Friday, July 29, 2016

Don’t Stay in School

By Professor Doom

     There is a huge glut of graduate school-graduates who are basically unemployable. Part of the reason for the unemployability of these people is many of these degrees are bogus, either “for profit” degrees purchased online or in fields of no actual demand.

      Adding to the unemployability of the graduate degree is an undeserved “joker” quality attributed to an Education degree. Yes, you can get a “real” degree in chemistry, mathematics, or other academic subject, demonstrating knowledge and understanding, or you can get a graduate degree in Education. For an inexplicable reason (outside of money), administration feels that an Education degree somehow grants understanding of everything else, and so those academic degree holders find themselves competing not just with their own field, but with this strange Education field which believes “knowledge how to teach” is far more important than “knowledge of what you are doing.”  Granted, in the many highly watered down courses that now make up the bulk of higher education, graduate level training doesn’t matter anyway—I’m pretty sure I could teach 6th grade math (a huge part of higher education today) right out of high school, after all, and it isn’t just mathematics that’s been heavily watered down.

      But the fact still remains we’re sucking people deep into debt for graduate degrees that, even if in a challenging field, have no value in the current marketplace.

      The end result of this huge glut is administration in higher education sees little need to treat these over-educated people with any respect, and dooms them to a life of temp work as adjuncts.

American universities spend half a trillion dollars a year. Very little of that money goes to the people who do a huge part of the teaching: the adjunct professors, academia’s hidden underclass.

--to clarify, we don’t spend that money, it’s sucked up by a grotesquely overpaid administrative class.

     I know, things are tough all over, and I know there are few real jobs available in any field, anymore. But our predatory administrators in higher education are being facilitated by our broken accreditation process (run by the same administrators) and the student loan scam to hurt our citizens coming and going.

     The kids coming into the system are ripped off, being charged insane amounts of tuition for an education provided by people that barely get enough to survive. 

     The people coming out of that system get ripped off again, as they’re pushed into a graduate school, where, if they graduate, they’ll get a job that pays no more than pouring coffee in any event.

     A single course might well cost $1,000 for the student. There could easily be 50 students in the class (and there really are college courses with a 1,000 students in them now). Of the $50,000 in tuition the course brings in, the adjunct gets about 4%. The rest of the money goes to administrative overhead, at least in public, tax-supported, institutions.

I teach a Public Speaking lecture class of 150 students. I make 15k.
--yet another adjunct trying to follow the money and easily able to tell it’s not going to him.

      The de-professionalization of the college professor is the biggest open secret in higher education. It’s a marginal existence for people that really expected their graduate degrees to provide a legitimate living.

Hands down, the biggest NIGHTMARE of this whole situation (aside from the obvious indignity and abysmal pay) is the lack of healthcare. Because I make such little money at the university I qualify for Medicare. However, because my income keeps oscillating due to the part-time work I pick up I have to report income change every month. This means I oscillate on and off Medicare and Covered California and have to deal with the circle-jerk paperwork of healthcare on an almost monthly basis. You can imagine what a sh*t show this is. At this point I just don’t EVER go to the doctor and I’ve gone off birth control because I have to meet with a doctor every time I change health care providers and my prescription won’t be honored every time I change insurance status. 

Thus, it’s just easier to say F*ck it...

I made better money when I was 14 and worked at Quiznos. I made significantly better money when I was 21 and drove a beer cart on a golf course.

       Look, maybe we should no longer be treated like professionals. I understand how supply-and-demand works, and with graduate Education degrees available online by the bucket load, I can see how “real” degrees just don’t count for much. But then why is tuition so freakin’ high? If educators are basically worthless, and educators are the primary cost of education, why is college so expensive?

      Why is this question not being asked very, very, loudly?

     It isn’t just that the adjuncts are underpaid by a wide margin, they’re overworked.

The catch is that the classroom hours for my courses add up to six hours each because I teach art studio classes. There is certainly no extra compensation for hours spent grading, planning, meeting with students, completing university paperwork, or answering emails - which add up to at least another 3 hours each week.

     There really is more to teaching than just standing up and talking for 3 hours a week…there is much preparation and grading to do. Doubling the class size does wonders for administrative pay, but adds quite a bit to the work load, I promise you.

      The level of respect adjuncts receive is…insulting. Granted, even as full time faculty I’ve been on the business end of extreme disrespect from administration (hello community college!), but administration really gives nothing to an adjunct:

I do not have an office. I have to use my personal laptop to perform any necessary computer tasks. I do not see my contract until the semester has already begun, usually about a month into classes. I do not see my first pay check until six weeks in. My contract states that it can be cancelled for any reason the university sees fit. I am not given a faculty parking decal and have been issued parking tickets from the university on two occasions…

--I’ve yet to have a contract that didn’t allow cancellation for any reason.

