“Bully!,” says Teddy.

21 08 2013

History blogging from me? “Bully!,” says Teddy. It’s at the blog of the Historical Society, which remains my favorite history blog even when I’m not writing for it.

Oddly enough, I’ve been reading Heather Cox Richardson’s West From Appomattox for like the fourth time in anticipation of teaching it again fresh out of the starting gate in my 1877-1945 class and TR is the most interesting person in that book too.





This is how they’ll make you teach online.

7 05 2012

California has been at the forefront of the destruction of some really excellent things in this country since 1978. That was the year that Proposition 13 passed, which has led directly to our current obsession with austerity. Today, it’s destroying the Cal State system, which might just be the canary in the higher education coal mine.

Thank God there was a student reporter present at a forum where this dude from Cal State-Fullerton actually laid out their evil plan on the record:

The discussion began with Keith Boyum, CSUF interim executive assistant to the president who gave an overview of online learning in the U.S., with some special reference to the CSUF campus.

“This university, as every university, is embracing online learning, and we simply don’t know where it’s going to go in the future,” said Boyum.

Boyum outlined the different types of education a student can receive. From traditional learning, which includes absolutely no online activity, to online learning, where 80 percent of learning is via the internet.

“It is a great opportunity, we think, for enhancing learning and shedding costs … Online learning is an essential part of our future. It will grow,” Boyum said.

[emphasis added]

His specific example was the library, but yes he also discussed faculty labor costs:

Presently, the delivery of online instruction is not cheaper in the terms of faculty labor costs, it appears to be more expensive,” Boyum said. “At the same time, other costs may be diminished, and we owe ourselves and the taxpayers a healthy investigation of exact ways to do that.”

What does that mean? A sneak attack.

No classroom space? You have to teach online. No money to pay the air conditioning bill? You have to teach online. We spent too much money paying the football coach’s salary? You have to teach online. Don’t like it, then you can teach somewhere else or quit. You think tenure and academic freedom will protect you? You can keep your job and say anything you want in class. You just have to say it online.

Online education is only the future at Cal State and every other school in the country it resembles as long as we let administrators keep saying it is over and over again and go completely unchallenged. I hate to be a downer here people, but rolling strikes aren’t going to stop this trainwreck. If they could, then Boyum wouldn’t have been willing to say anything publicly about what the future holds for Cal State-Fullerton.

In order to fight this, you have to shout to the hilltops that there are alternatives to the fatal combination of online education and permanent austerity. Take higher taxes on the rich, for example. That could allow any state to keep public education public. This seems like the most obvious solution to just about everything that ails us today, but apparently believing in that makes me a dangerous radical these days.

Maybe it’s time for every professor to find their inner FDRs. The job you save may just be your own.





“[T]he only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

15 11 2010

So I came back from the AAUP’s conference on shared governance yesterday. I gave a presentation there on our efforts to improve the budgetary process at my university, but what I really wanted to do is hear what everyone else had to say. I learned a ton, but my favorite part was the keynote speech at the very beginning.

The Inside Higher Ed coverage of the event doesn’t really do justice to AAUP President Cary Nelson’s excellent speech. It wasn’t about hating administrators. It was about fearing them. He didn’t quote FDR, but I couldn’t help think about the parallels as rough economic times have everyone cowering in fear about when the next shoe is going to drop. Our first inclination is to thank our administrators for not furloughing us (and if we are furloughed, to thank them for not firing us) when we should be asking, “What can we do together to make sure that the education we’re providing doesn’t suffer?”

That’s shared governance. If the question is put that way, you won’t get fired for asking it. You’ll likely get a lot more committees to sit on, but that certainly beats sitting alone in your office praying that you can make ends meet. Nelson suggested that fear leads to an exclusive focus on self interest, which isn’t good for education. If individuals and departments fall back on protecting turf your administration will run roughshod over you. Fear lets administrations seize power, and that’s seldom good for the bottom line (think football stadiums and online colleges) or education (see same two examples).

If your attitude is constructive rather than confrontational, you can make your university a better place even in these difficult times. Nobody is going to fire you or defund your department if you fight for the interests of instruction over unnecessary administrative bloat and other pet projects. That practically in your job description. More importantly, if you sit alone in your office thinking “I could do this better” the worst case scenario is practically guaranteed.

Sure, there’s a recession going on out there, but you have one of the better jobs in America if you’re a tenure-track faculty member. Yes, I know you’re underpaid, but nobody else but academics have academic freedom and the privilege of tenure to fall back on if they are ever punished for speaking their minds. Besides, what good is academic freedom if you refuse to use it to make your university a better place?





“We Work Again (1937).”

3 11 2010




The Second Bill of Rights (1944).

22 03 2010

I was watching Michael Moore’s “Capitalism: A Love Story” during the health care vote last night, and was inspired to look for this:





More New Deal redux.

8 12 2009

First Obama wants to use TARP money to start a jobs program. Now some Congressman I’ve never heard of wants to bring back Glass-Steagall. And now if someone would just bring back the Wealth Tax Act of 1935

h/t on Glass-Steagall: Firedoglake.





“[A] second bill of rights.”

6 10 2009

I’ve been running into this speech a lot lately, and this part especially still sounds good:

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all regardless of station, race, or creed.

Among these are:

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the Nation;

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;

The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;

The right of every family to a decent home;

The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;

The right to a good education.

All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.

I guess Franklin Roosevelt still has something to teach us.








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