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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Only The 1% Can Afford to Teach in Higher Education, part 2




By Professor Doom

      Last time I discussed a serious change in higher education: the replacement of the faculty by part-time, minimally paid, no benefit “adjuncts”. Such adjuncts now teach the majority of classes in our colleges and universities, and represent a serious savings, costing only 25% (often, much less) of having full time faculty teach the course. 

     For lowering the costs of teaching, administrators get much, much, higher pay, so much more that tuition still needs to go up far more quickly than any other consumer good.

     The abuse of our nation’s most highly educated people by administration in higher education has gone mostly unnoticed in mainstream media; if students only knew that their teachers generally got less pay and respect than a fast food cashier, they might begin to ask why their education is so expensive…or even ask, if education were so valuable, why it didn’t translate into a decent job for their educator.

     Or maybe not, since many students in higher education are just there for the loans; I’ll be discussing how this works soon.

     In the meantime, the question arises: where is administration getting all these highly educated people to teach for peanuts?

About 213,000,000 results
--a Google search of “online Education degrees”, no quotes, reveals this many links, close to 1 for every adult American citizen. A search of “pornography” only gives 45,700,000 results, to put this in perspective. Usually, when you add words to a search, the number of results goes down…and not a lot folks think the internet is a running short on pornography. Anyone think maybe the online education thing is a little overdone?


     To become an adjunct in higher education, you need to have at least a Master’s degree in the subject you’re going to teach. Alternatively, you can have a Master’s Education degree, and within that Education degree you can rationalize that you specialized in the subject. There are History Education, Art Education, Math Education, Physics Education, and a host of other such questionable degrees.

Math Education “teacher”: “Yes, I know the syllabus says we’re covering the first six chapters, but we’re only going to go into detail in the first chapter, and a little of the second.”
(the class cheers)
--often when I get a glimpse of what goes on in an Educationist run course, I see that they’re not even close to covering what they claim they’re covering, or what is reported to accreditation. Thus I must assume the above announcement must come at some point in the class. The students are happy, but then get destroyed in the next class, unless it also is taught by an educationist. It often is, leading to college graduates that know nothing more than when they entered college.

     In terms of actual knowledge of the subject matter, these degrees are bogus, as I’ve demonstrated and illustrated many times on this blog, even to the point of taking a graduate Education course so I could see with my own eyes why there were so many frauds teaching. These feeble Education degrees are being used as jokers, and greatly watering down the quality of the education.

The following problems were noted in the five minute sample lecture (the candidate chose the topic, “Roots of Third Degree Polynomials):
1)    Candidate could not define “polynomial” (a basic term in the algebra course he would teach, and one he used in his lecture).
2)    Candidate tried to demonstrate vertical multiplication, but did so horizontally (defeating the entire purpose of “multiplying vertically”).
3)    Candidate used “FOIL” to multiply a binomial by a trinomial (he called it FOIL, but, that mnemonic only applies for multiplying binomial by a binomial).
4)     Candidate was unaware of the rational root theorem (curious, since the syllabus of the courses he claimed to have taught included this theorem).
--on a committee I was on, we interviewed 5 different Math Education graduate degree holders for a faculty position. These are my notes on the presentation given by one of the candidates. This particular candidate, with a decade of experience teaching in higher education, was the second best. The best was not offered the position; admin overruled us, picking a completely unsuitable candidate.

      Because these graduate education degrees are content free, anyone can get them…and that’s a big part of where the flood of adjuncts are coming from. Yes, I’m sure there are plenty of legitimate graduate degree holders in higher education…but there are so many bogus degree holders just as desperate. Administration, with degrees every bit as bogus, can’t distinguish the legitimate from the fake, either.

--an article by a lucky one to advance from adjunct to full-timer, though still with a minimal contract and no respect. Written, of course, under a pseudonym, due to the culture of fear in higher education. Keep in mind, change one line in accreditation, so that “a position lasting more than 2 years cannot be classified as temporary”, and this abuse could be fixed. Wonder why that change has not been made…

      I concede it’s not all Joker-Education degrees, however, but accreditation being such a joke makes it easy to setup bogus graduate Education degree programs. In addition, semi-legitimate institutions have increased the number of grad students they take, while simultaneously lowering standards, adding more warm bodies desperate to get a job to pay off the loans they took out for their degrees.

Adjunct No Longer, Jill Biden Earned $82,022 as a Community-College Professor in 2011

--one way to get a real job is to be married to the vice president of the united states. Her pay is way over the average, and her duties are somewhat below average, for a community college professor. Many professorial positions are patronage, where connections, not caliber, are key. No connections? Adjuncthood for you!