     The fee for my parking decal is taken out of my paycheck every month. I know, things are tough all over, and I might be a little out of touch with how bad it is in the non-academic world; do employees in the “real world” have to pay to park on their employer’s taxpayer-supported parking lots? It’s not like I park within sight of my building.

     The truth is that I have watched the university flood millions into new facilities. There is no shortage of funds. There is only an administration intent on perpetuating the surge of dollars that lines their own wallets and increases the sparkle of their legacy. They don’t see adjuncts as people. We are a second-class answer to a budget problem and receive no accolades, no benefits, no professional titles, no grant money, no sabbaticals, and no other perks afforded to the full-time faculty who perform the exact same job.

     Like everyone else in higher education, we see the huge amount of money pouring in…and we see the money not going anywhere near education. But this is a distraction.

      We are told, over and over and over again, that education is the key to a better life. Unfortunately, our educated class is being starved out of education, and is forced deep into debt for the privilege of such starvation:

Every dollar I make from teaching goes to paying my student loan. It is a ridiculous cycle. If I didn’t have a secondary income I would qualify for government assistance. I know plenty of adjuncts who get by on food stamps and live in questionable neighborhoods. That is the kind of image that most people assume is pretty far from the ivory tower.

      The more you look at higher education, the more insulting the treatment of adjuncts is. Administrators and support staff get insane pay, even when there’s very little happening on campus (like in the summer). For adjuncts, they get nothing during slow periods.

A person who works as a secretary gets paid even when there’s no one in the office, flight attendants get paid even when they’re not on a plane serving customers … most of the jobs in this nation guarantee a salary even if the employee isn’t always engaged in work.

      I’ve written before of the immense irresponsibility of higher education, and adjuncts here came to the same conclusion I did:

I applied to 50+ jobs this year and got one interview. ONE. Friends in the industry say it will take more than 2 years of being done with the PhD to get a job and if I want to do this I’ll have to live in a financial minefield for that time. It takes most people 4-5 years right now because schools aren’t opening new jobs. This is hitting when I am 32 years old, right when otherwise I would have been saving to buy a house or start a family. I have no job security and very few prospects in spite of earning the top degree from one of the best universities in the world…Someone else told me that no one at Harvard in their field got interviews this year. Universities stopped producing jobs long ago but they continue to produce PhDs...


--emphasis added.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Professor Criticizes Transgenderism = Fired

By Professor Doom

     The culture of fear in academia that I wrote about last year is unchanged. You must watch what you say, even watch what you blog, and forever look over your shoulder. The most unforgiveable crime is to say anything remotely critical of our prevailing government ideology of liberal progressivism.

      Our state schools are consumed with protecting this ideology, but as state schools, they’re pretty much obligated the follow the party line of whoever is signing the most checks. Unfortunately, it’s not just our state schools that squelch any dissent, other colleges likewise come down hard on anything that could be interpreted as wrong think.

     Hampden-Sydney college is a males-only college in Virginia, founded in 1775. One would think it would have a system in place to give its around 2,000 students a fair chance at an education, which must include exposure to ideas other than “whatever the Poo Bah says, goes.”

      Alas, the annihilation of tenure has turned many of our campuses into sycophantocracies, where spinelessness is rewarded, and even the slightest hint of independent thinking must be annihilated at all costs.

     Lt. Gen (ret) William Boykin was one of their esteemed professors, with an impressive resume that included being former commander of the elite Delta Force…this is obviously a “get things done” person who doesn’t waste time on politically correct stupidity.

      And, unfortunately, this was not a man easily cowed by higher education’s culture of fear. He dared to speak out even a little against the transgenders-in-the-bathroom issue which has been distracting our country from vastly more relevant realities:


     I’m not one to advocate violence, but I think it’s fair to respect a father being protective of his daughter. It’s just one line, the kind of bravado one would expect (demand?) from a military man, and if our campuses were run by reasonably intelligent people, his words would have been met with all the anguish as the news that librarians keep their books at home organized, or that the accounting professors are meticulous with their personal checkbooks.

      Unfortunately our Social Justice Warrior culture cannot abide by such manliness dissent:

Because some of you already know and are contacting me about it, let me make it official and let you all know that I have been terminated from teaching at Hampden-Sydney College after nine years there.

     Wow, nine years down the drain…for showing protectiveness of his daughter. This really is why spinelessness is the most important personality trait for faculty, and I know my own long term prospects in higher education are grim. 

     As a men’s college, Hampden-Sydney is a bit of an anachronism, and I suspect their days are numbered; it’s a just a matter of time until a Poo Bah comes by and plunders it. Small colleges are in a bind right now; the student base is falling, and they’re very hard pressed to compete with the massive tax breaks that public community colleges get.

