Thursday, April 28, 2011

AAUP Statement: Labor Studies Faculty Targeted

This video slasher job has been and continues to be the topic of lively discussion on highered and labor lists, pushing other topics to the background momentarily. Not to worry ~ we're not forgetting them, just catching this one before the next highered news train wreck. There's an excellent Labor Notes article, "Right-wing Hoaxster Smears Labor Educators," We're working on a letter appealing adjunct Giljum's "not re-hiring." Judy Ancel has issued a statement, already posted to many of these lists as well as blogs such as Gail Francis' Erstwhile Luddite ~ complete with creative editing challenge. No one can compete with academics when it comes to Today, AAUP general secretary Gary Rhoades issued this one.

Compromising Academic Freedom and Creating a Hostile Classroom Environment

Washington, D.C. ─ Andrew Breitbart is on the attack again. This time his targets are Judy Ancel, Director of the Institute for Labor Studies at the University of Missouri, Kansas City and her co-instructor in a labor studies class, Don Giljum, an adjunct lecturer at the University of Missouri, Saint Louis. Breibart has produced what purports to be a damning video of the class Ancel and Giljum co-taught. The video, selectively edited from more than thirty hours of classroom footage, has already cost Giljum his job.

The video posted on Breitbart's BigGovernment website is entitled "Thuggery 101: Union Official, Professor Teach How-To College Course in Violent Union Tactics."  The violence that is being done, however, is to the academic freedom and employment security of the instructors, and to the privacy and safe classroom environment of the students, some of whom speak on the video clip.  When students voice their views in class, they should not have to fear that their comments will be spread all over the Internet.  When faculty members rightly explore difficult topics in class, they should not have to fear for their jobs or their lives. (Death threats to the instructors have been posted on Breitbart's blog).

Quality education in a democracy requires the free and open exchange of ideas by professors and students without fear of retaliation.  It requires academic freedom.  And it requires safe classroom environments.  Those commitments and conditions are at the heart of the American Association of University Professors' (AAUP) basic principles.

In his own words, in a recent appearance on the Sean Hannity show, Andrew Breitbart indicated that he intends to "go after" teachers and unions.  That is in keeping with a current environment in which some politicians seek to make a name for themselves by attacking the rights of working people and the work of people whose inherent right (and responsibility) it is to explore a variety of ideas. 

Breitbart has a right to voice his views; he does not have a right to his own facts. He does not have a right to distort the class in ways that are evident in the video clips and that are detailed by Judy Ancel in her response to the attack.  Neither does he have the right to trample on the academic freedom of professors and their students, nor on the privacy rights of students in their classroom work. 

The AAUP denounces the actions of Andrew Breitbart as compromising academic freedom, quality education, and the rights of students to a safe classroom environment.  We call on the University of Missouri, Kansas City, the University of Missouri, Saint Louis and the University of Missouri System to speak out clearly and forcefully in defense of the rights of their professors and students.  And we call on all people of reason in the academy and beyond to do likewise.  

Friday, April 22, 2011

Reading Room: Omnivore on college campuses

Hadley Arkes on Ave Maria University: A challenge among friends. Acts of Faith: Divinity grads aim to compensate for the chaos in contemporary society. Should we arm Christian campuses? David C. Cramer wonders. Faith and the cosmos: Can Catholic universities foster dialogue between religion and science? 
Humanities 2.0: New digital tools are bringing new ways to teach humanities courses, even Shakespeare. From THES, a review of Higher Education and the Public Good: Imagining the University by Jon Nixon; a review of The Public Value of the Humanities; and Urania's lessons for Clio: Felipe Fernandez-Armesto on the humanities' need for scientific insights
Gary Wills reviews All Things Shining: Reading the Western Classics to Find Meaning in a Secular Age by Hubert Dreyfus and Sean Dorrance Kelly. Richard Arum on his and Josipa Roksa’s book Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses (and more). A review of The Campaign for an Academic Bill of Rights by David Horowitz. A look at five myths about liberal academia. Speaking untruth on behalf of corporate power: Leo Casey on academics in the service of union-busting
Tales of the unexpected: There's no such thing as a typical academic, but some have more unusual backgrounds than others. A review of In the Basement of the Ivory Tower by Professor X (and more). Collateral Damage: From John Dewey to the Ivory Tower of Babel in two easy steps. Are women’s colleges outdated? Tom Matlack thought women’s colleges were anachronistic — until he toured Barnard with his daughter. 
Why safety schools can be smart choices: Brand-name diplomas don't have much to do with success later in life. Grade point average (GPA) is a historical mistake in two senses, and there is no reason for its continued acceptance.
reading (or re-reading) the university: on college campuses, from Omnivore