      Soon, outside of patronage positions, being a professor in college will have all the status and pay of being a fast-food cashier. Perhaps it should be, but I feel the need to point out: administration tells everyone to take out loans and go to college, because education can lead to better jobs, simultaneously treating people with advanced education as chattel and giving them jobs with less security and pay than barista or janitor.
      Why would you want people of such hypocrisy and ruthlessness anywhere near your children? Why would you want them responsible for what your children learn?
     

Friday, April 18, 2014

Only The 1% Can Afford to Teach in Higher Education




By Professor Doom

     I apologize for the hyperbole in the title, since it’s not particularly true today. But the trend in higher education is such that it will be true soon enough. People are indebting themselves for the rest of their lives for higher education, they should know just a bit more about where that money spent on education goes.

     More importantly, they should know that the money they are spending on their education is not going towards their education.

     There are many myths and illusions about higher education, and I’ve tried to cover them all. One illusion that needs to be dispelled is the myth of the college professor as this middle class guy who happens to have some obscure knowledge that students want (or need) to know.

     The “obscure knowledge” is true enough. It’s great that I can calculate the work done by a vector field on a particle moving along a helical path…but I accept that this isn’t particularly useful knowledge for most folks.

     The “middle class” part, however, is dying. Articles such as “Professors Making $10,000 a Year?” highlight the reality of higher education today. Over 70% of college instructors are adjuncts, part time teachers that make minimal pay with no benefits. They are paid per course, in some cases they are literally paid based on how many students they pass in their courses (for “some reason”, accreditation doesn’t see a conflict of interest in that).

     The pay for adjuncts is ridiculously low. You need to teach 35 classes or so a year to make a living at it comparable to what people think professors make. You have to be very lucky to get that many classes. An adjunct that does this is teaching 4 times as much as the “full time” faculty that still remain in the system. Adjuncts get no long term contracts, so they literally go from “barely getting by” to “starving” from one season to the next.

“$960,000”
--I’ve said it before, but this is the tuition my students pay in a year to learn from me (it’s not a particularly expensive school, I have large classes). I don’t get 5% of that, and I’m paid far more than average. Where the heck does that money go?”


      I want to point out, that for much of the last two centuries, a student didn’t need to enter a lifetime of debt to pay for higher education, and the faculty weren’t paid starvation wages. Something very serious is changing in higher education, and it simply isn’t that no money is flowing into the system.

      Despite the vast sums of money coming in to higher education, it isn’t going to the educators. Much of it is, of course, being soaked up by the vast, quickly increasing, and grotesquely highly paid administrative caste, but there are other issues explaining why administration can get away with screwing over what are apparently the most highly educated members of society.

     Their accreditation period came up and someone on the main campus panicked when they realized what a few of us Adjuncts were doing.
It turned out that if you worked for several different campuses of the same college, both online and conventional, with none of them keeping up with what the others are doing, you could teach a lot of classes and make enough to live a decent life

--in response to accreditation looking, the institution offered an overworking adjunct a full time position. After accreditation stopped looking, they fired him and rehired him as an adjunct. I’m serious. This sort of Potemkin situation is quite common on campuses. The people that work in accreditation are the same people that work on college campuses; they know exactly the fraud that goes on. Why do you think they don’t stop it?


      First, administration controls what, supposedly, regulates higher education. Accreditation is supposed to stop abuses and the lack of integrity that are part of hiring adjuncts, but administration makes sure accreditation only checks every few years, and that such checks are fairly cursory. I’ve been on a few campuses where it’s been positively hysterical watching the wild swings in attention to quality of education vary from “accreditation review” years to “no accreditation review” years. Students are, of course, charged the same regardless of these reviews. Faculty, on the other hand, often get a little bit more pay with accreditation on the line, but pay reverts once accreditation stops looking.

“…They have similar rules at CTC. 9 classes a year, 20 for ECAF instructors. But the rules are ignored. Teach 20 a yaer for one campus on base (Ft. Hood), teach a dozen more… One hand doesn’t want to know what the other is doing because they all want/need their classes taught…”
--not just taught, but taught for as little as possible. Less money spent on education is more money spent on administrative salaries!


     Because the administrators that control higher education also work for accreditation, there’s a vast conflict of interest, one that is responsible for much of the fraud of higher education today. Only the most extreme fraud ever gets caught, and then the penalties are basically minor slaps on the wrist, along with a warning to “not get caught again.”

