- Dr. Sebastián Plá of #UNAM | “Curriculum and Structural Violence: Teaching Social Studies in Latin America’s Secondary Schools”
- Sandra Mathison: Privatizing private schools should top list of funding changes
- The Fear Created by Precarious Existence in The Neoliberal World Discourages Critical Thinking / La peur créée par l’existence précaire dans le monde néolibéral décourage la pensée critique
- Public forum: How school funding matters
- Sandra Mathison explains how #VSB39 firing by #BCED Minister is political and partisan #bcpoli #UBCeduc ##UBCBEd2017 #ubc
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Dr. Sebastián Plá of #UNAM | “Curriculum and Structural Violence: Teaching Social Studies in Latin America’s Secondary Schools”
By Sandra Mathison
Opinion: With a public system still reeling from more than 15 years of cuts by the previous government, there is no excuse for funnelling billions of dollars to private schools.
As the B.C. education ministry rethinks how to fully and adequately fund the province’s schools, at the top of their list should be privatizing private schools by discontinuing public subsidies to independent schools.
Since 2013, the province has subsidized private schools to the tune of $2.6 billion. The subsidies for 2018-19 alone were $426 million, and projections for this school year are $436 million.
These subsidies to private schools have increased at an astronomical rate: funding increases (adjusted for inflation) to private schools have increased by 122.8 per cent since 2000-01, compared to a 15.9-per-cent increase in funding to public schools during this same period.
According to recent surveys by the Institute for Public Education, CUPE B.C. and the B.C. Humanist Association, most British Columbians believe public funding of private schools needs to end. In a poll that Insights West conducted for us in May, four in five British Columbians (78 per cent) oppose providing taxpayer funds for elite private schools. Sixty-nine per cent of British Columbians oppose funding to faith-based schools.
Let private schools be private, and let them deserve the label “independent schools.”
Private schools cost taxpayers by direct taxpayer-supported subsidies, but also by exemptions from paying property taxes, numerous personal tax benefits for individuals, and collecting large sums of tax-deductible donations.
Private schools also cost B.C. in non-economic ways. Faith-based schools are allowed to ignore human-rights laws and discriminate against employees based on marital status or sexual orientation. Our poll shows that few British Columbians are aware that faith-based schools are exempted from the B.C. Human Rights Code, but once they were aware of this, 81 per cent of respondents did not believe they should be allowed this exemption.
Let private schools be private, and let them deserve the label “independent schools.”
Private school admission processes segregate students by class and/or beliefs, rejecting students who don’t “fit” their values. These schools are therefore isolating students from peers who are not like them. Many B.C. taxpayers’ children would not be admitted to these private schools — because they can’t afford them, do not have academic credentials, or they are not suitable given the school’s philosophy.
Private schools reject the idea that schools ought to be about equity, about providing an education for all students regardless of their individual attributes.
If the education ministry needs a plan, they could immediately end subsidies to elite “Group 2” schools, those spending more per student than public schools and charging significant tuition fees. These are schools such as St. George’s in Vancouver and Shawnigan Lake on Vancouver Island.
Then they could phase out subsidies to faith-based schools over a short period of time, say two to three years.
The ministry should review private schools that serve needs not currently well met by the public schools (possibly, Indigenous schools and programs for students with special needs) and work toward integrating those schools/programs into the public education system. They should ensure there is sufficient funding provided to public schools to meet those needs.
And at the same time, tax exemptions that diminish revenue that could support public education need to change.
With a public school system still reeling from more than 15 years of cuts by the previous government, and students with special needs bearing the brunt of the underfunding, there is no excuse for funnelling billions of dollars to private schools. That money should be allocated to the public school system where it can help every child achieve their fullest potential.
Sandra Mathison is the executive director of the Institute for Public Education B.C., a professor of education at the University of B.C., and co-director of the Institute for Critical Education.
