When America is One Giant Ticker Tape — University of Phoenix, Massive On-line Education, the Failure of Democracy

Okay, okay, today es muy interesante, lleno de literatura y periodismo. Full of literature and journalism. Yes, yes, Mister Welfare Man, I am doing job searches to validate myself as a human being. You know, three job applications a week to meet the sequester-fragile unemployment insurance. I do more than three a week, that’s for sure.

Right now, I have been working on a couple of magazine pieces. One on the value of dog parks, tied to my other ex-home base town, Spokane. So, these cool little pieces end up in this slick magazine, but to be sure, as a full-throttle writer, and full-throttle teacher, what I write could end up in Harper’s and who and what I teach, well, if it’s a night class at a community college or some group of prisoners in a federal penitentiary or some over-priced Jesuit college or for some elder continuing-community education program, I take it all seriously and treat all folk as if they are bright, interested, interesting and engaged human beings, young and old.

Check out for now, pages 42-47, a little bit on Apple History. Really, read it here.

I’m finding out the history of off-leash dog parks and the dog’s smile expert, a dog whisperer of sorts from Spokane. 
Spokane animal expert studied dog ‘laughter’  Patricia Simonet, 51, a well-known animal behaviorist whose research in Spokane on the calming effects of dog “laughter” has been a boon to animal shelters around the country, died Dec. 2 after a three-year battle with cancer.

The things I find when researching and writing. The things I carry. The things carried by humanity, big and small, young and old, advanced and simple! Whew!

Just listen, man, listen. My old radio show. Anyone out there want me producing something like this kick-butt work? 
Filmmaker Curtis Ellis discusses Big River which looks at the impact of modern farming along the Mississippi River. Curtis Ellis also discusses King Corn, his film that shows how ingrained corn products are in our diet. Two interviews. Tipping Points: Voices from the Edge. 

So, today, I am also working on a literary project, for a Mexican novelist who shall remain unnamed or not ID-ed. The bottom line is that he found me, I found a fellow adjunct out of work to boot in Texas, and she is working on the original book, published once in Spanish, set for a second publishing  in Spanish in April, 2013 from even a bigger Spanish language publishing house, and our novelist is looking to hit the US-English speaking market with a good translation. Literary, engaged, purely tied to the original novel’s “Voice.” This novelists in Mexico is expecting some big-time contract. He is, he is!

Cool stuff, really. Because, lo and behold, I am back down memory lane, into that surreal world of what I did for, hmm, several decades along the borderline. You’ve got a bit of my pedigree in previous postings at DV, before I took on the School Yard Fights. You know, this riotous, magical surreal journey through the lenses of journalism, poetry, prison writing workshops, hard-edged life in Juarez, in all parts south of the borderline, and along that border. I was a reporter in Tombstone and Willcox and El Paso and other parts of that US — Southwest. Had my hand in quite a few pots. That storyboard is my next novel, or maybe the blended reality of fiction-poetry-memoir-assault.

But, today I’ve been studying the market for a book similar to the one I am working on with my Texas cohort, who hails from other parts, and whose family was originally from Cuba. It’s the way of my walkabout, finding all sorts of ideas and creative epiphanies to hitch onto while I still have sanity as I rumble in the jungle of Ivy League pukes and others running the Murder Incorporated that is so lovingly called Our Country Tis of Thee.

So, it’s one, two, three — Savage Detectives and 2666. Roberto Bolano, from Chile via Mexico via Spain via all other parts. Here and here (read the links below) and you are doing some of MY  homework on this man who died in 2003 at age 50 of liver disease. Interesting cornerstones to a new novelista coming out of the Latin American landscape. Reading his stuff for me has been sort of  an anecdote and antidote to this USA-G20 thuggery that just never stops cluttering the old noggin. This bullshit around sequesters, bullshit around another Ivy Leaguer, Kerry, screwing up more of the world theater with putzy saccharine thinking. Empty calories, but deadly, in this game of who do we now get up there in the Obama Chain of Fast Economy Food Courts Administration? Another Wal-mart guy? Who is he putting into the driver’s seat so we go 75 mph toward immolation? The daily question. What is the bartender John Boner-Boehner thinking when he blathers about “the sequester cuts won’t do nothing to the economy?” Maybe we’ll soon be seeing the head of the Apollo Group, AKA, U of Phoenix immolating, in some iteration of Obama Cabinet-level job soon. Who the hell knows! But back to more interesting things, literature, Latin America style. Dead author becomes legend kind of interesting!

