Inconvenient Truths Concerning Human Rights Issues and the UBC/PNU Collaboration (Dr. M. K. Bryson)

The following was posted to the UBC Faculty of Education Listserv today. I am re-posting on WTBHNN with permission of the author.

Inconvenient Truths Concerning Human Rights Issues and the UBC/PNU Collaboration
by Dr. M.K. Bryson

Professor and Director, Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice (GRSJ), Faculty of Arts & Professor, Department of Language and Literacy Education (LLED), Faculty of Education, University of British Columbia

Archive: http://ubc.academia.edu/MaryKBryson

A recent Globe & Mail article “Cozying up to Saudi Arabia: How can that be ‘principled’?” raises interesting questions concerning the ethics of international development, human rights, and “for profit” post-secondary initiatives with which we are all, now, already entangled in light of the recent $23 million contractual relationship between the UBC Faculty of Education and Princess Noora University, Saudi Arabia.
http://bog2.sites.olt.ubc.ca/files/2014/11/4.5_2014_11_Teaching-Contract-with-PNU.pdf

Specific human rights violations (see below) related to this UBC Faculty of Education graduate courses/program being provided at PNU, by UBC faculty and graduate students, are rationalized in the contract by means of an argument about a putative “benefit” to “the advancement of women in Saudi” — an argument that finds no support from Gender and Development experts in the Arab Gulf region.

“There are some reputational risks associated with providing services in Saudi Arabia given the country’s stance on some human rights issues. However the opportunity to positively impact human rights through the education and advancement of women in Saudi Arabia outweigh these risks.” UBC/PNU Contract:
http://bog2.sites.olt.ubc.ca/files/2014/11/4.5_2014_11_Teaching-Contract-with-PNU.pdf

What kinds of human rights abuses and problems lurk in the UBC-PNU contract? An incomplete list includes:

UBC’s Role as a Regulatory Authority in LGB/T Discrimination. “Homosexuality” (or being identified as “transgender”) is a criminal offence punishable by the death penalty in Saudi Arabia. The proposal we have read anticipates that UBC will hire or appoint a Project Manager, Project Assistant as well as hire individual Faculty and Graduate Students to carry out work, on behalf of the UBC, on the ground at PNU. And yet the Canadian hiring at UBC must take place in such a way as to be in compliance with Provincial and Federal labour laws that govern hiring. How then, would the proposed UBC/PNU plan be executed, where, in Canada, UBC hires a Project Coordinator, or Faculty or Graduate Students, to jobs in such a manner as to exclude, up front, LGB/T applicants? UBC then, takes on the responsibilities of a Regulatory Authority in respect of its own participation in a program that can not include staff, faculty or students who are openly LGB or Transgender. How can I — for example — as an openly and emphatically queer and trans* person, participate? What kinds of conditions of speaking would be required and how do those conditions map on to Canadian Charter rights?

One of the recent Trinity Western University cases about its Law School that excludes LGB/T students and faculty took the form of a case against the BC Ministry of Advanced Education, in light of its approval, as a regulatory authority, of the Trinity Western Law School. In short order, the BC Ministry of Advanced Education stepped away from its approval of TWU and actually revoked its approval. This is an interesting case to ponder in relation to the role of UBC, in light of its approval, as a regulatory authority, of the UBC-PNU program in full knowledge of myriad forms of human rights abuses and problems.

What then, is an ethical mode of engagement with a for-profit program in Saudi Arabia? That none of these elements of participation have been to-date spelled out by the University of British Columbia is a concern.

State-based Anti-Semitism. Until very recently, both “Jewish people” and people with “An Israeli passport holder or a passport that has an Israeli arrival/departure stamp” were listed on the official Saudi Arabia Tourism website as groups of people to whom Visas would not be issued.
http://bog2.sites.olt.ubc.ca/files/2014/11/4.5_2014_11_Teaching-Contract-with-PNU.pdf

Labor Rights Violations and Abuses. It is also the case that this $23 million income for UBC will entail UBC’s knowing participation in, and enabling of, labor conditions in Saudi Arabia that are absolutely unsustainable and rife with labor rights violations and abuses concerning the migrant workers who provide almost all of the labour that makes Universities function in Saudi Arabia, and yet who have no rights and are routinely detained, and worse.

How then, can “cozying up to Saudi Arabia” be principled, “From Here” – @UBC’s Faculty of Education?

Principled Divestment @UBC. It seems very valuable to consider the argument that Divestment@UBC should be extended to “for profit” educational initiatives where the very serious human rights problems at-hand present ethical problems related to involvement — ethical problems that should give UBC cause to divest from participation in human rights violations “for profit”. The hard won freedoms we have realized in the Charter of Freedoms and related provincial Charters are not for sale.