Sandra Mathison explains how #VSB39 firing by #BCED Minister is political and partisan #bcpoli #UBCeduc ##UBCBEd2017 #ubc
Sandra Mathison, The Globe and Mail, October 19, 2016– Education Minister Mike Bernier fired the Vancouver School Board on Monday morning, a shocking move illustrating how very differently the public and the politicians see the role of school boards. On the one hand the public sees school boards as advocates for their community and their schools. On the other hand the government sees school boards as technocrats appropriately constrained by the B.C. School Act to manage school districts.
Citizens go to the polls in an election year and vote for school trustees who will manage the school district, but voters also expect advocacy for the district, schools and children. The public does not see itself as simply electing bureaucrats; they elect champions. Greater parental involvement in schools was established in the 1970s and 80s with the creation of parent advisory committees giving members of the public every reason to believe their voices matter. With control vested in the politicians and educational bureaucracy of the moment, school trustee advocacy for well-funded, appropriate education is framed in relation to the current provincial party (the B.C. Liberals) and educational leadership (Minister of Education Bernier).
As shocking as firing the Vancouver School Board is, the provincial government’s action reflects a historical pattern of centralized education governance that has become ever more acute. By law, school boards are subordinate to the provincial government and charged with managing the budget and implementing the curriculum and standards set by the ministry. This change is not recent and began as early as the 1970s although escalated dramatically with Socred changes to school governance in the 1980s.
Firing school boards is draconian but it has happened before in British Columbia. In 1985, the Socreds fired both the Vancouver and Cowichan trustees for submitting needs-based budgets rather than complying with government-set spending limits. Provincial governments have made other changes to school boards that have outraged the electorate, such as the NDP’s 1995 plan to centralize schools and reduce the number of school boards from 75 to 37 (a plan only partly implemented and a reduction in the number of school districts to the current 60).
Even though firing a school board in B.C. is legal within a centralized education system, it is unmistakably a political act. The BC Liberals have been in an antagonistic relationship with local education authorities and other education constituencies such as the BC Teachers’ Federation for years. Firing the VSB trustees is a political move, but it is also a bureaucratic move that fosters the centralization of educational decision-making. It is easy to see this as merely a partisan move, rather than one that is both political and partisan.
Mr. Bernier accused the VSB trustees of spending too much time on advocacy and too little time on following the rules. Many Vancouver parents accuse the B.C. Liberals of flouting democracy for political ends.
This dramatic situation in Vancouver raises the question: Are school boards necessary? The answer has to be yes.
Read More: The Globe and Mail
Stephen Petrina & E. Wayne Ross, Vancouver Observer, October 7, 2016– Vancouver, the city of disparities, is faced with polar opposites in its educational system.
The contrast between K-12 schools and the university in Vancouver could not be more stark: The schools sinking in debt with rapidly declining enrolments and empty seats versus the university swimming in cash and bloating quotas to force excessive enrolments beyond capacity.
With central offices just 7km or 12 minutes apart, the two operate as if in different hemispheres or eras: the schools laying off teachers and planning to close buildings versus the university given a quota for preparing about 650 teachers for a glutted market with few to no jobs on the remote horizon in the largest city of the province.
There is a gateway from grade 12 in high school to grade 13 in the university but from a finance perspective there appears an unbreachable wall between village and castle.
The schools are begging for funds from the Liberals, who, after saying no to K-12, turn around to say yes to grades 13-24 and pour money into the University of British Columbia, no questions asked.
There may be two ministries in government, Education and Advanced Education; there is but one tax-funded bank account.
Read More: Vancouver Observer
#Marx, Engels and the Critique of Academic Labor: New issue of Workplace #ubcnews #UBCeduc #criticaleducation
Special Issue of Workplace
Karen Lynn Gregory & Joss Winn
Articles in Workplace have repeatedly called for increased collective organisation in opposition to a disturbing trajectory in the contemporary university… we suggest that there is one response to the transformation of the university that has yet to be adequately explored: A thoroughgoing and reflexive critique of academic labor.
