The War On Teachers

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Re: The War On Teachers

Postby slomo » Sat Dec 05, 2015 1:29 pm

Due to an intensification of automation, technology, etc., I think that capitalism has advanced beyond that and it’s not the case that quantitatively more and more workers are functional and useful for profit accumulation, for the system. We’ve reached a point where we’ve out-produced ourselves, where productivity has increased so that simply not as many workers are needed. From the cold logic of capitalist accumulation, this increasingly youthful, educated group is kind of just surplus, they are more of a management and political stability problems — which we see inklings of in the Arab spring, or occupy movements, or London, or Greece, where there are huge levels of youth under-employment, or here where people with massive student debt are working for minimum wage at Starbucks.

Not sure if this is the right thread, but this passage made me think of this white paper: THE FUTURE OF EMPLOYMENT: HOW SUSCEPTIBLE ARE JOBS TO COMPUTERISATION?

We examine how susceptible jobs are to computerisation. To assess this, we begin by implementing a novel methodology to estimate the probability of computerisation for 702 detailed occupations, using a Gaussian process classifier. Based on these estimates, we examine expected impacts of future computerisation on US labour market outcomes, with the primary objective of analysing the number of jobs at risk and the relationship between an occupation’s probability of computerisation, wages and educational attainment. According to our estimates, about 47 percent of total US employment is at risk. We further provide evidence that wages and educational attainment exhibit a strong negative relationship with an occupation’s probability of computerisation.
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Re: The War On Teachers

Postby JackRiddler » Mon Apr 02, 2018 9:50 pm

Look at that, three years no post.

Teachers struck and won their demands in West Virginia and are now on strike in Oklahoma and Kentucky. Arizona may be next. We're talking tens of thousands involved in the organizing, ready to risk everything, desperate enough, angry enough.

(I do not need to note how much coverage this is getting from corporate media and the social media repeater brigades. I expect it might if a "Russian bot" should post a link in support of the teachers.)
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Re: The War On Teachers

Postby JackRiddler » Sun May 13, 2018 3:57 pm

Moving on to post-grad ed for a moment, a good read and a reminder of someting worthwhile we still have in many pockets in the U.S., and of the corporate horrorshow to which it has been heading for many years, which apparently already prevails in the UK. Embedded links in the original. ... sob-story/
Cisco and Microsoft — Their Part in My Downfall; or, the Lost Ethics of Higher Ed; or, Maybe, a Sob Story
MAY 10, 2018

I SPENT MUCH of last fall worrying how to put pound notes in my wallet.

Because I live most of the year in the United Kingdom, I must deal with the fact that an unelected, uneducated, uninviting, and undistinguished monarch is on one side of the currency. So I try to look exclusively at the obverse of pound notes, which represents people who are prominent for what they did, rather than who their papas were. (Jane Austen, for instance, is on the tenner.)

Ordering currency in a billfold became especially complex recently. From 2001 through 2016, the five-pound note featured the 19th-century social reformer Elizabeth Fry. But she was replaced by arch-imperialist and staunch 1930s fan of Hitler and Mussolini, Winston Churchill. I don’t want that person staring up at me each time I open my wallet, any more than the unelected, uneducated, et cetera person.

Plus, the new five-pound note initially contained tallow, which led to protests by animal-rights activists. Thankfully, the Bank of England caved in quickly, consenting to return to vegan currency.

But then things got even more complicated in terms of money in my pocket.

Already locked in an oleaginous divorce, I was removed as director of the Institute in London where I worked.

Losing jobs has happened to most of us — whether as short-order blue-collar chefs or short-order national-security chiefs. We are used to being told how many times we must retrain in our lives, that secure employment no longer exists, and so on.

But it hadn’t happened to me since late 1987, just after “Black Monday” on the Stock Exchange.

A new head of sociology, who had been on leave during my year there, got up at a farewell lunch for someone in a vaguely fancy restaurant. Announcing that she would be a more humane chair than the norm, she then asked where I was; looked across to me among the 30 gathered; and offered as a peroration of her speech to the multitude, “Oh, and Toby, we’re not renewing your contract.” These were the first and last words she spoke to me. An anti-abortion health sociologist with a minor in occupational prestige and theories of scapegoating, she was later revealed to be the beneficiary of large sums of money from a bordello.

But I digress.

Back to the fall of 2017, and getting 86’d as director. My sacking took the initial form of a three-line Decanal email proposing that I “step down.” No reason was given. I had not received any formal or informal evaluation of my work over the two and a half years of my time there.

The dean provided some detail of the poverty of my performance three weeks later, during a meeting I asked for with him and the president of our union local.

I was described in person as “woefully inadequate.”

I’ve been looking for antonyms of “woefully.” I can’t find any. Not really. Once that adverb’s been applied, you’re shit out of luck finding a binary opposite.

