The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds. It was a small part of the pantomime.
As you may well not have heard on your corporate nightly news, the Obama-era National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has been near-paralyzed by years of Republican dirty tricks leading to resignations and scandal that included frequent leaking of confidential board proceedings to former Republican board members advising the Romney camp. With the Department of Justice eyeballing the corporate hacks in question, however, the NLRB may finally be set to address academic labor issues.
Several of the regional NLRB panels have already decided core higher ed cases; just last month a federal judge spanked Chicago’s Columbia College for interfering with faculty union activities, ordering them to the bargaining table, posthaste.
Evidently the national NLRB plans to make up for lost time. Over the next few…
So I just finished a brief radio appearance (CBC) on the subject of Massive Open, Online Courses (MOOCs). The main guest was George Siemens who, with Stephen Downes, helped pioneer these courses in Canada. Even though all of the press coverage has gone to the competing Stanford edu-preneurs behind Coursera and Udacity, Siemens and Downes have done much of the most important work, theoretical and practical, distinguishing between good and bad MOOC’s.
At the heart of the work of Siemens and Downes is connectedness. Both have written importantly about the social character of learning, the way that actual learning means entering a community of persons asking tough questions, with a shared passion, etc. Relatedly, both insist that knowledge is not “a thing to be acquired,” but an activity. As any working researcher knows, academic, professional, medical, industrial, and pharmaceutical…
I shouted out “Who killed the Kennedys?” When after all it was you and me.
UVa’s board of trustees (“Visitors”) are widely rumored to be considering reinstalling not-quite-ousted President Teresa A. Sullivan after a three-week public-relations debacle that has Sullivan staggering under all the white hats and halos, and the Visitors themselves painted in shades of black (their chair, Helen Dragas, playing Mistress of the Dark Arts). As soon as the Visitors announced the vote of reconsideration, the normally critical Siva Vaidhyanathan cheered “We Won!” to his Facebook friends.
But if Sullivan remains, what has been won, by whom? Sure, defeating a fast-restructuring board is unquestionably a win. Getting press coverage of the laughable charade that is “shared governance” is a win. But if UVa’s faculty, alumni, students and staff end with reinstalling Sullivan, they’ve chalked up a…
Cary Nelson completes his third consecutive term as AAUP president next week. No one serving in that role has accomplished so much with so little against a mountain of obstacles that would have sent weaker personalities scurrying back to their carrels and laboratory benches. During his tenure, he averted near-certain financial collapse, calmed near-annual rebellions from the union affiliates, appeased traditionalists, weathered the unionization of the staff, oversaw the departure of two general secretaries, rode out nearly-continuous irrational litigation, renovated an appallingly dysfunctional membership operation, herded the cats of Committee A, and brought communications to the very brink of modernization.
He never gave up on his efforts to refashion the organization into an institution…
As I mentioned in my last post on improving our comments policy, I had my say about Naomi Schaefer Riley’s work roughly a year ago (Giggling at Stereotypes). Over time I think most reasonable observers will agree that the issue with her work isn’t one flawed post, but a history of offenses against academic norms.
Together with shameless hit pieces like The Faculty Lounges, her assault on African-American Studies was not an exception, but a repetition, of serious blunders against both academic and journalistic values. I wouldn’t have hired her, and I’d have intervened in her efforts earlier. Her work was ideological first and foremost. As others have observed, the question isn’t why she was fired; it’s why she was hired.
Many of us in higher education get to our ideologies as a result of our research: we think “reality is broken” in some way, to use Jane McGonigal’s phrase, and we…
Not everyone writes to provoke, but provocative writing is common in the blogosphere, including the segment of blogging for traditional news and opinion outlets. Editors’ goals for bloggers resemble their aims for columnists. Generally they want to hire someone whose edginess is both deniable and claimable—not one of our reporters, but one of our loosely affiliated thinkers.
That dynamic tension is mirrored in commenting policy. Most provocative bloggers push buttons and boundaries in order to provoke reader reaction, yet moderate the responses they provoked. From the perspective of the provoked, that can feel arbitrary: You casually mishandled or demeaned my beliefs, but I can’t call you or the persons who agreed with you an ugly name? That’s not fair!
On the other hand, bloggers who moderate their comments typically do so because they value the quality of the conversation…
Last Friday, representatives of Quebec’s student unions were summoned to emergency talks with the government. They were joined by college and university administrators and labor union leaders, whose goal was to hammer out an agreement that would end the 12-week long strike.