“…the science labs are void of chemicals and specimens. Akin to teaching a wood shop course without wood. I am sensing that this will not change…”
--if accreditation were legitimate, faculty wouldn’t have to deal with issues like this. In any event, education is completely irrelevant. Does anyone believe someone teaching 35 courses a year is really capable of delivering the same quality of education as someone working full time and teaching 8 a year?

     The system is so very ripe for fraud and abuse that even if I narrow the topic down to “adjuncts” there is more to it than just one or the other. The abuse I’ve detailed, but where’s the fraud? I mean, above and beyond the obvious lack of attention to quality of the education many are indebting themselves forever for.

     In most industries, when pay gets cut to almost nothing, the workers leave. But that hasn’t happened in higher education. Adjuncts are highly expendable, and when one leaves, another is quickly found. 

     Where are all these highly educated adjuncts coming from? 

I’ll address that next time.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

What It Takes For A Conservative To Show Discrimination, Part 2



By Professor Doom
 
 
    Last time I revealed a news report of an amazingly rare case: a conservative successfully showing he was the victim of discrimination. This is a rare event because actually taking such a claim to court somewhat violates the conservative “take responsibility for what happens to you” mind set.
      It’s also rare because winning is a tough battle; this guy had very thorough, very dominating evidence showing that he was treated disrespectfully once he changed his point of view. He also had to be willing to fight for seven years to get justice in what was a cut and dry, blatantly obvious, case.
     This is, of course, not usually enough to win against a liberal bias, but he had more:
 
The university maintained that it had legitimate, non-political reasons for denying his promotion, suggesting that he had not done enough research. But he presented evidence that he had published more than the number of peer-reviewed articles generally considered to make one "safe" for promotion to full professor at Wilmington.


     Third: he had to show that others, sans such views, were having no difficulty getting such a promotion. This, too, can be very difficult to prove, as most institutions do a fine job of preventing anyone from finding out what, exactly, were the factors in determining if someone should get a promotion.
 
Faculty: “Putting an administrator on what policy clearly defines as a  ‘faculty only’ committee is a violation of policy. Why did you do it?”
Administrator: “I put myself there ex officio.”
Faculty: “And this means?”
Administrator: “I didn’t give myself a vote, too.”
--because the evidence of administrative shenanigans was so strong, a committee I’m aware of had an administrator forcibly added to it, in explicit violation of policy, and common sense regarding conflict of interest. The committee members privately acknowledged they were intimidated into ruling the exact opposite of what their conscience would have allowed; the administrator got another promotion later.
 
     He was very lucky to get that kind of information. I know when I tried to get it, “privacy laws” were cited for the most part, and I have to concede it was a reasonable explanation.
    It’s a curious thing about being faculty in higher administration: when policy hurts the faculty, admin pays close attention to policy. When policy helps the faculty, admin ignores the policy completely.
     I suspect it wouldn’t be this way if administrators and faculty were the same people, playing under the same set of rules, but I digress.
 
     “There’s a standard of fairness here that isn’t being met…”
--when I showed a retiring Poo-Bah what was going on in the promotion process in my own institution, he had the candor to acknowledge shenanigans. Since he was retiring, there was no interest in fixing the problem. He’s hardly the first person willing to tell the truth once retirement, and the golden parachute, beckons.
 
     So, access to resources for a 7 year court battle, overwhelming evidence, and access to usually secret documents. This isn’t enough to win, however. I’ve seen many cut-and-dried accusations against administrative chicanery go ignored. He needed one more thing to win, a secret weapon so powerful there’s a reason why it caught on in legitimate legal systems:
 
“…he was denied a promotion because of his political views, a federal jury agreed on Thursday.”
--I’ve added the boldface, the better to identify the key reason he was allowed to win.
 
    His secret weapon that allowed him to actually win? A fair jury. Time and again I’ve seen administrators get accused of pretty slimy things. Invariably, the administration gets to pick the committee that decides if the administration has done anything wrong. These rigged committees don’t dare vote against the administration. Obviously.
     This is the real reason administrative chicanery is seldom dragged into the light. I haven’t seen administrators lose under the “rigged committee” system in my near 25 years in higher education. On the other hand, when a victim has 7 years of time to fight, unarguable evidence, secret documents, AND a fair jury, he can actually win against administration.
     Well, maybe. While administration often tells the victims to just suck it up when the kangaroo committee rules in their favor, the famously prodigious administrative hypocrisy marches in when the shoe is on the other foot:
"The university respectfully disagrees with the jury¹s verdict and will fully explore its options for appeal…”


     No, admin doesn’t like to lose, having seldom not been able to rig the system so that loss is impossible. Maybe admin will win the appeal, and I’m sure they’ll try to get to have the appeal run in the usual way—an administration-picked jury or arbitrator. My personal vote is arbitrator, since it’s much easier to control one person in that way (there’s a reason juries are popular…). Yes, the administration is, casually, that corrupt:
 
--seriously, this is how corrupted the promotion process in higher education can be. I’ve seen worse, on more than one occasion. You really think admin didn’t know about the vendetta implied by that false criminal complaint? You really think even one administrator would speak up about the over-the-top lack of integrity here? There was a whole committee involved with this level of fraud, with nobody willing to speak the truth.
 