Table of Contents
- Marx, Engels and the Critique of Academic Labor
Karen Lynn Gregory, Joss Winn
- Towards an Orthodox Marxian Reading of Subsumption(s) of Academic Labour under Capital
- Re-engineering Higher Education: The Subsumption of Academic Labour and the Exploitation of Anxiety
Richard Hall, Kate Bowles
- Taxi Professors: Academic Labour in Chile, a Critical-Practical Response to the Politics of Worker Identity
Elisabeth Simbürger, Mike Neary
- Marxism and Open Access in the Humanities: Turning Academic Labor against Itself
- Labour in the Academic Borderlands: Unveiling the Tyranny of Neoliberal Policies
Antonia Darder, Tom G. Griffiths
- Jobless Higher Ed: Revisited, An Interview with Stanley Aronowitz
Stanley Aronowitz, Karen Lynn Gregory
EDCP Seminar: Abraham DeLeon “A Schizophrenic Scholar out for Stroll: Multiplicities, Becomings, Conjurings”
Institute for Critical Education Studies
September 22, 2016
11:30am – 1:30pm
University of British Columbia
Curricular Discourses with Practical Implications:
Perspectives and Experiences From Spain & South America
This seminar brings together scholars from Spain and South America working within a variety of curriculum studies traditions to discuss curriculum issues in contexts ranging from elementary education to higher education. The seminar will be an opportunity to explore how curricular discourses have implications in educational practices in local, national, and global contexts.
A National Curriculum: Educational Standardization or Common Cultural Base
Renato Gazmuri, Assistant Professor, Universidad Diego Portales (Chile).
Dr. Gazmuri received his PhD at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (Spain)
Critical Literacy in the Social Studies Elementary Classroom
Breo Tosar (Spain)
PhD Student in Social Studies Education, Autonomous University of Barcelona
Human Rights in the Curriculum: Precarity and Complexity
Héctor Gómez (Chile)
PhD Student in Curriculum Studies, University of British Columbia
Challenges and Tensions in Curriculum Management: Theory and Practice
Public Seminar Sponsored by
Institute for Critical Education Studies
July 13, 2016
2125 Main Mall
University of British Columbia
Carolina Castro, Héctor Gómez, and Fernando Murillo, co-authors in the recently published book Desafíos y Tensiones en la Gestión Curricular: Teoría y Práctica [Challenges and Tensions in Curriculum Management: Theory and Practice] in Chile, will present their contributions to the discussion of curriculum design, development and implementation in the contexts of schools and higher education.
The book, co–edited by Gómez and Castro, gives voice to a variety of perspectives and experiences in schools and higher education. In this regard the authors ask: How is curriculum managed? Who is involved in the process and how? What authority do curriculum managers have, and how is power distributed in order to influence and make decisions on the curriculum? What effective spaces for innovation exist? How are perennial and new issues considered in the management of curriculum?
Bachelor in Education – Primary School Teacher, Master of Arts in Education and Curriculum. Head of the Curriculum Unit at Universidad Católica Silva Henríquez in Santiago, Chile.
