Month: July 2014

Doubling Down on the Exploitation of Adjunct Faculty


In an article titled “Outsourced in Michigan” written for Inside Higher Ed, Colleen Flaherty chronicles the movement among Michigan’s community colleges to outsource the hiring of adjunct faculty and the management of related “payroll duties” to a corporation called EDUStaff.

EDUStaff had previously specialized in providing substitute teachers for K-12 systems. So, if you have been dismissing the warnings that what has been occurring at the K-12 level will be increasingly migrating to the postsecondary level, here is some further, very direct evidence on that pattern.

The Far Right is very clearly intent on privatizing all public services, including public education at all levels. It is not a scare tactic to assert that this is occurring. It is, instead, willful ignorance to deny that it is occurring, that it is a very serious threat, and that it demands very determined and persistent opposition.

The outsourcing of adjunct hiring in…

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Higher Ed Needs More Cash, Not More Catchwords


By Susan Gubernat

The following op-ed piece appeared in the July 25 issue of the Sacramento BeeSusan Gubernat, is Professor of English at California State University, East Bay, and secretary of the California State University system Academic Senate. She is a member of the California Faculty Association and the AAUP.

California’s public higher education systems are plagued by years of funding cuts. Everyone knows that.

All the clever ideas – the silver bullets that will “save” us – collapse in the face of one simple fact. Nobody can deliver quality higher education on the cheap. We need to fund our state universities.

Critics of public higher education cite low graduation rates and long times to get a degree as the major culprits keeping the California State University and systems like it from long-term sustainability. They note that most undergraduates take longer than four years to finish a degree…

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Corinthian Colleges: For-Profit Schools Preying on the Vulnerable While Soaking Up Tax Dollars


To really grasp the significance of what is happening to Corinthian Colleges, I urge you to read Suzanne Mettler’s new book, Degrees of Inequality: How the Politics of Higher Education Sabotaged the American Dream.  The book is a broader exploration of the laws that shape policy for colleges and universities, but one of the topics it explores is the explosive growth of for-profit colleges after 2006, when Congress removed the rule that to qualify their students for federal loans, colleges must provide at least 50 percent of a student’s education in person.  In other words, buried in 2006 federal budget, Congress expanded federally backed student loans for colleges that provide 100 percent of a student’s education on-line.

Mettler describes soaring enrollments: “In the next five years after the demise of the 50 percent rule, enrollments nearly doubled in the for-profit sector, and revenues soared… The Apollo’s University of Phoenix…

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Palestinian-Israel conflict and Academic Freedom


Dispatches from the Underclass has a post up on academic freedom and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

I clicked on the link to the letter, and the part about the union’s collective bargaining agreement stood out:

“institutional discipline or restraint in their discussion of relevant matters in the classroom…” [the CBA prohibits]   “explicit or implicit threat of termination or discipline for the purpose of constraining a faculty member in the exercise of his or her rights under such principles of academic freedom.”


“Teachers are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subject, but they should be careful not to introduce into their teaching controversial matter which has no relation to their subject.”

This was clarified later with the following:

“The intent of the 1940 statement is not to discourage what is “controversial”. Controversy is at the heart of the free academic inquiry which the entire statement is designed to…

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Disrupting Disruption

Network Schools - Wayne Gersen

Jill Lepore was named Truth Digger of the Week by the Truth Dig blog for an article she wrote in the June 23 edition of the New Yorker where she works as a staff writer. The article, The Disruption Machine: What the Gospel of innovation Gets Wrong deconstructs Clayton Christensen’s theories of disruptive technology, illustrating examples of overreach in his conclusions and “cherry picking” in his case studies that served as the basis for the development of his theory. Inasmuch as “disruption” is now creating turmoil in the public education “marketplace”, it is unsettling to read that much of Christensen’s theory was based on flawed premises… but premises that seemed to be true at first blush and also played to the latent belief that many voters have regarding the causes of poverty and the ineffectiveness of large corporations (or governments) to address complicated problems as effectively as technologically…

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Laura Chapman: Trouble Ahead for Higher Education from ALEC, Gates, Duncan

Diane Ravitch's blog

Laura Chapman writes in response to a post about OECD ratings for higher education in different nations based on ability of adults to answer standardized test questions. This comes as the U.S. Department of Education has declared its intention to rate, rank, and evaluate colleges and universities by a variety of criteria, then to tie funding to ratings. That is, to bring the data-based decision making of NCLB to higher education.

Chapman writes:

“OCED should not be messing around with ratings of higher education programs based on totally flawed assumptions, statistical and other wise.

“Meanwhile, two developments bearing on higher education in the United States are worth noting.

“ALEC, the conservative provider of model state legislation, wants to close a lot of public colleges and universities on a fast track.

“According to Politico (June 27, 2014) in ALEC’s next meeting members will consider endorsing the “Affordable Baccalaureate Degree Act,” which…

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Hidden Markets: Global Patterns in the Privatization of Education?

global-e: a global studies journal

Patricia Burch
Professor, Educational Policy Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Both in the U.S. and abroad, there exists a political movement in support of education reforms based on the logic of the market that assumes that business strategies can and should transfer to education. The rise of the private provision of public education services reflects such marketplace values as outsourcing, limited government regulation, competition and choice. It also incorporates elements of government contracting and vouchers. [1]

As I argue in Hidden Markets, The New Education Privatization, these developments deserve close attention by those who want schooling that is equitable, responsible and effective. [2] The book focuses on the manifestation of the phenomenon in K-12 education in the United States although the trends are global and overlap with pre-school education and higher education. As noted below, several of the largest firms in the industry are multi-national; companies are marketing product lines…

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The Looming Crisis in Higher Education


The “real problem” behind the exploitation of adjunct faculty is quite obvious: universities have continued to produce a reasonable number of Ph.D.’s but no longer are willing to hire a reasonable number of them into full-time, never mind tenure-track, positions.

This situation will change when enrollment in graduate programs starts to contract, and even to crater, because students confront the reality that they have significantly less than a fifty percent chance of finding full-time employment after completing their doctorates—when they confront the reality that the majority of them are spending up to a decade or more in graduate school, and in the process accumulating far more debt on average than undergraduates accumulate, all in order to earn a wage comparable to what they could earn as an “associate” at WalMart.

Because the current pool of adjunct faculty has been built up over several decades but is continually eroded by the…

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