Monday, August 31, 2015

Higher Education Not Leftist Enough? Seriously?

By Professor Doom

     My own eyes have shown me a distinct leftist prejudice on campus. I feel that people can believe whatever they want, but I’ve experienced some of the bigotry for not adhering to the Left view, and documented just how hard it is for a conservative to show discrimination against him; you can’t find it in the other direction because liberals easily outnumber any other group on campus. It’s bad enough now that there are political litmus tests for hiring and promotion.

“The extent of the tilt to the left has been growing and has now reached a magnitude not remotely matched in the past. In some areas it is so extreme that it amounts to virtual exclusion of any but left-of-center faculty members…This pattern is strongly suggestive of a conscious intent in the hiring process.“

     A recent study showed that the leftist bias among college faculty has gone from “strong majority” to “nearly no other viewpoints possible.” I don’t think it’s quite that bad in my field, but the study says it’s much worse in more politically-inclined disciplines (eg, political science and sociology).

      The study also suggests that the overwhelming majority of liberals on campus are corrupting higher education, especially In California. Again, yeah, no kidding. Micro-aggression theory, for example is ripping apart UCLA.

      How did hiring that could draw on only tiny numbers in the general population produce so large a Marxist campus presence without a substantial amount of discrimination in favor not just of the left, but of the extreme left? This suggests an illegal political test in hiring. 

     While I agree with the study’s conjecture, above, and have experienced a similar discrimination in promotion as well, it does rather beg the question: how do these people get their degrees without at least a little respect for empirical evidence? I mean, the 100% failure rate of Marxism in the 20th century—colossal, bloody failures at that, resulting in the deaths of tens of millions of human beings—should make it hard to subscribe to Marxism. I do wonder if Marxists are quite as common in the hard sciences, where empirical data is highly valued, as in the social sciences (anecdotally, I’m going with “no,” as every avowed Marxist I’ve met has been in social sciences and history).

     Anyway, the Leftist bias in academia has been well known for some time, even if the current up-spike is not so well known.

     How then, can someone write a book, Why Higher Education Should Have a Leftist Bias? The book argues that the incredible (and hypocritical) bias is actually a good thing for higher education. We’re already at the point where there’s real concern that leftist students aren’t being served in higher education because they can go their whole college career without being exposed to any other point of view. A college degree takes 40 or so classes…the bias is very strong if picking 40 Leftist professors in a row is now considered quite possible.

     Considering the huge downward slide of higher education these last few decades, there’s no existing trend in higher education I’d support. Granted, I’m not convinced the rise of bigoted Leftism is the primary cause of higher education’s ills (the student loan scam is the biggest source, with mercenary administrators not too distant a second), I see no way how making Leftism the only point of view on campus is going to help.

     Even though the book’s premise is false on the face of it, it still has a list price of—holy cow!--$84. Adding insult to injury is a major publisher (Macmillan) actually published this. Perhaps there’s a Leftist bent to the publishers, too?

    The book has a glowing professional review attached to it, but, no reader reviews (no shock, with the price so high…why would publishers publish a book that nobody would buy?). Mercifully, a Forbes article gives something far less one-sided. The blatantly false premise makes criticizing the book a little easy, but a few quotes stand out:

“From [the author’s] perspective, the dark and greedy forces of corporate America and its right-wing attack machine have prevented President Obama from moving full-throttle to transform the U.S. into the wonderful country we could enjoy. He maintains that the country is so dominated by “conservative” thinking that college professors must try to even things up.
It’s impossible to take that seriously.
Twice the U.S. elected the very leftist Obama, and has many media outlets that push relentlessly for more statist policies and demonize anyone who opposes them. …”

     Both Left and Right have their hands covered in blood regarding what’s happened in this country. It is, indeed, impossible to take seriously any claim that only one side is responsible.

There are many educators who make the principled case that big government conservatism and big government liberalism are equally blameworthy for our ills.  but Lazere dismisses them because he thinks they’re bound up with loathsome “conservatism.”

     To clarify the Forbes article, the issue probably has more to do with “big government” than with any Left or Right points of view.

     Not that Lazere doesn’t raise some good arguments, but they do nothing to advance his idea that college faculties should teach with a leftist bias.

      Back to the supposed thesis of the book, apparently there’s not much to justify why we need a Leftist bias in our education, preaching to the students the glories of their faith, regardless of whatever the course subject will be.