So, here

Shortly before he died of liver failure in July 2003, Roberto Bolaño remarked that he would have preferred to be a detective rather than a writer. Bolaño was 50 years old at the time, and by then he was widely considered to be the most important Latin American novelist since Gabriel García Márquez. But when Mexican Playboy interviewed him, Bolaño was unequivocal. “I would have liked to be a homicide detective, much more than a writer,” he told the magazine. “Of that I’m absolutely sure.  A string of homicides. Someone who could go back alone, at night, to the scene of the crime, and not be afraid of ghosts.”

Ahh, the ghosts of Juarez and the femicides of the 1990’s are taken me down another gruesome memory lane. That’s a good thing since I spent so much time in La Frontera, so many formative years learning what it means to be in a society that splays culture and puts it all into some DNA blender to produce One Giant Slug of Consumopithecus Wandering the Land for One More Buying Spree Before 3-D Replication.

So, yes, dealing with adjunctivitus and the failure of my educators and the ADMIN class to codify some front to protect thinking and project some livable life around being an educator, that is important, and even on the scheme of things. But working with that Mexican author and reading his Spanish manuscript and trying to understand the denuding of language in the English translation he gave me and my fellow worker on this project, sure, the humanities ARE important. So are guys like Bolaño. Valuable.

Next year’s Modern Language Association conference is in Chicago, and the theme, again, tied to U of Phoenix, U of Massively Open Online Course, and the dumbdowning of society vis-a-vis anything-for-a-buck-and-the-school-to-precarious-worker-to-wage-slave-to-indebted-sick-old-person-to-dead-old-thing-who-owes-the-banks-big-time- pipeline, the theme is worthy.

Vulnerability and its antithesis, resilience, appear in studies of the environment, social ecology, political economy, medicine, and developmental psychology as terms that help address the predisposition of people and systems to injury and understand their ability to recover from shock and catastrophe. While acknowledging the vulnerabilities stemming from our shared embodiment, feminist theorists have also underlined the unevenly imposed and socially manufactured vulnerabilities faced by marginalized groups throughout history. They have seen vulnerability—both shared and differentially inflicted—not as weakness or victimhood but as a space for engagement and resistance emerging from a sense of fundamental openness, interdependence, and solidarity.

Conscious of the critiques that follow from a claim to vulnerability as precarity, they have nevertheless used this claim to imagine and to demand social and political institutions and acts of repair that would strengthen the recognition of interdependence and reduce susceptibility to injury. Vulnerable Times aims to contribute literary, humanistic, and historical perspectives to these interdisciplinary engagements. It looks to the temporalities that follow from an acknowledgment of vulnerability and asks how different historical moments and different cultural contexts have conceived of vulnerability and invulnerability, how they have attempted to avert catastrophe, envisioning alternative futures. Papers, panels, and roundtables might engage subjects such as social difference and disposable lives; trauma, memory, and testimony; war, genocide, and violence; Modern Language Association of America the effects of conquest, empire, and globalization; exile and migration; species, climate, and environment; intersubjectivity, intercorporeality, embodiment, and disability; affect and the senses;  intimacy, collaboration, and solidarity; resistance and activism; justice, repair, and redress; public arts and humanities; and endangered languages.

Vulnerability, uh? Victimhood. Precarity? Check it out! 

LAS CRUCES, N.M.—Molly Molloy keeps a grim diary. “Eight killed in night club,” reads her April 28 entry. “Pregnant woman killed during soccer match,” she noted on May 4.

Ms. Molloy, a 54-year-old librarian at New Mexico State University here, spends most mornings sifting reports in the Mexican press to create a tally of drug-cartel-related killings in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. She is striving to fill a widening information gap about these homicides in Juárez, some 50 miles southeast of Las Cruces, across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas.

There is no official count of the people killed in Mexico’s escalating drug wars—whether the victims are drug traffickers, police or civilians. A government estimate puts the total at about 22,000 in all of Mexico since late 2006.

For Juárez, Mexico’s deadliest city, state officials keep their own tally, but the swift pace of the killings, as well as distrust of authorities, has prompted reporters and such observers as Ms. Molloy to keep their own counts.

So, this unemployed and freelance writer-editor-ghostwriter-journalist at large position is alright, and brings to mind my years in El Paso and Juarez and all parts Chihuahua and Mexico. The news from Mexico just gets worse and worse.