Bachelor in Education – TEFL, Master of Arts in Education and Curriculum, UBC PhD student in Curriculum Studies
Bachelor in Education – Teacher of History and Social Sciences, Master of Arts in Education and Curriculum, UBC PhD Student in Curriculum Studies
Special issue: Educate. Agitate. Organize: New and Not-So-New Teacher Movements #highered #bced #criticaled
We are thrilled to launch this Special Issue of Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labour:
Special Issue of Workplace
Mark Stern, Amy E. Brown & Khuram Hussain
- Forward: The Systemic Cycle of Brokenness
- Tamara Anderson
- Introduction to the Special Issue: Educate. Agitate. Organize: New and Not-So-New Teacher Movements
- Mark Stern, Amy E. Brown, Khuram Hussain
- Principles to Practice: Philadelphia Educators Putting Social Movement Unionism into Action
- Rhiannon M Maton
- Teaching amidst Precarity: Philadelphia’s Teachers, Neighborhood Schools and the Public Education Crisis
- Julia Ann McWilliams
- Inquiry, Policy, and Teacher Communities: Counter Mandates and Teacher Resistance in an Urban School District
- Katherine Crawford-Garrett, Kathleen Riley
- More than a Score: Neoliberalism, Testing & Teacher Evaluations
- Megan E Behrent
- Resistance to Indiana’s Neoliberal Education Policies: How Glenda Ritz Won
- Jose Ivan Martinez, Jeffery L. Cantrell, Jayne Beilke
- “We Need to Grab Power Where We Can”: Teacher Activists’ Responses to Policies of Privatization and the Assault on Teachers in Chicago
- Sophia Rodriguez
- The Paradoxes, Perils, and Possibilities of Teacher Resistance in a Right-to-Work State
- Christina Convertino
- Place-Based Education in Detroit: A Critical History of The James & Grace Lee Boggs School
- Christina Van Houten
- Voices from the Ground
- Feeling Like a Movement: Visual Cultures of Educational Resistance
- Erica R. Meiners, Therese Quinn
- Construir Y No Destruir (Build and Do Not Destroy): Tucson Resisting
- Anita Fernández
- Existential Philosophy as Attitude and Pedagogy for Self and Student Liberation
- Sheryl Joy Lieb
- No Sermons in Stone (Bernstein) + Left Behind (Austinxc04)
- Richard Bernstein, Austinxc04
Sandra Mathison, Stephen Petrina & E. Wayne Ross, co-Directors
Institute for Critical Education Studies
E. Wayne Ross on The Courage of Hopelessness: Democratic Education in the Age of Empire #ubc100 #highered #bced
E. Wayne Ross
University of British Columbia
Friday, January 15th, 2016 12:30-2:00 p.m.
Scarfe Room 310
In this talk I argue there is a disconnect between the rhetoric and reality of democracy in North America that subverts traditional approaches to democratic education. The tropes that have historically dominated the discourse on democracy and democratic education now amount to selling students (and ourselves) a lie about history and contemporary life. Our challenge is to re-imagine our roles as educators and find ways to create opportunities for students to create meaningful personal understandings of the world. Education is not about showing life to people, but bringing them to life. The aim is not getting students to listen to convincing lectures by experts, but getting them to speak for themselves in order to achieve, or at least strive for an equal degree of participation and a more democratic, equitable, and justice future. This requires a new mindset, something I call dangerous citizenship.
E. Wayne Ross is Professor in the Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy at UBC. He has written and edited numerous books including: Critical Theories, Radical Pedagogies and Social Education (Sense, 2010); The Social Studies Curriculum: Purposes, Problems and Possibilities (4th Ed., SUNY Press, 2014) and Working for Social Justice Inside and Outside the Classroom (Peter Lang, 2016). He also edits the journals Critical Education, Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor, and Cultural Logic.
Early Edition, CBC News, November 24, 2015–A B.C. children’s advocacy group says the provincial government is failing the province’s youngest and poorest residents, with one of every five children living in poverty.
In a report published Tuesday, the First Call: B.C. Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition makes 21 recommendations to help reduce the child poverty rate to seven per cent or less by 2020 — including raising the minimum wage and welfare rates and adopting a $10-per-day childcare plan.
“It’s neglect to allow thousands of children to languish in poverty in this province when we know what would help and what will help,” said Adrienne Montani, provincial coordinator for First Call.
Poverty for children is especially dire in urban regions, with half of all B.C. youngsters in poverty living in Metro Vancouver, according to First Call’s report. However, children in rural regions are in trouble too. The report says more than one in two children on B.C.’s Central Coast live in poverty.
