Month: May 2014

The Power of One Ideological Man

The Power of One Ideological Man

To Kill a Mockingbird and Mice and Men axed as Gove orders more Brit lit | Education |

Academics and writers have reacted angrily to news that classic American novels including To Kill a Mockingbird and Of Mice and Men are set to be dropped from the GCSE curriculum because of the insistence by the education secretary, Michael Gove, on students studying more British literature.

The new English literature GCSE syllabus to be published this week by OCR, one of the biggest UK exam boards, will drop Harper Lee‘s Pulitzer-prizewinning 1960 novel of racism in the American south. John Steinbeck‘s Of Mice and Men, and Arthur Miller‘s play The Crucible – in which the Salem witch-hunts serve as a metaphor for McCarthyite anti-communist zealotry – will also disappear from the list, according to the Sunday Times. Another exam board, Edexcel, is expected to follow suit.

OCR attributed the change directly to the education secretary. “Of Mice and Men, which Michael Gove really dislikes, will not be included. It was studied by 90% of teenagers taking English literature GCSE in the past. Michael Gove said that was a really disappointing statistic,” it said.

Instead, the list will be dominated by pre-20th century British authors, such as Charles Dickens or Jane Austen, poetry and a Shakespeare play.

via To Kill a Mockingbird and Mice and Men axed as Gove orders more Brit lit | Education |

via The Power of One Ideological Man.


White Male Privilege Demonstrated?

!!@@#dddddd444hmlbr49White Male Privilege Demonstrated?

I knew something like this was going on. I’ve seen my female fellow students get low level employment while the males went into management and other lucrative career paths. But I didn’t know it was this bad.

But there was an experience of mine that bears a little on this. I am a white male but one of my proudest accomplishments was being invited to join the Black Student Society where I went to college. You see, they had lost their certification as a campus organization and I worked to get it back – so I was invited. I was a member in good standing through thick and thin until I left for law school three years later.

And being very proud of it, I put it on my resume.

I think you can figure out the rest of the story. Only when I pulled that off my resume did I start getting responses to my job inquiries.

It’s not just women

James Pilant

Female ‘A+’ Students End Up Making As Much As Male ‘C’ Students

If you want to make more money, it helps to do well in school, but it helps even more to be a white man.

The better your grades in high school, the more money you are likely to make later in life, according to a study by researchers at the University of Miami and Nova Southeastern University. But gender apparently matters more than grades: A woman with a 4.0 high-school GPA still makes less, on average, than a man with a 2.5 GPA, the study found.

The study also found that minorities tend to benefit less dollar-wise from getting good grades than their white counterparts, even though African-American and Latino high-school students with high GPAs are more likely to continue their schooling than white students with good grades.

via Female ‘A+’ Students End Up Making As Much As Male ‘C’ Students.

From Around the Web.

From the web site, Why Evolution is True.

The authors’ conclusion is clear:

The dearth of women within academic science reflects a significant wasted opportunity to benefit from the capabilities of our best potential scientists, whether male or female. Although women have begun to enter some science fields in greater  numbers, their mere increased presence is not evidence of the absence of bias. Rather, some women may persist in academic science despite the damaging effects of unintended gender bias on the part of faculty. Similarly, it is not yet possible to conclude that the preferences for other fields and lifestyle choices that lead many women to leave academic science (even after obtaining advanced degrees) are not themselves influenced by experiences of bias, at least to some degree. To the extent that faculty gender bias impedes women’s full participation in science, it may undercut not only academic meritocracy, but also the expansion of the scientific workforce needed for the next decade’s advancement of national competitiveness.

I have only one beef with this.  I don’t give a hoot whether the USA beats all other nations in the quality and output of its scientists.  That, to me, is a form of chauvinism, and science, being an international venture, should be promoted everywhere. A rising tide lifts all boats. We should try to eliminate gender bias not because it will make the U.S. more competitive, but simply because it’s the right thing to do.

College Education Worthwhile After All?

i_410College Education Worthwhile After All?

A college education on the average gets you more earning potential while high school diplomas have gone down in value. Why have I been reading article after article telling people they should beware and think hard before going to college because very often it’s a bad call? They say the student load debt will get you or the job market will.