Meanwhile, members of the Quebec Liberal Party were gathering in Victoriaville, 70 miles southwest of the provincial capital, for the first day of their annual policy convention.
As negotiations began, buses shuttled thousands of students and their supporters to the Liberals’ conference. Organizers moved the convention site to a location far from Montreal in a futile effort to prevent the mass demonstrations that have occurred daily—and now nightly—in the city’s streets for months.
Clashes quickly erupted between protesters and provincial riot police. According to…
250,000 students pack the streets in largest demo in Quebec history
A guest post by Lilian Radovac. (BTW, SoCal readers may want to know that Marc is speaking at UC-Irvine a 4 p.m. 4/23 on New Media/New Protests.)
On an unseasonably warm day in late March, a quarter of a million postsecondary students and their supporters gathered in the streets of Montreal to protest against the Liberal government’s plan to raise tuition fees by 75% over five years. As the crowd marched in seemingly endless waves from Place du Canada, dotted with the carrés rouges, or red squares, that have become the symbol of the Quebec student movement, it was plainly obvious that this demonstration was the largest in Quebec’s, and perhaps Canadian, history.
"Insufficient number of supporting examples. C-minus. Meep." (Photo by Flickr/CC user geishaboy500)
A just-released report confirms earlier studies showing that machines score many short essays about the same as human graders. Once again, panic ensues: We can’t let robots grade our students’ writing! That would be so, uh, mechanical. Admittedly, this panic isn’t about Scantron grading of multiple-choice tests, but an ideological, market- and foundation-driven effort to automate assessment of that exquisite brew of rhetoric, logic, and creativity called student writing. Without question, this study is performed by folks with huge financial stakes in the results, and they are driven by non-education motives. But isn’t the real question not whether the machines deliver similar scores, but why?
One of the biggest of the big lies to get passed off in recent decades is the myth that the liberal media cater to left intellectuals. Featuring left luminaries like Barbara Ehrenreich, Stanley Aronowitz, Michael Moore, and Cornel West, and expected to draw over four thousand anarchists, activists, organizers, and revolutionaries, you won’t hear about the record crowd packing this weekend’s Left Forum, at Pace University in New York, unless you’re already listening to WBAI and reading The Nation.
In most industrialized democracies, this gathering would be jammed with news teams frantic to get their microphones in the faces of these intellectuals. Absent a plane crash, it would lead the news through the weekend on the major networks, both private and state-owned. (The more so this year, because there’ll be fireworks from direct-democracy and direct-action folks in response to featured …
It’s raining and 53 degrees, and the office is 12.5 miles away by way of the Los Gatos Creek bicycle trail, but I can’t wait to go to work. I like riding in the rain. I like riding, period. But above all I like riding to work. The exercise is part of it. With a four-year-old boy and a pregnant spouse, there’s always a really good reason to skip the gym.
It’s a state of mind more than anything else. The hours in the office are bracketed by life and not the containerized living death of the car. It’s a nice car. Nonetheless I experience driving to work, even on some of the most beautiful freeways on the planet, as at best one big pause before being disgorged on campus. At its worst, car commuting offers the most irritating kind of physical experience–inert and cocooned and even entertained, while being intermittently adrenalized.
Back in 2004, Bush appointees to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) stripped private-university teaching and research assistants of the right to unionize, reversing a unanimous, bipartisan decision in 2000. The NLRB now has an opportunity to restore their rights. All that’s required is actually ruling on a petition for a union election brought by the Graduate Student Organizing Committee at New York University in April 2010.
Due to Republican shenanigans in the Senate, however, there is effectively a deadline of the end of the year. Considering that the new year is less than a month away, private-university administrations may be breathing a sigh of relief. Without a ruling, the law will enable them to legally refuse recognition of graduate employee unions, even if a majority of employees wish to form one.
With “Why I Feel Bad For the Pepper-Spraying Policeman, Lt. John Pike,” Atlantic magazine senior editor Alexis Madrigal provides a useful discussion of the criminalization of protest and related militarization of police response. Madrigal is quite right that we’re missing the point if we pretend that Pike is an “independent bad actor” and “vilify” him as an individual without analyzing the flawed system of protest policing in which Pike operates. However, Madrigal makes a serious blunder in framing the piece.
