Santorum’s Call for Campus Censors

Rick Santorum certainly knows how to pander to an audience. He’s running far to the right in Iowa for the Republican Presidential nomination, and so he goes after those darn librul professors:

“Let’s look at colleges and universities,” he said. “They’ve become indoctrination centers for the left. Should we be subsidizing that?” He also criticized Harvard University. Noting that its motto is “Veritas,” he said that “they haven’t seen truth at Harvard in 100 years.”

Santorum apparently hates Harvard because he was invited to speak there for David Horowitz’s Islamofascism Awareness Week and a few students protested his anti-Muslim views. That qualifies him to judge all of the views expressed at Harvard since 1911 as completely false.

When it comes to defunding colleges, as Inside Higher Ed reported back in 2006, Santorum said exactly the opposite in a speech to college officials:

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Teaching Under Attack: Call for Articles

Call for articles:
transFORMATIONS
The Journal of Inclusive Scholarship and Pedagogy
ANNOUNCES A SPECIAL ISSUE

TEACHING UNDER ATTACK

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS
The editors of Transformations seek articles (5,000-10,000 words) and media essays (overviews on books, film, video, performance, art, music, websites, etc. 3,000 to 5,000 words) and items for an occasional feature, “The Material Culture of Teaching,” which offer historical perspectives on pedagogy or examine material practices/artifacts of pedagogy.

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Limbaugh’s Class Warfare Vs. College Presidents

Rush Limbaugh normally hates class warfare. So it was a bit unusual today when he came out and denounced millionaires. Of course, Limbaugh only hates one particular kind of millionaire: college presidents.

Limbaugh declared,

the bottom line here is 36 college presidents make a million dollars a year or more. Where is Occupy Wall Street? Has somebody told them about this? The tuition keeps going up. We keep pointing it out here. The tuition keeps going up. Nobody ever talks about the greed of Big Education, ’cause that’s where Obama’s buddies are.

Actually, that’s where one of Limbaugh’s buddies is. He specifically exempted from his criticism Larry Arnn, the president of Hillsdale College (which spends vast sums of money advertising on Limbaugh’s show). Arnn earned $608,615 in compensation in 2009, making him the second highest paid college president in the state of Michigan despite running a tiny and not very prestigious college.

Limbaugh added,

So Big Education keeps raising prices. Tuition keeps going up. As we know, the Occupy crowd and a lot of students all over the country are unhappy with the student loan situation. And never once do we hear about the greed of Big Education. Never once do we hear about the millionaires that are the college presidents.

In reality, lots of progressives on campus criticize the excessive salaries of college presidents and other administrators. I’d love to see colleges adopt a practice of never paying college presidents more than twice the median professor’s salary. Colleges would have much better presidents if they stopped paying them so much money.

Limbaugh concluded,

I’m really struck by the fact that nobody ever talks about the greed in Big Education, and the students, the children, the future are going into hock. Student debt, loan debt, all of this, and what’s the solution? It’s never to be critical of the institutions of higher learning for charging too much.

Actually, there’s an enormous amount of criticism of high tuition at colleges. Many Occupy protests on campus are devoted to opposing tuition hikes. In fact, just today on Truthout, Henry Giroux writes about students “protesting the ways in which universities now resemble corporations.” As Giroux notes,

higher education has been increasingly corporatized and militarized and subject to market-driven values and managerial relations that treat faculty and students as entrepreneurs and clients, while reducing knowledge to the dictates of an audit culture, and pedagogy to a destructive and reductive instrumental rationality.

Rush Limbaugh was inaccurate, as usual, to attack the Occupy movement for ignoring the institutions of higher education. But he was right to question the high salaries for college presidents. It’s too bad that Limbaugh only questions excessive salaries when he dislikes the institution someone works at. We need to question the misguided priorities of Big Education, even while we denounce the cynical attacks of Rush Limbaugh who want to destroy higher education because of crazed conspiracy theories that “most citadels of higher learning are the incubators of Marxism, liberalism, socialism, that’s where the indoctrination takes place.”

Crossposted at LimbaughBook.

An American Prophet in a Foreign Land

I haven’t read David Graeber’s new book, Debt, which is leading to him being praised as “a prophet of the Occupy Wall Street movement.” What’s most interesting to me is that today’s leading academic voice of the issues sparking the 99% Movement is an American who teaches in England.
And that’s because Graeber was pushed out of Yale University in 2005 in a prominent case that sparked protests because his political activism and anarchist views apparently played a role in Yale’s decision to dump him. The best any of Yale’s defenders could come up with was essentially to declare that Graeber probably wasn’t mistreated for his political views because all junior faculty at Yale are treated like garbage.

In two recent cases, at Roosevelt University and Harvard University, faculty have taken the lead in violating the academic freedom of instructors who said offensive things in or out of the classroom. It may be tempting not to defend the freedom of professors who say deeply offensive (or even horrifying and bigoted) things. But the danger when we start to allow exceptions to the protections of academic freedom is that brilliant scholars like Graeber are likely to suffer the consequences of a an academic regime where political dissent is squelched.

Faculty Should Choose Their Unions

I don’t often agree with Robert Weissberg, but he makes a lot of very good points at Minding the Campus about faculty unionization at the University of Illinois. Weissberg refers to a Chronicle of Higher Education article that emphasizes the tensions between adjuncts and tenure-track faculty among faculty union groups. But the reality is that all faculty need to stand together, and seek to protect all faculty against a common foe.

