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In Florida, my (adopted) state, we have a "blue ribbon panel" on higher education. It is modeled on the Texas blue ribbon panel, and based on the Heartland Institute's policy briefs on the issue. They sketch out what they call "increasing evidence" that "US institutions of higher education are less efficient and decreasingly effective at creating the foundations for ...success". Below the squiggle, I will outline their description of the problem, and their solution. It promises to destroy Florida higher education (a claim that, I will argue, is in no way alarmist or extreme), a system which is already uncompetitive within American and world higher education. Jump the squiggle...

For source documentation, go to this site, and you will find a slideshow outlining what I am discussing here. This proposal is being seriously considered in Florida in the upcoming legislative session by the Florida Republican Tea Party governor Rick Scott.

The Heartland Institute begins from the assumptions I sketch below. I will respond to each. Then, I will outline their "solutions", and give you all a sense of why this is a disaster for higher education.

1. The cost of obtaining a four-year degree has more than doubled since 1975 in inflation-adjusted dollars (Digest 2009c)
Indeed. And government support has dropped at least that much during that time. In Florida, my provost recently said that our revenues from government sources have dropped by 49% since 2007. And, Florida was already one of the lowest in government support before that. There's a cause and effect relationship here, which the right conveniently doesn't mention.
2. Statistics from the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy suggest college graduates have a lower level of reading comprehension than their counterparts of a decade ago (NAAL 2003)
Any idea why? Well, there's also been a decline in funding in primary and secondary education, along with misguided testing and accreditation processes. Dropping levels of skill can be closely correlated to dropping levels of support. Why is this not brought up on the right? Because that would require looking at education as a public good rather than a private one, and one which requires public investment.
3. Although difficult to quantify, by any reasonable measure productivity in higher education is at best stagnant, and probably falling (Vedder 2004)
Really? Can anyone define "productivity" here? No wonder it's difficult to quantify.
4. The typical college student of today spends about 30 percent less time on academic pursuits than his or her counterpart of a half-century ago, as grade inflation makes it easier to seem to perform well with less work (Babcock and Marks 2010).
Why is the second part of this sentence given as a reason for the first part? Grade inflation is the reason? I doubt this is true. There are a lot of other competing reasons. The rise of media competing for students' attention, the fact that a lot of them have to work to get through (see below). This bit of reasoning would fail my logic course.
5. 42 percent of students enrolling in bachelor's degree programs full-time fail to earn a degree within six years (Digest 2009b).
Yup. And that's linked to the later point about rising student costs. It's no wonder they don't graduate on time - a lot of students have to work 40+ hours to get through. I tip my hat to the ones who persevere anyway, despite this load that did not exist for students in a previous generation.
6. Falling teaching loads have led to a proliferation of articles published in obscure journals that few persons read. (Bauerlein et al. 2010).
Oh, come on. Do you know that Einstein published 3 articles in 1905, all of which looked totally irrelevant to anything, but which became the basis for a lot of subsequent knowledge and (yes) technological innovation? What seems theoretical and pointless at one point can easily become insightful and useful later. And, that includes research in the humanities and social sciences, not just the hard sciences. Are we seriously going to say that a group of politicians and think-tank hacks are going to know what's worth researching and what isn't?
This claim is the worst in short-term thinking - if research doesn't produce profit in this quarter or the next, there's no point.
7. Universities devote more of their budgets to non-instructional pursuits than previously, including swollen and well-paid bureaucracies, country club-like recreational facilities, and research that has low value outside the academic community.
Country-club atmospheres may well exist in some recreational facilities (and, I'd add, some student housing as well). Do you know why they do it? Because there's a market for students out there. Students are shopping for their education. On the standards of conservative markets, it makes sense that a university would market itself to the students it wants.

Do I like this? Of course not. Education should have nothing to do with this. But it does. Like it or not, in a climate in which state governments are abandoning higher education, universities are entering a marketplace to make up those revenues. As far as I am concerned, this is a distraction, but it is one forced on us by right-wing governments.

8. The effort to have everyone obtain a college degree has led to many workers becoming over-trained for the low-skill jobs they take after graduation.
Um, wait. What? Isn't the usual right-wing rhetoric about innovation, competitiveness, and all that stuff. So, what does "over-trained" mean, exactly? How do we determine that? So someone right out of university may be waiting tables, with their B.A. or M.A. Not optimal, but it happens. Does that mean that that's their destiny forever? No, of course not. Let's look instead at where some of those students are a few years later. And, let's see how many of them credit their education with giving them the skills. I'm betting, a fair number of them. It's not an easy world out there, and we're not providing job training. That's not the mandate of the university. It is to transform people to be their best, not to equip them to fill an already existing role.

I'm a philosopher, one of those areas that attracts a lot of jokes. "Do you want fries with that?" I know them all. But what I also know, is that my students are being prepared with a lot more than just the ability to read Kant or Plato. They're getting digital skills at a level above Facebook or Twitter. They're learning to read social patterns, and work with ideas. They're learning to put themselves in the shoes of others. And you know what? They're making something of themselves. They aren't necessarily all becoming philosophers, nor would I expect them to. I'm not training them for a job. I'm training them to recognize new ideas, new areas. This is the future, not the right-wing attitude that students should be trained to fit into existing jobs. That's education for compliance, not innovation. That's subjugation, not freedom. I'm training students to be free.

9. Students are burdened with excessive debt from college training, sometimes larger than can be sustained on their modest post-college incomes.
Yes, no kidding. Take massive amounts of support out of universities, and what do you expect?

So, the premises on which this Heartland-inspired blue ribbon panel in Florida is operating, is off base at every step of the way. They've defined the question in a self-serving manner. Now, let's see how they are going to serve themselves, instead of the people of Florida and of the US. The proposals below, reduced to single phrases, mostly sound innocuous and uncontroversial. If you look at the rationale, though, they are insidious, accusatory (with no basis), and generally a smear campaign against the idea of public education in any form. They portend an attack on university education that will make our system weaker, less innovative, less creative, and more inclined to train students as drones for corporate purposes. This is a vision of education designed to undermine critical thinking (as the Texas folks who are following this have already explicitly admitted).

