Category Archives: Corporate University

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

E. Wayne Ross  was recently interviewed about the impact of neoliberal capitalism on schools, universities, and education in general by Mohsen Abdelmoumen, an Algerian-based journalist.

Over the course of the interview he discussed a wide-range of issues, including: the fundamental conflict between neoliberalism and participatory democracy; the Global Education Reform Movement (GERM) and the possibilities of transforming schools and universities into forces for progressive change and, in particular, academic freedom and free speech on campus, schools as illusion factories, curriculum as propaganda; what it means to be a dangerous citizen; and the role of intellectuals/teachers as activists.

The interview has been published in English and French, links below.

The Fear Created by Precarious Existence in The Neoliberal World Discourages Critical Thinking –  American Herald Tribune

La peur créée par l’existence précaire dans le monde néolibéral décourage la pensée critique – Algérie Résistance II

La peur créée par l’existence précaire dans le monde néolibéral décourage la pensée critique – Palestine Solidarité

 

#Marx, Engels and the Critique of Academic Labor: New issue of Workplace #ubcnews #UBCeduc #criticaleducation

Marx, Engels and the Critique of Academic Labor

Special Issue of Workplace
Edited by
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
    Krystian Szadkowski
  • 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
    David Golumbia
  • 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

Threat Convergence: The New Academic Work by Petrina, Mathison & Ross #highered #criticaled

THREAT CONVERGENCE:
THE NEW ACADEMIC WORK, BULLYING, MOBBING AND FREEDOM

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: Reforming Academic #Labor, Resisting Imposition, K12 and #HigherEd

New Workplace Issue #25

Reforming Academic Labor, Resisting Imposition, K12 and Higher Education

Workplace and Critical Education are published by the Institute for Critical Education Studies. Please consider participating as author or reviewer. Thank you.

New Workplace Issue: Academic Bullying & Mobbing #academicfreedom #ubc #aaup

New Workplace Issue #24

Academic Bullying & Mobbing

Workplace and Critical Education are published by the Institute for Critical Education Studies. Please consider participating as author or reviewer. Thank you.

Symposium: Public Engagement and the Politics of Evidence in an Age of Neoliberalism and Audit Culture #highered #criticaled #caut #aaup

Public Engagement and the Politics of Evidence in an Age of Neoliberalism and Audit Culture

July 23-25, 2015

Faculty of Education, University of Regina

This symposium will examine accelerating trends in higher education: neoliberalism, the politics of evidence, and the audit culture. In an age in which value is often equated with accountancy, we will examine the place in the academy for public intellectualism, community-engagement, Indigenous epistemologies, and how the impact of our scholarship is, and ought to be, justly assessed. Invited presenters will provoke lively discussion, but going beyond discussion, and blurring the lines between presenter and audience member, participants will be invited to engage actively with other presenter/participants in attendance for the purpose of effecting changes at their home institutions. Opportunities will be available for reconsidering and strategizing academic issues such as faculty criteria documents, measurement rankings, traditional impact factors, and other academic matters affected by the politics of austerity, neoliberalism, and new management technologies. Action will also be encouraged through submissions to a special issue of in education (the University of Regina Faculty of Education’s journal), potentially collaborating on an edited book, TED-style dissemination videos, producing a list of recommendations, developing examples of inclusive faculty criteria documents, possibly developing a community impact factor as an alternative to journal impact factor metrics, and further actions as collectively discussed at the symposium.

Questions to be explored include:

  • What counts as scholarship and why?
  • How do we achieve accountability in an age of accountancy?
  • How do we measure research impact, (i.e., journal impact factor vs community and policy impact)?
  • Impact for whom?
  • Who and how do we determine whose evidence and what research is legitimate?
  • What can be done? How do we effect change to university practices?

#Workplace preprints available #criticaled #highered #ices

Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor
Preprints Available

Embarrassing recent events in Canadian higher education #cdnpse #GeorgeRammell #RobertBuckingham @usask

I’ll admit to a quaint hope that universities are still places where dialogue and dissent are both possible and desirable, but two incidents in the last week leave me scratching my head. The first is the theft of professor George Rammell’s sculpture by the Capilano University administration, and the second is the firing of Robert Buckingham, Dean of the School of Public Health at the University of Saskatchewan. The issues in the two cases are not the same, but what both share is an unbelievable authoritarianism on the part of the upper administration, a willingness to trample on academic freedom and the absolute intolerance of resistance or disagreement about program cuts and restructuring. The point is not whether each of these universities plans for budget cutting and trimming are appropriate (that would be a different post), but the response to faculty and middle management who DARE to disagree with the upper administration. If this doesn’t have a chilling effect on everyone in Canadian higher education, well we are all being just too polite.