Schooling Corporate Citizens: A Conversation with Ronald W. Evans

Fireside Chat with Ron Evans on Education Reform, Social Studies, and Democratic Citizenship, Hosted By E. Wayne Ross 

This conservation with Ron Evans was conducted in the plenary session of the 2015 retreat of College and University Faculty Assembly of National Council for the Social Studies at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte on January 16, 2015. Evans discusses his new book, Schooling Corporate Citizens, the politics of education reform and how that recent reforms have affected the (official) nature and purposes of social studies education, his approach to research and writing, and life in the academy.

Introductions

Ron Evans is a leading authority on social studies and curriculum history. His book The Social Studies Wars was named an Outstanding Academic Title for 2004 by Choice Magazine. His biography of controversial progressive educator Harold O. Rugg, This Happened in America, won the 2008 Exemplary Research Award from the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS). His book The Hope for American School Reform, on the origins and development of the new social studies of the 1960s, also won the Exemplary Research Award from NCSS (2011). He founded the Issues Centered Education Community of NCSS in 1988. Currently, he is a Professor in the School of Teacher Education at San Diego State University.  He lives in the San Diego area with his wife, two children, and a cat.

E. Wayne Ross is a Professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia. His books include The Social Studies Curriculum: Purposes, Problems, and Possibilities Critical Theories, Radical Pedagogies and Social Education.

 Listen to the interview here (audio starts a minute or two into the interview):

Books by Ron Evans:

Schooling Corporate Citizens: How Accountability Reform has Damaged Civic Education and Undermined Democracy (2015)

The Hope for American School Reform: The Cold War Pursuit of Inquiry Learning in Social Studies (2011)

The Tragedy of American School Reform: How Curriculum Politics and Entrenched Dilemmas Have Diverted Us From Democracy (2011)

This Happened in America: Harold Rugg and The Censure of Social Studies (2007)

The Social Studies Wars: What Should We Teach The Children? (2004)

The Handbook of Teaching Social Issues (1996) 

Questions

How did you come to write Schooling for Corporate Citizens?

What motivates your work?

How did you come to write this book?

What motivates your work?

What sources did you draw on?

Where do you do your writing?

Describe your daily routine.

Describe how you do your research. Did you have formal training in archival research?

You’ve written four previous books of curriculum/social studies history, what did you learn from writing Schooling for Corporate Citizens?

Looking back across your books on curriculum history and education reform in the 20th and 21st centuries, you’ve trace the corporate/capitalist agenda in school reform and it’s anti-democratic, anti-community consequences:

  • Do you still have faith in schools to promote democracy / democratic citizenship?
  • Did you find out anything that surprised you?  That excited you?  That disappointed you?

How does a boy from Oklahoma who slacked his way through college end up doing all this work as a teacher/scholar in social studies?

What do you do when you’re not writing?

 

Neoliberalism and the Degradation of Education (Alternate Routes, Vol. 26)

Alternate Routes V 26 cover

Alternate Routes: A Journal of Critical Social Research

VOL 26 (2015)

NEOLIBERALISM AND THE DEGRADATION OF EDUCATION

Edited by Carlo Fanelli, Bryan Evans

Contributors to this anthology trace how neoliberalism has impacted education. These effects range from the commercialization and quasi-privatization of pre-school to post-secondary education, to restrictions on democratic practice and research and teaching, to the casualization of labour and labour replacing technologies, and the descent of the university into the market which threatens academic freedom. The end result is a comprehensive and wide-ranging review of how neoliberalism has served to displace, if not destroy, the role of the university as a space for a broad range of perspectives. Neoliberalism stifes the university’s ability to incubate critical ideas and engage with the larger society. Entrepreneurship, however, is pursued as an ideological carrier serving to prepare students for a life of precarity just as the university itself is being penetrated and occupied by corporations. The result is an astonishing tale of transformation, de-democratization and a narrowing of vision and purpose.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

ARTICLES

Carlo Fanelli, Bryan Evans
Jamie Brownlee
Jeff Noonan, Mireille Coral
Paul Bocking
Simten Cosar, Hakan Ergul
Garry Potter
Eric Newstadt
Caitlin Hewitt-White
Mat Nelson, Lydia Dobson
Paul Orlowski
Teresa Marcias
Tanner Mirrless

INTERVENTIONS

Heather McLean
Henry Giroux
Christopher Bailey
Carl E. James
Jordy Cummings
Joel D. Harden
Jordy Cummings
Carlo Fanelli

REVIEWS

Peter Brogan
Christine Pich
Jordan Fairbairn
J.Z. Garrod
Madalena Santos
Amanda Joy
Shannon T. Speed
Aaron Henry

First Peoples, Palestine, and the Crushing of Free Speech – Steven Salaita in Vancouver

First Peoples, Palestine, and the Crushing of Free Speech

Monday, January 12 at 7:30pm
SFU Harbour Centre, 515 West Hastings Street, Segal Rooms; Vancouver, BC
Facebook EVENT

Wednesday, January 14 at 5:00pm
Coach House at Green College, UBC; 6201 Cecil Green Park Road (off NW Marine Drive, opposite Chan Centre and Rose Parkade)
Facebook EVENT

A talk by Professor Steven Salaita, who is at the centre of an international protest against academic censorship.