Again, my comments underneath the proposals

1. Reduce Third-Party Payments: Ending government subsidies to higher education  and removing tax breaks for third-party subsidization would more directly align the costs of higher education to the benefits of those who attend.
In other words: privatize higher education. Government intervention is the problem. Clearly an unproven assumption, and nakedly political. This frames education as a solely economic transaction (the first sentence in subsequent text portrays the student as the "customer" and the university as the "producer"). This is a framing issue, and is merely asserted, not proven. The text goes on to suggest that "perhaps the time has come to begin to privatize some public universities. Institutions such as the universities of Colorado, Michigan and Virginia now get 10 percent or less of their budgets from state appropriations (IPEDS 2008) Why not phase out the state subsidies altogether?"

I'll tell you why - because there is a public good in universities that is still the responsibility of the state. That is not to say that there aren't fine private universities (e.g., Stanford, Duke, lots of liberal arts colleges, the Ivies, etc.) Obviously there are. And, they are the expensive ones. They're the ones that help to stratify society, not the ones that help to bring education to everyone. You want access? That's not the way to do it, even with their lavish scholarship programs.

2. Fund Students, Not Institutions: Giving subsidies directly to students would create much-needed competition among institutions, forcing them to be more conscious of student needs and budgets.
Another nakedly capitalist approach that shifts the blame from conservative politicians who created the problem, to universities which have struggled to deal with the hostile environment that they have created. Why exactly is it that universities are supposed to compete? And, of course, as mentioned earlier, they already do compete, by providing the "country club" atmosphere that helps to sell tickets to our new time-share universities. What kind of competition do these people really think we're going to engage in? Do they really think we don't already have crushing competition? Getting any grant support at all is extremely difficult and competitive. At my university, we're judged on student credit hour production, in relation to other colleges at the university. That's not competition? The fact is that the university has far too much competition, which distracts everyone from our primary missions of teaching and research. I spend half my time trying to sell my programs, when I should be increasing their quality. This proposal is an illusion and a lie. Let's not mince words here.
3. Increase Transparency: Competition among providers requires transparency in gathering and reporting data on student performance, research output, and institutional finance.
Let me give you some insight from the trenches on this one. Our reporting load has increased every year since I took on my current position as department chair, five years ago. This is at the behest of the state government, which is requiring this reporting. But what kind of reporting am I doing? The questions I'm asked are highly loaded, and very much geared toward portraying my discipline (philosophy) in the worst possible light. We are judged on STEM standards (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), but we're given no credit for when we actually engage in those things as collaborators with these technical areas (and, believe it or not, my philosophy department is actually very good at that kind of collaboration).

The fact is, research and teaching of the future is far more interdisciplinary than it has been in the past. And, it needs all of us. I'm totally supportive of STEM disciplines, but I'm also totally supportive of my own discipline and other arts and humanities. We need all of us, and the good scientists and technical people would agree with me on that. Why is it that those of us in the university, in all disciplines, know the way forward, and know it requires all of us, and yet these conservative ideologues can only see a simplistic economic model and an outdated approach to education? Well, I think we know the answer to that.

4. Don't Push College on Everyone: Traditional four-year degrees are not the best option for everyone. Alternative postsecondary training programs may be suitable for many Americans.
Well, ok, but my worry with this is that it's just job training, and a way around educating an informed citizenry. So yes, we should provide and honor the decisions that people make to pursue many different directions, including vocational ones. But who, exactly, is "pushing college on everyone?" This is, I think, an attack on President Obama, who extolled the virtue of higher education. Again, nothing but politics.
5. Promote Lower-Cost Alternatives: Traditional four-year institutions are expensive. Students can obtain quality degrees at a lower cost by exploring alternatives.
Really? They're expensive? And why would that be? Maybe the abdication of state responsibility toward higher education? Don't bring that up, right?

And what are these "lower cost alternatives?" Well, one thing they suggest is online education. As someone who has taught with this modality, I can tell you that it's good for some things, and not for others. It is not the solution to everything, the way techno-enthusiasts think it is.

Another proposal, amazingly, is to give out vouchers to students (see #2 above), but only allow them to use them at "lower cost community colleges" for students "whose academic profile suggests a high probability of academic failure in four-year schools." So, does this sound like a market-based solution? No, it doesn't. It's federal control of a market. It's social engineering. And that's what you find all over proposals like this. The talk is always about the virtues of competition, but when you get down to the details, you find that the whole thing is gamed. Just like every right-winger's version of the economy.

Oh, and I forgot - they also want to eliminate Pell grants and other federal support for students. Yup. There's access all right.  

6. Emphasize Instruction: Costs will continue to rise until frivolous activities subside in favor of a tighter focus on undergraduate instruction.
Sigh. Ok, here's how it is at my university. We had the worst student teacher ratio in the country five years ago. Since then, we've been under a 5% growth mandate every term, compared to the same term the previous year. Yes, 5%. So, we're still the worst. We have sections of 300 students in a philosophy course, with no graduate student support at all. None. Courses in which discussion and interaction is crucial, are reduced to Scantrons.

But of course, this is a conservative wet dream. It's information download without training students in how to process that information. They get nuggets of knowledge, factoids, that they can use to impress their friends. Does it help them to know how to think? No. Because thinking carefully and critically would be a problem for modern conservatism.

I'm not one of those who thinks that all conservatism has been as clueless as it is today. I think there have been smart people who have come up with interesting ideas. I'm still solidly left, and getting more so as I get older. But I can respect some conservatives of the past. This, however, is not that, and I fear we're left with a superficial economic model being imposed with little thought. It is not in the current interests of any conservative government to have citizens that think critically. The holes become too apparent, and people refuse to get with the program.

7. Restructure University Ownership and Governance: University management structures need to be simplified, which can be encouraged through student-centered aid and the consequent emphasis on delivering real educational value.
That's a bland way of saying that the goal is to get rid of "shared governance", or in other words, involvement by faculty in educational programs. The text under this is little more than a series of slurs and insults to faculty. Classic right-wing garbage - damning through innuendo rather than evidence. But the goal is clear - faculty have stood in they way of curricular changes, and that has to stop.