      This was such an opportunity for Hampden-Sydney to stand out from the pack. They could have used this outspoken, manly, military commander as an icon for the school, as being a school that stands for “old school” values that, bottom line, worked out very well for Western (and, frankly, most other) cultures for a few thousand years.

      I’ve nothing against transgenders, they’ve a hard enough road to follow without me adding an obstacle to it…but simply wanting to be protective of our children is a problem now?

      The fired faculty tried to clarify his statement, but to no avail:

“I was referring to perverts who will use these policies to get into locker rooms with girls and women, and I object to that,” he stressed. “Nonetheless, I gave the LGBT community just what they needed to pressure the college leadership to terminate me and they did.”

        Back when tenure was a common thing, it took around 7 years of scholarship to get it. Now, 9 years still grants no protections from the whims of the administrative caste, which only cares about padding their own bank accounts.

      I’m not convinced the professor did anything wrong, and it takes some mental gymnastics to perceive his words as a legitimate threat. Seeing as there was no harm done, it really seems like a termination is overkill.

      Wasn’t there a time when an apology was good enough? Nowadays the Social Justice Warriors can only be satiated with blood, and plenty of it. The “leadership” of the college is frightened of Social Justice Warriors, I even find it to some extent understandable but…the SJWs are wildly out of control now. With so little to lose, the “leadership” of the college should have taken a stand, instead of caving in like, well, every other college.

     Hampden-Sydney College did not immediately respond to Breitbart News’ request for comment.

     Such cowardice, they can’t even own up to their shameless pandering to the SJWs. There are still some faculty that will at least try to stand up to the madness gripping our campuses, but, as the gentle reader can see, such resistance is futile.


Saturday, July 23, 2016

US Higher Ed Drops from 1st to 11th

US Higher Ed Drops from 1st to 11th

By Professor Doom

     I want to talk more about this huge Senate report on for-profit schools, particularly this key line:

However, over the past 10 years the United States has lost the place it once held as the world’s preeminent provider of higher education. Once first in the world in percentage of people with a college degree, the United States now ranks 11th.

    I urge the reader to consider that last sentence carefully. Within a decade, we have fallen from first to 11th. This has happened

  • Despite the “open admissions” engorging our campuses to massive size

  •  Despite our “help the students” administrative caste expanding to ridiculous levels

  • Despite the $1.2 trillion dollar student loan debt

  • Despite grade inflation making the median grade in college now an A-.

     Why are so few asking questions about this?

     Higher education is not a pro-sports team, where dropping from first place one year to something lower the next year is fairly common. The United States is a pretty relevant country on this planet, and the U.S. higher education system was the top system on the planet, for much of the 20th century.

      And, it’s over, by a hefty margin. 

     We’re now 11th, as our own government acknowledges, and that’s with a massive growth in our higher education system on all levels (except faculty, whose pay and numbers are comparatively flat). That’s quite a drop, and it’s fair to ask “What happened?”  The Senate, of course, doesn’t ask, but key to our horrible failure here is the student loan scam. This report is on the for-profit schools ripping us off wholesale, but the Senate never considers simply getting rid of government supported student loans. No student loans means no (or at least far fewer) for-profit schools.

     The report fails to ask the question of “What happened?” and fails to even understand the many implications of the student loan scam. The report simply does not understand at all:

“…demand for higher education has outpaced the ability of the existing network of public and non-profit colleges to provide sufficient capacity.”


     Anyone who wants can get a fine education. We have this thing called “the internet,” which contains huge amount of information, for an extremely low price. We have libraries, and through interlibrary loan (a wonderful thing, at least from a scholar’s point of view) you can get nearly every piece of information that isn’t on the internet, for very little money, and often free.

    If you want a “college education,” this too is easy. Every institution will happily provide the entire course list for every degree, will happily provide the syllabus for every course in every degree, most institutions put their syllabi and texts online, you don’t even have to ask. Not-so-legal PDFs of most textbooks can be purchased cheaply, and “old” editions of texts from a couple years ago are inexpensive and legal as well.

    I’m not saying I’m not of some use as a professor and lecturer. It might be a little harder to learn on your own, but at some point an educated person will gain the ability to read a book all by himself anyway. Higher education today seems to delay that point, but this is a distraction: if demand were so high for higher education, people would do it themselves for almost no money.

     Instead, they’re going to actual colleges. Why?  The student loan scam gives people checks for going to actual colleges (you get nothing if you just want to stay at home and read). The student loan scam has completely warped higher education in many ways, but today I’ll just focus on for-profit schools.

      The government set up the student loan scam, and said that any school that was officially accredited could tap into student loans.

