A New Far-Right Proposal for Financing College “Innovatively”: Or, How to Graduate from College as an Indentured Corporate Servant

In “Here’s a New Way to Pay for College,” an article published in USA Today [http://college.usatoday.com/2014/04/17/heres-a-new-way-to-pay-for-college/], Daniel Wheaton reports on a new Far-Right proposal to address the student-debt crisis. In a bill that they have called “The Student Success Act,” Marco Rubio, the Republican Senator from Florida, and Jim Petri, a Republican House member from Wisconsin, are proposing private financing of college educations with money pooled from corporate sources.

So, how is this different than student loans secured through private banks? Well, the funding would be framed or defined more as a long-term investment. The recipients would agree to pay back a portion of their incomes for 30 years as a sort of dividend to those who have made the investments in their educations. Rubio and Petri call these contracts “income-share agreements,” and the percentage of the participating student’s income that he or she will owe the investors will increase as his or her income increases.

In its broad shape, the proposal seems comparable to what some entertainers, such as David Bowie, and some athletes, such as Houston Texans running back Arian Foster, are now doing in creating “celebrity bonds.” But since students have a much less certain basis for projecting future earnings, I almost immediately suspected that for students this sort of deal would amount to a sort of indentured servitude. Continue reading

Koch Kollege?

John Romano, writing in the Tampa Bay Times over the weekend, reviews the connection between Charles Koch and Florida State University, a problematic connection (and not the only one of its type) that has been under scrutiny for at least three years now:

The relationship at FSU drew howls of protest in 2011 when a couple of professors uncovered a memorandum that indicated Koch could wield considerable influence over the hiring of professors and some of the curriculum in economics classes.

FSU officials initially denied he had that type of power on campus, but a Faculty Senate review determined the agreement with Koch had several troublesome features. The school vowed to fix the agreement and the story soon disappeared from the headlines.

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A Special Anniversary That You May Have Missed

This year, the National Security Agency (NSA) is celebrating its 60th year in existence.

To commemorate the anniversary, the agency has produced a book that is in some places referred to simply as an “Anniversary Book” but in other places referred to as a “Memory Book,” which sounds a great deal more sentimental.

The book is available digitally here: http://www.nsa.gov/about/cryptologic_heritage/60th/book/NSA_60th_Anniversary.pdf

My favorite photo is this one:

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In an Era of Increasing Fiscal Constraints, an Inexplicable Shift in Hiring Patterns in Higher Education

In this past week’s issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education, there is a very revealing graph representing the changes in employment in colleges and universities from 1976 to 2011. The graph is based on an analysis of IPEDs data by AAUP’s John Curtis.

 

Full-Time Tenured and Tenure-Track Faculty

1976 – 353,681

2011 – 436,293

Increase – 23%

 

Graduate Student Employees

1976 – 160.086

2011 – 358,743

Increase – 123%

 

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A Liberal Arts Education: Getting a Job at Google, Part 2

In February, an op-ed by Thomas Freidman in The New York Times summarized an interview with Laszlo Bock, the senior vice president of people operations for Google, on how to get a job at Google. Bock is involved in about 100 hires at Google per week. With college graduations approaching, Freidman went back to Google to ask for Bock’s best advice for job-seekers anywhere, not just at Google. A condensed version of the conversation was published in yesterday’s NYT Sunday Review.

Freidman started by asking Bock about the worth of a college education. Bock clarified that it’s not that one shouldn’t go to college, but that “…most don’t put enough thought into why they’re going, and what they want to get out of it.” Bock continued, “The first and most important thing is to be explicit and willful in making the decisions about what you want to get out of this investment in your education. People should think “incredibly hard about what they’re getting in return.” Continue reading

Today Is the Centennial Anniversary of the Ludlow Massacre, One of the Pivotal Events in U.S. Labor History

What follows is taken from the United Mine Workers website.

_________________________

The Ludlow Massacre

The date April 20, 1914 will forever be a day of infamy for American workers. On that day, 19 innocent men, women and children were killed in the Ludlow Massacre. The coal miners in Colorado and other western states had been trying to join the UMWA for many years. They were bitterly opposed by the coal operators, led by the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company.

Upon striking, the miners and their families had been evicted from their company-owned houses and had set up a tent colony on public property. The massacre occurred in a carefully planned attack on the tent colony by Colorado militiamen, coal company guards, and thugs hired as private detectives and strike breakers. They shot and burned to death 18 striking miners and their families and one company man.  Four women and 11 small children died holding each other under burning tents. Later investigations revealed that kerosene had intentionally been poured on the tents to set them ablaze. The miners had dug foxholes in the tents so the women and children could avoid the bullets that randomly were shot through the tent colony by company thugs. The women and children were found huddled together at the bottoms of their tents. . . .

The rest of the article can be found at: http://www.umwa.org/?q=content/ludlow-massacre

A thorough listing and discussion of commemorative events is available at: https://www.facebook.com/Ludlow100

 

 

A Postscript to One-Word Poems: A Poem without Words—from the Academe Archives No Less

In one of my posts yesterday, I reposted an item from Futility Closet. Titled “Taking Literary Minimalism to Its Endpoint” [http://academeblog.org/2014/04/19/6702/] it included this lead:

“In 1965 poet Aram Saroyan wrote a poem consisting of a single word, lighght. George Plimpton included it in the American Literary Anthology, and Saroyan received a $500 cash award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

“Perhaps to mock this, in 1972 Dave Morice published Matchbook, a literary magazine whose inch-square pages were stapled inside working matchbooks. Edited by the fictional Joyce Holland, each issue featured nine one-word poems submitted by contributors.”

That post then provided a sample list of those Matchbook issues.

This item, also uncovered by Futility Closet, takes that item one step further—to a poem without any words, at least beyond its title. And the extra attraction for the readers of this blog is that the item was originally published in Academe.

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More on the Clown Car

Since posting on David Brooks’ “When the Circus Descends” yesterday, Stephen Sondheim’s great song “Send in the Clowns” has been going through my head, especially these lines:

I thought that you’d want what I want.
Sorry, my dear.
But where are the clowns?
Quick, send in the clowns.
Don’t bother, they’re here.

What frustrates me so is that all of us should have the same goals concerning education, “I thought that you’d want what I want.” The goal should be real education, described by John Dewey as well as anyone has:

I believe that all education proceeds by the participation of the individual in the social consciousness of the race. This process begins unconsciously almost at birth, and is continually shaping the individual’s powers, saturating his consciousness, forming his habits, training his ideas, and arousing his feelings and emotions. Through this unconscious education the individual gradually comes to share in the intellectual and moral resources which humanity has succeeded in getting together. He becomes an inheritor of the funded capital of civilization. The most formal and technical education in the world cannot safely depart from this general process. It can only organize it or differentiate it in some particular direction.

This is not training for jobs. It is not a competition with other nations. It is a fundamental component of society and the basis for its progress. “Sorry, my dear,” but it also starts with the individual, as Dewey writes, and moves from there into society’s “funded capital of civilization.” It does not work when imaged from the top down, as the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) that Brooks extols tries to do. Structured from the needs of the top and not from those of the students at the bottom, it becomes training, not education Continue reading

More Far-Right Propaganda Posing as Scholarly Research

In this case, ALEC has not even bothered to use an academic think tank as a front. This map purports to show the economic outlook for the states. What it actually shows, of course, is simply the degree to which business policies in the states align with ALEC’s vision of an America with no corporate taxation, no collective bargaining, and no financial or environmental regulations.

Map of ALEC Study Continue reading