Now, let's think about this. Who knows about their own areas best? Who knows what curriculum should look like? According to this document, politicians do, and "markets" do. Right-wing politicians can tell us what research is worthwhile, which disciplines matter, and what we should all be doing. The "market" (as always, an ill-defined concept when applied to education) should determine what we should be teaching. Even better, the report's authors say, for-profit education will lead us toward that market model.

One question: hands up anyone who wants to drive over a bridge or have a heart operation by graduates of a college where the market has determined the curriculum. Anyone? School A has students take calculus, school B doesn't, and engineers go to B because they don't want to take calculus. Engineers from school B build that bridge. I'm looking for those hands. You get the picture. Knowledge isn't always about what the market thinks it is. There's such a thing as expertise. Furthermore, sometimes we have to follow the logic of that expertise, and of those disciplines, so that new areas can be explored. Scholars have done hard, seemingly useless research, and forced their students to study work like that. Was it fun for students? No. Did they need it to be cutting edge in their field? Of course.

The lack of understanding of how real, innovative knowledge comes to be is staggering. And, frightening. These Heartland proposals are a recipe for mediocrity in education and in research.

8. Raise Academic Standards: Low standards and grade inflation are damaging the educational quality of U.S. higher education institutions and creating a culture of mediocrity.
No, stupid educational proposals by right-wing hacks are creating a culture of mediocrity. But that's not the message of the report. Low standards are completely the fault of universities. Never mind that students are under pressures they haven't been under before. Never mind that class sizes are larger, and so it's harder to do anything but teach and grade superficially. Never mind that the system of competition that already exists inclines students to take easier courses, unless forced to do otherwise. Never mind all those systemic issues. Let's just blame universities for falling down on the job.

So yes, standards could be higher. And the answer is way more complicated than the band-aids that this blue ribbon panel is proposing.

9. Measure Institutional Success by Student Performance: Introducing market principles into higher education will provide the necessary incentives for faculty and administration to concentrate on making students' financial investment pay off.
This is so offensive, I hardly know where to start. Ok, let's start here - the assumption is that faculty are not motivated to, and are not, providing quality education to students, and therefore have to be forced to do so through market principles. This is the kind of slur that's hard to fathom. Professionals who have spent up to 12 years of their lives preparing for their jobs, without any guarantee they were going to get those jobs, and who intimately know their areas and what students are like and what they need, these people are being told that they lack the motivation to make "students' financial investment pay off".

Who are these hacks? I mean, really. This just makes me crazy. This is a personal insult by people who, in many cases, couldn't make it in our environment. How many of the people on these blue ribbon panels are actually successful academics? Very few. Why? Because it's really really hard to be successful. You have to be both very good, and very lucky. So, these whiny little failures want to take out their ressentiment on those who are doing what they couldn't do. And, they have political influence and power, and can therefore spin their own mediocrity into their own little bully session. Idiots.

Oh, and they think we should move back to a professorial compensation model in which students directly pay professors. Like I said, idiots.

Ok, there's lots more wrong with this proposal (these people keep invoking ill-framed and ill-defined "market principles", and erroneously treat students as only customers). You can feel free to read the original, at the link at the top of my diatribe, and come up with your own.

10. Reduce Barriers to Entry and Encourage Accreditation Reform: Reforming the accreditation system would allow more competitors to enter the higher education market by reducing barriers to entry.
So, they also think accreditation should be cheaper for new schools. Uh-huh. What this means - gut the accreditation requirements, and any oversight. Let clown colleges get accredited. Let the consumer decide which of these is good.

It should probably be clear by now just how ridiculous I think all this is. This would, quite literally, destroy any sense of expertise within universities. Research would only be applied research, no pure or foundational work. Anything that did not add to the bottom line this quarter would be seen as having no value.

This is what's happening in Florida, and Texas, and other places. I fear for the education system in this country. The deep-pocketed privates will continue, and still be good. Any state that adopts these initiatives will render their public system the laughing-stock of the world, and will have no commensurate private system that emerges that will either produce research worth anything at all, or students who will add any jobs to the economy. This is a recipe for disaster. This is what is being considered in my state this year.

Update: also posted at Academeblog.org in a slightly revised and extended form.

Originally posted to mitumba on Sat Aug 04, 2012 at 08:30 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Sorry for the long read (12+ / 0-)

    I felt that each of these assumptions and proposals needed some response. I can't find a single one of them that is well argued, based on anything but extremely biased research, or just a set of assertions. And yet, this is being taken seriously.

    "Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter." (Homer Simpson)

    by mitumba on Sat Aug 04, 2012 at 08:46:44 AM PDT

    •  No need to apologize n/t (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Einsteinia, anafreeka, FeltzNook

      -7.75, -8.10; All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

      by Dave in Northridge on Sat Aug 04, 2012 at 08:50:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  don't be!!! i think there are many who prefer (6+ / 0-)

      the longer and well-researched/analyzed diaries.  

      and the Lord spoke unto Abraham and said "I shall give you obedient & subservient wives in all the corners of the world" and Abraham said, "But Lord, you have made the earth round" and the Lord spaketh, "I get My laughs where I can."

      by bnasley on Sat Aug 04, 2012 at 10:42:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  No apologies needed (12+ / 0-)

      You hit nail on head.

      This is the rights agenda on all things public. They defund it and then point to it and scream "See public stuff doesn't work!" while quietly ignoring the fact that the defunding of it is what caused the issue.

      Meanwhile they can work to shift dollars towards privatization, obviously moves that will benefit business interests who line their pockets.