      Accreditation was never intended to be a gatekeeper for billions upon billions of student loan loot, and was quickly subverted. Accreditors opened the floodgates. Almost no school that applies for accreditation is turned down, and as the endless scandals I’ve documented in this blog can attest, no school loses accreditation no matter how outlandish the violation.

      While for the most part the report ignores accreditation’s role in all this, they at least point out the main problem with accreditation:

The self-reporting and peer-review nature of the accreditation process exposes it to manipulation by companies that are more concerned with their bottom line than with academic quality and improvement.

-emphasis added

     The gentle reader needs to understand the above, for it explains much: schools self-report their own legitimacy. This fundamentally explains why massive academic scandals can run for a long time at even major schools (Hi UNC!, Hi Penn State!, Hi Corinthian!, etc, etc, etc) for over a decade…there is nearly no mechanism to expose and correct such frauds. The faculty are almost completely disenfranchised, and can do only a little, at best, to slow down the degradations.

      For-profits simply saw the opportunity for incredible plunder. This led to the debasement of education on a wide scale—I don’t blame for-profits for focusing on getting student loan loot over providing education. The latter is hard, after all, while the former just requires suckers to check boxes applying for guaranteed student loans.

The investigation found that in 2010, 80 percent of the faculty employed at the schools examined was part-time. Ten companies had more than 80 percent part-time faculty and five companies had more than 90 percent part-time faculty.

      Beyond the warping of higher education, the student loan scam also warped the educated. Now, your typical “professor” is a sub-minimum wage, no benefits, no respect drone, scrambling to just barely get by. Granted, your typical community college professor is likewise starving, and many public university teachers are in similar shoes…this is not restricted to the for-profits by any means. Either way, we’ve taken educators right out of education, to be replaced with a for-profit motive.

     Maybe the highly educated should be treated this way, but then higher education shouldn’t be so freakin’ expensive.

Undercover observation by the GAO and student complaints reveal that some for-profit schools have curricula that do not challenge students and academic integrity policies that are sometimes not enforced.

     I wanted to focus on for-profits, but I really feel the need to point out that quite a few state schools also have curricula that do not challenge students, and most certainly do not enforce academic integrity policies. I again cite a study showing that our community colleges regularly engage in the same level of fraud as the for-profits. The huge difference here is the GAO doesn’t check up on community colleges any more than accreditation does, so they can get away with it far more easily, shamelessly self-reporting their purity while filled with putrefaction.

CEOs of the publicly traded, for-profit education companies took home, on
average, $7.3 million in 2009. In contrast, the five highest paid leaders of large public universities averaged compensation of $1 million, while the five highest paid leaders at non-profit colleges and universities averaged $3 million.

      Yes, the CEOs at for-profits are looting more quickly, but shouldn’t we be asking what, exactly, the Poo Bahs at the public/non-profit schools are doing to merit such insane pay? I mean, the for-profit CEOs really do have to work to scrape up suckers to get into their schools, and they have to actually put up campuses and such, while the State U Poo Bahs get a free campus, massive tax support, and an incredible stream of incoming students via the local public school system.

      Questions need to be asked here.

       The report never figures out the key problem in higher education today, even as the issue stands up and waves at them:

the tuition fees and other academic charges bear no relationship to the cost of providing the education.

         Everyone who follows the money in higher education realizes only a small percentage, at best, of the money spent on education is going to education costs. The for-profits may well yield the money to the CEO and investors, while the other schools spend the money on luxurious benefits and huge salaries for a freakish large administrative caste (and let’s not forget the coach’s salary).

      The whole report is chapter after chapter damning for-profits…and yet our senate does nothing. One little footnote in the report bears comment, as the Senate blows it again:

1For-profit executives frequently point to the fact that community colleges and other public universities receive large subsidies from State and local governments without necessarily producing better student outcomes. While this is true, were community colleges or other public universities to find themselves with 15 to 38 percent annual surpluses (the profit range of publicly traded for-profit companies) they would likely reinvest in better services and student success.

     As I’ve pointed out many times, most every accusation of for-profits applies to community colleges as well—the student outcomes there are very consistently miserable, with sub-1% passing rates common enough.
      The report says that if community colleges had surpluses, they’d spend it on students. Rubbish on both counts: there are no surpluses, and the money wouldn’t go to education in any event.  You want to know why Community Colleges don’t have the surpluses? Because, administratively speaking, you must spend every penny you have in your budget, and then some. If you don’t, your budget is reduced. That’s how every government system works…it’s weird how the Senate doesn’t know this. Every spare penny is re-invested alright, into ridiculous administrative perks. 

      In the past, educators had control of higher education, and so surpluses were indeed spent on education (or invested to support future education, which is why our top tier private schools have massive endowments now)…but those days are quite over, it seems.