Friday, April 15, 2011

April 15: Final Community College Regional Summit, San Diego

Following the initial DC Summit, more disappointing than not for most adjunct faculty, the first two regional summits slipped by without much notice and even less adjunct presence. The word "adjunct" was rumored to have been uttered at least once. We all hoped for more since we do most community college teaching and know conditions on the ground. Maria Maisto and Tracy Donhardt represented New Faculty Majority at the third Summit, held in Indiana at Ivy Tech. Contingent faculty representation at the fourth and last regional summit this Friday in San Diego seems uncertain. We hope for the best and wish California contingent faculty (the preferred term in their neck of the woods) a good showing and recognition. Get some media out to ask the right questions too.
San Diego City College

The final Regional Summit focuses on veterans, military members and families

Tomorrow, April 15, ED will hold its fourth and final Community College Regional Summit at San Diego City College in San Diego, Calif. The focus of this one-day event is on Exemplary Programs for Veterans, Military Members, and Families, and will bring together federal, labor, industry and philanthropic partners to discuss how each entity can support local community college efforts to meet the President's goal of having the best-educated workforce and the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020.

Other topics to be discussed at the summit include solutions and promising practices in college completion, developmental education, industry-education partnerships, services to military service-members and veterans, transitioning adults to community colleges, and successful transfer programs to four year colleges and universities. The Summit will also provide a forum to identify local, state and national recommendations for increasing community college completion in order to meet the President's 2020 goal.

Join the summit at 12:00 PM EDT on April 15, 2011 for a LIVE webcast of the summit (link will become active when the summit begins).

The above blog entry was written by Cameron Brenchley, posted on April 14, 2011 at 1:26 pm, filed under College CompletionCommunity CollegesHeadlinesNews and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Adjunct Night at the Movies, BYOP

Your average (adjunct) college professor earns less than a sanitation worker..... 

Please take a few minutes to watch the video below about working conditions for adjunct faculty who comprise over 70% of the total teaching staff at the college in question. Appreciate the very "Network moment" courage too of someone, "mad as hell" and "not going to take this anymore!"  Then forward the It is indeed rare among the precariously employed. We're no John Galts, but Peter Finch's Howard Beale (unfortunate outcome not withstanding) suits.

Accompanying note:

"The gutting of higher education in America has resulted in a corporate model of employment utilizing affiliate college professors who earn less than garbage men and train conductors. This exploitation is reprehensible, immoral and indefensible. This abomination solely serves the interests of college presidents, boards of trustees and administrators at the highest level, while bankrupting teachers, adversely affecting students, tuition payers and ultimately all stakeholders in the educational arena. It must end."

What are your experiences? How do they compare? Are you ready to shout out, "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!" ? If not yet, when...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Today, April 13: Class Action Day


Several states saw actions today as part of the Class Action Day for Higher Education called for by the California Faculty Association and  which has spread to some extent in other areas. My thanks to Wes Strong of Defend Public Education for supplying this list and promising further reports and updates as he gets them.

Friday, April 8, 2011

News from NFM #6,

New Faculty Majority eNewsletter, April 7, 2011 

Table of Contents (use Control + F to navigate)
  • Presidents Message, (Connecting to) The News of the World
  • New Jersey County College Adjuncts Federate, By Bill Lipkin
  • Meet the NFM Board: Anne Wiegard (NFM Secretary)
  • Me and UC: Fighting "reasonable assurance" One adjunct's story
  • A Word from NFM's Treasurer By Bill Lipkin
  • A Documentary in the Making: Con Job
  • Teach-on: Teach-in By Vanessa Vaile
  • Announcements
(Connecting to) The News of the World   
by Maria Maisto, NFM President

First, I am pleased to report that The Marguerite Casey Foundation in Seattle, Washington has awarded $25,000 to our nascent 501c(3) organization, New Faculty Majority Foundation, to support its ability to provide programming complementary to that of NFM.  The NFM Foundation's goal for the next year is to 1) build capacity in ways that include employing staff, seeding further fundraising efforts and expanding its base of stakeholders; 2) begin identifying and gathering essential data currently missing from research on adjunct and contingent faculty; and 3) sponsor a summit meeting in Washington, DC, tentatively titled "Confronting Contingency."