      --Enlighten the people, generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like spirits at the dawn of day. - Thomas Jefferson--

      by idbecrazyif on Sat Aug 04, 2012 at 11:22:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  This is a coordinated, bipartisan attack on (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pengiep, Noor B, ladybug53

      education and democracy in this country. It's how you'd drown a democracy in Norquist's bathtub. It began at least with Reagan, and they've got all their ducks in a row now. They ran as "Dems" and "Repugs," but they all are of the same stripe, some camouflaged better than others. Now they are lowering the boom on all of us. I really wonder how many of these fools found their way into power through the Prayer Breakfasts the President stumps every February in DC. I bet it's 100%. And yes, I'm calling them Dominionists

      Do you know about Operation Northwoods?  You should.

    •  I heard some politician ? from Fla or (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mitumba, splashy, SherwoodB

      somewhere else in the South East stating that we need to drop Algebra from the class room!!!
      Nothing can be done without algebra, we use it hundreds of times a day, we just don't realize it

      Math is so easy, if you know how to add, subtract, multiply and divide, then you can do algebra, trig, calculus and every other form of math there is.
      As a society we shove the idea that math is hard down the throats of the public that they accept it as fact.

      I brought my two daughters up telling them how much fun and easy algebra was and they both learned it easily and are good at it as well as enjoy it.

    •  Don't apologize. (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mitumba, sny, ladybug53, auditor, Greenfinches

      This post is a thing of beauty, mitumba.

      I'm a product of Florida higher ed, many, many moons ago, back when the state had good governance, and of Texas higher ed during the era of top 10% automatic admissions.  The differences between then and now are just as staggering as you relate.  It is a nightmare, and we're going to pay a very heavy price in the very near future if this crap continues to prevail.

      One thing you didn't mention in all this that does bear discussion:  there is now a sizable cohort of students in any given university who see their education as a commodity and as entertainment.  They want to be spoon-fed, they want their assumptions nurtured and not challenged.  That is also a huge barrier to real educational achievement.  That was my experience as an adjunct.

      "Fighting Fascism is Always Cool." -- Amsterdam Weekly, v3, n18 (-8.50, -7.23)

      by Noor B on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 06:40:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You're right (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Noor B, auditor

        There are certainly many students who fall into that self-centered mode of learning. I deal with them all the time. There are others, thankfully, who aren't like that, and I think they are as frustrated as I am with their fellow students who think they are entitled. I was just at our summer graduation ceremony yesterday, and saw some students who I know knocked themselves out to do as well as they could. They took it seriously, and even when they weren't A students I know they got everything they could out of the experience.

        Unfortunately, more and more are not like that, and more like you describe. I feel like I have to break down their utilitarian attitudes, and get them really thinking. It's not easy.

        "Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter." (Homer Simpson)

        by mitumba on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 07:05:21 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Market based responses (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mitumba

      If it's too long, let the market decide!

      I loved your post and I think it is spot on.  Thank you for taking the time to put it together.

  •  Brilliant work! (13+ / 0-)

    EVERYTHING in this diary makes impeccable sense.  I see the fine hand of Ayn Rand Objectivism in this, as Tea Party governors try to eliminate -- yes, this is not downsizing, it's crippling so the universities can be closed -- the public universities of this country. Privatize it all.  Sell Gainesville to the University of Phoenix and Tallahassee to DeVry, they say.

    Can we do to the Heartland Institute what we did to ALEC? It's certainly worth a try.  Tipped, rec'd and tweeted.

    -7.75, -8.10; All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

    by Dave in Northridge on Sat Aug 04, 2012 at 08:47:56 AM PDT

    •  Thanks, Dave (5+ / 0-)

      The document on higher ed is just really misguided and scary, like pretty much everything that comes out of the Heartland Institute. I agree on outing the like ALEC. Good idea.

      "Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter." (Homer Simpson)

      by mitumba on Sat Aug 04, 2012 at 08:56:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  They were outed back in March... (5+ / 0-)

      By Dr. Peter Gleick of the Pacific Institute.  He obtained internal budget documents which showed all the programs which they funded.  Things like extensive funding of the anti-recall efforts in Wisconsin, funding a curriculum on climate science for K-12 education which was based in disinformation, their anti-healthcare activities, etc. etc.  

      Basically it looked like they were an all purpose PR shop, available to the highest bidders.  I think you can still see the budget and fundraising plans at desmogblog.com.  An interesting look inside the beating heart of the converative machine.

  •  Perhaps why FL reading scores are low (7+ / 0-)

    My daughter, a recent immigrant from China, just completed the 10th grade. She finished the year with a 3.2 GPA, but failed the reading FCAT miserably.

    Her English class concentrated on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliette, and the Odyssey; neither of which are helpful in understanding contemporary English.

    In my opinion, this actually hurt her reading and comprehension in real world English. I mentioned this to her teacher and was told these readings are required by the State of Florida.

    Well, I been around the world, and I've been in the Washington Zoo. And in all my travels, as the facts unravel, I've found this to be true.... ...they don't give a f^ck about anybody else

    by Zwoof on Sat Aug 04, 2012 at 09:01:56 AM PDT

    •  I remember a similar (8+ / 0-)

      problem with some foreign exchange students back when I was in high school.  Given their english skills, they were placed in a lower level english class.  In that class they were reading Huckleberry Finn. Its a great book, but the archaic and colloquial language was killing them. Simple for a native speaker is not the same as simple for a non-native speaker.  

      I still remember a friend of mine who studied German, found it hard as hell, until he went to Germany and picked up some popular fiction.  That's when he realized difficulty wasn't the German language...rather, the difficulty was that they had them reading Goethe.

      "Empty vessels make the loudest sound, they have the least wit and are the greatest blabbers" Plato

      by Empty Vessel on Sat Aug 04, 2012 at 01:26:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  for sure, they don't teach the language, they (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Empty Vessel, Zwoof, Noor B, ladybug53

        teach the literature written in said language. To ESL and foreign students in middle/high school often not suitable.

        But I remember that to be the case also in my own country, we had to read English literature (shakespeare, but also other authors like Steinbeck, which wasn't bad acutally). But that was only for English. And it was not in quantity as much as sometimes is expected to be read in American schools.

        French is for a German more difficult to learn than English and they had to take much more time to actually teach the language and not the literature written in that language.

        If it were for me they all would learn to read the newspapers in other languages and use them. I never learned enough French to read easily French newspapers. But I also didn't take more than a year.