This dean — the man who by contrast with me is ipso facto superordinately adequate — leveled the following charges (an advisory: please be seated when reading this):

Refusing to use Cisco’s Jabber
Abjuring Microsoft’s Outlook
Declining a free cell phone, tablet, and laptop from the university
And not attending sufficient meetings
As the dean enumerated this extraordinary set of failings, he warmed to his task — leaning ever further forward, as if sharing gossip with a group of intimates or inmates. Encouraged, no doubt, by a sense of rightness and righteousness, the faithful apparatchik’s eyes lit up like a chap embarked on a quest with like-minded souls.

But the union president reacted bug-eyed to this list of incompetence. He couldn’t believe it. And when I suggested that these things were distortions or, just possibly, completely fucking unimportant, and anyway that my boss hadn’t bothered to communicate such matters to me beforehand, or indeed breathed a word of criticism, we settled on the need for a professional development review of my work by the superordinately adequate one (something that should have been done annually).

The dean clarified that he wanted me out no matter what, insisting that must be the outcome. But presumably he realized that his superordinate adequacy had not accounted for a little zinger known as “due process.”

The dean then described me as “exceptional” in representing the interests of the Institute internally, and the school externally.

But I was “not a team player.” As a consequence, the entirety of senior management, plus anonymous faculty members, wanted me gone.

I figured the professional development review would either be an opportunity to set targets for overcoming my manifold, manifest deficiencies, or an exit interview. Either way, the school would rid itself of me as director, sooner or later.

I had a little while to decide what to do.

It seemed likely that I’d remain “woefully inadequate” in the eyes of the big man on campus (cf. the dude at Ohio State who directs the tuba players at football games, marching in a quasi-military outfit).

When added to the detritus of my break-up, the denunciations convinced me not to struggle on.

My resilience was lacking and I was not entirely supported by colleagues (who were the anonymous faculty, and what had they said?). A bloc had been broken; a formation was quickly falling apart.

I went to the meeting with the dean, this time alone, in January, having filled out the form that was a required prelude to my review. He wanted me to step aside immediately and be replaced on an acting basis by a company man. I dissuaded him of this, while consenting to depart in mid-March.

The figure who typifies me as “woefully inadequate” still hasn’t completed his part of the form-filling at the time of this writing: mid-April, three months after the review meeting.

I guess that once you’ve come up with the perfect, antonym-free denunciation, trying to improve on it might make a chap appear, you know, inadequate by contrast.

Now I’m on what the British call “gardening leave.” An offer is on the table for me to return in 2019 as a jobbing prof. But not as director.

What is the underlying political economy and culture of this story — assuming you accept that Cisco, Microsoft, and various phone, laptop, and tablet manufacturers and marketers did not conspire to bring me down in revenge for my heartless rejection of their services, and you consent to move beyond the discourse of Decanal denunciation?

Here’s the scoop.

British citizens had basically enjoyed a free ride through undergrad from the 1960s to the 1990s. (This remains the case for the Scots.) Then fees were introduced. Since that time, colleges have come to embrace the idea of students as customers and other universities as competitors. They seek to attract as many international students as possible, who pay double what locals do (“international” currently means “outside the European Union” — think “out of state tuition”). Although that implies folks from the rest of the world, it refers to Chinese citizens more than anybody else.

There’s considerable debate about how many Chinese nationals are studying in Britain. Some put the number at 90,000; the government says 95,000. In 2015, the Chinese embassy told me the figure was 150,000. By comparison, there are 100,000 international students in the United Kingdom from the United States, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and Thailand combined. (Last year, the official number of Chinese students in the States was 350,000. In Canada, it’s over 120,000.)

In Australia, where the Chinese student stat is in-between Britain and the United States, there’s a moral panic that they’re spies for the Party and state.

Closer to home, we see controversy over the dozens of Confucius Institutes that have appeared across US colleges since 2005. The American Association of University Professors is worried about the role of the Politburo and the state in these alleged Trojan horses, to the point where the Institutes are said to “ignore academic freedom,” despite being located on liberal campuses.

When I speak to colleagues from the PRC and Hong Kong, they tell me spying does indeed go on in their classes.

Hong Kong schools increasingly rely on money from mainlanders coming to study, some of whom describe the ideological tenor of lectures to their Party handlers. One department chair I know says to his class each semester: “I realize you’re going to be reporting on me to the Party. I only ask that you do so accurately.”

The Chinese situation is not unprecedented. We recall that leftist academics across the United States were subject to intelligence evaluation by clandestine informants during the Cold War; while on the other side of politics, CIA-sponsored scholars proliferated among the professoriate. Today, colleges gleefully spy on students appropriating copyrighted material, and school pupils’ internet use is subject to intense corporate surveillance.