Salaita, author of six books and many articles, was “unhired” from a tenured position in American Indian studies at the University of Illinois when donors pressured the university because of Salaita’s tweets on his personal Twitter account about the Gaza massacre last summer.

Because this action is widely recognized as part of a broad effort to silence voices for Palestinian rights and justice, and as one incident in the long history of colonial treatment of indigenous peoples, the case has attracted international attention.

Salaita’s books will be available at this event.

Steven Salaita & Academic Censorship“: an interview on Voice of Palestine

Thirty Records About America—A Mixtape

I used to post quite a bit about music here on the Where The Blog Has No Name, so please excuse the interruption of blogs on education and politics.

I’ve slowly been working my way through Bob Dylan’s Complete Album Collection Vol. 1 the past year while reading Bob Dylan: Writings 1968-2010 by Greil Marcus. This is not a project I want to rush.

Marcus’ book includes a particularly inspired piece from the May 28, 1998 Rolling Stone, “Thirty Records About America.” Below is a link to a Rdio playlist based on the article (minus a great record by Fastbacks “In America” that is not available).

And, if you’re not into the old stuff, here’s a link to my favourite non-Dylan tunes released in 2014:

Making sense of report cards [Updated]

It’s report card season. Just how useful are report cards? How should parents respond to their students grades? What kind of questions can or should parents ask teachers about the assessment of their students’ performance? Should parents reward their students for good grades?

Sandra Mathison, an expert on evaluation and co-director of Institute for Critical Education Studies, offers advice on these and other issues in the UBC News Experts Spotlight.

Listen for Dr. Mathison’s comments on report cards today on Vancouver radio (News 1130 and CBC Vancouver’s On The Coast) and television (Global News BC1)

Listen to the podcast of Dr. Mathison’s comments on CBC’s On the Coast, with Stephen Quinn.

From The Province: Don’t overreact when it comes to school report cards: Expert

From News 1130 (Vancouver): Rewarding kids for good grades might not be a good idea: UBC prof. Says it’s more important to focus on the learning process
From Yahoo News: Don’t reward good report cards: UBC professor

From E-Valuation: Reporting Evaluation Results ~ The Case of School Report Cards

Workplace CFP: Marx, Engels and the Critique of Academic Labor

Call for Papers
Marx, Engels and the Critique of Academic Labor

Special Issue of Workplace:A Journal for Academic Labor
Guest Editors: Karen Gregory & Joss Winn

Articles in Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor have repeatedly called for increased collective organisation in opposition to a disturbing trajectory: individual autonomy is decreasing, contractual conditions are worsening, individual mental health issues are rising, and academic work is being intensified. Despite our theoretical advances and concerted practical efforts to resist these conditions, the gains of the 20th century labor movement are diminishing and the history of the university appears to be on a determinate course. To date, this course is often spoken of in the language of “crisis.”

While crisis may indeed point us toward the contemporary social experience of work and study within the 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 and its ensuing forms of value. By this, we mean a negative critique of academic labor and its role in the political economy of capitalism; one which focuses on understanding the basic character of ‘labor’ in capitalism as a historically specific social form. Beyond the framework of crisis, what productive, definite social relations are actively resituating the university and its labor within the demands, proliferations, and contradictions of capital?

We aim to produce a negative critique of academic labor that not only makes transparent these social relations, but repositions academic labor within a new conversation of possibility.

We are calling for papers that acknowledge the foundational work of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels for labor theory and engage closely and critically with the critique of political economy. Marx regarded his discovery of the dual character of labor in capitalism (i.e. concrete and abstract) as one of his most important achievements and “the pivot on which a clear comprehension of political economy turns.” With this in mind, we seek contributions that employ Marx’s and Engels’ critical categories of labor, value, the commodity, capital, etc. in reflexive ways which illuminate the role and character of academic labor today and how its existing form might be, according to Marx, abolished, transcended and overcome (aufheben).