    •  i know a little bit about the Florida education (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Zwoof, Noor B, sny, ladybug53, neighborm

      system.  My niece graduated from a Florida high school this year.  She had a 4.0 gpa, as did OVER 250 KIDS in her class!  Yet she could not score high enough on the ACT to get admitted to Florida State, and always had trouble with the FCAT.  Her parents were so proud that so many kids in her class had a 4.0; we thought it indicated that the curriculum was not exactly challenging.

      My daughter will be a senior at a high school in suburban Houston, TX this year.  Her class seems to be way more competitive than her Florida cousin's; maybe that's because we have a lot of Asian kids pulling the curve up!  But seriously...my older daughter will be a sophomore at the University of Texas this year.  The delightful Gov. Perry has been trying to dumb down the curriculum at U-T, but luckily the university president and the board have fought him, so far.  U-T currently offers an excellent education, although it's a bit pricey for a state school....because Gov. Perry deregulated tuition a few years ago, and of course cut state funding.  I'm just hoping to get both girls through school before it totally goes to crap, which seems to be Perry's plan.

      •  Don't worry, (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mitumba, ladybug53

        there are too many world-class scholars at UT-Austin who will fight until their dying breath to keep standards high.  And they are used to fighting the idiots at the Capitol complex, the governor included.  

        "Fighting Fascism is Always Cool." -- Amsterdam Weekly, v3, n18 (-8.50, -7.23)

        by Noor B on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 06:45:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Basic Problems (6+ / 0-)

    Though I agree with most of the correspondents objections to these right-wing recommendation for higher education in Florida, I would like to stress just a few institutional problems that have serious negative effects.
         1. The corporation model for public higher education. Instead of faculty having control over the curriculum and policy, the model now is top-down, with the president as overpaid CEO, a plethora of highly-paid administrators, with faculty as employees to be replaced as much as possible by minimum-wage part-timers with no rights, and students as customers to be pleased and placated. This is partly the fault of faculty who disdained to unionize and superstar professors who enjoy inflated salaries with very few students.
         2. The misguided attempt by conservative politicians and bureaucrats to privatize public education, presumably a major step in privatizing everything including the police, the prison system, fire fighting, and the armed services. The presumption is that if the private sector isn't making a profit, the scheme is socialistic. Public education for all has been a hallmark and necessary factor for insuring opportunity for all in our democracy.
         3. In the absurd situation in which teachers are retained, ranked, and rewarded by the scores their students make on standardized tests, most students expect to pass without doing any work. This results is college students who expect an A for coming to most classes and are shocked when asked to read four or five books in a semester. It is heartbreaking to have to inform a student that he or she needs to learn what a sentence is supposed to be, when they reply that they got As in high school "language arts."

    •  I agree (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Calamity Jean, Noor B, ladybug53

      with the issues you raise. On your issues...

      1. Yes, the unionization rates in Florida are very low. Part of that comes from a state government which has done everything it can to discourage unionization. Part of it is a sense among many administrators that unions are generally a bad thing (I've been branded a "union man" as a mid-level administrator because I've said that I think unions have a place in the university, and that a good collective bargaining agreement is a good thing).

      It's also true that there's an explosion of administrators, although there are various reasons for that. Some of it comes from a far greater reporting requirement, which affects every level. I know in my college, due to budget pressures the dean's office staff has been getting smaller, and my department certainly hasn't grown administratively. Not true at higher levels.

      President as CEO? Yup.

      The overall point about the corporate model is definitely a major problem, not just in the US but around the world, and one that I'm very worried about.

      2. Nothing to be said about your second point but Amen.

      3. And, I've had to deal with declining student abilities as well. Some of our best teachers get complaints when they teach honors classes because they expect too much.

      All good points.

      "Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter." (Homer Simpson)

      by mitumba on Sat Aug 04, 2012 at 12:31:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  You knew (13+ / 0-)

    You knew Florida was headed for the crapper the day the biggest fraudster in Medicare history was elected governor.  

    Whatever appeal and direction Florida once had is OVER.  

    Every young person I talk to is looking to get out.  Hell, we soon-to-be seniors are looking to move.  

    I'm out of fight.  I'm getting too old for this.  Let the teabaggers and the GOP have their little piece of what they think is the coming paradise.  They'll end up fighting each other for the ever shrinking piece of the pie.  You need people to pay the bills and the working/middle class is tapped out.  

    I'm ready to vote with my feet and that includes overseas.  

    Sorry for the rant, but Florida's problems are vastly greater than has been pointed out in this excellent diary.  

    Florida is gone.  Stay away if you want a future.  

  •  LOVE the punchline on why bother spending on (10+ / 0-)

    higher education when 8. The effort to have everyone obtain a college degree has led to many workers becoming over-trained for the low-skill jobs they take after graduation.

    That's right!  Why bother educate the underclasses only to make them uppity fast food workers who like to vote!

    Using that logic, why even continue education beyond the ability to push a cash register with icon buttons for each food item on the menu?

    It's just so much easier for the elites to run their pirate ships when their workers are ignorant.

    Separation of Church and State AND Corporation

    by Einsteinia on Sat Aug 04, 2012 at 11:00:57 AM PDT

    •  The odd thing (9+ / 0-)

      is that this is the only recommendation I partially agree with.  As a professor, I think there really are too many people going to 4 year universities, when two year programs would actually be far better for them.  And I do not mean that these people are not capable of four year programs...I mean that for many its not what they want or need.

      There need to be many options for different sorts of folks.  Some want the 4 year liberal arts degree...others might really want a two year degree and a trade.  We need to accommodate both.

      While I am a PhD, I came very close to dropping out of my program to be a cabinet maker, and I am still a very serious hobby woodworker.  What I am saying is that far too many smart students are being diverted from what they love (more hands on work) based on some idiotic ideas of what 'smart' and 'stupid' people should do.  I spend my days with professors and graduate students and my nights and weekends with woodworkers and mechanics.  I really can't see any major difference in smarts between the two...they've just learned different things.

