Sunday, August 2, 2015

Professorial Tears

Mark LeVine-PhD

Mark LeVine, professor of history at UC Irvine and columnist for Al Jazeera America, is crying in his beer about the lack of opportunity in academia these days. Seems PhDs just can't make ends meet these days. Get out your hankies for this one. It's a real tear-jerker.

"All these trends are tied to the corporatization of the university; that is, the increasingly privatized model of higher education which does away with shared governance and tenure in favor of centralized administration and contingent labor, puts profits and the bottom line ahead of the public good, and efficiency and “customer service” ahead of a well-rounded education that encourages critical inquiry and independent thought."

How about education ahead of indoctrination?

"Indeed, upwards of a quarter of faculty with doctorates live below the poverty line — eight percentage points higher than the national average for all Americans. Think of this in the context of the American dream, where dedication and education are supposed to ensure a piece, however modest, of the American dream. If 10 years of intensive college and graduate study can’t even get a person a better salary than the average Walmart cashier, there is something profoundly wrong."

To that I threw a comment into the reader thread that considering what we had running around our universities these days, a Walmart cashier's salary sounds about right to me. Of course, Al Jazeera didn't publish it.

"The Walmartization of higher education is of course part and parcel of the larger McDonaldization of American society, which devalues broad skill sets and critical thinking in favor of consumer-driven “choice” and a cheap and controllable workforce. As anthropologist Sarah Kendzior asks in perhaps the most viewed article in the history of Al Jazeera English, what does it mean when education has gone from being the great path out of poverty to being “a way into it”?"

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that we have too many students graduating in useless majors like gender studies, ethnic studies, community studies, gay studies and history of consciousness, as well as being brainwashed in the humanities by professors who stand on their soapboxes and push their personal agendas down the students' throats? That is especially true in Middle East studies, where the main course is the bashing of Israel and the West. The end result is that the corporate world has for years been telling the universities that they are not turning out graduates ready for the work place. 

"The threats to academic freedom and shared governance posed by a system of largely contingent academic labor are obvious. If you’re treading water around the poverty line and have no guarantee of a job three months down the line, you are going to be very reluctant to teach any subject that might challenge students or the powers that be in your community, whether it’s science that is literally verboten to discuss — such as climate change in Wisconsin — “divisive” ethnic studies in Arizona or “anti-Semitic” Palestinian history almost anywhere."

Oh, stop it! As if anything contrary to the examples above is taught in our universities. And that climate change in Wisconsin? It's called four seasons.

Like the silly photo of academics with tape over their mouths in the Al Jazeera op-ed by LeVine implies, what we are dealing with here, Folks, is a bunch of self-described victims. Maybe they should get a real job in the real world. I guarantee it would be an education for them.

* Update: Good news, Mark. Janet Napolitano just raised the UC minimum wage to $15 an hour.


Siarlys Jenkins said...

In this instance, Le Vine is correct, although "education ahead of indoctrination" is a perfectly good point also.

As to climate change in Wisconsin, we still have four seasons, but when I was small, I walked a mile to school on -20 degree days with a wind chill we didn't even bother to count. Now its relatively rare to have more than a few days at a time in single digits below zero. Summers... a lot more days in the 80s and 90s.

In any event, the immediate issue is whether one can mention the subject of climate change without the idiot who serves as state treasurer demanding immediate termination of the guilty party. Surely as an advocate of the right to express the unpopular opinion that Israel is worth defending, you can understand the concern here, right?

Gary Fouse said...

Be thankful for the warmer weather. It too will pass.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

I am never thankful for weather over 75 degrees... one of many reasons I didn't settle permanently in California.