Contributions:

  1. A variety of forms and approaches, demonstrating a close engagement with Marx’s theory and method: Theoretical critiques, case studies, historical analyses, (auto-)ethnographies, essays, and narratives are all welcome. Contributors from all academic disciplines are encouraged.
  2. Any reasonable length will be considered. Where appropriate they should adopt a consistent style (e.g. Chicago, Harvard, MLA, APA).
  3. Will be Refereed.
  4. Contributions and questions should be sent to:

Joss Winn (jwinn@lincoln.ac.uk) and Karen Gregory (kgregory@ccny.cuny.edu)

Publication Timetable:

● Fully referenced ABSTRACTS by 1st February 2015
● Authors notified by 1st March 2015
● Deadline for full contributions: 1st September 2015
● Authors notified of initial reviews by 1st November 2015
● Revised papers due: 10th January 2016
● Publication date: March 2016.

Possible themes that contributions may address include, but are not limited to:

  • The Promise of Autonomy and The Nature of Academic “Time”
  • The Laboring “Academic” Body
  • Technology and Circuits of Value Production
  • Managerial Labor and Productions of Surplus Markets of Value: Debt, Data, and Student
  • Production
  • The Emotional Labor of Restructuring: Alt-Ac Careers and Contingent Labor
  • The Labor of Solidarity and the Future of Organization
  • Learning to Labor: Structures of Academic Authority and Reproduction
  • Teaching, Learning, and the Commodity-Form
  • The Business of Higher Education and Fictitious Capital
  • The Pedagogical Labor of Anti-Racism
  • Production and Consumption: The Academic Labor of Students
  • The Division of Labor In Higher Education
  • Hidden Abodes of Academic Production
  • The Formal and Real Subsumption of the University
  • Alienation, Abstraction and Labor Inside the University
  • Gender, Race, and Academic Wages
  • New Geographies of Academic Labor and Academic Markets
  • The University, the State and Money: Forms of the Capital Relation
  • New Critical Historical Approaches to the Study of Academic Labor

Issue Guest Editors:

Karen Gregory is lecturer in Sociology at the Center for Worker Education/Division of Interdisciplinary Studies at the City College of New York, where she heads the CCNY City Lab. She is an ethnographer and theory-building scholar whose research focuses on the entanglement of contemporary spirituality, labor precarity, and entrepreneurialism, with an emphasis on the role of the laboring body. Karen cofounded the CUNY Digital Labor Working Group and her work has been published in Women’s Studies Quarterly, Women and Performance, The Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy, and Contexts.

Joss Winn is a senior lecturer in the School of Education at the University of Lincoln, UK. His research extends broadly to a critique of the political economy of higher education. Currently, his writing and teaching is focused on the history and political economy of science and technology in higher education, its affordances for and impact on academic labor, and the way by which academics can control the means of knowledge production through co-operative and ultimately post-capitalist forms of work and democracy. His article, “Writing About Academic Labor,” is published in Workplace 25, 1-15.

Ursula K. Le Guin on art, freedom, and the dangers of capitalism

Ursula K. Le Guin’s acceptance speech at the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters at the 65th National Book Awards on November 19, 2014 – simply, eloquently describes the commodification of art and the destructive effects of capitalism.

The parallels to the work of teachers is easy enough to see. Capitalism turns “writers into producers of market commodities rather than creators of art,” just as it turns teachers into producers of human capital rather than free human beings associated with one another on terms of equality.

“I think hard times are coming when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now and can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine some real grounds for hope.”

Le Guin continued, “we will need writers who can remember freedom. Poets, visionaries—the realists of a larger reality.” We need those teachers too.

We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art—the art of words.”

New issue of Critical Education: “News framing and charter school reform”

Critical Education
Volume 5, Number 17
November 15, 2014

News Framing and Charter School Reform
Abe Feuerstein

Abstract

This paper reviews the historical development of charter schools and the ways in which charter schools are currently viewed by the American public. Using the tools of news framing analysis, the study also examines a sample of news reports from The Washington Post, The New York Times, and The Philadelphia Inquirer in order to identify dominant news frames. This process reveals two dominant frames — Public Accountability, and Freedom, Choice, and Innovation – which are illustrated with excerpts from the news sample. The paper concludes by considering the implications of these frames for charter school reform and suggests several new directions for scholarship in this area.

Keywords

Charter Schools; School Reform; News Framing; Politics of Education

Info Session: Critical Pedagogy & Education Activism – UBC Masters program launches July 2015

Next information session:
Wednesday, December 3, 2014
BC Teachers’ Federation
4:00 – 5:30pm
100 – 550 West 6th Ave.
Vancouver

Application deadline: January 23, 2015
Program begins: July 2015
CPEA Poster

Download poster PDF
More Information: pdce.educ.ubc.ca/CPEA