

Those whose children are older don’t fight with each other about these issues, but put a wild-eyed First-Time Parent at the table, all hopped up on hormones, sleep deprivation, and a bookshelf of contradictory advice and you’re guaranteed a sectarian conflict. The first-timers can’t keep their matches away from the conversational gasoline.

Best-case scenario with a First-Time Parent at the table is you’re going to lose half an hour to a food fight among the adults. That is, a fight about food — when to give solids, how long to breast-feed, using formula, which formula, ...

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January 8, 2009, 02:42 PM ET

The Epidemiology of Wal-Mart

cross-posted from

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 one hand, the bacterial blooming represents the chain’s proponents’ sense that the spread of their corporate presence is organic and therefore natural, even inevitable.

On the other hand, it captures the hesitation felt by many, even Wal-Mart shoppers and employees, that the spread is also potentially toxic. Whatever “innovation” might exist in that corporate culture needs to be separated from the toxic strains growing alongside it.

While the bacterial bloom is certainly faint praise, I wouldn’t underestimate the ...

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December 28, 2008, 08:16 PM ET

One Family That Just Said No

cross-posted from

Tip of the hat to an anonymous commenter over at Household Opera’s entry on Adjuncting in the Tar Pits:

I suppose part of the reason why I never considered a career in academia is that I am the child of an adjunct. My father was teaching at three different institutions when I was small, and later, as he gained more seniority, he was able to teach at just one. He teaches at a community college, and he was finally made a full-timer this year, at the age of 63, thanks to the union. The only reason we had (barely) enough money or health insurance growing up is that my mother taught in the local public schools. And funny enough, my mother is the one who went to a state school and my dad is the one who went to the Ivy. Dad’s employer, and lots of others are making more and more use of adjuncts and driving wages down to a despicable level. I don’... Read More