      Far too many people are being forced to go to 4 year colleges, when that really isn't what they need or want.

      "Empty vessels make the loudest sound, they have the least wit and are the greatest blabbers" Plato

      by Empty Vessel on Sat Aug 04, 2012 at 01:35:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Your key idea here (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Empty Vessel, Noor B, Kristina40

        is absolutely right - what does someone really want to do, at the end of the day? We need to honor those choices, no matter what they are. A plumber who knows she wants to be a plumber, and gets satisfaction out of it, is no more humble a person than anyone else who gets satisfaction from their job. And, our education system should reflect that.

        I'm in an area (philosophy) in which students sometimes don't know they are interested in it until they experience it. I've had many students over the years tell me that when they came into a philosophy course, they realized that they'd come home, and this is what excited them. So, I'm also for exploration, since people don't necessarily know what will bring them satisfaction without trying some things. But that doesn't mean everyone should be funneled to universities, or that they should be encouraged to stay there if it's not where their heart is.

        All this applies even more to grad studies. I try to be pretty clear with students about the difficult life they're signing up for if they go for graduate work.

        "Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter." (Homer Simpson)

        by mitumba on Sat Aug 04, 2012 at 01:40:57 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Some of the most (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mitumba, mimi, Noor B

          brilliant, interesting and smart people I know are craftspeople.  We need to stop funneling the 'smart' students to universities and the 'dumb' students to trade schools.

          Rather, we need to match people's skills and desires.  For some folks, a 4 year liberal arts degree is the best thing for them, for others its a 2 year degree and an apprenticeship.  The trick is to figure out a better way to figure out which is the better path for individual students.

          "Empty vessels make the loudest sound, they have the least wit and are the greatest blabbers" Plato

          by Empty Vessel on Sat Aug 04, 2012 at 01:48:37 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  here comes the one question into my mind (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Noor B

            I am always irritated about: "Why exactly is it that universities are supposed to compete?" Not only that, what do their students compete for?

            You compete for "entering in the elite universities" to get a degree that opens up the job market "for and of the elite".

            Students are told at early age that they are "brilliant' and "smart" and they train to do whatever the "strongly competetive college" ask them to do to get into it (including to engage in some fancy activities most probably inaccessible to many students). If they namage that, they are very "gifted" in one or more areas.  Once in the college, you compete to be better than your fellow student, because you compete for the job against him after graduation.

            Instead of co-operation it leads to the "brilliant" persons, who know best how to sell and frame their "smartness".

            It leads to co-operation only then, when the task that you need perform can only be accomplished by a group. Then the whole group is under pressure to perform and it results in cooperation instead of peer competition..

            If for some reason a student isn't trained well enough at young age to train for entering a competitive college, then some "smart" people suggest that it's better for them to get into a two year program of a technical school. These schools may lack in broadness, thoroughness to build a foundation for excellent craftsmanship.

            In addition, those who do not make it into the "good schools", end up defending  their degree from the less competitive college they might get, their whole life. That's just not good.

            More privatization and for profit education will increase the "class warfare" between the students, who go after the elites schools and made it in there, financially and academically, and those who couldn't. And the weapons with which you fight in this educational class warfare is owned by corporations, I guess... So, that is a pretty stark manipultion of the educational process.

            It's an aspect I never quite understood. the constant focus on competition for the sake of competition. Especially not in the hard sciences and in engineering. One reason why Americans are obsessed to compare themselves to other countries' capabilities.

            It looks as if the motivator is always "to be the best in the world" and not to teach and produce the best and most suitable product or solution for a given task or problem.

            /clarification, I am not an academic educated in the US, so I am looking at it from the outside and might miss a lot of points that need to be considered to make a fair comment.

          •  I've long thought (0+ / 0-)

            that we need a dual-track higher ed system.  First, pick a trade, any trade.  Spend a couple of years learning that, along with some of the core curriculum that's foundational for everything at university.  A woodworker may find a real interest in environmental studies, or forestry, or architecture.  A handweaver might get into ag, or graphic design, or industrial design.  Why cannot we have talented intellectuals who are also highly skilled craftspeople, and vice versa?  Post-secondary education shouldn't be a straitjacketed single track.  The whole point of education is to broaden the mind and the capabilities of any given individual so that the whole of society benefits.  

            "Fighting Fascism is Always Cool." -- Amsterdam Weekly, v3, n18 (-8.50, -7.23)

            by Noor B on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 06:57:31 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I was in Germany this summer (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ladybug53, Noor B

              and found myself in Weimar, where Bauhaus originated. It was much like you describe - they put together first-class intellectuals with first-class artists, designers, and tradespeople. It was an amazing time. I would have loved to have been part of it. Now, it became clear that the intellectuals and artists were the ones who have come down through history as important (Gropius, Klee), and the tradespeople didn't always get the same recognition. So they had their stratification too. But it still looked like an amazing experiment.

              "Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter." (Homer Simpson)

              by mitumba on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 07:08:18 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  I was being facetious (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mitumba, Noor B, ladybug53

        My point is the irregardless of your vocation every student needs a college level "liberal arts" education for a working democracy.  How can a person vote if they do not understand economics or science?

        Also, the best chance that workers will demand their human rights are when they are educated.

        Education and vocation overlap but logically are separate things.

        I don't care if you're a plumber or not, if you have an IQ of 100, you should have have taken at the very least, a introductory course on Health , Political Science , U.S. History , Global History , and Biology.

        FYI - I got my master's degree in fine art--not for the money--but because I have one life to live.  In the process I have had 12 years of college and do I make a living wage, no I do not!  But I wouldn't trade my education for anything.  At least no corporation can steal that from me!

        Separation of Church and State AND Corporation

        by Einsteinia on Sat Aug 04, 2012 at 10:49:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Another reason (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mitumba, ladybug53

        I agree completely that we need more trade schools and the like.  I'll also add that by telling everybody to get a 4 year degree, we have made degree requirements dumber rather than making people smarter. People today need a masters degree to do what used to be done by undergraduates. This isn't because the jobs need more skills - its because courses have been losing rigor, and the first 2 years of college is mostly remedial information that every American should know, leaving the junior/senior years for only introductory material in the major.