Back in Britain, 007-like or not, many Chinese students arrive in the boonies. Finding little of interest in places laden with white cloning, insular monolingualism, and active xenophobia, they take off for the Big Smoke. Cue these colleges doing the same — establishing satellite campuses in London to grab a piece of the action. Hence our Institute.

We just teach grad school. This year, approximately 90 of our 92 MA students were from the PRC.

And do we have a deal on offer!

An MA for 17,500 pounds (about $25,000)! Just 10 short weeks of tuition (that’s right)! When students arrive, they get ranked as gold, silver, or bronze in terms of employability! And among their first classes — a forced collective internship where they can do research for a corporation looking (just possibly) to sell things in their country! Best of all — they don’t need a relevant first degree.

Wait a minute. “They don’t need a relevant first degree?”

Again, I hope you were sitting comfortably as you read that.

Here’s the deal. The university’s regulations state that graduate admission is decided by the faculty. But that doesn’t happen in the case of a “postgraduate taught programme” (gobbledygook for a terminal MA). This is where they make a lot of loot. And other than in a few cases, at my school, bureaucrats determine these admissions, based on targets they are expecting/expected to meet.

I asked around about this among friends in my field, and found it was pretty much the norm elsewhere. Nobody liked it; everyone thought it was improper; they all objected — and eventually went along with it. Like me, they were ultimately complicit. Cue Lucky Jim. (Cue also legacy admissions in the US, of course.)

The result? Extremely pleasant and interesting grad students arrive, virtually none of whom can write English using conventional syntax or grammar, and who lack familiarity with democracy, postcolonialism, liberalism, queer theory, scholarly research and writing, justice, human rights, and a few other funky things we favor.

These folks have been launched into a place where most of the faculty (who hailed from Korea, Colombia, Ireland, and Turkey, inter alia) were used to studying, teaching, and publishing in second languages — but unused to teaching students without significant experience of liberal education, civil rights, the third sector, or political participation.

In US terms, we are profoundly multicultural — and profoundly ignorant of the desires of our customers/clients/paymasters, the actual existing student body. Our very international and cross-cultural graduate curriculum is not devised for people who have trouble with the language and ideology of instruction, and minimally relevant undergraduate preparation.

As I indicated above, these are nice, smart students, from whom I have learned quite a lot.

But I’m not sure I’ve taught them much. Why? Because I operate as I have done while teaching in Mexico, Chile, Hong Kong, Singapore, Colombia, Iceland, Norway, Brazil, Sweden, Australia, India, Peru, Ireland, France, and the United States — whether the students are local or foreign.

It is tough when, for example, the folks in front of you have never heard of any major political figure, economic trend, intellectual tendency, artistic format, social movement, sports team, religion, political party, architectural trend, literary theory, or popular genre beyond their own country prior to, say, 2016. And can’t easily understand what you say or what is in the readings. In graduate seminars of over 70 people.

In search of help, I spoke to PRC intellectuals I knew. I was aware of the politically awkward nature of my impressions (albeit that some were shared by colleagues from the Global South). And that I was getting paid thanks to people whose credentials for study I doubted.

My Chinese friends and colleagues told me three things:

The only way to urge liberal education, political economy, non-corporate knowledge, or cultural studies onto these folks is to build such norms into mandatory assessment
Regardless, the game is up. Top students now know that a UK degree isn’t worth the 3,500 tallow-laden, Churchillian fivers that pay for it, due to lax admission and language policies and the insular nature of monolingual British academics. As a consequence, alums from top schools in China are increasingly heading to Canada and the United States for graduate study
And yes, what I profit from is corrupt

I aired my concerns about these matters on campus — often, and frequently in a febrile manner.

So that is partly what got me nixed.

I think there was something else.

I kept acting as if I were still in the United States.

When I left Britain in 1978, my prevailing experience of the country could best be represented by a hand raised as a stop sign. You were supposed to behave, dammit.

That hasn’t changed, though something is different about it.

The Brits got both sides of the neoliberal memo — redistribute income upward, as part of public proclamations of individual economic freedom operating under the invisible sign of socialism for corporations; and continue to regulate ordinary conduct and self-expression to the max.

Plus a creepy Orwellian doublespeak emerged in universities, derived from the mimetic managerial fallacy. That fallacy imagines corporations to be worthy and emulable models for public institutions. It has an entirely mad and maddening vocabulary of capitalist organizational clichés: check and challenge, light touch, sector norm, business-like, enterprise, world-leading, partnering, knowledge transfer, student-facing, create impact, metrics, thought leader, comfortable with, best practice, relaxed about, maker place, hot desking, work-ready graduates, start-ups, our community, industry-centered problem-solving, I am the lead on x, agree a catch-up, industry-facing, this is the available spend, schedule a one-on-one — student experience; on, and on, and on, ad infinitum.

