Category Archives: neoliberalism

September 20, 2014, 6:19 pm

Why Neoliberal Labor Practices Harm Working Students


Ronald is probably running from his shift to a class at the local community college.

Is anyone talking about the fact that students don’t graduate from college in a timely way not because they work,  but because the nature of the work students do has changed dramatically?

This afternoon, I was reading this excellent article by William Finnegan about fast food workers’ labor activism. Finnegan is not only an outstanding reporter, he has a talent for weaving in critical details that enrich a story without derailing it. One of these is that people resign from professional jobs in Latin America and Caribbean countries to earn $7-$8.00 an hour at a McDonalds in New York. The article begins with the burden of “just in time” scheduling software, through which workers are scheduled — or unscheduled — at the last…

Read More

April 1, 2014, 8:53 am

Not An April Fool’s Joke: Massive Cuts at USM

les-miserables-poster001In my previous post, I made a reference to massive cuts at the University of Southern Maine. The cuts have sparked student and faculty protests, and an administrative response that is truly scary, both in its willingness to accept scarcity logic as the educational status quo and its desire to impose faculty and staff reductions by intimidation. This includes cutting entire departments to break faculty tenure.

A strong dissent from the New England American Studies Association can be found here. (Where is a statement from the other American Studies Association?)

I have also received permission from Associate Professor of English and Women’s Studies Lucinda Cole to reprint her account of the state of things. Some of you may have already seen it on Facebook.

To the ‪#‎USMfuture‬ Student Who Asked Me That Question

At the last three faculty meetings I attended at the…

Read More

March 25, 2014, 1:45 pm

Why the Adjunct System Hurts Students

tee-rhrI left Zenith University a little over two years ago, but every once in a while one of my former students hunts me down for a recommendation. Fortunately, I actually kept a lot of those letters I wrote, so in most cases it doesn’t take more than a nip and a tuck to bring one up to speed: “Since graduating with high honors in history, Jason has worked for SEIU and interned at the Smithsonian…..) I don’t mind, even though I now have new students to write for. Zenith paid me well over the years (ok, not always as well as I wanted, but still.) I think writing recommendations for former students is part of some cosmic bargain hammered out over twenty years of tears and snot, to paraphrase Jodie Foster’s Golden Globes speech, even though I now work somewhere else.

But if I had been an adjunct there? No way. I have a number of friends and acquaintances who taught at Zenith — as a post-doc…

Read More

September 17, 2013, 8:34 am

Who Pays for Free? When Universities Give Our Work Away


David Delgado Shorter

In today’s Wired Campus, Hannah Winston reports that the chancellor’s office of California’s community college system will make materials that they have funded available for free under a Creative Commons License. But as today’s guest blogger, David Delgado Shorter, a film maker and professor of anthropology at the University of California at Los Angeles asks, aren’t faculty ultimately paying for these generous policies?

I received a nice note the other day from one of my University’s librarians alerting me to the good news that they had purchased a licensing agreement with a company that would give any UCLA student free access to my book as an e-edition. This news, she informed me, would mean that more colleagues on campus could assign my book more affordably. Well, not just affordable…

Read More

November 19, 2011, 12:09 pm

On the Nature of Change in Higher Ed (Part III): Assessing the Costs

Students at UC-Berkeley marching on behalf of public education last week. Photo credit: Judith C. Brown.

We return to guest blogger, historian and former Zenith provost Judith C. Brown.  Her full biography and Part I of this series, which asks us to think about what modern higher education is, and can be viewed here. Part II, where she addressed the larger economic context for higher education, can be viewed here.  In this concluding post, she responds to the question: “What is to be done?”

Many who are impatient with the slow pace of change in higher education see the key to success in Clayton Christensen and Henry Eyring’s, The Innovative University: Changing the DNA of Higher Education from the Inside Out (2011). The authors’ main argument is that traditional colleges and (more…)

September 4, 2011, 10:50 am

I Hate Teaching on Labor Day: An End of Summer Polemic

Do faculty and students get burned when the academic calendar ignores federal and religious holidays?

Oh sure, write it off to the selfish impulses of a persnickety faculty member who is unwilling to sacrifice for the common good (think again.) Tell me that I just had twelve paid weeks off (not true:  I have a nine month salary that is paid over twelve months), and that compared to such a luxury, one little day can’t possibly matter.  Tell me that this calendar was approved at a faculty meeting I failed to attend (true) and that if I had really cared I would have attended the faculty meeting and made one of my impassioned, fruitless speeches (which would have embarrassed everyone and changed nothing.)

Let’s repeat it for emphasis: I hate teaching on Labor Day.  Hate. It. (more…)

August 6, 2011, 11:41 am

Education Policy This Week: Edu-Traitors, Preventing Child Abuse Through Censorship, And Combat Soldiers In Class

Today we are taking note of smart people saying smart things that open a can of worms or two about education policy and its consequences.

At HASTAC, Duke’s Cathy Davidson confesses that she is an edu-traitor. “I argue that, right now, we are deforming the entire enterprise of education,” Davidson writes, “from preschool onward, by insisting it be measured implicitly by the standard of ‘will this help you get into college’? The result is the devaluation of myriad important ways of learning that are not, strictly speaking, ‘college material.’”

To put Davidson’s concept in practical terms, even before budgets are cut, aspects of the school day that used to be a valued part of the educational mission — art, music, recess, clubs, athletics — become “extras.” In politician-speak, these activities are “fat” or “pork,” which can and should be cut:  those words are also a…

Read More

August 30, 2010, 12:59 pm

She Said Its Two Feet High And Risin’: Five Years After Hurricane Katrina, What Would Jesus Do?

Five years ago today I had just moved back into our current house after nine months of renovations that were way overdue. We had given our temporary apartment back to the landlord, and for part of August I had shuttled back and forth between our New York home and various forms of temporary housing in Shoreline. Our nephew had gone on vacation and I camped in his home down the street; I spent five days at a motel in Worcester, MA at a national sports event; and I spent one surreal night in a chain hotel outside Shoreline, which turned out to be almost entire rented out to the city as an overflow for homeless families waiting for Section 8 housing. As it turned out, these migrations were a preview of things to come: a year or so later, when it was discovered that thousands of displaced Gulf Coast residents were being made ill by the formaldehyde in their trailers, my accommodations see…

Read More