Single-parent families are also at a much greater risk of poverty, with 50.3 per cent of children from those families living in poverty, while only 13 per cent of children from two-parent families live in poverty, the report says.
The percentage of B.C. children living in poverty has barely changed since last year’s report from the same group. That report found 20.6 per cent of B.C. children in 2012 were living in poverty. In the report released Tuesday using 2013 data, First Call found that number to be 20.4 per cent [1 in 5 B.C. children are living in poverty].
“[The change] is so minute it’s hard to measure. We’re still talking about thousands of children in poverty in this province,” said Montani.
The national poverty rate for children according to the report is 19 per cent.
Montani says she wants to see the provincial government work on the issue of child poverty with a sense of urgency.
“I really don’t understand why B.C. is the last province in the country not to have a provincial poverty plan.”
Read More or Listen: CBC News
To the people of Europe,
In the face of the migration crisis over the last few months, Europe’s people demonstrated that they do not stand for a culture of fear, but for a culture of care. This idea now has to turn into a promise.
Now, more then ever, it is time to reach out again – responding to Friday’s violence with full-hearted, unquestioning openness, rather than with angst, distrust and anger.
On Friday, November 13, 2015, Europe was under attack. But it was not Paris, Europe, or the “West” that was under attack. What was under attack, and is under attack now, after the tragedy of Paris, is the inspiring, deeply touching care that people throughout Europe showed over the last few months – despite the shrill voices of a few.
In the very beginning of what is called the refugee crisis, a current of care and love ignited all Europe – and showed that this “crisis” was a crisis of governments, not of the people. You acted, where state action failed, and reached out in an effort of care and solidarity — with no regard to where people came from, or who they were. What mattered was reaching out a helping hand, And reaching out you did. Europeans stood up, raising their voices for those who had no standing and no voice.
Many people died on November 13, and the world was full of tears. But if we are not careful, there will be more violence and more tears. The people of Europe now stand at the precipice of a fundamental choice, a choice that will, without exaggeration, determine the fate of countless more lives.
We cannot respond to the terror of Paris with our own terror. We can not respond by putting up fences around Europe. We must not refuse to reach out to those who seek help, fleeing the same terror that swept over Paris. We can not give in to the fear that those who terrorize spread.
We are deeply concerned about how Europe and the world will react to this terror. Putting up fences, refusing helping hands, closing down where we need to be open, resorting to distrust where we should be faithful: This is what those who attacked us want. They did not attack Paris that night. They attacked what we stand for, what we belief with our whole heart: to be open to everyone, to help those who seek help, to be together in fraterinté .
But we are faithful: We saw how Europe can be. You proved to the world that Europe indeed can be a safe harbor in a stormy sea. When we now are faced with the painful catastrophe that happened in Paris, we cannot destroy the faith that the world, and particularly those who seek our help put in us. We are entrusted with a great responsibility: to care. This is who we are, and need to be.
Going forward, we must work together on many fronts:
- The media must not forget their responsibility for sobriety, avoiding reporting that fuels anger and xenophobia! And they must continue to report on the suffering of those who try to cross our borders, or who already live among us but without secure standing.
- Our governments must not respond to violence with violence. Governments must not give in to the hatred and frustration that pain so easily justifies. We must not repeat the mistakes of our history that ignited the terror in the first place. We must not become a place known for its fences, surveillance and paranoia. Europe much be a place and symbol of openness and freedom.
- And the people of Europe must remember their power and responsibility to become a model of civility for a new age. We must remember what was achieved in the response to the so-called migration crisis. We must remember that reaching out makes a difference – to individuals, and to the whole society we share
So, yes, we have faith: We believe that Europeans will hold high the ideals their societies are built upon.
We have faith that we will continue being touched by you.
As you will inspire us by your actions.
As you will continue to care.
With the Chair of BoG and Sauder School of Business administrators under investigation, UBC advises that now is the time to speculate about President Gupta and all University affairs, if not everything. As it should be at a research institution. As it should be with the economy in shambles.