We live in a very difficult time where tuition goes up every year along with administrative salaries and new campus building projects. Jobs are hard to find, and that’s going to continue for for several years.

But a college education is still something which should be sought after. We are more effective people when educated and seasoned. College does a lot of the first and a little of the second.

James Pilant

The Economic Inequality Lurking Among The 99 Percent | ThinkProgress

Autor found dramatic growth in the earning potential of people who get a college degree, which rose 20 to 56 percent in the last 35 years, accompanied by a large decline in the value of a high school diploma, which fell 11 percent. The result is an earnings gap between the two groups that has grown four times greater than the income shift to the top 1 percent since the 1980s.

If the wealth gained by the top 1 percent between 1979 and 2012 was divided equally among the total population, each household would get around $7,100 each. But the gap in median earnings between households with high-school educated workers and college-educated ones has grown by $28,000 in the same period.

via The Economic Inequality Lurking Among The 99 Percent | ThinkProgress.

From Around the Web.

From the web site, Justin Samson.

But we all know that the reasons why we choose to live on campus or go to an out-of-state school is because of the social experience. The type of university program does play a role in our decision-making; but for a 17 or 18-year-old, that young student feels the need to gain independence and control over his/her life. For the ambitious young student, he is dreaming big! It’s in our culture that we should go to the best universities because for decades we have been told that a college degree will give us a better chance of landing a ‘high-paying job.’ 

We’ve also been told that attending college is perfectly fine even if we have no idea what we want to do. To some extent, that is true because attending college can help young adults define their skills and discover new concepts that can shape their future. The question is, why is it difficult for college graduates to find a job? The answer is not necessarily because having a college degree hinders people in getting a job, but because so many college grads are entering the labor market at a time when there are few jobs.

What will it take for American students to finally get fed-up and protest? Well, if tuition rates continue to rise and jobs continue to diminish, don’t be surprised if students take to the streets. Also, don’t be surprised if we are not far removed from other countries like the United Kingdom (UK) for example. Two years ago, the world looked on as British students took to the streets with Molotov cocktails and smoke bombs to protest college tuition fee hikes. For all their gusto, the violence didn’t help keep fees at bay and a recent article in Good Education points to a growing trend of U.K. students flocking to comparatively cheap American universities.

Free Market Logic?

hmlbr23Free Market Logic?

I constantly hear talk of the “free market” by politicians and other public figures. Being well-educated in business (law degree, corporate specialty) I am quite understanding of how their understanding of free markets has little to do with actual competition. What’s worse is that the model is disastrous for many fields of endeavor in our society. Do we want fireman and policeman to be profit oriented? – Much less teachers and ministers.  I teach criminal justice courses. Policing for profit changes police priorities to crimes where they can confiscate property or money. The feds are particularly prone to law enforcement confiscations of goodies. It doesn’t make for good law enforcement but it is in a bizarre and disastrous sense a “free market.”

Teaching is another field where the profit motive has questionable results. While it is vaguely possible to measure some salary outcomes for education, that is only one purpose of education. We in the teaching field are also supposed to produce good citizens, critical thinkers, civilized human beings who can appreciate art and culture as well as professionals. Those things are hard to measure no matter how much multi-nationals like Pearson insist on numbers.

Numbers are a tool, and a limited one. If you’ve read David Halberstam’s The Best and the Brightest, you are well aware that according to the numbers we won that war decisively. To use numbers capably, they have actually to provide an accurate and useful measure of what’s happening.

How many of you can remember industries and businesses whose numbers were wonderful and then they were gone? Enron ring any bells? If businesses with so many aspects measurable by numbers and with so much experience using them for everything from hiring to stock prices can’t generate accurate and useful information, shouldn’t that call into question the application of this kind of number crunching to softer less money oriented fields?

I don’t mind my students desiring successful careers. But I do constantly emphasize the value of honor, honesty and patriotism. Can you measure the success of my teaching in those aspects with numbers? I think not.

James Pilant


“If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Rich?” | Academe Blog

Money, the goal of all goals, today is ruining both education and government. When money becomes, as it has, our only measure of value, structures protecting anything else melt before it. As the “business model” is most keenly attuned to profit, it has become the one model for all of our endeavors.