Madrigal’s intention for the frame was to offer a provocative meditation on the way that the management of disorder dehumanizes police officers as well as the police—the sort of thing any reasonably well-read grad student should be able to churn out (cf Foucault, Fanon, etc):
I am sure that he is a man like me, and he didn’t become a cop to shoot history majors with pepper…
By now, you’ve seen the video of UC-Davis police lieutenant John Pike pepper-spraying a peaceful sit-in. You’ve seen his strutting little-man-in-a-big-body sadism, giving his beefy little canister a nonchalant waggle before strolling down the line of nonviolent protesters, aiming the toxic stream into their faces from a few feet away. You might even have signed the petition urging the resignation of the thugs who authorized this performance. Now, courtesy of the always trenchant Vijay Prashad, you can learn what California taxpayers pay for this level of police professionalism: $110,000 a year. Yep. You heard me. Nearly twice what they pay a new assistant professor in the humanities, and three times what they pay many full-time nontenurable lecturers.
Since The Chronicle is a family paper, I’m biting my tongue so hard it’s bleeding but, honestly, only profanity really does…
November 9, 2011 may be another turning point in the relationship between the occupation movement and campus activism.
Students have played a leading role in the occupations at Wall Street and around the U.S., not to mention the occupation of Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the Spanish indignado movement, and the ongoing student struggles against austerity across Europe. In fact, the “occupy everything” meme first gained purchase on this side of the Atlantic via building occupations at the New School and NYU and across the UC and Cal State systems in 2008 and 2009.
However, Wednesday’s U.S. student actions are on a grander scale than earlier events. They may represent the first major sustained campus occupations in the post-Tahrir, Occupy Wall Street era.
California Is Burning Again Some 3000-4000 occupiers were assembled at UC…
St Paul's offers sanctuary to the Occupy movement--but what if churches were the target?
As the occupy movement flashed to 1,500 cities across the globe this weekend, police repression intensified. At Occupy London, organizers moved from the London Stock Exchange to St. Paul’s Cathedral, where as many as 250 protesters set up tents. As police prepared to “protect” the building, the cleric in charge of the facility, Giles Fraser, intervened. “Canon Fraser came out to greet us. It was amazing,” protesters said. “He defended the right to protest [and] asked the police to leave, and they did!”
Meanwhile guest blogger Thomas Beaudoin asks the compelling question: What if churches didn’t just offer sanctuary for protests aimed elsewhere, but were themselves the target of a nonviolent movement that would…
Gayatri Spivak at the teach-in at Washington Square: “I believe you can win if we keep this will for social justice alive. Logistics are important. Pizzas are important. But the real demand–is to win.”
I went to several Occupy Wall Street events on October 16 to talk about student debt, unemployment, and the academic labor system. In the morning, checked out Zuccotti Park, and I found that the site is serving as a training center and launching platform for occupation events spreading across the city and the globe.
In the morning, I marched with a few thousand students and workers to several banks around Wall Street. The crowd was very organized and polite. There is a lot of spontaneity in this movement, which really is leaderless and highly democratic. While I came to New York looking to see if there was any strong organization or set of…
My last guest post on the Wall Street occupation came way back on day three. In the intervening three weeks, occupations and/or general assemblies have sprung up all over the U.S., from Maine to San Diego, Portland to Buffalo, Oakland to Charlottesville, Va. I’ve spent a lot of time in the week and a half at occupied Dewey Square, across from Boston’s South Station, and one of the first occupations to spring up beyond Wall Street.
Like the Wall Street occupation, protesters in Boston are a diverse group of anarchists and libertarians, socialists and liberals, college students and laid-off construction workers, homeless veterans and anarchosyndicalist grad students who’ve found each other in massive general assemblies, Yom Kippur services, musical performances, and “Free School University” seminars—on such matters as the…
So I just got back from Occupy San Jose, and it was exhilarating—not just for me, but for Heather and, especially, Emile, our 3.5 year old son. After 20 years of top-down academic wankery, I was thrilled to spend three hours practicing democracy. And it was Emile’s first demo!
I’ll always remember the smile on his face while he chanted, “Time for the 99!” and “This is what democracy looks like!” on the two-mile march to City Hall and Chavez Park. Participation peaked at 150 and hovered near there for over four hours. The General Assembly and march were facilitated by tough, smart, organized young people from the local community college, De Anza (my two transfers from there currently getting Ph.D.’s from Yale and Pitt).
As we marched, we got loud, long appreciative honks all the way from passing pickups, city buses, and even an old Mercedes. It doesn’t rival the hundreds…