Radical Thanksgiving II: the Top Ten Turkeys for 2011

November 23, 2011, 12:09 pm

Back in 2007 I gave out awards to institutions and individuals in education who had gone above and beyond the call of duty to make turkeys out of themselves during that calendar year.  At the time, I imagined that this would be an annual event.  What was I thinking?  That the Tenured Radical blog would collapse and I would never have to write such a long post again?  That I would give up academia for a well-paid job as a writer for Rachel Maddow?

I dunno.  But four years later, here we are at the Chronicle of Higher Education feeling inspired by the year’s hijinks. The task of giving awards is also less burdensome than you might imagine: after all, while every year in education has its turkeys, consistency would require that we only do this again in 2015.  So with that, we will start with Turkey #10 and proceed to the Big Turkey in the #1 spot (as I write, the committee is still wrestling with that final choice……)

10.  The first, and freshest, turkey goes to the Nassau County high schools (Great Neck North, Roslyn and North Shore Hebrew Academy) that have only this week figured out that their students are paying other, more successful, students to take their SATs.  We at Tenured Radical are happy to award this turkey for two reasons.  First, if the Republican presidential candidates are lecturing us about how taxation foments class war, it seems that they have missed the obvious fact that the privileged have now gone to war with each other over something as trivial as test scores.  The 1% are using every weapon in their arsenals to defeat each other for those precious legacy spots at prestigious universities:  money, money and $$$.  Our second comment is that the local prosecutor (who is employed, after all, by the same government that runs the schools) is charging the test taker — Sam Eshaghoff — with a felony. However, the little darlings who shelled out $3500 per test (including a girl who is, I suppose, named Sam?) are only being charged with misdemeanors. In a just world, all of these students would be treated equally and sent off for a two-year stint in the Army that might introduce them to the idea of hard work.  Instead I think we can expect thousands of hours of community service done by grudging little pukes who don’t really think they did anything wrong. Stay tuned.

9.  To venture capitalist, entrepreneur and education dabbler Peter Thiel we send a little can of turkey soup which, if the world operates on the principles he is proposing, he will be able to transform into an entire turkey in time for the feast day.  Thiel, who is paying kids $100,000 a piece to not go to college, has just funded his first group of Mini-Mes on the principle that, against all evidence to the contrary, only untalented people who don’t know how to work hard should go to college.  Who is John Galt? I ask you.

8.  There are so many reasons to give a turkey to our favorite Republican presidential hopeful “Mitten” Romney, even though he could buy a turkey for every household in New Hampshire (and probably has.)  We are going with this ad, which the website Freedom’s Lighthouse breathlessly praises for its “mean, junk yard dog” approach (that’s Harvard-trained Mitten, alright) to Governor Rick Perry’s policy of offering in-state tuition to undocumented Mexican students. Why this ad in particular?  Not because it compares Perry to Democrats, or because it has a film clip of Mexican President Vicente Fox praising Perry that looks doctored and has English subtitles even though Fox is speaking perfectly good English. No.  This turkey is being awarded because the uber-privileged Mitt might want to think twice about insulting the country that harbored his polygamous relatives after the Mormon Church banned plural marriage in 1890.

7.  Our next turkey goes to (wait for it…..) President Barack Obama and his empty-headed Secretary of Education Arne Duncan for thinking that cutting, pasting and photo shopping No Child Left Behind represents an education policy. In fact, we would argue that Obama has done more for education by sending Mrs. Obama to public schools and cluing poor children in on the idea that, with luck and pluck, Black women can become attorneys. As children drop out of school right and left under mandated testing regimes, the administration offers relief from NCLB’s provisions only to those states which are being “responsible” and “accountable” under the current guidelines. This would imply that these states have already successfully improved education under NCLB, which is probably not true.  Meanwhile, the Obama administration continues to not get it that delivering billions of tax dollars to the testing industry, for-profit education firms and charter schools run by any fool who can get approved does nothing to improve public education for the 99%.  But it sure does deliver the dollars to the 1% so that their kids can pay $3500 to have someone else take their SATs for them.