Weissberg strongly criticizes the University of Illinois administration for spending large sums of money in an attempt to prohibit adjuncts and tenure-track faculty from being in the same union:

Who should have a right to determine union membership — the boss or the employees? The answer seems obvious, given that unions are the voluntary coming together of workers who know that they and only they can protect their rights and working conditions. The administration of the University of Illinois should stop trying to divide and conquer its faculty and come to the table to begin collective bargaining in good faith.

Graduate Students Attempt to Revive “Comatose” NLRB, Demand a Decision on Union Recognition Case

By Jay Sosa

Yesterday, graduate students from the University of Chicago handed a petition to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) based in Washington DC, asking that they rule on the case of the New York University (NYU) graduate employee union by December 31. Sound confusing? Welcome to NLRB-land, where the board that adjudicates labor disputes has been understaffed and over-politicized for some time. Normally composed of five members, the NLRB has suffered from attrition in the past three years, as members’ terms have expired without replacements. Senate Republicans have refused to confirm President Obama’s appointments to the board, and the Supreme Court ruled that the NLRB can only make decisions while composed of a three-member quorum.

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Revisiting the Gainful Employment Rules

In June, the Department of Education released its new rules about for-profit colleges. The regulations are known as the “gainful employment” rules, because they seek to ensure that graduates are adequately prepared for the workforce (and prepared to pay off their student loans) once they leave school. The final rules were weaker than those originally proposed by the Department of Education, and now we know why–the for-profit industry lobbied heavily to dilute the rules, according to a new investigation in the New York Times.

Here’s the story in short: The Department of Education proposed tough new rules on for-profits. These rules could take away federal student loan eligibility for schools that aren’t adequately preparing their students for jobs. Since most for-profits get the vast majority of their funding from federal loans (up to 90% in some cases), this would be a serious challenge to the for-profit business model. So, rather than reform their practices to ensure higher quality of education, the for-profits amassed an army of advocates to lobby the Obama administration:

Officials at the White House and the Education Department described the industry’s aggressive efforts as unusual even by Washington standards. Mr. Sunstein, the White House official, characterized the intensity as “extreme.”

And it worked. The final rules were substantially weaker, and misbehaving schools won’t be punished until 2015 at the very earlier. This was the subject of my very first @forprofitwatch tweet.

Of course, many of us suspected as much at the time – what other explanation could there be for the sudden shift? Still, it’s interesting to see how the industry was fighting against the regulation–and how threatened they felt by the proposed rules. I only wish student advocates had the power and influence that the for-profits do.

If you are interested in exactly how the rules were watered down, Inside Higher Ed wrote a great summary at the time of the proposed rules compared to the final ones.

Follow me on twitter for more news from the for-profit college industry: @forprofitwatch

New GAO Report Shows Mixed Picture on For-Profits, Part II

Last week, I wrote about a new report out from the General Accountability Office that investigated educational practices at for-profit schools. The report is mixed, with some schools looking good, and others that appear willing to violate academic standards in order to pass and graduate students. The context for this investigation is that about a year ago, the GAO released a similar report which it later had to make small corrections to, giving the for-profit industry a PR victory.

This week I’ll look at how representatives from the for-profit sector are reacting to the new report. No surprise here: they are going on the offensive. And the main weapon they are using is the previous GAO report. It’s a misleading attack, since none of the people who worked on the previous reported worked on this one. Penny Lee is the managing director of the Coalition for Educational Success, one of the larger organizations that promote for-profits. In a press release, she responded to the report using a classic ad hominem attack:

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Oral Arguments in Academic Freedom Case

A critical legal case affecting the academic freedom of professors will be argued on Thursday, December 8 before the 7th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals in Chicago.

Loretta Capeheart is a professor of Justice Studies at Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) who alleges that the administration retaliated against her for defending the rights of students protesting on campus. A federal district court dismissed her case in a summary judgment, invoking the Supreme Court’s infamous Garcetti v Ceballos ruling to argue that public colleges can punish professors for statements related to their official duties. The AAUP has filed an amicus brief arguing against the court’s ruling.

Oral arguments on behalf of the AAUP’s amicus brief will be held before the 7th Circuit on Thursday December 8 at 9:30 am, at the federal courthouse in Chicago, 219 S. Dearborn, 27th floor. Capeheart and supporters will be gathering at 9am in front of the courthouse.

A Bad Idea for Student Loans

Glenn Reynolds has a remarkably bad idea for dealing with student loans:

Student loans, if they are to continue, should be made dischargeable in bankruptcy after five years — but with the school that received the money on the hook for all or part of the unpaid balance. Up until now, the loan guarantees have meant that colleges, like the writers of subprime mortgages a few years ago, got their money up front, with any problems in payment falling on someone else. Make defaults expensive to colleges, and they’ll become much more careful about how much they lend and what kinds of programs they offer.

No, colleges won’t be more careful about how much they lend. They’ll become much more careful about who they admit. Financial discrimination in admissions is already openly practiced by all but a few elite private colleges. Put colleges on the hook for student loans, and suddenly you’ll find a massive effort to recruit the richest students whose parents can pay tuition or bail them out from bankruptcy.

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