Feminicide and the Disintegration of the Family Fabric in Ciudad Juárez: An Interview with Lourdes Portillo

“Reality is so bereft of humanity, so barbaric, that we cannot grasp it without the delicacy of art. Through art we can feel the loss and we can understand it without falling prey to sensationalism,” wrote filmmaker Lourdes Portillo. Portillo has been making films that explore issues of social justice and Latino identity for the last thirty years. The 1986 documentary Las Madres: The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, which she co-directed with Susana Blaustein Muños, was nominated for an Academy Award in the category of Best Documentary. Las Madres tells the story of mothers in Argentina who become activists after the disappearance of their family members during the Dirty War (1976–1983). Portillo also directed Señorita extraviada (Missing young woman) (2001), the first documentary to gain international attention for the issue of feminicide in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. Portillo, a self-identified Chicana, narrates in Spanish her personal investigation of feminicide in Ciudad Juárez. She is both director and detective, searching through the lens of the camera for those responsible for feminicide. Portillo’s documentary is an example of a film in which the director becomes involved in all aspects of seeking social change. She is the director, the narrator, feminicide detective, interviewer, and activist. The film, which relies heavily on testimony from families of victims, was awarded a special jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

I will be putting some steam into what I think is the under girder of my life as teacher, photographer, writer, journalist and revolutionary, but for now, I just have to say the University of Phoenix and Apollo Group story, while emblematic of all that is wrong with USA of Incorporated Madness and Implosion of Sane Public Goods, Public Commons, Public Needs, well, compared to those killings in Mexico, those women who have been brutalized and murdered by a system, an ideology, a belief, a culture, a broken system of money, drugs, power, men, err, capitalism . . . comparisons are not even in the same ballpark, so to speak.

But, a later discussion on the power of art and literature and journalism fused, around Bolano, I promise for my next or next DV School Yard Fights. For now, though, my contact Dahn from NJ continues to work the University of Phoenix boards, so to speak. And, you will notice I just got a job notice in my email for a gig as U of Phoenix wage slave in the Portland area — 40 minute trip, one-way, gas and parking decal not included. You know, 1500 dollars for one class. No benefits, no nothing. And, University of Phoenix is burning no less!

See this ticker-tape parade for Apollo Group?

 Number: 75375125
Company Name: University of Phoenix
Job Location: Tigard, OR US
Job Categories: Education, Training, & Library
Information Technology

Faculty – Programming

This position is accountable for the overall instructional and academic excellence in each course taught. Ensures the quality and integrity of each respective academic program. Primary Accountabilities NOTE: The primary accountabilities below are intended to describe the general content of and requirements of this position and are not intended to be an exhaustive statement of duties. Faculty may perform all or most of the primary accountabilities listed below. Specific tasks or responsibilities are documented in the incumbents’ contract for each course as outlined by Academic Affairs administration.

  • Serves as a part-time faculty member teaching individual specified courses.
  • Gears instruction to the course objectives by ensuring that course activities, assignments, and assessments relate to the achievement of the course objectives using only the University’s current course materials and guidelines.
  • Provides timely feedback and grades through Gradebook, the University’s proprietary grading and feedback system.
  • Proactively responds and attempts to resolve student academic issues within his/her class in conjunction with University policies, procedures and staff. Maintains a positive relationship with students and staff by ensuring customer satisfaction with issue resolution. Is available to students.
  • Develops and maintains good working relationships with division staff, other faculty, and students.
  • Participates when possible in the various faculty development activities offered and/or suggested by the Academic Affairs department of the University and in the life of the University through faculty meetings and graduations.
  • Remains current in the professional and technical knowledge of the content areas in which he/she teaches through employment, attending or presenting at professional conferences, reviewing professional publications, establishing personal networks, participating in professional societies, publishing in professional journals, etc.

Qualifications

Travel seldom required. Travel Travel seldom required.

*****
Paul,

Good luck on your job search.

I hope we can get another article out for Shooting Down the Phoenix.  Apollo Group stock (APOL) continues to drop and the social buzz has been very negative (76% bearish on Marketwatch).

http://www.marketwatch.com/investing/stock/apol

I continue to post verifiable information on Yahoo Finance and news websites.

We need others to post as well, about University of Phoenix/Apollo Group/APOL on financial sites, education sites, and news sites.  The better we source the material with legitimate and verifiable information, the stronger our case is for divestment and consumer/citizen action.