Such language conceals a powerful drive toward central control of everything. Students have commercial rights — but put away that cell phone! Students are customers — but lock the doors if they dare to arrive late! Students are sovereign — but punish them if they speak “privately” in class. Students are consumers — but take attendance and require them to download an application that monitors their movements.

You get the point, and a similar infantilizing discourse applies to the profs.

A while after I started the job in Britain, a guy I knew from the principal campus of my school, the one in the boonies, popped in for lunch. He had just spent his first months as dean at a big state school in the United States after 25 years at superordinately adequate U in Britain. The president of his college had said, “Stop pestering me by asking whether you can do something. Just go ahead and do it. If it doesn’t work, then come see me.”

In addition to trying things out without asking form-filling, non-publishing nothings, noodges, and nobodies, I’d left the United States assuming faculty democracy as a right, with curriculum and research autonomy part of professional sovereignty.

That wasn’t really the case in London. The idea was to do what daddy state and mommy company asked for — and do it, you know, really quickly and well! Then you might get an elephant stamp in your penmanship book. Maybe even a gold star.

I didn’t want a gold star. Or an elephant stamp.

So I think that’s another reason why I got 86’d. Along with software, hardware, and attendance issues, I had called out instrumentalism and wrongly presumed faculty democracy.

But there is good news: two friends who read this gave me passing grades. One called it “blessedly sufficient”; the other, “adequately extraordinary.” Maybe there are antonyms to “woefully inadequate” after all.


Toby Miller lives in London and Barranquilla. His most recent books are Greenwashing Culture, Greenwashing Sport, Global Media Studies, Greening the Media, and Blow Up the Humanities.


Banner Image: “Lucky Jim, Amis,” Loyola University Chicago Digital Special Collections, ... /show/1156.

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Re: The War On Teachers

Postby JackRiddler » Sat Oct 27, 2018 5:54 pm

What a non-surprise. ... hools.html

The Digital Gap Between Rich and Poor Kids Is Not What We Expected

America’s public schools are still touting devices with screens — even offering digital-only preschools. The rich are banning screens from class altogether.

By Nellie Bowles
Oct. 26, 2018

The parents in Overland Park, Kan., were fed up. They wanted their children off screens, but they needed strength in numbers. First, because no one wants their kid to be the lone weird one without a phone. And second, because taking the phone away from a middle schooler is actually very, very tough.

“We start the meetings by saying, ‘This is hard, we’re in a new frontier, but who is going to help us?’” said Krista Boan, who is leading a Kansas City-based program called START, which stands for Stand Together And Rethink Technology. “We can’t call our moms about this one.”

For the last six months, at night in school libraries across Overland Park, a suburb of Kansas City, Mo., about 150 parents have been meeting to talk about one thing: how to get their kids off screens.

It wasn’t long ago that the worry was that rich students would have access to the internet earlier, gaining tech skills and creating a digital divide. Schools ask students to do homework online, while only about two-thirds of people in the U.S. have broadband internet service. But now, as Silicon Valley’s parents increasingly panic over the impact screens have on their children and move toward screen-free lifestyles, worries over a new digital divide are rising. It could happen that the children of poorer and middle-class parents will be raised by screens, while the children of Silicon Valley’s elite will be going back to wooden toys and the luxury of human interaction.

This is already playing out. Throwback play-based preschools are trending in affluent neighborhoods — but Utah has been rolling out a state-funded online-only preschool, now serving around ten thousand children. Organizers announced the screen-based preschool effort will expand in 2019 with a federal grant to Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Idaho and Montana.

Lower-income teens spend an average of eight hours and seven minutes a day using screens for entertainment, while higher income peers spend five hours and 42 minutes, according to research by Common Sense Media, a nonprofit media watchdog. (This study counted each screen separately, so a child texting on a phone and watching TV for one hour counted as two hours of screens being used.) Two studies that look at race have found that white children are exposed to screens significantly less than African-American and Hispanic children.

And parents say there is a growing technological divide between public and private schools even in the same community. While the private Waldorf School of the Peninsula, popular with Silicon Valley executives, eschews most screens, the nearby public Hillview Middle School advertises its 1:1 iPad program.

The psychologist Richard Freed, who wrote a book about the dangers of screen-time for kids and how to connect them back to real world experiences, divides his time between speaking before packed rooms in Silicon Valley and his clinical practice with low-income families in the far East Bay, where he is often the first one to tell parents that limiting screen-time might help with attention and behavior issues.

“I go from speaking to a group in Palo Alto who have read my book to Antioch, where I am the first person to mention any of these risks,” Dr. Freed said.

He worries especially about how the psychologists who work for these companies make the tools phenomenally addictive, as many are well-versed in the field of persuasive design (or how to influence human behavior through the screen). Examples: YouTube next video autoplays; the slot machine-like pleasure of refreshing Instagram for likes; Snapchat streaks.