6.  Let’s send boatloads of turkeys to DKE houses everywhere and let the boys who will be boys have their way with them.  Because no matter how much these guys claim to be innocent bystanders to mayhem that just magically occurs, DKE seems to be at or near the bottom of the barrel when it comes to reckless, institutionalized misogynistic behavior.  Go here for an account of the Yale chapter’s actions, which resulted in a five-year suspension this year. When I was at Yale almost three decades ago, I was told by a rattled pledge that initiates were instructed to go into the next room and f^ck a goat as part of the ritual. Even at the time, I thought: if they treat other men that way, why wouldn’t they treat women badly?

5.  While we are at it, let’s send a turkey to professional conservative Charlotte Allen, who has decided to make her salary this year by going around the country declaring that there is a feminist war on fraternities. Allen has helpfully pointed out yet another facet of our grand feminist strategy to Destroy Men Completely, Turn Women Into Lesbians and gestate generations of children in recycled beer kegs so that Rape Will Be Completely Eliminated Through The Elimination Of Intercourse Itself.  Allen notes that fraternities “may not be at exactly the apex of moral and social respectability that they occupied, say, a century or more ago,” but that suspending a frat for advocating rape and unwanted anal penetration is “the Fort Sumter of the campus war against fraternities.” The “No means yes, yes means anal” made her laugh — not because she is in favor of sexual assault but because sexual assault can be funny! The chant was, she writes, “a well-placed poke in the eye at the Yale Women’s center and the humorless feminists who staff similar campus women’s centers across the country.” For my money, I would prefer an old-fashioned “Why don’t you shave your legs?” which is what women like Allen used to say to dismiss feminist concerns about sexual assault. Allen recently visited Zenith where, I am happy to say, free speech was greeted with more speech, leaving her “flabbergasted” and ever more persuaded that our students are brainwashed by feminism.

4.  One turkey to every person at Penn State, the Second Mile Foundation and the Sandusky family who had reason know those boys were being harmed and who kicked it upstairs, shut their eyes or walked away.  And how about more turkeys for every person who has ever covered up a rape at any college or university, or has established policies that allow rape to be covered up by obfuscating, secret internal procedures that, at their most severe, expel the rapist and send him off to another campus? If you are a college rapist who had to transfer because some b!tch lost her sense of humor– fist bump, Bro!

Now we are getting down to our top turkeys…

3.  Our finalists for Big Turkey were hard to rank. In our #3 spot, we are taking out a student loan from Citicorp to send a turkey to every member of Congress who voted for a budget deal that added $17 billion to the Pell Grant program – and then virtually eliminated federally subsidized student loans for graduate and professional school. Because you really can be competitive in the global economy without doctors, lawyers, Ph.D.’s, social scientists, physicists, mathematicians………and anyone who says you can’t is a monkey’s uncle!

2.  While we are at it, let’s give the Bird to Representative Denny Rehberg (R-Montana), who spoke for his Tea Party pals when he called Pell Grants the “welfare of the 21st century.” You know, it’s one thing to turn the United States into what we are no longer supposed to call a Third World country, but it’s another thing entirely to decide that poor people are hanging on the public t!t when they try to go to school to raise themselves up. Rehberg is, by the way a graduate of not one but two public institutions that — given his age — I would guess cost him less than $5,000 in tuition and fees in total.  You know what $5,000 buys you now? One semester of in-state tuition at UT-Austin, and that is a very, very, smokin’ hot deal when it comes to flagship U tuition.

And now, our Big Bird of 2011 goes to — you guessed it:

Linda P.B. Katehi, Chancellor of the University of California-Davis who, days after an incident that shocked almost everyone but Newt Gingrich, is now claiming that the police who coolly pepper sprayed peacefully assembled student protesters disobeyed her instructions. Let’s go to the video tape to hear the agonized screams for which Katehi is not responsible:


Our holiday season entertainment will be to see how many underlings Katehi is able to throw under the bus before she is persuaded to resign. And on a final, happier note go here to learn how to prepare Martha Stewart’s Turkey Katehi!

Readers are invited to add their own 2011 Turkeys below.

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