Some talking points to make in comment sections:

  • Apollo Group’s John and Peter Sperling have indirectly gained hundreds of millions of dollars by milking the federal government
  • Apollo Group’s victims include: veterans and working class students, poorly paid adjuncts, retirement funds acting as institutional investors, taxpayers, and public higher education.
  • Billions of dollars in government funds have been wasted on University of Phoenix that could have been spent on community colleges and state colleges and universities.  The combination of low graduation rates and high default rates for schools like University of Phoenix are unparalleled.
  • Apollo Group has indirectly used millions in federal money to settle an enormous lawsuit.  Apollo Group settled with public service retirement funds and other investors for $145 million.  Even after the settlement, APOL is reported to be in the top 1% for litigation risk.
  • University of Phoenix is facing accreditation problems, which means that if it doesn’t reform, there is a possibility that it may not get federal funding in the future.
  • APOL is not reforming its corporation significantly enough to receive government entitlements (VA benefits, Pell grants, Direct Student Loans).
  • At least one state, Mississippi, has recently passed legislation to regulate for-profit schools like the University of Phoenix.  But reform cannot come without oversight and consumer awareness.

In solidarity and empathy,
Dahn

 

Chart forApollo Group Inc. (APOL)

 

 

Paul Kirk has been a journalist since 1977. He's covered police, environment, planning and zoning, county and city politics, as well as working in true small town/community journalism situations in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Mexico and beyond. He's been a part-time faculty since 1983, and as such has worked in prisons, gang-influenced programs, universities, colleges, alternative high schools, language schools, as a private contractor-writing instructor for US military in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Washington. Read other articles by Paul.

2 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Paul Haeder said on March 5th, 2013 at 2:10pm #

    Education news, sort of. Not the most revolutionary, backbone stiffening society we have, but these just hit the Alternet Education blog —

    “Why Sending Your Child to a Charter School Hurts Other Children”

    Paul L. Thomas, Ed.D., AlterNet

    Parents should fight for quality education for all, not just their own kids.
    *************

    “Parent Complaint Suspends High School’s Social Justice Curriculum?”

    Anna Minard, The Stranger

    Seattle high school postpones students from speaking openly in class about race and gender.
    ****************

    “Christian School Fires Teacher for Pre-Marital Sex, Offers to Hire Her Boyfriend”

    Annie-Rose Strasser, Think Progress

    Hypocrisy!
    **********

    “Sex Ed for All! Finally An Education Bill That Includes LGBT Students”

    By Anya Callahan, Campus Progress

    The first of its kind, if this bill passes, sex education programs will see a new curriculum.
    ***********

    “The 32 Dumbest and Most Devastating Sequester Cuts”

    By Igor Volsky, Think Progress

    As Obama said during a press conference, “This is not going to be a apocalypse. It’s just dumb. And it’s going to hurt.” READ MORE»
    **********
    “Student Debt Tripled in Eight Years”

    By Natasha Lennard, Salon

    A new report from the New York Fed shows the explosion of total student loan debt, which shows no sign of stopping.
    ************
    “Do Textbooks Really Help Teach Our Kids?”

    By Marion Brady, The Washington Post

    Schools are sending kids on their way with a solid grasp of the Common Core State Standards but ignorant of powerful ideas. READ MORE»
    *********

    “Anthropologists Researching to ‘Inform U.S. Military Personnel’?'”

    By Serena Golden, Inside Higher Ed

    Why one notable anthropology professor recently resigned from the National Academy of Sciences.

  2. Paul Haeder said on March 5th, 2013 at 3:59pm #

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/tonyjones/2013/02/07/the-lonely-life-of-an-adjunct-professor/

    The amount of tripe out there is amazing. Quoting some guy named Tony Jones —
    Last semester, I taught a class at a local seminary. The class met on Thursday nights. After the first week of class, I received a one-line email from the dean, asking me how everything was going. And a month after the class, I received another email asking how everything went. Other than that, I didn’t hear from anyone on the faculty. I didn’t meet anyone on the faculty; I wasn’t even greeted by anyone. I did receive emails from the support staff with attendance sheets and asking for grades, but that was it.
    Last summer, I sent a query to another seminary for which I’d taught online courses for three years. Would they be needing me this year? Nope. Budgets are tight.

    And this semester, I’m teaching at a state university. So far it’s great fun. But last week when I was walking toward the classroom, the professor who teaches in the room before me turned off the lights and locked the door — he had no idea I was there as a professor. A grad student let me in the room so that I could teach.

