Who’s Minding the School House? NRA, High Tech, Low Ethics of Admin Class

I’m rushing to make a deadline for a collection of writings around the intersection of climate change and race-culture-class. Sure, they accepted my initial propositions and ideas way back in May. And, while this might be a great little feather in my cap if they go with my stuff, again, it’s yet another “free” thing I undertake, this time for the tenured faculty editing and coordinating this. I am not wholly confident that my culture and class fit into any group’s schema of the concepts of class and culture tied to working class doers and multi-contextual thinkers and actors. Some of us are working class revolutionaries, and, we have been marginalized, patronized, put on the precarious worker chopping block, and we are expendable and easily manipulated into fear.

Adjuncts and “precarious workers” are one in the same, and the state of higher education is abysmal largely because of the precarious nature of what it is to be a thinker and teacher within that system – and I am not talking about some old grand day when higher education was nirvana, because it never was, but the entire idea of education and free speech as the cornerstone to real democratic thought and action has some sense to it, if only the leftists hadn’t sold out and the full-time faculty, and especially the elites who seem to get the bloody rotten interviews on National Pansy Radio and get the book contracts and air time with Jon Leibowitz-I-wanna-be-a-gentile-Stewart, didn’t get clogged careerist coronary arteries.

You know, a community of thinkers and doers, and young and old working on community-focused projects and global-action solutions to the myriad of sin and pain and rapine unleashed by Capitalism-Transfinancial Capital-Consumerism.

I am talking about things like innocence projects, in-the-community groups working on economic, environmental and social equity issues.  Education without the slime of corporate buyout and sycophants ‘r Us tied to it.

So, I am rushing, also thinking about the daily rejections I get back from a variety of outfits I have applied to here in Portland, Oregon, one of the bizarre places on mother earth. Seattle, too, where I lived, that is one bizarre place. These enclaves of IT and Coder creeps, and all the hubbub over transportation choices and sustainability in a world that is ALL greenwashing and eco-porn (in fact, what the article I should be working on now for that collection is all about), they are eating the souls of lower economic classes, people of color, and young and old.

Giving Nike or Intel free space, tax-free status, and for what? Yep, like Google, when a city like Hillsboro or Beaverton of the Dalles throws money and no taxation at them, well, theses cities   — read: taxpayers in a grossly regressive/Pro One Percent taxation system — get 10 jobs for all the giveaways.

Letter to the editor, Oregonian 

Server farms locate in Oregon primarily for the cheap public power from BPA and tax “incentives”. If they had to buy power from investor owned utilities like Warren Buffett’s Pacific Power (cash cow) or PGE they would not be here.

Server farms are technology and capital intensive, not labor intensive so they contribute little to economic growth of Oregon. Of course, in a rural area they make a local difference to employment. But it is not as if server farms can be compared with the economic value (multiplier) of, say, logging.

Semiconductor fabrication facilities are in Oregon because of the water and tax “incentives” not the superiority of the Oregon workforce nor the recreational opportunities for employees.

As Michael Porter pointed out in his justly famous paper, ‘What is Strategy?’, strategy is about doing the same thing differently or doing different things. It’s a rather banal observation that the paper successfully explicates.


Oregon government and citizens have not taken this to heart, or perhaps one should say to mind. Politicians and bureaucrats invariably jump on available bandwagons from a combination of ignorance and pandering. They only hear and see what serves their immediate interests. They squander public money on private corporations because they can do so and get away with it

What a lose-lose proposition in a state, Oregon, where public employees are seeing massive cuts to their pensions. That’s right, work till you drop, take money out of your own kitty, and have matching funds put in as part of the CONTRACT as a teacher or state biologist, and then, bam, say goodbye to the retirement. Politicians on both side of the rich and famous or infamous public-to-swollen-cheek legislator welfare trough are raiding public employee retirement system. Ya think the old buggers want to revolt yet? Sick-sick stuff — add to that politicians and economy-riggers who take us, US taxpayers, to court. Suing us, the government, trade tribunals. Here, Zeese, TRNN, about more of that. Also known as “free trade agreements.”.

So, the drive back home to this little office space, I am exposed to a constant toxicity of reminders of what, Portland, this is dream city, Coders Paradise, the place to be? Oops, Portland has three times the suicide rate of the national average? Hmm, no need to do a Jon Leibowitz comeback on that sad-sad reality.

The Oregonian, no bastion of great journalism, is proudly proclaiming the new age of digital news, and tomorrow the rag cuts the 7-day-a-week home delivery to four  — you get to have the digital email box filled with lovely crappy stories via digital newspaper.