        But of course, this has nothing to do with what the Heartland Institute proposes. Their proposals would result in the exact opposite and make 4 year colleges some weird hybrid of trade school level education of the content of a 4-year college course.

  •  Attack of the Phillistines (7+ / 0-)

    Magnificent, detailed, rational and passionate: I appreciate this diary entry for these qualities and so much more, not the least of which is courage.
    Keep up the good fight. There are more who support you than materialize in these comments.

  •  Yep. Budget process this year was especially crazy (6+ / 0-)

    They have no money for the universities so state allocation to them was cut by 30% but they have enough money to create a new state university conveniently located next to the land owned by the family of the chairman of Senate Budget committee. And Rick Scott asked universities not to raise tuition.

    •  Absolutely right. (8+ / 0-)

      The state budget was held hostage in order to create that new university.

      And there's more crazy stuff - there's discussion (I'm not sure how far it has progressed) on an "online university", handed over to a for-profit group, which would have a non-compete clause. In other words, if they wanted to teach one of my courses online, I could no longer teach it online. As it happens, my university does a good job of online courses, and it would more or less shut us down in that area. And, it would take away some of our courses that subscribe the best. And, it would be a huge damper on us developing anything new online, because it could just be taken away.

      This is the sham of a marketplace that these people have in mind. Competition is good, except when their buddies want something, in which case the system can be gamed.

      "Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter." (Homer Simpson)

      by mitumba on Sat Aug 04, 2012 at 12:22:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Haven't heard about that but it wouldn't be (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Noor B, ladybug53

        surprising.

      •  Where is this "non-compete clause" shit coming (0+ / 0-)

        from?  The state has already invested a lot of money in your and your career development as a faculty member.  How the hell is it cost effective to create a non-compete clause that says that you, someone who has developed and been teaching a course effectively, cannot use this material or perform this function if someone at the new university wants to teach it in a new unproven way online?   And how the hell is that a "market-based principle" at work?

        That's one more thing to add to my long list of small problems. --my son, age 10

        by concernedamerican on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 10:14:18 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Sounds Familiar (5+ / 0-)

    We have our own crop of Randian Fundamentalist
    TeaBaggers here in New Hampshire.

    State funding for UNH has dropped over 45 Percent
    in the last two years.

    The Legislature reduced tax revenues by giving massive
    tax breaks to Corporations and then Claimed they
    had to cut back Spending to Balance the Budget.

    On Giving Advice: Smart People Don't Need It and Stupid People Don't Listen

    by Brian76239 on Sat Aug 04, 2012 at 12:15:38 PM PDT

  •  What has been happening... (5+ / 0-)

    ...to our schools for a decade now is starting to happen to our colleges.

    Somehow, the title of an old Cyril Kornbluth story keeps coming to mind: "The Marching Morons."

  •  Ah, accreditation reform. (4+ / 0-)

    This is where it leads:

    http://www.villagevoice.com/...

  •  #10 Allow more competitors (6+ / 0-)

    Yeah, which competitors? Oh, the McDonald's and Dunkin Donuts of higher education, those for-profit McEducation chains like EDMC, Kaplan, Walden, etc. that are in reality ripping off the federal loan program (how very libertarian of them) and leaving the students often without a degree or marketable skills and no means to make the required loan payments. And this is the future these phony reformers are angling for: rip-off for-profit, phony higher education for the masses looking for some means to lift themselves up from the feudal "salt mines" that will define work as they envision it and private elite institutions of higher education for the elite few.

    Find me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/kittiegrl

    by wave of change on Sat Aug 04, 2012 at 01:04:35 PM PDT

    •  That's exactly it (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Noor B

      Competition assumes all sorts of things that don't exist in this situation. Yes, it ends up being McEducation. The gap between the "purchase" of the "product" and the moment when you know you made the right "purchase" (I hate talking this way, but there it is) is too far apart, too unclear, and impossible to experience alternatives to, for the market model to mean anything here.

      "Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter." (Homer Simpson)

      by mitumba on Sat Aug 04, 2012 at 01:32:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for this (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mitumba, Noor B, ladybug53

    This is an excellent diary and yet all too frustrating. I've lived each of these points for the last several years.

    There are some areas here and there where I might pick a quibble or two with your response, but on the whole, I think it was excellently done.

    The overwhelming problem is IMO one of transactions costs. Administrators have become in essence ideological captives of the right wing propaganda machine on education. So when they lobby (which they do a lot) they lobby for these kinds of "reforms". That's not to say they buy them entirely or completely or even at all. What they tend to is a somewhat milder version of what the far right advocates.

    But the tone and agenda is set by the pseudo-market crowd.

    In contrast, faculty have very little time (contrary to popular opinion) to actually be able to get together and make their voice heard. And in addition, it is a lot harder to get us together.

    And even when we do get together, we find ourselves limited in what we can do. And even then, our Unions or Faculty Senates or State Organizations are not always where they need to be.

    I know that I myself have occasionally encountered the problem of people saying-but if we say it too loud or if we are too mean, then they won't listen to us or talk to us. But they aren't listening to us already-so we might as well say it.

    As President of my local association (an OEA affiliate) I have probably put in somewhere around a couple hundred hours this year on bargaining prep and bargaining.

    The opinions expressed above are my opinions and my opinions only. The reference to my local association is simply to frame my perspective on the discussion.

    •  True (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Noor B, ladybug53

      There is a kind of shifted baseline in the discussions between administrators and the people at the state level. I know that my provost is as horrified as I am about the approach of something like the Heartland manifesto, but the terms of the conversation in Florida are very much set by the government. And, I think it's moving to the level of the boards as well - they're having to do more to educate the governing boards on how universities work, and why they've evolved the way they have.

      Keep pushing the boulder up the hill, CR. It's a noble task, and much needed.

      "Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter." (Homer Simpson)

      by mitumba on Sat Aug 04, 2012 at 01:27:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Good diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mitumba, Noor B

    Hope it isn't hijacked by the rightwing memes which dominate the perspective on Higher Education here at DailyKos.