     Still, it seems that finally we have very powerful evidence that, indeed, there is a strong anti-conservative bias in higher education. I wish the article mentioned the lawyers involved, I might want to have a chat or two with them.
     It turns out both left and right can be victims of discrimination; the latter is just less willing to do something about (or is it the former is too corrupted?). I don’t recommend calling anyone a water buffalo anytime soon…it doesn’t seem like this conservative victory will get much in the way of press.
     For many decades, people claimed that police brutality was an everyday event. In response, police departments investigated themselves, and, outside of rare circumstances where the evidence was ridiculously overwhelming, cleared themselves of wrongdoing. Now, of course, video camera technology is so commonplace that there are millions of videos of police engaging in brutal acts…it is not nearly so rare as the public was told.
     For the last few decades, conservatives have complained of incredible bias in our institutions of higher education. Administration has formed committees and investigated themselves, and cleared themselves of wrongdoing very consistently…except in this one case, where the victim was tenacious, the evidence was ridiculously overwhelming AND the victim was allowed to get a fair jury.
 
"The university respectfully disagrees with the jury¹s verdict and will fully explore its options for appeal…”
--repeated for emphasis.
 
     Could this case of discrimination be a fluke? Well, either I believe admin, that this is just a bad verdict (their hubris will not allow even the possibility of this being a case of discrimination despite the evidence), or I believe my lying eyes. I lack the imagination to conceive of a technology as powerful as video cell phones that would serve to bring justice consistently in these types of cases, so I imagine this will be a rare victory.
     Enjoy it, professor, I hope the retaliation will not be too extreme.
 
 
 

I guess at some point I should give my own political and religious leanings.

 

I totally respect the mindless idealism of progressive thought. Even with the 100% failure rate of liberalism and “big government”, I can see that it’s a beautiful theory: just let the government solve all problems, and utopia will be at hand. Granted, that path has always led to horrific disaster and the slaughter of many millions of innocents, but that kind of idealism in the face of logic is precious. “War is good, providing nobody profits” is basically the catch phrase of this line of thought.

 I started life as a leftist—heck, didn’t we all? I was trained in school to swear to the flag, sang the national anthem every day before classes, was taught that the US was a force for democracy (whatever the heck that means), and that republicans were basically evil. In retrospect, I can see I was indoctrinated, but I grant that everything a child is taught classifies as indoctrination.

The right wing is more intelligent, but leans too much towards evil. The idea of slaughtering for profit, while consistent with conservative thought, just is repugnant to me. “War is good, providing the right people make a profit”, may be a more honest way of looking at things, but I don’t like it. Once I got older and saw the left was certain to fail, I went to the right…an insidious part of that childhood indoctrination is training in the belief that there are only two possibilities, “Democrat/left” and “Republican/right”.

Now, I realize there are many choices, and, for most things, I’m a libertarian. I grant that it doesn’t solve every problem or create a utopia, but compared to the certain misery of the only options I was told about in school, I find it more palatable.

As far as religion, well, I used to be atheist, but I met so many truly nasty and amoral atheists that I found myself asking the age old questions and not getting certain answers.  Watching Hitchens get shredded in a debate didn’t hurt, I admit. Now I lean agnostic; I acknowledge atheism is perfectly reasonable, I accept that the beliefs instilled in childhood are certainly tough to shake and that may taint my views…but even questionable evidence is still not “evidence of negative”, and so I doubt.

Anyway, back to our regularly scheduled dissection of higher education…

Friday, April 11, 2014

What It Takes For A Conservative To Show Discrimination




By Professor Doom

 

     I’ve often been told that college campuses are hotbeds of leftist thinking. That’s what I’ve been told. What I’ve seen with my own eyes?

    Well, certainly, multiculturalism, the demon-spawn of leftism, sure is popular. I never really attributed it to leftism, however. The courses are brain-dead simple, and even roadkill can pass the course (students that don’t even know they’re enrolled in the course still have a good chance of getting an A, according to the registrar at one institution I was at).