Over the past few weeks, speculation on the sudden resignation of President Gupta has been impressive. For starters, here are some running reasons for the resignation:
- The University guesstimates that the resignation was a “leadership transition.”
- The FAUBC reports that the University also presumes that the President “wishes to return to the life of a Professor of Computer Science.”
- Martha is inclined to accept at face value that this was Arvind’s “decision to step down” and whatever the reason we should respect whatever the University says it is or isn’t.
- Jennifer suggests that in challenging Montalbano, Chair of BoG, the President lost a masculinity contest. In other words, he lost what the Romans called a ludi mingo (roughly translated as a p-ing game or contest).
- Wayne postulates that triskaidekaphobia finally took its toll on the President, the thirteenth in UBC’s history. The presidential hot-seat– think of the Spinal Tap drummer syndrome here.
- Eva fancies that the President was told by the Chair of BoG that his fountain would not spew higher than the Martha Piper Fountain, prominently configured on the highest point of campus at the centre of the Martha Piper Plaza. Alas, President Piper must be reinstalled. This reason adds missing clues and details to #4.
- The Ubyssey posits that the President might have found something foreboding in his “performance reports.” This may have required reading between the lines.
- Nassif presupposes that the President was yet another of the “victims of end runs by deans,” wherein there is a well-trodden path dating back more than a century.
- Charlie conjectures that Montalbano and the BoG evened the score by making Gupta’s tenure difficult after he canned or nudged out VP Ouillet.
- Tony has a suspicion that, post Gupta’s resignation, UBC leaders adopted PM Harper’s template of denying implication in the controversy.
- CUPE Locals believe that Gupta was “removed by the largely unelected Board of Governors.” Emphasis on “unelected.”
- Simona and Frances figure that administrators still left on campus have some answers. They gather that Gupta “didn’t treat administrators with the same care” as faculty members. Needy as they are, certain admin got anxious and jealous. “Arvind was alienating people one at a time,” one administrator confided. It was time for him to go back down to research and teaching.
- Andrew reckons that “there’s some kind of mutual agreement” at work. Nobody knows what this agreement is or if it was really mutual or just a fist-bump and not really an agreement in the official sense if it was just a wink wink to agree to disagree.
- ? [send us your reckons]
UBC says now is the time to speculate. Indeed, we’re hearing that a new motto for the next one hundred years at UBC is being bounced around in Central: Occasio Speculatio. After all, Tuum Est, the motto for the first hundred never recovered after the students in the 1960s dubbed it: Too Messed.
#UBC crisis of administration extends downward to bloated middle management #highered #caut #bced #ubcnews
The University of British Columbia’s current failures of academic governance may have been publicly signalled by the sudden resignation of President Gupta on 7 August, but the crisis of administration extends well back into the University’s recent past and down into the lower chain of command. In fact, the President’s resignation is just the tip of the iceberg. The failures and crises extend from the President’s Office through the deans down to the bloat of middle managers, assistant and associate deans. Most noticeably, UBC has been skirting and fumbling around Canada’s Federal Contractor’s Program to appoint its middle managers. One might conclude that favouritism, if not nepotism in cases, is common while searches bound by the Federal Program of employment equity are rare. For this rank of middle managers, appointments are made with no procedures and hence there is no input from faculty members or the wider academic community and reappointments are made with no evaluation or review.
Unlike policies governing the appointment of department heads and deans, which are regulated by searches and reviews, there is no University policy to regulate the appointment and reappointment of assistant and associate deans. UBC has 97 policies but suspiciously none to regulate the hiring of these middle managers. Why is this? And unlike other universities (e.g., Simon Fraser, Toronto), at UBC the deans have liberty to appoint middle managers at pleasure or whim. The result is a bloating of the assistant and associate dean ranks from 47 in 2000 to 72 in 2015— ostensibly all without searches or regard for policy. With no policies or searches to regulate or monitor qualifications, the result is a mixed bag and questionable levels of competence.