“The digital divide was about access to technology, and now that everyone has access, the new digital divide is limiting access to technology,” said Chris Anderson, the former editor of Wired magazine.

Technology Is a Huge Social Experiment on Children
Some parents, pediatricians and teachers around the country are pushing back.

“These companies lied to the schools, and they’re lying to the parents,” said Natasha Burgert, a pediatrician in Kansas City. “We’re all getting duped.”

“Our kids, my kids included, we are subjecting them to one of the biggest social experiments we have seen in a long time,” she said. “What happens to my daughter if she can’t communicate over dinner — how is she going to find a spouse? How is she going to interview for a job?”

“I have families now that go teetotal,” Dr. Burgert said. “They’re like, ‘That’s it, we’re done.’”

One of those families is the Brownsbergers, which had long banned smartphones but recently also banned the internet-connected television.

“We took it down, we took the TV off the wall, and I canceled cable,” said Rachael Brownsberger, 34, the mother of 11- and eight-year old boys. “As crazy as that sounds!”

She and her husband, who runs a decorative concrete company, keep their children away from cellphones but found that even a little exposure to screen time changed the boys’ behavior. Her older son, who has A.D.H.D., would get angry when the screen had to be turned off, she said, which worried her.

His Christmas wish list was a Wii, a PlayStation, a Nintendo, a MacBook Pro and an iPhone.

“And I told him, ‘Kiddo, you’re not gonna get one of those things,’” Ms. Brownsberger said. “Yeah, I’m the mean mom.”

But one thing has made it easier: Others in what she described as a rural neighborhood outside Kansas City are doing the same thing.

“It takes a community to support this,” she said. “Like I was just talking to my neighbor last night — ‘Am I the worst mom ever?’”

Ms. Boan has three pilots running with about 40 parents in each, looking at best practices for getting kids off phones and screens. Overland Park’s Chamber of Commerce is supporting the work, and the city is working to incorporate elements of digital wellness into its new strategic vision.

“The city planner and the chamber of commerce said to us, ‘We’ve seen this impact our city,’” Ms. Boan said. “We all want our kids to be independent, self-regulated device users, but we have to equip them.”

The Privilege of Choices
In Silicon Valley, some feel anxious about the growing class divide they see around screen-time.

Kirstin Stecher and her husband, who works as an engineer at Facebook, are raising their kids almost completely screen-free.

“Is this coming from a place of information — like, we know a lot about these screens,” she said. “Or is it coming from a place of privilege, that we don’t need them as badly?”

“There’s a message out there that your child is going to be crippled and in a different dimension if they’re not on the screen,” said Pierre Laurent, a former Microsoft and Intel executive now on the board of trustees at Silicon Valley’s Waldorf School. “That message doesn’t play as well in this part of the world.”

“People in this region of the world understand that the real thing is everything that’s happening around big data, AI, and that is not something that you’re going to be particularly good at because you have a cellphone in fourth grade,” Mr. Laurent said.

As those working to build products become more wary, the business of getting screens in front of kids is booming. Apple and Google compete ferociously to get products into schools and target students at an early age, when brand loyalty begins to form.

Google published a case study of its work with the Hoover City, Ala., school district, saying technology equips students “with skills of the future.”

The concluded that its own Chromebooks and Google tools changed lives: “The district leaders believe in preparing students for success by teaching them the skills, knowledge, and behaviors they need to become responsible citizens in the global community.”

Dr. Freed, though, argues these tools are too relied upon in schools for low-income children. And he sees the divide every day as he meets tech-addicted children of middle and low-income families.

“For a lot of kids in Antioch, those schools don’t have the resources for extracurricular activities, and their parents can’t afford nannies,” Dr. Freed said. He said the knowledge gap around tech’s danger is enormous.

Dr. Freed and 200 other psychologists petitioned the American Psychological Association in August to formally condemn the work psychologists are doing with persuasive design for tech platforms that are designed for children.

“Once it sinks its teeth into these kids, it’s really hard,” Dr. Freed said.

Nellie Bowles covers tech and internet culture. Follow her on Twitter: @nelliebowles

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Re: The War On Teachers

Postby JackRiddler » Wed Jan 09, 2019 2:29 am

Bizarre to see such a perceptive, educated view on the rising childhood surveillance industry coming from the chief executive of California, who apparently made no public issue of it and did nothing to reverse it, only says he slowed it down. Contrast to thing he said earlier at the start of this excerpt. ... iew-223757

Jerry Brown’s Midnight in America

California’s governor leaves a rich and complex legacy. But in our interview, he seemed much more concerned about the future of the planet than with writing his political epitaph.


January 06, 2019

Brown: [...]There are a lot of issues. But the big ones are hard to keep focused, right? You don’t go to Iowa and say, “Now, let’s talk about annihilation.” You wouldn’t talk about climate change. That’s probably going to be a big deal. But you got to make it a big deal.