THE CASE OF THE MISSING SCULPTURE

At Capilano University there have been severe program cuts. One program area in which cuts are deep is the arts. George Rammell, sculpture instructor, used his scholarly form of expression to comment on those cuts ~ he created Blathering on in Krisendom, a work in progress  depicting Capilano University president Kris Bulcroft wrapped in a U.S. flag with a poodle. The sculpture went missing last week:

“I immediately called security and the guard told me that orders were given by the top level of the Administration to seize it. I could hardly believe my ears. The Administration had ordered my piece removed off campus to an undisclosed location, without any consultation or prior discussion. I was shocked and not sure if this was Canada,” Rammell stated (as reported in the Georgia Straight).

Jane Shackell, chair of the Board of Governors, released a statement saying that Capilano was “committed to the open and vigorous discourse that is essential in an academic community.” But she had the sculpture removed because it was “workplace harassment of an individual employee, intended to belittle and humiliate the president.” A post for another time, but this might well be the most egregious, inappropriate use of respectful workplace rhetoric to create a workplace where dialogue, dissent, and discourse are not allowed.

Of course, Rammell’s work is easy for the University to steal, but the parallel for some of us might be an administration that comes to your office and wipes all of the files for that critical analysis of higher education book you are working on from your computer. After being AWOL for a week, Capilano University has agreed to return Rammell’s work, but has banned the sculpture from campus and Rammell calls that censorship. It is and it isn’t harassment either. So much for academic freedom.

THE SILENCE OF THE DEANS

Then comes the news, Robert Buckingham, Dean of the School of Public Health at the University of Saskatchewan was fired, relieved of his professorial appointment and tenure, and escorted of the campus ~ for disagreeing publicly with the administration’s restructuring and budget cutting plan, TransformUS.

In discussions of TransformUS, middle managers were ordered to get in line and on board with the plan, and threatened if they spoke publicly against it. Here’s the email from the provost:

 

That a University would want deans who are lackeys and submissive to the upper administration’s “messaging” says a great deal about that administration. Unlike the CapU incident, this is less about academic freedom and all about the importance of maintaining an openness to dialogue and disagreement within the University. Such a heavy handed administrative approach assaults our sensibilities about how even the modern, corporatized U operates. On top of all that, the termination of Buckingham comes a mere five weeks from his retirement and is amazingly mean-spirited.

CAUT director, Jim Turk said:

What the president of the University of Saskatchewan has done is an embarrassment to the traditions and history of the University of Saskatchewan and it’s an embarrassment to post-secondary education across Canada. It’s inexcusable.

He’s right about that!

CFP: Educate, Agitate, Organize! Teacher Resistance Against Neoliberal Reforms (Special Issue of Workplace)

Educate, Agitate, Organize! Teacher Resistance Against Neoliberal Reforms

Call for Papers

Special Issue
Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor

Guest Editors:
Mark Stern, Colgate University
Amy Brown, University of Pennsylvania
Khuram Hussain, Hobart and William Smith Colleges

I can tell you with confidence, one year later [from the Measure of Progress test boycott in Seattle schools], I know where our actions will lead: to the formation of a truly mass civil rights movement composed of parents, teachers, educational support staff, students, administrators, and community members who want to end high-stakes standardized testing and reclaim public education from corporate reformers.—Jesse Hagopian, History Teacher and Black Student Union Adviser at Garfield High School, Seattle

As many of us have documented in our scholarly work, the past five years have witnessed a full-fledged attack on public school teachers and their unions. With backing from Wall Street and venture philanthropists, the public imaginary has been saturated with images and rhetoric decrying teachers as the impediments to ‘real’ change in K-12 education. Docu-dramas like Waiting For ‘Superman,’ news stories like Steve Brill’s, “The Teachers’ Unions’ Last Stand,” in The New York Times Magazineand high profile rhetoric like Michelle Rhee’s mantra that students, not adults, need to be “put first” in education reform, all point to this reality: teachers face an orchestrated, billion dollar assault on their professional status, their knowledge, and their abilities to facilitate dialogical spaces in classrooms. This assault has materialized and been compounded by an austerity environment that is characterized by waning federal support and a narrow corporate agenda. Tens of thousands of teachers have suffered job loss, while thousands more fear the same.