      The author of the book, of course, loves socialism, and says we should still espouse it despite the millions of corpses in its wake. Forbes reasonably disagrees:

There is nothing wrong in studying socialism in courses where it’s pertinent. In an advanced economics course, for instance, students might read Ludwig von Mises’ 1922 book Socialism, which would go a long way toward disabusing them of the idea that socialism can bring about the delightful world Lazere imagines. But it’s not  appropriate for professors to smuggle their na├»ve beliefs about socialism (or other topics) into English classes where they’re neither pertinent to the subject nor within the professor’s field of knowledge.

     I have to disagree with that last line, especially when there’s only one point of view allowed in certain fields of knowledge. I smuggle a belief or two in my classes. No, you don’t have to have “Ph.D.” after your name to be able to say something relevant.

      Hey, I admit, it’s hard not to mention politics, and I feel entitled to do so even if that’s not my so-called field of knowledge. Here’s an example of something political in my math classes:

Me: “ ’Infinity’ isn’t a number, it’s a concept referring to ‘that which is larger than any number.’
           ‘Negative Infinity’ doesn’t refer to ‘smaller than any number,’ but instead to ‘that which is more negative than any number.’
      “While it’s not possible to get to infinity, or negative infinity, the US government is currently engaged in a project to achieve negative infinity. This project is called ‘The National Debt’.”

     The class laughs at the above, and I consider it a political joke as well as commentary. As an aside, anyone else notice how economics on any level doesn’t seem to be a factor in today’s political discussion? I can’t tell you how many questions about Iran/Iraq/ISIS were in the debates, but darned if I can recall even a single question about our government’s ridiculous spending policies, zero interest rate loans to cronies, or student loans. 

     Folks, Iran didn’t get you laid off, ISIS didn’t destroy the returns on your retirement investments, and Iraq isn’t the reason our college graduates can only get minimum wage jobs….but I digress.

     Back to Forbes:

I applaud professors who succeed in improving students’ ability to employ logic, but Lazere’s approach was badly flawed in that respect. Worse, I fear that many other professors will seize upon his title and proclaim that their dogmatic, leftist pedagogy is justified.

    I fear Forbes is right on this, it’s about the only explanation for this book being published. Almost nobody will read it, but the title alone might be influential. I’ve known quite a few so-called scholars that obviously don’t read the books they claim (apparently they’re not aware the library keeps records on what books have been checked out…), but I’m sure they at least glanced at the titles.

     My own book on what should be done in higher education, how to fix it and keep it from turning into an ever more massive scam to indebt our youth, sells for about a 1/10th of the price of this pro-Leftist waste of paper…and has actual positive reader reviews. Of course, I had to self-publish. Perhaps I should have changed the title to something more Left sounding?


Friday, August 28, 2015

UCLA Offers Paid Internships to Illegals

By Professor Doom

     California in general seems to be a good source of whacky ideas, so perhaps it’s not fair to keep picking on it when Californian educational institutions do the most ridiculous things:

     I’d like to present the above, completely offensive idea, as a message of hope: our rulers of higher education are now so openly incompetent that at no point did anyone in any position of power point out how atrocious the idea is.

     Or maybe they’re just quite confident they can get away with anything:

The UCLA Labor Center’s Dream Resource Center is allowing undocumented students to apply for Dream Summer, a ten-week summer program that provides paid internship opportunities…

     Consider the previous outrage in the above: “undocumented students.” In their quest for growth over everything, administration allowed not just wildly incapable students on campus, students who take 3rd grade level courses semester after semester…they also allow “undocumented students” to enroll.

      I don’t want to sound elitist, but UCLA is taxpayer supported. I can’t be alone in thinking taxpayer-funded universities shouldn’t be supporting “undocumented” (the current politically correct term for “illegal”) students in our universities.

UCLA is among the growing number of University of California schools, including UC San Diego and UC Berkeley, to provide academic scholarships and opportunities for exclusively for illegal immigrants.  
--exclusively! Trying giving academic scholarships and opportunities exclusively to white males, and see how far you get…

     With no public outrage over this, I can see how administration thought hiring illegals wouldn’t be a problem, either. Trump wants to build a wall to keep illegals out, but he’ll need to also have a plan for university administrators going to the wall and putting up ladders, so they can get more students into UCLA (more students means more money for admin, after all).