In my first “real” job out of college, I worked as a counselor in a Department of Education funded program at a small Midwestern college. Our target was students from disadvantaged backgrounds; the one I remember best was a Vietnam vet (this was 1974) who had completed two tours as a side-door gunner in the air cavalry. What he needed was someone to listen as he tried to process his experiences. In all cases, our task was to discover the needs of each individual student and try to develop means of meeting them.

Even then, however, government was bowing to free-market “logic” claiming business methods are the best and most effective in any environment. The DoE had become enamored by a business management concept called “Management by Objectives” and had decided that even small programs like ours needed to comply. We counselors spend a great deal of time on this nonsense, time we could have better spent working directly with students.

via “If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Rich?” | Academe Blog.

From Around the Web.

From the web site, The Road Upward.

The Secret Power of Political Myths

Rome was founded by twin boys named Romulus and Remus, who were suckled by a she-wolf. Germans were descended from demigods who had once inhabited Atlantis before it sadly sank beneath the waves. The emperor of Japan is a direct descendant of Ameratsu, the sun goddess. The population of Britain is actually made up of the ten lost tribes of Israel and members of the royal family are direct descendants of King David.

“What silliness,” rational types will exclaim. These fairy tales should be ignored by intelligent, enlightened people such as us. And ignore them policy-makers do, much to their own peril, because these stories operate powerfully in the underground chambers of our minds. Even the most rational, calculating types at the Chicago School of Economics have a myth: the Invisible Hand guides mankind to prosperity if only we mortals give it free reign. To try to rein in the Invisible Hand of the Free Market is a sin punishable by the curse of low living standards, falling profits and enslavement by the devil (played by the government in this drama.)

The Chicago School of Economics, unaware that their magic numbers are a throwback to that cult leader Pythagorus and the Caballah, continue to fill blackboards and student’s heads with these dogmas. That they don’t work is no hindrance-as soon as we repent of blasphemous usurpation of the Free Market they will work, dang it.

Veterans in the Classroom

I’ve had many veterans in my classes over the last few years. They have been on the whole very fine students.


Guest blogger Alisa Roost is assistant professor of the humanities at Hostos Community College in the South Bronx. Her e-mail address is Here, Roost writes about “Supporting Veterans in the Classroom,” an article that appeared recently in Academe

The United States has benefited from an all-volunteer military with both more professionalism in the armed forces and less opposition to recent wars than a draft might have engendered.  Despite the long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, military service is confined to a relatively small segment of U.S. society. During WWII, nearly everyone knew someone who served, and that made serving feel less foreign.  Now, however, military services tends to focus in specific sub cultures and sub groups and many people do not know a single person who has served in the military. This makes the gap between civilian and military life even larger.

Despite the variety…

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High Administrative Salaries Don’t Benefit Students

i_374High Administrative Salaries Don’t Benefit Students

A disturbing new report from IPS, Institute for Policy Studies, show a correlation between administrative salaries and student debt, the more administrators are paid, the more the students owe.

Other findings from the report called The One Percent at State U:

Key Findings:

  • The student debt crisis is worse at state schools with the highest-paid presidents. The sharpest rise in student debt at the top 25 occurred when executive compensation soared the highest. 

  • As students went deeper in debt, administrative spending outstripped scholarship spending by more than 2 to 1 at state schools with the highest-paid presidents. 

  • At state schools with the highest-paid presidents, part-time adjunct faculty increased 22 percent faster than the national average at all universities. 

  • At state schools with the highest-paid presidents, permanent faculty declined dramatically as a percentage of all faculty. By fall 2009, part-time and contingent faculty at the top 25 outnumbered permanent faculty for the first time. 

  • Average executive pay at the top 25 rose to nearly $1 million by 2012 — increasing more than twice as fast as the national average at public research universities.

James Pilant

(Here’s more on the subject from Think Progress.)

The Higher A College President’s Pay, The Faster Its Students’ Debt Increases | ThinkProgress

Student debt is rising faster at state schools with higher-paid presidents, according to a new study by the Institute for Policy Studies.

In the study, “The One Percent at State U: How University Presidents Profit from Rising Student Debt and Low-Wage Faculty Labor,” co-authors Andrew Erwin and Marjorie Wood show that student debt rose by 10 percent between 2010 and 2011 at the top 25 universities with the highest executive pay, 43 percent faster than the national rate.

