Friday, March 25, 2016

MUST SEE DOC: Starving the Beast: The Battle to Disrupt & Reform America’s Public Universities

If you work in higher ed and think the only problems we face are fluctuating budgets, this is a must see.

Just as some wealthy individuals, corporations, and hedge funds are trying to remake K-12 public education to divert tax dollars into their own pockets with for profit charter schools, education management companies, repetitive standardized testing, and common core curriculum designed to maximize profits for textbook and testing companies while demonizing teachers and trying to break their unions is in the earlier stages of coming after colleges and universities.

Besides trashing K-12 public education, this corporate driven reform movement is not only driving teachers out of the profession, but dramatically reducing enrollment in education majors--so there aren't enough new teachers to replace those leaving.

If these "reforms" get very far in higher ed, the results could be even more chaotic and dramatic because of the large majority of part time faculty. K-12 teachers might put up with the crap a bit longer because of decent pay and full benefits.

That is not the case for college faculty members who have to patch together a couple of part time jobs to make a living (and still don't get family medical benefits even then).

As someone who started in K-12 and moved to higher ed, I had to make a choice between economic security but little control over what I taught if I stayed in K-12 or economic insecurity but academic freedom if I moved to higher ed. I know people who did the same for the same reasons.

What will happen if most college and university faculty are treated like crap economically AND academically?
Also, an ironic twist on this topic is the supposed superiority of the private sector in getting things done in K-12. In higher ed, whether you go to a public college, a private non-profit, or a private for profit college, you're classes will be taught by the same people.

One of my community college colleagues also teaches the same courses at a fairly well-known private school nearby and I asked him what he does differently for those students. He just laughed and said, "Nothing. They just pay more for it."

If private contractors get involved in delivering public education, taxpayers will pay the same or more, but get less so the contractors can skim a profit.