Google and Apple and Facebook could do no wrong, and now people in the European Union and Washington, they’re actively starting to attack them. This seems to be part of the distraction of modern society. And there are problems. And I would say the totalitarian capacity is being built up every day and being pushed by the liberals as much as the conservatives.

Harris: What’s an example of that being pushed by the liberals?

Brown: An example would be measuring each individual child from preschool to beyond college, and keeping those as permanent records in the computer, that would measure discipline and mental attributes. Just the general centralization of information, which is being billed as the way to help the poor but which will enable an authoritarian to totally monopolize and control the society.

In fact, we have something called “Cal-PASS,” a state computer, which I kept in check. And I think now it’ll be full throttle to collect as much possible data and measure people in all sorts of ways. I think it’s dangerous. I don’t think it’s very useful, except for academics who have to write theses and do research. We had one on the teachers, which we stopped.

See, the trouble is the computer can collect a lot of information and regurgitate it in many different ways, and people are fascinated by that. Controlling and measuring everything. … We’re all ranked. And who’s it for? Now, if it’s for the academics, they’re relatively harmless. But then it’s going to ultimately be used, at some point, and it has kind of a smell of eugenics, that we want to purify this kind of motley race called human beings and if we can measure all the different attributes, we can then make normative the right path and the right way to be. I think that is the absence of diversity and the absence of freedom.

I would just say, spoken in a somewhat abstract level—it’s not just me who says that. I mean, there are political theorists who notice that the welfare state and the warfare state work hand in hand. They both want to see more power. They want more engineering of things. And, in many ways, that’s mass society, that’s an inevitable trend. But we do need to—we, the government—so that it can function is guard against that. And some of these big issues are not thought about.

Ruairí Arrieta-Kenna contributed research.

Different story with Newsom, meanwhile, and Pritzker in Illinois, as covered in this very interesting blog I've discovered.

New Governors Pritzker and Newsom Set Up For Their ReadyNation Gold Rush

This past week will go down as an auspicious one for social impact investors and a foreboding one for the targets of their interventions: toddlers, job seekers, the unhoused, and those with mental illness. On November 1, 2018 corporate executives, military officers, athletes, and faith leaders converged on New York City to discuss the impending transformation of early childhood into a global investment market. Five days later JB Pritzker became the Democratic governor of Illinois, and former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom became the Democratic governor of California.

JB Pritzker: Impact Investor As Governor

JB Pritkzer, a billionaire heir to the Hyatt family fortune and backer of the first two early childhood social impact bonds in the US, was not on the recent ReadyNation conference program in New York City as he was in the final push of his campaign to oust Republican Bruce Rauner from the Governorship of Illinois. For over a decade, Pritzker’s Children’s Initiative has financed the work of ReadyNation’s Robert Dugger and University of Chicago Economist James Heckman.

Pritzker money paid for the creation of the Heckman Equation, a tool kit promising a 7-10% annual rate of return to investors in early childhood education, up to 13% if health factors were built into the intervention. The tool kit targets very young children ages 0 to 3, identifying “success” metrics for character training, which were felt to have more potential for “growth” than cognitive achievement or IQ. Heckman and a cadre of researchers have since plowed considerable resources into devising tools, many digital, that supposedly measure social-emotional competencies, particularly Big Five “OCEAN” character traits: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.

Pritzker and Heckman made the rounds, promoting outcomes-based pre-k impact investing to community foundations and institutional investors for quite a few years. In October the complicit NEA (National Education Association) spoke positively of Pritzker’s 5-point, two-generation early childhood education plan, which would allocate $95 million for pre-k expansion in the first year alone. The Annie E. Casey Foundation of Baltimore has been advancing this “two-generation” approach, which hinges on the adoption of vastly expanded integrated data systems.

Interoperable data is a priority for impact investors, because they expect to track impact metrics across multiple interventions to claim “credit” for ALL possible outcomes so they can extract as much profit as possible. It is fitting that the Casey Foundation would be a prominent voice advancing data-interoperability given their funding and organizational leadership are tied to UPS (United Parcel Service), pioneers in real-time tracking.

In 2015, The Pritzker Foundation donated $10 million to the University of Chicago to develop five Urban Data Labs addressing education, crime, poverty, health and the environment. The state of Illinois also recently created a taskforce to investigate Blockchain platform government. Last year they announced a pilot program to put birth certificates on Blockchain in partnership with Utah-based Evernym. Combining digital identity systems with public service delivery may be exactly the infrastructure needed to finally scale privatization of public services via outcomes-based contracts.