Far from being silent, teachers are putting up a fight. From the strike in Chicago, to grassroots mobilizing to wrest control of the United Federation of Teachers in New York, to public messaging campaigns in Philadelphia, from boycotts in Seattle to job action and strikes in British Columbia, teachers and their local allies are organizing, agitating and confronting school reform in the name of saving public education. In collaboration with parents, community activists, school staff, students, and administrators, teacher are naming various structures of oppression and working to reclaim the conversation and restore a sense of self-determination to their personal, professional, and civic lives.

This special issue of Workplace calls for proposals to document the resistance of teachers in the United States, Canada, and globally. Though much has been written about the plight of teachers under neoliberal draconianism, the reparative scholarship on teachers’ educating, organizing, and agitating is less abundant. This special issue is solely dedicated to mapping instances of resistance in hopes of serving as both resource and inspiration for the growing movement.

This issue will have three sections, with three different formats for scholarship/media. Examples might include:

I. Critical Research Papers (4000-6000 words)

  • Qualitative/ethnographic work documenting the process of teachers coming to critical consciousness.
  • Critical historiographies linking trajectories of political activism of teachers/unions across time and place.
  • Documenting and theorizing teacher praxis—protests, community education campaigns, critical agency in the classroom.
  • Critical examinations of how teachers, in specific locales, are drawing on and enacting critical theories of resistance (Feminist, Politics of Love/Caring/Cariño, Black Radical Traditions, Mother’s Movements, and so on).

II. Portraits of Resistance

  • Autobiographical sketches from the ground. (~2000 words)
  • Alternative/Artistic representations/Documentations of Refusal (poetry, visual art, photography, soundscapes)

III. Analysis and Synthesis of Various Media

  • Critical book, blog, art, periodical, music, movie reviews. (1500-2000 words)

400-word abstracts should be sent to Mark Stern (mstern@colgate.edu) by May 15, 2014. Please include name, affiliation, and a very brief (3-4 sentences) professional biography.

Notifications of acceptance will be sent out by June 15. Final drafts will be due October 1, 2014. Please note that having your proposal accepted does not guarantee publication. All final drafts will go through peer-review process. Authors will be notified of acceptance for publication by November 1.

Please direct all questions to Mark Stern (mstern@colgate.edu).

Eastern Michigan U Faculty resist neoliberal education policies and fight to keep public education public!

Support Eastern Michigan University faculty in resisting the neoliberal agenda for teacher education. Sign their petition and check out the protest and teach-in on December 3, Welch Hall, EMU.

Petition Background
The leadership of Eastern Michigan University (EMU) entered into an inter-local agreement that created the Education Achievement Authority (EAA). They did so in a manner that fostered assumptions that members of the education faculty at Eastern were actively engaged in the EAA — misleading the citizens of the state; the professional educators of the state; AND the students of the University. The fact is EMU faculty were not invited to give input into such an arrangement or asked for our expertise as researchers and professionals in the complex and varied aspects of education (school administration, teacher development, and student achievement) as the EAA was established. To date, the faculty have been excluded from any direct participation in the creation or implementation of its policies, operating procedures, professional development, curricula or pedagogical practices, many of which the faculty find questionable at best.

Furthermore, the faculty find the undermining of democratic processes represented in the creation of a district outside the purview of public decision-making and oversight to be in direct conflict with this university’s mission and our legacy as a champion of public education. This violation of our principles is now beginning to affect our historically strong relationship with local schools.

Thus, the faculty find Eastern Michigan University’s participation in the Education Achievement Authority unacceptable. These negative impacts on our reputation, our local relationships, our students and programs, the clear effect on enrollments and thus revenue to the university are a repudiation of Eastern Michigan University’s legacy as a champion of public education and a leader in the preparation of educational professionals. The faculty implores you to remedy this situation as quickly as possible by unanimously voting to withdraw from the contract creating the Education Achievement Authority.

Protest & Teach-In
Protest and teach-in on Tuesday December 3rd outside Welch Hall. Your presence will help illustrate the misstep that the EMU administration made as they entered this agreement under a cloak of arrogance.

There are two half-hour protests outside Welch Hall for you to participate in (one or both):

– 7:45 to 8:15 to coincide with the 8 AM start of the EAA Audit Committee meeting; and,
– 8:45 to 9:15 to coincide with the 9 AM start of the EAA Executive Committee and Regular Board meeting!

There will be a Teach-In to follow from 10-12:30 at Halle Auditorium.

Introduction and Welcome
Dr. Steve Camron, Special Education
Dr. Rebecca Martusewicz, Teacher Education

Panel 1: 10:10-11:00
Dr. Tom Pedroni, Wayne State University
Rep. Ellen Lipton, MI House of Representatives
Ms. Michelle Fecteau, MI State Board of Education
Ms. Elena Herrada, Detroit Public Schools Board of Ed.