Faculty members were expecting President Gupta to clean up a mess. Cleaning house, he predictably ran into the resistance of status quo. The provosts and middle managers preferred to leave well enough alone. Consider this for instance:
On 19 September 2014, a few months into President Gupta’s appointment, I submitted a request to the Board of Governors to form a policy for hiring and reappointing assistant and associate deans. Basically, the request was to reign in these at whim appointments, curb the bloat of middle managers and align with fair hiring practices. Refusing to address the request, in October the BoG bounced it to University Counsel, which proceeded to ‘consult’ with the Provosts, Vancouver and Okanagan. On 12 January, I was told by University Counsel that the two Provosts, “who would be the Responsible Executives for such a policy do not consider this to be a priority.” In other words, employment equity does not apply to a large and bloated subset of management within the University. On 23 February and 30 March 2015 I followed up with renewed requests to the President’s Office. The President advised re-routing the request back to the Provost’s Office. I hesitated until the announcement of the Provost, pro tem. Sadly, unwilling to shake up status quo, on 24 June the new Provost repeated the old: “I also do not see it as a priority at this time.”
Although the provosts, and by prerogative the deans, do not consider employment equity and fair procedures “to be a priority” in the appointment of the University’s managers, for the balance of the University faculty and staff, this remains priority.
Bounced around the President’s Office for nearly a year, this basic request to align administrative appointments with hiring guidelines and peer universities has come full circle. The middle management bloat at UBC coincidentally began with President Piper’s initial appointment. Now, looking back and wondering how we got here, requests to deal with the administrative crisis are piling up, higher and deeper. Now, with President Piper back in office, this specific request lands on her desk, regardless of how and where it has been bounced.
With the Faculty Association of UBC calling for the resignation of the Chair of the BoG, perhaps this faculty governance body will make good on its responsibility to form meaningful policy. Top down or bottom up, its time to clean up UBC’s administrative mess, failure by failure, crisis by crisis. Sorry to say provosts, this actually is a priority.
Stephen Petrina, Sandra Mathison & E. Wayne Ross
The convergence of the casualization, fragmentation, intensification, segmentation, shifting and creep of academic work with the post-9/11 gentrificaton of criticism and dissent is arguably one of the greatest threats to academic freedom since the Nazi elimination of the Jewish professoriate and critique in 1933, Bantu Education Act’s reinforcement of apartheid in South Africa in 1952, and McCarthyism in Canada and the US in the 1950s and 1960s. In the history of education, this would be quite the claim yet the evidence seems to speak for itself. Academic work has been fragmented into piecemeal modes and intensified as academics absorbed, through amalgamation, traditional clerical staff and counseling work. The balance of the academic workforce has been reduced and casualized or segmented to an “at whim,” insecure, unsalaried part-time labor pool, the 8-hour workday and 40-hour academic workweek collapsed to 60-80 hours, and the primary locus of academic work shifted off-campus as the workplace crept into the home and its communal establishments. Academic stress— manifested as burnout through amalgamation and creep of work, and as distress through bullying, mobbing and victimization— underwrites increases in leaves of absence. Non-tenure track faculty are hit particularly hard, indicating “contingency or the precariousness of their position” as relentless stressors.
Nowadays, it’s whimsical to reminisce about work-life balance and promises that the academic workforce will be renewed as boomers retire with baited expectations, or that the workweek and workplace for salaried full-timers could be contained within the seduction of flextime and telecommuting. In many ways, the flexible workplace is the plan for boomers by boomers with both nest eggs and limits on retirement age breaking. As currency values, retirement portfolios, and savings spiral downward while dependent children and grandchildren and inflation spiral upward, incentives to retire erode. Precariously unemployed, underemployed and part-time academics aside, boomers still in the academic system are trended to face the biggest losses. As economic incentives to retire decrease, incentives for intellectual immortality and legacy management flourish with the boomers’ political leanings moving toward the center. One can hardly blame them.