     When it came to outright political views, yes, I noticed that people with leftist views tended to get promotions, and people that didn’t drink the Kool-Aid were ever consigned to dark corners of campus. Again, I just assumed it was because leftists taught brain-dead courses, and had no trouble winning the student popularity awards that administrators believe are the best way to determine if the teacher is any good.

     I’ve seen many administrators spout leftist beliefs. I’ve never seen one openly state anything that would be particularly conservative (although a few accounting types have been known to whisper that they’ve listened to Limbaugh for reasons other than amusement). Again, it meant little to me; administrators aren’t trained to think, I can hardly expect them to question what they were trained as children in our publics schools to believe. The indoctrination starts there, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t admit that I, too, believed the things I was told as a child…at least when I was a child.

     The fact still remains: I’ve never seen anyone say non-leftist things and advance in higher education. I guess it’s happened, mind you, but it’s not something I’ve seen with my own eyes.

     Only in my most paranoid, suspicious moments did I think that conservative faculty were being left behind simply because of their political or religious views. A recent article leads me to believe it isn’t mere paranoid suspicion on my part:


 

“…his case represents the kind of bias many on the right say they experience in academe (typically without a verdict like this one).”


---I’m not exactly on the right, but I’ve been on the business end of some pretty extreme hate from colleagues, too…could it be I opened my mouth once or twice?

 

   In short: a professor was passed up for promotion. He claimed his conservative political views were responsible, while admin said “nope, we just don’t think you’re good enough.” The jury disagreed, saying the evidence was clear that his conservative views were, unfairly, the reason he was not given a promotion.

 

(I come to yet another meeting where admin will bloviate about their plans for growth. In preparation, I bring a sandwich):

Marxist Faculty: “You know, under the Marxist model, that sandwich you brought to the meeting would be shared with everyone.”

Me: “No. Under communism, I’d know I’d have to share, so I wouldn’t bring a sandwich. We’d all starve. That would model communism better.”

--I’m no conservative, but I’m certainly not a leftist. I had fun with the Marxist history professor, though. He laughed, denying that Marxism and communism were the same thing…I politely ceded the point. They are different words, after all.

 

     Now some will cite this victory as proof of academic freedom, and that this was an isolated incident of discrimination that really isn’t representative of higher education today. I feel the need to point out just what it took to get this verdict:

 

“Adams sued in 2007…”

 

     First: it took seven frickin’ years. This is enough time for a new faculty to join the institution as an instructor, and work all the way up the ranks to full professor.  Meanwhile, the victim here had to fight 7 years to just get one promotion. How many people, when wronged, have the strength of will to argue for 7 years over a promotion that might only mean a couple of thousand dollars a year? This guy might have paid half a million dollars in legal fees in order to get $14,000 in lost wages.

 

“He cited emails and statements from faculty colleagues taking issue with his views, which are outspoken and conservative. (You can find a selection of his columns here.) The Adams case was of particular interest to many who charge political bias in the academy because he is a political (and religious) convert. He presented evidence that his faculty colleagues liked him when he was an atheist Democrat, but started to have concerns when he became a Christian Republican.”



     Second: the evidence had to be overwhelming and unquestionable. To win this type of case, the victim clearly must first be leftist, and must save documentation that he’s treated decently as a leftist. He must establish leftist cred, and befriend the leftists. Then, only then, can he espouse conservative or religious views, and then he must save his documentation to show that he’s treated differently once his views and beliefs have changed.

     Goodness, what an abusive standard of proof.

     Someone who came on campus as a conservative would have no way to win this type of case, and should be prepared for unfair treatment indefinitely; promotions should be considered out of the question for people who come to campus as conservatives.

     You must literally convert from left to right, and save your documentation, and be willing to fight for seven years, to even have a chance in this system.

     While having that documentation was a lucky break, conversions from left to right are hardly rare. I’ve seen it many a time. In my experience, as soon as a leftist earns something, the whole “government should take from the people that earned something and give it to the people that didn’t” philosophy doesn’t seem nearly as fair as when the leftist hadn’t earned anything. Go figure.

     It’s funny, I’ve never seen a convert from right to left. I guess it happens, somewhere? Any volunteers?

      Next time, we’ll go over the rest of what is needed for a conservative to show bias, because crushing evidence and the willingness to fight for 7 years isn’t nearly enough. I’ll have some information on how unscrupulous admin was willing to be to block this promotion…it’s pretty amazing stuff.