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schencka
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IHE comment

It seems like social stratification goes hand-in-hand with the development of complex large economies in peacetime. The USA is astoundingly rich, but historically it seems to take political upheavals to spread the wealth across the classes. In the absence of such upheavals (examples: revolutions, world wars, economic depressions), the rich keep getting (incrementally) richer and the poor get (incrementally) poorer, and the work of Raj Chetty and Thomas Piketty says as much. In the US, we do have a system in which these kinds of problems can be addressed; examples are Tedddy Roosevelt and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

However, it takes either a transformative figure or a mass movement of people, and often both. In such a context, I agree that it's patently ridiculous to talk about "finding efficiencies." To me that sounds like "Let's not make our lives/careers and those of our students so miserable!" In an unequal society, more education will just make the educated make less money. The French Revolution came about because the King Louis XVI went bankrupt, but also because commoners, 98% of the population, were systematically shut out from lucrative career tracks. At the time people wanted to maintain the *ancient regime* badly, but the system was so backward and inefficient that it simply couldn't be maintained. I agree that there is a political time bomb on the way but I pray it can come about sans upheaval.

And: PowerPoint should be BANNED.

 

https://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/confessions-community-college-dean/friday-fragments-103

 

No profanes - sacred
 
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Comment on IHE -- DJT

I like this essay much, Prof. Spivey. DJT had a simple emotional appeal: "We're losing. Why? We should be winning. Make America great again." Essentially no public intellectuals liked him or voted for him, but he went and listened to and had rallies with people who have felt dispossessed in the last few decades -- and for good reason, because it's evident to me that the neoliberal project is a bipartisan project. (Except for community college, how much of the average college student's tuition is covered by government contributions?) That his policies will exacerbate the problems was less germane than the fact that frustrated people were being recognized. Indeed I just saw a headline that life expectancy is dropping in the US. Something is wrong when honest people can't make a decent living sans connections and years of education. The election had two reviled candidates and many people decided to vote for the wild card who might "shake things up," as one gentleman told me a couple weeks before election day, even though the Democrat in the race proved DJT's unfitness. That people voted for someone who appears to be a narcissist-sociopath instead of the status quo (i.e. a third Obama term) speaks volumes.

 

 

An analogy may provide insight here. The French Revolution occurred not only because the clergy and the aristocrats paid little or no taxes and the bourgeoisie were heavily taxed, but also because ambitious men sans connections were systematically blocked from careers in the church or government. In a country with over 20 million people, only a few thousand were eligible to enter these careers. To me, that sounds much like the complaints everyday people have about "the elites" in government, media, even academia. (In academia, who among us has not complained about the academic administrators lining their pockets while we teachers get fleeced and our profession casualized?) Yet, those people get to vote. We have a system where we have a potential bloodless coup d'état every two or four years. Prof. Spivey didn't put it this way, but his essay makes me reflect that we get the government we want and the government we deserve.

 

https://www.insidehighered.com/views/2016/12/08/serving-sole-conservative-post-election-panel-essay

 

No profanes - sacred
 
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Open Letter to Education Ventures, NY NY

 

 

Dear University Ventures guys,

I hope your team fails miserably. Education is a public, civic good and it is apparent that your company and its ilk merely seek to extract value from the education industry, from pre-K to graduate school. Your own biographies speak for themselves, with top-flight credentials from the Ivy League and so on. Instead of finding creative ways to lower the quality of our current education system, your team could raise the quality of all education -- to mimic the way that you all were educated, and not in some cheap "online" coursework or union-busting "charter school" way. All students deserve an expert teacher (in K-12) or a scholar in their field (post-secondary) who is fairly compensated with job protections. Working conditions are student-learning conditions.

I am anxious to hear how University Ventures Fund of New York, New York will contribute to our education system. I am waiting patiently for the University Ventures response.

 

 

No profanes - sacred
 
#
Response to an essay
https://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/gradhacker/how-i-learned-flourish-online-grad-program Katie, it's nice to see that you are responding to comments on your piece. I found this essay quite irksome, and I want to share why. Your opener, with its images of the Harvard Quad and the like, pedestalizes a rose-colored image of higher education that many in the readership of IHE do not share. To say Boston's universities "charmed" you is cloying. Next, you create an arbitrary contrast between college life and "real life." Again, many of us who work (or in my case, have worked) in higher education find this an artificial separation -- we live and work in colleges and universities and we are real, and what we do is real. As a matter of fact, I no longer teach because working as an adjunct was *too* real, so I had to get a job with health insurance and retirement and predictable hours. If I'm now working in the "real world," then that includes getting paid twice as much and working half as hard as in my adjunct instructor position. Next, why do you name-drop ASU's Michael Crow? He has been criticized in IHE for proposing that writing instructors carry course loads with 125 composition students per semester. It seems Crow wants to turn ASU into the University of Phoenix. You do not seem to have affiliation with ASU, but you take on academic administrator buzzwords like "excellence" without irony. Do not carry water for hacks. Or perhaps you can use your MFA as a copy editor at ASU? I take personal offense at your argument that "I had to pay rent, buy groceries, and continue chipping away at my college loans. I couldn’t afford to quit my job and flit off to an isolated graduate program somewhere in the woods." Here you make a straw man argument against residential graduate programs, which are not only the vast majority of programs but can also be life-altering. Instead of being out in the "woods," residential programs bring students out of their comfort zones. In my own case I got to live in a region of the country very different from that of my upbringing. Additionally, for what purpose do you straw-man non-online programs? They exist on roughly equal footing as is; I can only think that you are trying to justify a weak argument ("I had to do online so I could pay bills") for your own reasons. At nearly 1700 words, your piece is actually two essays: one where you attempt to justify online graduate programs and one where you offer practical advice on how to make the most of said programs. I wasn't irked by the second part as much, but why offer such a long, would-be comprehensive essay on the GradHacker blog? The essay feels like you are writing for yourself and not your audience. Further, when you write, "It is a taste of the real world. It is career training," were you talking about the MFA in nonfiction you earned? If careerism was your purpose, you could have chosen a professional degree instead of a humanities one. Sadly, your piece irks throughout. You write, "It simply takes a more mature approach than just showing up to a class in pjs and bonding with whomever sits nearby." This sentence positions you as "mature" and traditional students as "showing up to class in pjs [sic]" and "bonding" willy-nilly. Hard to turn an essay on successful strategies for online courses into an opportunity for slut-shaming, but somehow you did it. Your willingness to trade in stereotypes says much; the unfair stereotype of online students would be someone typing on a laptop in pajamas at home, but you turn that on its head. Kudos. Let me add the insinuations you've got in the following sentence (which you may not realize you have): "Successful people [like me; look at me and my success] can’t take a hiatus from life [like those losers who went to residential grad programs] every time they need to learn a new skill [because "skill-building" is the purpose of graduate school in my view, not scholarship and research]." In sum, Ms. Kapro, given that your MFA is in nonfiction writing -- which should be your métier, as it were -- and this essay is what you created, what then did you learn in online, or low-residency, graduate school? I taught writing for years, and the most difficult-to-reach students had skills (there's that word of yours) but an inability to see outside themselves -- to see their limitations as well as the needs of their audience. In this essay you make many unfair assumptions. Good writing is not about writing something; it's about having something to say.
 
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