    I’ve chosen the life of the adjunct professor, so I’m not crying in my beer here. I have deliberately avoided the life of a regular faculty member because I hate hate hate the politics of the academy, I hate committee work, and I don’t really want a job with that much commitment required. I’d rather be a freelance theologian, with all of the freedom and pressure that entails.

    Nevertheless, I am not unaffected by the loneliness of the adjunct role. I do wish that there was camaraderie with other faculty. My qualifications are just as good as theirs, even if I don’t get health insurance and a parking pass from the institution.

    More and more, colleges, universities, and grad schools are using adjunct faculty — they’re doing it to save money. And I think that more and more academics will choose the path I’ve chosen, to be independent from the publish-or-perish environment of institutional life. It’d be great if the schools that use us adjuncts could think seriously about how to weave us into the fabric of their faculty.

    Meanwhile, some adjunct professors are telling their students not to call them “Professor” as a protest against their working conditions.
    I know that a lot of seminary and college professors and administrators read this blog. What are your thoughts about us adjuncts?

    End of tepid thinking QUOTE!!!

    He gets 35 comments, and then, well, his is a Feb. 7 post, a day after I clocked in at 56 years. I had to weigh in today, now:

    My quote —

    Well-well-well. To cut and paste one of several telling paragraphs from your light-winded blog post:

    “I’ve chosen the life of the adjunct professor, so I’m not crying in my beer here. I have deliberately avoided the life of a regular faculty member because I hate hate hate the politics of the academy, I hate committee work, and I don’t really want a job with that much commitment required. I’d rather be a freelance theologian, with all of the freedom and pressure that entails.”

    Hmm, some of us have been teaching at multiple campuses to make a living and to make a difference in the lives of students, and in our own lives. That, I am sorry to say, Tony, is accomplished through inspiring and pissing off students, but also connecting with students’ families, employers, and our own bosses, whether pseudo-deans or administrators or even regents and politicos. That involves being involved in communities. Education is a little bit special, don’t you think? Have you missed that 5,000-year-running message?

    Some of us saw the contingent faculty cadre exploding, growing exponentially back in the early 1980s when some of us started teaching, again, at multiple campuses, in prisons, on military compounds, across international borders, for community education programs, and writing and doing things in the community because we did not want to become part of this endless Diaspora of good folk graduating from colleges where they’d like to teach with dignity and livable wages and benefits who HAVE to leave those communities to find work elsewhere.

    So, that means some of us have spent countless hours reaching out, bugging ADMIN class types, getting political, becoming unionists. We’ve been in crappy local newspapers, banded together and got on radio shows, and we have collectively worked to uplift our students’ lives and our own lives through community participation.

    Some of the 35 comments above in this post are so telling of a diseased group of thinkers who blame the victim, who see some uber-Utopia with technology as savior, who believe that education is about delivering, about connecting and uploading and sim card insertion, about the on-line virtual world of endless communities and virtual social and now education groups. They of course are wrong, and they are part of the problem not solution to education issues and challenges and this current downward slide to oblivion.

    It’s a tired old canard now, really. “We are in the midst of revolutionary and profoundly positive changes thanks to IT, Creative Class and our unending addiction for technology to put us into a 3-D replicator world where sex, food, and shelter can be at our virtual fingertips in a giant intergalactic game of Simulated Humanity is so f-ing far out, let’s do it.”

    It’s bogus, really. Massively Open Online Courses-Work-Life maybe a foregone conclusion in some of your minds, but for some of us, who have been adjuncting and fighting for wages and fairness and an academy that is a cut or two above Walmart and Amazon.dot cum, well, we have heard, seen and experienced it all. And some of us are fighting this MOOC lie.

    I’m not surprised that you did not reach out at this state school and make inroads to challenging your coworkers to know you, to be human and humane, to normalize human relations. Theology, uh? How’s that working out? I’ve been with Sandinista clerics, liberation theologists, with Buddhists, with countless numbers of Muslims, with a plethora of theologically-informed folk in many countries, and your bizarre fear of face-to-face interactions makes sense only on one or two highly dysfunctional levels. Certainly it’s American, North American, USA phenomena. Get a life — push yourself onto your colleagues, your co-workers.

    As far as the tongue-in-cheek comments and those admonitions for adjuncts-precarious-contingents to get real, get real jobs and admit our lowly status, yet, our god-like status, too, they are beyond the time and ire necessary in your comment frame. Interesting you have that many folk following your blog.

    end of my non-tepid quote!!!!!!!!