Dear Colleagues: 
Incredible, inspiring movements in support of justice and democracy have swept our country and others over the last couple of months. At the same time, unimaginable tragedy has befallen the residents of Japan, and regularly occurs both locally and globally every day. I sometimes find it difficult to keep perspective in the face of events that are so large in scope and significance. The project in which we are engaged - to establish fair and ethical working conditions for all higher education faculty in the US - can seem trivial when compared to the life-or-death situations of people in our communities and around the world. Indeed, when we take our message beyond our campuses, we often find that people respond to us in exactly this way. Expecting support from members of our communities, we are hurt when we hear instead, "You should be glad you have a job rather than complaining about your pay." 

Sunday, April 3, 2011

More Omnivore on HigherEd and Academic Life

From NYRB, a review essay on universities and academic life. From Minding the Campus, Naomi Schaefer Riley on highly stressed students and the aimless curriculum; Perry L. Glanzer on politics and the demise of the humanities; and The New Yorker takes on the US News College Rankings. From THES, a look at the Top Universities by Reputation 2011. College-rankings race goes global: Now even iPhone applications help calculate colleges' place in the Scheme of Things — far too much weight is placed on cracking the top 100 or 50 or name your tier. 
A look at how journal rankings are "a spectre haunting universities everywhere". Renovation Project: Academe is again awash in talk of a crisis in the humanities. From Wired, last year, a University of Alabama scientist gunned down six colleagues — here's a look inside the actions of Amy Bishop. From First Things, when choosing a graduate program in theology, the best is not always not the brightest; and Go With God: Stanley Hauerwas pens an open letter to young Christians on their way to college. Tea, shortbread, and 3 things worth knowing: If students aren't culturally literate, a welcome diversion can help fill in their gaps of knowledge. 
review of The Lost Soul of Higher Education: Corporatization, the Assault on Academic Freedom, and the End of the American University by Ellen Schrecker. The escalating arms race for top colleges: SAT tutor, $125 a session; campus visits, $4,000 — why it now costs a fortune to do your parental duty. A review of Crazy U: One Dad's Crash Course in Getting His Kid Into College by Andrew Ferguson (and more and more and more and more and more and more). 
An anti-college backlash: Americans are finally starting to ask, "Is all this higher education really necessary?"
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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Found on Craig's List: Work for Desperate Adjuncts:

Even if not a joke and quite plausible - expected even, 'tis a pity I didn't come across this post to an adjunct list in time for an April Fool's blog post yesterday, never done despite stellar material on College Misery (renamed College Ecstasy for the day). 

Intrigued by implications of "I can ace your online courses" (for a price)I wonder how business is and how s/he guards against getting stiffed. Perhaps the threat of exposure suffices and losing paid for (if not earned) credits. And more... 

How would workers in underground services like this organize? If sex workers organize, why not "student ringers" as well? What would their DoL job titles be? Although a LinkedIn group, as well as one of the online adjunct groups, insists on referring to adjuncts as "independent contractors," this is probably not what they have in mind, however inevitable an entrepreneurial outcome. Likewise, this can't be what all the non-teaching ed-wonks have in mind when they prattle on about retention, completion and productivity (without concomitant increase in compensation)

----- Forwarded Message ----

I was looking through the "Lessons" section on and found this advertisement. I was stunned. I can't imagine how many people have used this person's services. I wonder what other subjects have similar services available. 

"I can ace your online courses

Date: 2011-03-24, 10:12AM EDT

Reply to: 
serv-axpqk-22834910 10@craigslist. org [Errors when replying to ads?]

Do you need help with your online classes? I have a PhD degree and I can help. Leave it to me to do your online tests, quizzes, homework assignments. I can also take the course for you.

All levels of college math, statistics, and physics. Please send me the syllabus or assignments for a quote.

Your satisfaction and confidentiality are guaranteed. You pay through paypal AFTER work is done."
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