A lil something from Norbert Elias (The Society of Individuals, pg. 62).
G & J
There’s nothing novel here. Each of these points have been made many times by many others. Still, as a kind of summer 2011 debt ceiling post-mortem, I would like to note that:
1. Negotiating positions are not policy or legislative positions.
2. Leaks are not facts.
3. Wall Street gets what Wall Street wants.
4. We live in an oligarchy.
5. I dunno if the debt ceiling is more or less important than other summertime distractions, like “death panels” and the “ground zero mosque.”
6. Paul Krugman probably knows the economic steps the government should take to get the economy out of its recession. He knows jack shit about getting those steps done in the given political environment.
7. Now that we have (apropos of thing #1) some short-term policy and legislative positions, we should note that these can also function as negotiating positions.
George playing chess.
The history of history-education evaluation is littered with voguish pedagogy, statistical funny business, ideological arm wrestling, a disproportionate emphasis on trivia, and a protocol that insures that each generation of kids looks dim to its elders. “We haven’t ever known our past,” Sam Wineburg, a professor of education and history at Stanford, said last week. “Your kids are no stupider than their grandparents.
While Scott Walker, Rick Snyder, and other Republican governors have set their sights on busting unions, Texas governor Rick Perry has set his sights on professors. Perry wants to use his record short-fall of 15 to 27 billion dollars in order to stick it those lazy, left-wing professors. Part of the reform Perry envisions is to evaluate individual professors in terms of how many
customers they serve students they teach. Teaching undergraduate students is the primary job of the university, so this line of thinking goes, and thus each professor can be graded on his or her productivity in terms of how many undergraduate grades he or she records at the end of a semester. The other two primary components of an academic professional—service and research—are imagined as distractions from the bottom line.
Moving past the untenable premise that the primary job of every professor at every university is the teaching of undergraduate courses, conservative think tank, Texas Public Policy Foundation, proposes a market-based “7 Solutions” in which professors are held “accountable” for their teaching and students are made contractual promises regarding their degree programs. All of this could seem like common sense to a lot of people, especially those who habitually think of the world in terms of profit.
On their website, TPPF presents the “solutions” with positive, direct language and no-frills graphics. I can totally see how persuasive these things could be to the Texans I grew up with and my family down there in the Lone Star State. Especially persuasive and seemingly devastating is this chart, which purports to show how little professors work:
My first clue that there are problems here is that the chart purports to be representing what “tenured faculty” do, yet it includes assistant professors. It is possible to be a tenured assistant professor, but that’s rare. What is most striking, however, are these huge disparities between “research activities” and “undergraduate teaching activities”; it just didn’t seem right to me. I mean, an outsider might say, look how lazy these bums are! Yet, if you know the profession at all, you know that most professors don’t spend their time like this.
You can clearly see one problem in the legend, where the TPPF has lumped “faculty committees” under research. As you’ll see below, they don’t actually mean committee work, they mean service work—administrating and coordinating and advising and other such drudgery. TPPF have conflated service and research in order (it seems) to make research look bigger (because research = doing nothing). If you look at the source data, you’ll notice even more devious manipulation:
When the TPPF say “tenured faculty,” they are talking about data for those who teach at “4-year doctoral institutions”—that is, places where part of teaching duties are the teaching of courses in graduate programs. And when the TPPF says “research,” they are talking about research + service + “graduate teaching activities.”
That shocking chart, then, displays how little professors work (ie, how much they “research”) by redefining as research both service work and even teaching itself (the teaching of graduate courses).
I’m an outsider. I got my PhD from UT-Austin and work as a professor in another state, so I’ve got reason to be interested in these things. Still, because I have so much teaching and serving and researching going on, don’t have the time to obsess on the scary but distant professor busting going on down in Texas. Thing is, if I could spot such an odd misrepresentation of fact by just browsing around the TPPF’s website, what other kinds of shenanigans could be going on there?
Fried Pork Chop with Green Chili
better than a slopper‽
Žižek You know at the place where you had your coffee? They do have good menus—you know, like, very nice ones, like, simple steak or whatever. They are not bad, I mean.
Voice They’re all vegetarians.
Žižek Degenerates… degenerates.. you’ll turn into monkeys.
The presentation I’m working on for the SCAR symposium.