Public university presidents suffered fewer pay reductions shortly after the 2008 recession compared to other professions, the study concluded. Between 2009 to 2012, presidents at the top 25 universities saw their salaries increase by a third. Meanwhile, national student debt reached $1.2 trillion in 2012. Seventy-one percent of graduates in 2012 had student loan debt, averaging $29,400 per borrower, according to the Institute for College Access and Success.

“Top-heavy, ’1% recovery’ occurred at major state universities across the country, largely at the expense of students and faculty,” the study concluded. “Soaring compensation for college presidents has come at a familiar price: worsening inequality.”

via The Higher A College President’s Pay, The Faster Its Students’ Debt Increases | ThinkProgress.

From Around the Web.

From the web site, Texas Education.

University presidents’ pay through the roof

Posted by Texas Education on November 20, 2008

The Dallas Morning News is reporting on something that we all should wake up and pay attention to: Texas college presidents’ pay rises with tuition.

As college tuition has risen and financial aid has lagged, paychecks for higher-education leaders in Texas and the rest of the country have continued to grow, according to a new national survey.

I believe in people getting paid for what they do, I won’t argue with that, but…and the article has some comments like:

The leaders of nine public universities and systems in Texas earned more than half a million dollars in 2007-08, the most recent year available, according to the survey by The Chronicle of Higher Education, released this week. And most of them received generous raises from the year before – as much as 30 percent.

Heads of private Texas colleges were well compensated, too, with four receiving more than a half-million dollars in 2006-07, also the most recent year available.

I can’t argue with this:

“Whatever happened to public service? The president of the United States makes less money than the president of the University of Texas,” said Zack Hall, a UT-Austin senior from Frisco who has lobbied for lower student costs.


Should we ditch Commencement speakers?

010David Yamada, as usual, cast light where a great deal of ink had only obscured the issues. jp

Minding the Workplace

Every spring, news cycles fill with stories of college and university students protesting the selection of Commencement speakers, usually on political or religious grounds. Critics of the protests often respond that demanding withdrawal of a Commencement speaking invitation has the effect of discouraging free and robust speech.

Hmm…perhaps we should simply end the practice of inviting prominent people to speak at Commencements.

When students protest the selection of a Commencement speaker, it’s typically not just about their social or political views. Rather, something about that speaker detracts from a moment that should be for the students and their families. If a speaker has taken a particularly sharp or divisive position, his or her presence may actually spoil the ceremony for those students.

Yes, critics of the protesters raise valid concerns about undermining free speech. However, unlike a campus forum that students may choose to attend, those at a Commencement ceremony are…

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Net Neutrality Important to Education

!!@@#dddddd444193mNet Neutrality Important to Education

We educators depend on the internet to communicate with our students, share files, and sometimes teach classes entirely through the medium. We depend on having a good workable service.

That is now under threat. The end of net neutrality and the relegation of secondary purposes like ours to the slow lane threatens our work. It’s not just that almost everything we do will get slower, we will also be forced to pay a premium for some services.

There are few professions to which net neutrality is as important as it is to educators. We need to realize its important and act in its defense.

James Pilant

Why Net Neutrality Matters to Education

For education, this presents a dangerous precedent where the content and tools that schools, teachers, students and learners (of all ages) use may be subject to corporate interests. These new rules are particularly worrisome for educators who constantly fight for budget resources to support technology adoption and rely on web tools as a supplement to instruction in the classroom.

Although many schools heavily filter web content to comply with federal e-rate regulations, the loss of net neutrality would immediately impact:

  • Free and open source web tools for education that could be edged out by for-profit competitors who can afford to pay for better access to their customers.
  • Open source textbook adoption initiatives that rely on volunteer work and donations to create content could suffer from lower-tier access in schools.
  • Wikis and collaborative sites that allow for educators to share content could be edged out by larger resource-sharing sites that can afford to pay for faster access to schools.
  • School and university libraries that serve as gateways for hard-to-access information, as lesser-used databases and niche research tools for academics would suffer from 3rd party interference from larger publishers.