Enthusiasts of anything “flexible” (learning, space, time, work, etc.) and everything “tele” (commuting, conference, learning, phone, work, etc.), academics readily workshift with additional liability but no additional remuneration— instead is an unquestioned acceptance of the “overtime exemption”— while the employer saves about $6,500 per year per worker in the tradeoff as worksite or workspace shifts from campus to home. The academic workweek is now conservatively 60 hours with many PT and FT reporting persistent 70-80 hour weeks. Perhaps academic women can finally have it all after putting in the 120 hour workweek. One reason institutions now cope with many fewer FT hires is that academics are all too willing to do the work of two. As Gina Anderson found a decade ago, “with apparently unconscious irony, many academics reported that they particularly valued the flexibility of their working week, in terms of both time and space… in the same breath as reporting working weeks in the order of 60 hours.” For most academic workers, the cost of flexibility is effectively a salary cut as overheads of electricity, heat, water, communication and consumables are shifted to the home. Carbon footprint reductions are a net benefit and for a minority, the savings of commuting and parking offset the costs of this homework or housework. What is the nature or implications of this increasing domestication of academic work and displacement of the academic workplace? For academic couples with or without children, the dynamics of housecohabitry, househusbandry or housewifery necessarily change as the academic workplace shifts and labor creeps into the home. With temptations to procrastinate on deluges of academic deadlines, academic homes have never been cleaner and more organized. Nevermind the technocreep of remote monitoring. Over the long run, although some administrators cling to the digital punch card and time stamp with Hivedesk, Worksnaps or MySammy, “smashing the clock” in the name of flextime and telework is about the best thing that ever happened to academic capitalism.
This is not exactly a SWOT analysis, where Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats are given due treatment. Rather, the focus is on this threat convergence as it resolves through historic displacements of the academic workplace and work. To what degree are the new policies for academic speech inscribed in academic work, regardless of where it’s done? As the academic workplace is increasingly displaced and distributed, are academic policies displaced and distributed as well? Observed at work, monitored at home and tracked in between—these are not so much choices as the cold reality of 21st century academic work.
Read More: Threat Convergence
New Workplace Issue #25
- Writing About Academic Labour
- Survival in the New Corporatized Academy: Resisting the Privatization of Higher Education
- The Radical Keynes: An Appraisal
- “A Multitude of Wedges:” Neoliberalism and Micro-Political Resistance in British Columbia’s Public Schools 2001-2014
- British Columbia Obstructs the Shock Doctrine: Struggle, Solidarity, and Popular Resistance
- Higher Education Reform in Bangladesh: An Analysis
Md Moazzom Hossain, Amir Md Khan
- Film Review of Economic Freedom in Action: Changing Lives
Sandra Ximena Delgado, Michelle Gautreaux
New Workplace Issue #24
- Academic Bullying and Mobbing: Introduction to the Special Issue
Institute for Critical Education Studies
- Of Sticks and Stones, Words that Wound, and Actions Speaking Louder: When Academic Bullying Becomes Everyday Oppression
- Beyond Bullies and Victims: Using Case Story Analysis and Freirean Insight to Address Academic Mobbing
Julie Gorlewski, David Gorlewski, Brad Porfilio
- Graduate Students as Proxy Mobbing Targets: Insights from Three Mexican Universities
Florencia Peña Saint Martin, Brian Martin, Hilde Eliazer Aquino López, Lillian von der Walde Moheno
- Bullying in Academia Up Close and Personal: My Story
- Mobbing in the Context of a Woman’s Life
Rachel Morrison Kenney
- Pathogenic Versus Healthy Biofilms: A Metaphor for Academic Mobbing
Antonio Pedro Fonseca
- Threat Convergence: The New Academic Work, Bullying, Mobbing and Freedom
Stephen Petrina, Sandra Mathison, E. Wayne Ross