The Urban Lab Initiative at the University of Chicago is one of six data labs coordinated out of New York University’s GovLab. The other five are located in Providence, RI; Philadelphia, PA; Los Angeles, CA; Olympia, WA; and London, UK. Below is a screen shot of an expansive data lab network, which includes select funders and social impact bond projects. Due to the scale it is best to view it on the Little Sis website here. We would do well to keep close tabs on the Pritzker administration’s activities in the social sector. [...]

Continue here with all the links and images ... gold-rush/

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Re: The War On Teachers

Postby JackRiddler » Sun Jan 13, 2019 2:16 pm


"The state, which had provided half the university’s budget in the 1970s, was now covering only 17 percent of it."

That's the story of the article below. Everything else follows. It comes in the 12th paragraph, after much else that is subsidiary has been set up to create an air of inevitability: "The state, which had provided half the university’s budget in the 1970s, was now covering only 17 percent of it." (Two words are key: Scott Walker.)

Other well-known shifts in population (getting older, moving elsewhere) and economics (majority getting poorer) are of course important, but the bottom line is that they would be less damaging if the state were still covering 50 percent of the budget.

The rest of the described horror, the dismantling and denigration of the one thing that probably was true about American exceptionalism -- the world's best university system -- consists in attempts by a careerist university administration that lacks any vision to adapt to this intentional suffocation.

So there they go. Stuck in rural WI, they can't go the Academic Hollywood route. Like many universities now in this situation, they begin to abolish the liberal arts and repurpose as a vocational school ("STEMtm") in all but name, and pretend this will suffice to restore the sagging enrollment. ... aving.html

Students in Rural America Ask, ‘What Is a University Without a History Major?’

The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, facing declining enrollment and revenue, is weighing major changes to its degree programs.

STEVENS POINT, Wis. — Chancellor Bernie Patterson’s message to his campus was blunt: To remain solvent and relevant, his 125-year-old university needed to reinvent itself.

Some longstanding liberal arts degrees, including those in history, French and German, would be eliminated. Career-focused programs would become a key investment. Tenured faculty members could lose their jobs. The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Dr. Patterson explained in a memo, could “no longer be all things to all people.”

Dr. Patterson’s plan came as Stevens Point and many other public universities in rural America face a crisis. Such colleges have served as anchors for their regions, educating generations of residents.

Now student enrollment has plummeted, money from states has dropped and demographic trends promise even worse days ahead.

Universities like Stevens Point are experiencing the opposite of what is happening at some of the nation’s most selective schools, like Harvard, Northwestern and the University of California, Berkeley, where floods of applications have led to overwhelming numbers of rejected students.

But critics say that in trying to carve out a sustainable path for Stevens Point — and build a model for other struggling, regionally focused universities — administrators are risking the very essence of a four-year college experience.

“Part of the fear is, is this an attempt to really kind of radically change the identity of this institution?” asked Jennifer Collins, a political-science professor, who wondered aloud whether Stevens Point would become a “pre-professional, more polytechnic type of university.”

Kim Mueller, 21, a senior who hopes to become a history teacher at a Wisconsin high school, said her first reaction to the proposal was: “What is a university without a history major?”

Nestled in a city of 26,000 residents in the middle of the state, Stevens Point has seen its fortunes rise and fall with its region. Founded more than a century ago to train teachers, and distinguished by Old Main, an 1894 building with a famous cupola that overlooks the campus, the college grew as people moved to the area’s paper mills and farms.

The college became a pathway to the middle class, a respected place to get a bachelor’s degree without spending too much money or moving too far from home. By the 1970s, it had strengthened its liberal arts programs and joined the state university system.

But in recent decades, troubling signs cropped up. Young families left rural Wisconsin for Madison and Milwaukee, which had their own University of Wisconsin campuses. Fewer students graduated from high school in the area around Stevens Point, including a 14 percent drop in its home county from 2012 to 2016. And under former Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican whose term ended Monday, state funding declined and a mandatory tuition freeze made it hard for the college to make up the difference.

By last spring, the university, which has about 7,700 students, was looking at a two-year deficit of about $4.5 million. The state, which had provided half the university’s budget in the 1970s, was now covering only 17 percent of it.

“Sometimes, I liken it to climate change,” said Greg Summers, the provost, who helped come up with the plan to remake Stevens Point. “The higher-ed climate has changed profoundly and it’s not going back to the old normal.”

The turmoil is not unique to Stevens Point, where nearly half the students are the first generation in their family to attend college. In large parts of the Midwest and Northeast, public universities far from urban centers are hurting for students and money. And they are facing painful choices.

Almost four hours from Chicago, Western Illinois University eliminated dozens of vacant faculty positions last year and announced it would lay off 24 professors, including some with tenure.

In Maine, the state university system folded a small campus into its flagship and merged some functions at two other remote campuses.

And in Vermont, where state funding for higher education is among the lowest in the country, officials consolidated two small public colleges into a single university to try to save about $2 million a year.