The FCC’s new rules could effectively create a new kind of digital divide among students, according to this Huffington Post piece:

If schools use an online curriculum made by a company that cut a deal with Verizon, students who subscribe to Verizon’s Internet service at home would have an advantage over other students who subscribe to another provider.

The increased costs that some companies will pay to the ISPs will be passed on to consumers, educational institutions and small companies that are already quite cash strapped. Startups looking to compete with incumbent companies also ought to be concerned with how the new rules might affect the competitive playing field in the marketplace.

A Sign that the Apocalypse is Upon Us (in the community college)

I agree.


 Here’s a quote from the President of Macomb Community College in a piece titled “For career success, a higher degree means higher earnings”:
“Macomb [Community College] is working with the federal government and other community colleges to better prepare students for the world that exists, not the world they want to live in. It has meant working closely with employers and teaching the ‘foundational’ skills that employers crave…”
Makes perfect sense:  We wouldn’t want (our) students to live in a world they actually wanted to live in; and we wouldn’t want (our) students to actually change the world.
We want our students to live in a society with growing social and economic inequality–but one that works well for the rich.

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The AAUP 1966 Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities

hmlbr36Shared Governance

This would appear to be the basis of the various policies at many colleges and universities on shared governance, that is, a situation in which the faculty have an active voice and actual power in making administrative decisions.

James Pilant

The ASUP 1966 Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities

Shared Governance – “appropriately shared responsibility and cooperative action among the components of the academic institution”

… (an excerpt from the introduction)

This statement is a call to mutual understanding regarding the government of colleges and universities. Understanding, based on community of interest and producing joint effort, is essential for at least three reasons. First, the academic institution, public or private, often has become less autonomous; buildings, research, and student tuition are supported by funds over which the college or university exercises a diminishing control. Legislative and executive governmental authorities, at all levels, play a part in the making of important decisions in academic policy. If these voices and forces are to be successfully heard and integrated, the academic institution must be in a position to meet them with its own generally unified view. Second, regard for the welfare of the institution remains important despite the mobility and interchange of scholars. Third, a college or university in which all the components are aware of their interdependence, of the usefulness of communication among themselves, and of the force of joint action will enjoy increased capacity to solve educational problems. …

From Around the Web.

From the web site, Academe Blog.

A couple of years ago, I served as chair of a committee that advocates for faculty and staff on issues related to health insurance on my campus: the Health Care Advocacy Committee. For several years, the primary issue that this committee dealt with was retiree health insurance and its effect on the university’s balance sheet because of accounting rules categorizing the benefit as an “unfunded liability.” The committee was provided with actuarial analyses, including some different scenarios for making changes to this benefit. These analyses, which contained no information about individual faculty or staff members, were provided to the committee under the condition of confidentiality. The main reason that was cited by the administration for requiring confidentiality was that, because the proposals were still in a preliminary stage of consideration, sharing them across campus could lead to faculty or staff being “overly concerned” regarding the details of a proposal that was, perhaps, not even going to be seriously considered. Because of significant pressure by the board of trustees, the plan subsequently adopted by the university completely disregarded the views expressed by members of the committee. At a subsequent faculty meeting, a faculty member asked the president of the university whether an open forum scheduled on the topic of retiree health insurance was going to provide an opportunity for faculty and staff to comment on the proposed changes. The president replied that he had already “consulted” with the relevant committees, so the purpose of the open forums was simply to inform. I distinctly remember my colleague protesting that it was illegitimate to claim that there had been faculty consultation, given that the information provided to the committee had been provided under the condition of confidentiality, thus preventing the faculty representatives to the committee from consulting with their constituents.

This exchange caused me to reconsider my position on confidentiality. While I had previously believed that confidentiality was an acceptable concession in order to get “a seat at the table,” I am convinced now that we must resist confidentiality mandates because they undermine shared governance. I want to argue here that it is impossible to conduct shared governance within any kind any confidentiality framework. An exception to this claim is of course governance work concerned with personnel issues. However, a clear-cut distinction can be made that justifies under what conditions confidentiality should apply, based on whether or not faculty members serve as representatives of the faculty. This distinction is grounded in the AAUP’s various statements on the participation of faculty in the governance of colleges and universities.

Here’s the AAUP Link to the referred to document, Confidentiality and Faculty Representation in Academic Governance –