     Anyway, back to the internship program:

The program will encourage them to advocate for immigration reform and promote universal health care access regardless of immigration status.

     Mercy! I mean, if the internship program was, you know, academic in nature, I could accept this as “well, they’re just making it open to everyone.” Internship programs in science, for example, make some sense, giving students the chance to gain rare skills that are difficult to get any other way, and I don’t see much need to restrict applications.

      But this is an internship where the interns will do what they’d do anyway, right? I mean obviously immigration reform and free health care for illegal immigrants are going to be things illegal immigrants want. How could there possibly be a shortage of applicants for this?

     Naturally, this internship is of interest for immigrants that came here legally. Unfortunately, legal immigrants will have to jump extra hurdles:

For international students, the requirement is more stringent. “Students have to get credit for paid as well as unpaid internships to stay in the U.S. on an educational F-1 visa with approval from the Dashew Center for International Students and Scholars,” the Daily Bruin reports.

     This is pure California crazy here. Illegal immigrants actually have an advantage for getting this paid internship. Is there truly no legal issue with this sort of thing?

      Oh, wait, there totally is:

      Is it such a stretch to view offering jobs specifically to illegal aliens as encouraging them come here in violation of the law? At the very least, the chuckleheads at UCLA who came up with this plan should be indicted, if not arrested, for this program. There have been no such indictments, of course. How is a wall on our border going to make the slightest bit of difference with illegal immigration when our government doesn’t enforce the laws we already have, and our own public institutions outright encourage illegal immigration?

     And here I thought our community colleges regularly violating Federal law was amazing. At least the community colleges don’t overtly advertise their violations. UCLA advertises its foolishness and lack of common sense…and nothing is done.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Another School Plundered

By Professor Doom

     It’s been obvious for a long time that for-profit schools, many of them, exist simply to loot money from the student loan scam. These schools spring up practically overnight, and make no secret about what they’re about. Thus, they don’t have huge endowment funds to loot, and don’t have to engage in real estate shenanigans to transfer money into the administrators’ pockets.

      Non-profit schools might sound like they’re more interested in helping people get an education, but it’s been shown in detail that NYU, a large, old, well-established, non-profit school can still be merely about plundering the system to put money in the pockets of top administrators.

     What of state schools? While trusting in government nowadays is as foolish as depositing money in a Greek bank, could there be enough checks and balances in the system to keep the plundering to a minimum? Har.

     What signs should one look for to tell that a school is being plundered? Well, building construction when it’s clear there’s no need is obvious enough. Skyrocketing Poo-Bah pay is harder to see, but you can usually find it if you access public records. Finally, the adjunctification of the faculty is the hardest to spot, far more challenging to see than “Under Construction” signs. Faculty don’t talk about their pay, and it’s difficult, from the student’s perspective, to tell if your teacher is being treated like an educated professional (you know, like the job you’re supposed to get once you get that education), or a minimum wage temp worker to be discarded at will.

     Sometimes, the adjunctification of a campus is advertised:

     The title is, as is so often the case, just a bit misleading. You might think from the title that, hey, the school is shrinking, merely cutting back on the course offerings. Stuff happens. The reality is in the article:

The other 64 are being asked to reapply as adjuncts, who make about $2,100 per course and have no benefits, according to the college.

     So, the classes are still there, the students are still there, the immense profits are still there. But, profits will be maximized as the faculty are fired, and then re-hired at a much lower pay.

     The college, of course, is claiming that declining support from the state, and declining enrollments, justify screwing the faculty like this. As always, the numbers don’t really add up:

Bergen’s enrollment has declined by more than 1,900 in that time to 15,651 in Fall 2014, according to the numbers.

     1900 students fill about 40 classes. Faculty teach 5 classes a semester at this school, so…8 faculty, maybe, might need to go based on this reduction. Not 64. Of course, since such faculty are getting the “offer” of a rehire with a 70% pay reduction, it’s clear admin knows they’re lying here: they still need the faculty, they just don’t want to pay a fair wage.

      Hey, are administrative positions being closed as well? Nope:

Bergen trustees agreed to hire Lindsay Maurer as executive director of its foundation, which raises private funds for the school, at an annual salary of $160,000.
--do note the money spent on this one administrator could cover 5 faculty positions, closing more than half the gap all by itself.