    There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

    by upstate NY on Sat Aug 04, 2012 at 03:24:47 PM PDT

  •  A proliferation of articles (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean, ladybug53

    http://chronicle.com/...

    OK, I read the source rant (link above). It is incredible to me that two of the main factors, both stemming from a single overarching factor with many other negative consequences, were not mentioned as causatives: bean-counting publish or perish rules, and so-called “publication clubs” that exist as a means to cope with those rules. These both result from the “running the university like a business” mentality that is also destroying the whole academic environment.

    Under publish or perish, professors and other faculty must publish a certain number of peer-reviewed articles to advance, both to tenure and afterwords (for example, an average of two per year for two years per grade). If your results aren't ready to publish, tough noogies. So what do people do to guarantee that they are “objectively productive”? They get together in groups of three, four, five, six, or more people and publish more or less always together, making comments and helping each other in various minor ways. Each of those multi-authored publications counts just as much as a sole-author pub (almost always, although some departments might make some relatively minor adjustments). If your club has six members, and each person is the primary author of one publication every other year on average, then everyone in the club advances maximally through the ranks. There are variations in the requirements and of course there are different sizes of these informal clubs and people do move around within several groups. But the phenomenon is quite real.

    It is almost impossible to survive in academia these days without being in one or more of these clubs, or without the old-school bunch of grad students or post-docs in your lab who give you an authorship in each of their publications. But if you do have one or both of those things, then you will be highly respected, prosperous, and successful.

    So, if you want to know why there has been a proliferation of “obscure” journals and the number of articles published overall, then I say that we need to use a denominator to scale the figures. It's a little like the process of comparing 1950 dollars to 2012 dollars. If you divide each article by the number of authors, and each journal by the average number of authors in its pages, I doubt very much that you will find an increase in those “constant articles” and “constant journals”.

    If we are going to stop the proliferation, then we must stop trying to run universities like a business. Really, just freaking stop it. That will have a number of other really good effects too, like for example, people enrolling to seek an education rather than a few magic letters after their name so they can have a “good job”.

    Well, sorry, that's just one of my pet peeves. We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.

  •  that's why they call us "Flori-duhhh" /nt (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mitumba, Kristina40, neighborm
  •  From another in the Florida higher ed. system (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mitumba, ladybug53

    thank you for such a thorough and thoughtful diary.

    "We are normal and we want our freedom" - Bonzos

    by matching mole on Sat Aug 04, 2012 at 05:40:08 PM PDT

  •  Scott doing a Bain job to Florida (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mitumba, Calamity Jean, Noor B, ladybug53

    This guy will somehow get his profit out of sending Florida in a terrible place, just like Romney made millions at Bain as a vulture by savaging whatever assets were left when he went in.

  •  Privatization is the problem, not the solution. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mitumba, ladybug53

    Assumptions 1, 5, and 9 at the top are all attributable to the explosion of for-profit "colleges" in recent years. Here's an excellent summary from Phoenix New Times. They want to do the same thing with K-12, by the way, that's the reason for all this bullshit about "education reform."

    The GOP ... Government of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%

    by Azazello on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 06:42:28 AM PDT

  •  "solution" 6 (and indirectly, others) (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mitumba, ladybug53

    This is the one about teaching loads. UFL actually tried to do something along that line earlier this year in the computer science department. Basically, it involved keeping half the faculty in research lines but in a computer engineering department, converting the other faculty to pure high-courseload teaching lines (in CS), and getting rid of grad student TAs.  Fortunately, the proposal was rescinded after much national uproar.

    But what would it have meant? There would be no CS research at UFL unless it fits under computer engineering and is in a sexy heavily-funded area (after all, everybody knows that CS is just programming, right?). There would be no CS grad students (since they would have no funding, and teaching-line professors would not be allowed to submit grant proposals). Homework would become sparse and gradable, due to the lack of graders, leading to drastic reduction in course quality. Longer-term, the department would probably concentrate on vocational topics such as web programming (note, about 2/3 of web programmers today do not have 4 year degrees).

    Now do this in all majors, and you end up with the state's flagship institution being a glorified tech school churning out mass quantities of vocational ed students (for the record, I support increased voced, but not at a state's flagship university).

    •  I heard about the furor over this (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ladybug53

      Following the FL government logic to its conclusion leads to crazy results. I do think the vo-tech model is exactly what Scott and his cronies want for all the Florida universities. It's bizarre and disheartening.

      "Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter." (Homer Simpson)

      by mitumba on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 07:42:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Chris Hedges on corruption of the university (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mitumba

    It seems to me that Chris Hedges is getting better all the time.

    His piece on the universities this week is excellent.

    https://www.commondreams.org/...

    Last week he had a piece on corporatism - turning people into drones who work for corporations.

    He posts on truthdig.com each week.

    He was a war reporter for decades and wrote the book that Paul Krugman wrote about in a column and called it the best book he has read on war. "War if a Force That Gives Life Meaning."

    Chris calls what has gone on a corporate coup d'etat.

    •  Hadn't seen that article (0+ / 0-)

      Thanks. Very interesting.

      "Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter." (Homer Simpson)

      by mitumba on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 09:35:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  But I work as a professor at a Big Ten campus and (0+ / 0-)

      his statement about how "there is probably no worse place to be an intellectual than at a Big Ten campus" is absurdly hyperbolic, IMHO.  

      At my campus, sure, football is king, and athletics receive outsized shares of money and administration attention; but the 500 pound gorilla in the room are the so-called hard sciences.  Their protocols and methodologies are equally "to blame" for the creation of a culture that is anti-humanist and anathema to poetry, reflection, artistic creativity, etc.

      Even with that said, I think my Big Ten school is a terrific place to be an intellectual.  And I think any professor who fancies him/herself an intellectual, but bitches and moans about football and fraternities, isn't thinking in a smart way about what it means to teach at a huge research university with a large athletics program.

      That's one more thing to add to my long list of small problems. --my son, age 10

      by concernedamerican on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 10:28:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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