“We tried to look ahead and take action before we were not able to help ourselves,” said Jeb Spaulding, the chancellor of the Vermont State Colleges System, whose colleges are also pushing apprenticeship and nondegree programs in hopes of attracting more students.

The locations of college campuses can be a reflection of a bygone America. Most universities were founded generations ago, when rural communities were thriving and when traveling across a state to a larger urban campus was more complicated. As people moved toward cities and the Sun Belt, and as cars and planes connected the country, many rural universities have fallen on hard times.

“There is and ought to be a bit of a scramble to redefine and resituate themselves,” said David Tandberg, a vice president for the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association. “There’s nothing they can do about birthrates. That’s something they have no control about. So it’s opening up different markets and offering different services.”

The same trends that have led to cuts at rural public colleges, which often struggle but almost never close, have forced some private colleges out of business, including Dana College in Nebraska and St. Catharine College in Kentucky. Some historically black institutions, both public and private, have also faced financial and enrollment challenges. South Carolina State University fended off threats of closing in recent years and has struggled to recruit students to its rural campus. Wilberforce University, a private historically black institution in Ohio, has faced accreditation questions and budget deficits.

All the while, flagship public campuses in many states, including Wisconsin, have remained vibrant. Those universities often have much larger endowments and the ability to recruit high-performing students from across the country, insulating them somewhat from funding crises.

“Budget cuts will give the flagship university a cold and the regional public colleges pneumonia,” said Thomas Harnisch of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

At Stevens Point, where flashing signs announce the next hockey game and low-slung buildings sit near evergreens, administrators are trying to make up for increasingly elusive freshmen.

Greg Summers, the provost, said that by making hard decisions now and “doing fewer things better,” the university could find a more stable future.CreditTim Gruber for The New York Times

Their solutions: Recruit more midcareer adults to enroll in programs such as nursing. Promote majors such as business and education with clear career paths. And invest in teaching people specialties with local appeal — forestry or fisheries management — on a campus with a 280-acre nature conservancy that doubles as an outdoor laboratory for natural resources students.

In the coming months, after a final round of campus review, Dr. Patterson will present a list of proposed changes to the University of Wisconsin regents. Dr. Summers, the provost, said that by making hard decisions now and “doing fewer things better,” the university could find a more stable future.

The proposal was especially bitter for liberal arts professors, who have viewed their disciplines as the backbone of the college experience but now fear losing their jobs. Stevens Point administrators have winnowed an initial list of majors to eliminate (English and political science were among those spared), but some faculty members said they remained queasy, uncertain about what additional changes the future will bring.

“I’m afraid it’s done a great deal of damage to the university’s reputation with current high school students and current high school teachers,” said Lee Willis, the chairman of Stevens Point’s history department, who said there was already stiff competition for students with the University of Wisconsin’s other four-year campuses, five of which are within 115 miles of Stevens Point.

“The fear,” Dr. Willis said, “is that we’re going to get into a death spiral that we won’t be able to pull out of.”

Across the campus, where the mascot is the Pointer, a dog, and the school colors, purple and gold, adorn sweatshirts and signs, there has been skepticism and anxiety.

“If you want a career-focused program, I think then you could look at a community college or tech school,” said Madeline Abbatacola, a senior studying history and wildlife ecology. Universities like hers, she added, “have a different lane.”

Last spring, students held a protest on the campus sundial. In the fall, some professors signed a letter seeking the replacement of university leaders, and some professors are applying for jobs elsewhere. And even those like Dona Warren, a longtime philosophy professor who did not take a position on Dr. Patterson’s plan, said they believed the campus was at an inflection point.

“Everyone is just scared to death about the bottom line,” Dr. Warren said. “The suspense movie music has reached its crescendo, and either something’s going to jump out from the corners or something really good is going to happen.”

Last edited by JackRiddler on Sun Jan 13, 2019 2:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The War On Teachers

Postby JackRiddler » Sun Jan 13, 2019 2:23 pm


Highly recommended lecture on the emerging new big picture:

Alison McDowell - What Silicon Valley Has Planned for Public Education

McDowell, who has accumulated unbelievable chops and provided acres of research findings online, describes the ongoing shift from Ed Reform 1.0 (vouchers, charters, high-stakes testing, remote rating every school and teacher, uniforms and discipline, cops in schools, better cheaper prisons) to what she calls the "Ed Reform 2.0" now being plotted and tried out by the enormous complex of corporate foundations increasingly defining what's left of public policy: a fully corporate-run digital education, minimizing seats and buildings, learning games online, VR, cradle-to-grave educational surveillance and tracking, check-in "mentors" instead of teachers, blockchain accounts for given services instead of vouchers, remote grading based on achievement of defined competences...

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Re: The War On Teachers

Postby JackRiddler » Mon Jan 14, 2019 11:47 am


To Justice my maker from on high did incline:
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