Panel 2: 11:00-11:30
Ms. Brooke Harris, Former EAA Teacher
Mr. Christopher Turkaly, Former EAA Teacher
Mr. Delbert Glaze, Former EAA Teacher

Panel 3: 11:30-12:00
EMU Faculty

Discussion: 12:00-12:30

Sign petition: Eastern Michigan University Leadership: Preserve the Integrity of the University as a Leader in the Preparation of Educational Professionals

Manifesto for universities that live up to their missions

Manifesto for universities that live up to their missions (to sign click here)

Publicly subsidized universities ought to fulfil three missions – teaching, research, and service to the community – as defined by their objectives and their mutual implication.

For signatories of the present manifesto these missions have the following objectives:

  • preserving knowledge as accumulated through history, producing new knowledge and passing on both old and new knowledge to as many students as possible along with the questions they have prompted;
  • training students in research methodologies, in critical analysis of the social consequences of scientific issues, practices and findings, in the development of free thinking, avoiding any form of dogma, with the common good as an objective as well as the acquisition of competence for a responsible professional activity;
  • contributing to the reflection of social systems on themselves, particularly on the kind of model they use for their own development.

Nowadays current modes of governance in universities run against the above definition of what a university ought to be. Their mantras are efficiency, profitability, competitiveness. Universities are invited to become the agents of maximum production in as little time as possible, to turn out scientists and professionals that are competitive, flexible and adapted to market demands – the improvement of humanity is then measured in terms of economic growth and technical breakthroughs, and the progress of universities in terms of ‘critical mass.’

Consequently, universities are subjected to more and more frequent international evaluations and audits that measure their respective productivity and contribute to their positions in various rankings.

Though they do not deny that university practices and their effects have to be assessed, the signatories note that current evaluations are based on narrow criteria, that are often formal and fashioned on standardized practices; that the competition they foster among universities leads to a race to publish, with the number of published papers sometimes prevailing on their interest; that procedures involve cumbersome red tape with recurrent reminders that the logic universities have to comply with is the logic of markets and globalization.

Beyond the minimum endowments granted to universities, the selection of research that can be financed is largely determined by calls for tenders and the size and reputation of the teams that apply. Such a situation distorts the purpose of university research, which ought to be open to projects carried by small, relatively unknown teams. Rather, it favours the submission of well presented projects rather than of projects that could further knowledge.

Subsidies granted to universities often depend on student populations. In the case of a closed envelope, this leads to ‘hunting for students,’ which in turn may entail a lesser quality teaching as well as the risk of doing away with important but small departments.

University teachers are expected to explain what profession-related forms of expertise they are to develop in students. While it is imperative to teach students the skills they will need in their professional activities, highlighting these skills might lead teachers to overly stress utilitarian and saleable knowledge at the expense of basic sciences and of reflexive and critical knowledge.

The involvement of university staff in domestic management and representation is more and more numerous and encroaches on services to society at large.

The above mentioned elements contribute to increase the strain to which university staff are subjected and may possibly destroy the ideals of once passionate teachers and researchers.

To support their vision of the university, the signatories of the present manifesto call for the following measures:

  • making sure that university research is allowed the kind of freedom that is necessary to any finding, the right to waver and the right to fail;
  • reaching a correct balance between critical and operational knowledge and between general and profession-related skills in the various study courses offered by the universities;
  • promoting services to society;
  • reining in the production of red-tape, the rat-race and other stress factors that prevent university staff from carrying out their duties properly;
  • assessing university practices and their consequences in view of the specific objectives of universities and not of market expectations.

To meet these requirements they consider that it is necessary:

  • to assert the objectives of the university as defined above;
  • to provide global subsidies for higher education;
  • to use criteria for awarding public money that promote diversity in research and that preserve the quality and plurality of study courses on offer.

They call upon:

Public authorities and academic bodies to recognize that universities ought to try and achieve objectives that are in tune with their identity and social function, and provide the means thereof;

University staff to oppose measures and practices that go against the positions defined in this manifesto; to promote an in-depth analysis of the growing unease among university staff, of its causes and of possible solutions; to participate in concrete actions – to be decided on depending on contexts – to put forward their positions and proposals wherever necessary; to support movements and actions outside the university that aim at the common good.

(to sign click here)

Chomsky sounds off… the assault on public education

Not a new message, but a good op ed nonetheless. Chomsky describes the “failure by design” that has lead to the current financial crises in higher education, including the lack of public moneys to fund PUBLIC education, as well as the push for privitization, and the corporatization of higher education.