     Fund-raising is obviously a much better paying job than anything in education. While there are endless courses on sexual deviancy and television shows, there are no college courses on fund raising. Why is it that our administrators tout how critical education is to getting a job, but never have any interest in offering courses that lead to the grotesquely highly paid administrative jobs?

     Since the article fails to include the real details of the plundering, I’m forced to go to the comments section to get actual information.

As a former BCC Adjunct, I'd say that $2,100 per course in just above the minimum wage!

     We really, really, need to start publicizing the simple fact that having an education nowadays means you struggle to get a minimum wage job. Once people realize that’s what education is worth, maybe they’ll stop going ridiculously deep into debt for it. One can hope. The comments section continues:

Ms. Alex needs to ask more questions instead of simply pasting together press releases.

     Ms. Alex is the author of the linked article. Luckily, others are asking questions about what’s really going on with all the money pouring into higher education. Here are some answers:

BCC's President gave herself a raise and drives around in a Lexus while asking others to make cuts. The VP of Student Affairs went on an extended trip to Dubai while cutting funding for student clubs to have snacks such as cookies at their events. To put it into perspective at least a dozen of her executive cabinet (yes it's that big) makes over 6 figures. Please fire the president before BCC becomes a case study in arrogance, stupidity, and mismanagement.

     This school has 15,000 students, and yet the Vice President of Student Affairs has a cabinet of a dozen highly paid staffers, and feels the need to go on long trips halfway around the world. Keep in mind, this is just a small community college here. Looking at the VP’s resume reveals she purchased her doctorate from a for-profit online place, Northcentral (sic) University. Northcentral (sic) is not to be confused with the more legitimate North Central University…honest, it’s a red flag when a new institution picks a name easily confused with an older institution. Good for her, I guess, but I’ve written before of these ridiculous administrative degrees.

     A professor at this community college boldly summarizes the plundering, using his real name, no less (I’ll have to remember to follow up next year and see if he’s still employed):

A couple of points need to be added to this story:

1) The County this year under CE Tedesco restored the $5 million the Donovan administration cut from BCC's budget and added $400-500K to that. One could hardly call that flat funding.

     No matter the school, the ol’ “not enough funding” line is an easily dispelled myth about what’s going on in higher education.

2) The College continues to pay out hundreds of thousands per year to outside contractors, coupled with lucrative "change orders" who have no meaningful supervision, Kalas Plumbing and Redmann Electric among them. To my knowledge there have been no cut-backs in this area and no "pink slips".


3) As I noted before over the tenure of CE Donovan the Schepisi law firm billed the College nearly a million dollars. The head of the BOT's Personnel Committee saw fit to get the BOT to hire a close personal friend to negotiate the bargaining unit contracts and he put all of them in impasse at a cost of $230K.

Again, this sort of shenanigans is not news to readers of my blog.

4) When the faculty voted "No Confidence" in the president in 2014, the BOT responded by renewing her contract for three years and adding generous incentives to her base. 

     I can’t emphasize strongly enough how helpless faculty are to stop the plundering. In decades past, a “no confidence” vote meant the end of the tenure of the administrator. Now, it’s not even a speed bump to the plundering. If anything, such a vote seems to accelerate the looting of the school’s coffers into administrative pockets.

5) As soon as the bargaining units' contracts were settled under a new labor negotiator (who charged $9000 for his services compared to $230K), the BOT saw fit to increase top management's salaries by another 1.25% on top of annual increases received the whole time that the employee contracts were in impasse with no increases.

     Faculty pay has barely changed in the last 30 years (gone down, if you account for adjunct pay), while administrative pay just keeps skyrocketing. Honest, there’s where the money is going. The only way faculty pay can go up is if administration gets enough money for administrators, and their greed is insatiable. It’s so bad now that firing faculty and offering to hire them at steep pay cuts is common practice in higher education. The faculty member continues to shed light:

Yet a new building is going up for health sciences…

     So, we have all the signs of a school in the act of being plundered here. New buildings going up despite falling enrollment, administrative pay skyrocketing, and the adjunctification of the faculty. Administrative control of the system is complete, and the looting will continue until there is absolutely nothing left.

      Why would anyone suspect this college, or the many other institutions in the same circumstances, would be a good place to get an education?