Instead of going for broke and creating a newspaper that investigates this screwed up state, puts more money into tackling topics, reaches cooperative working agreements with all of the state’s colleges and universities to be a platform for student journalism, and maybe opening up to some citizen real pulp blogs, and, well, the sky’s the limit with publishing in real time, with real pulp, instead, the owner of the Oregonian caves to his own shadow. No guts looking for a new formula to produce a newspaper with real pulp, but “well, we have to go to digital because advertising is going . . . . “ Ahh, the new model, get on-line with the Oregonian and then pay some app firm or digital devil to NOT receive all the unsolicited advertising. How’s that digital advertising thing going? Oh, sure, the free world wide gov’t-corpNet. I mean, Web! Yeah, World Wide Web. Funny naive me. Just listening to this fellow the double-think bile easily starts perc-ing up.

Hell, I even applied to the Oregonian as a new digital content writer-reporter, wondering if they would have the guts to have a real ombudsman approach to their little experiment. Sort of old guy with one foot in the old way and one in the new way writing up what the entire thing really means, and how the changes really affect news.

Don’t think so.

I am getting all manner of rejections from those prospective non-profits and private agencies I am applying to. You know, a combo communications-development-education lead, or whatever. I know I am up against favoritism for females, young, and people with little work experience in other fields but a lot in non-profit management and even degrees in PR, communications, and non-profit management. Wow.

We already know about the non-profits, now, here at DV:

America’s problem is starkly clear to people who know and understand what is happening. The corpocracy is taking America down a ruinous path, all the while compromising any potential opposition from non-profit, non-governmental organizations by making them dependent on government, foundations and corporations for funding and thus for a livelihood. While NGO people may not see or want to see themselves as accepting hush money through the umbilical chord there is no doubt in my mind after reviewing their busyness that they are tethered to it.

NGOs in the complex are the corpocracy’s insurance policy against being overthrown and have no incentive whatsoever to unite and become a truly formidable challenge to the corpocracy’s tyranny. My proposal to them to do so must have been seen as terribly naïve.

Ahh, driving away from my 24-hour stint as a manager of developmentally disabled folks, I had no choice this morning but to go back and forth from National Petro-Pestici-Privatize Radio and KBOO, the alternative radio station. You know that slimy show, Market Place, and whew, another loser writer with another reason to shit upon teachers and anything that might question the Coder and Artificial Intelligence mentality of the IT world, the app world, all the digital junk that now sells itself as work: Market Place, Sept. 30, 2013

There’s always plenty of gadget and software news out there, but not many people look directly at the larger question — is technology making us better, or worse? Clive Thompson, New York Times, Wired Magazine contributor and author of  Smarter Than You Think: How Technology Is Changing Our Minds for The Better, joins Marketplace Tech host Ben Johnson to discuss.

These fellows are blustery know-nothings, have zero connection to working class people, the majority of people, and believe that the gadgets and software are making society better. It is so effed up, this idea that we all can have some catharsis on line, that we all are better informed therefore better people  — as opposed to the false navel shooting consumers all locked up in our collective technological (intellectually-speaking) chastity belt. It’s just another rotten East Coast book by another rotten author who, if you peruse his book, is so Nerf ball in its look at technology, that not one negative thing comes through. What a beautiful day it is in the Smart City neighborhood. Another aspect of what I am supposed to be finishing up – how these so-called smart cities are all wired in and big-time solar-powered cute, with huge centers in mega-cities, but the fact is that a majority of people in the smart city are in a Green Zone (physically and mentally bunkered away from the masses) a la Gated Community. Those cities with 10 million or more, well, guess what? A majority of the population ain’t getting nuthin from smart cities in megacities. Nothing. Well, something:  Poverty, pain, precarious work, food insecurity, rotten gridlock, pollution, no housing. Oh, those smart cities, though, can plot on beautiful three-d maps and through holographs each and every favela, slum, barrio. Each and every murder, each suicide, each premature death. Wow, smart city, USA.

I’ll give readers Robert Reich, not someone more revolutionary, for now:

Most of us assume that at some point the economy is going to kick into gear. That unemployment will eventually drop below 6 percent, and that job creation will return to its previous clip of 200,000 a month. But what if we’re stuck at a new normal of high unemployment and low job growth? It’s possible because technology might just have gotten the best of us.

It used to be that new technologies generated lots of new jobs for those displaced from old ones. After farms were mechanized, Americans moved to factories. After manufacturing declined — in part due to technologies that dramatically cut the cost of shipping goods — we moved into services.

But new technologies have been eating away at services, too. Gas station attendants are long gone and telephone operators and bank tellers aren’t far behind. Endangered too are office clerks and secretaries, publishing jobs, and people providing any expertise or information that can now be digitized into a computer.

We still have plenty of jobs in retail sales, education, and health care — but these are also among the least efficient parts of our economy and pressure is building to cut costs. Here again, technology is leading the way. In the next decade, it seems likely that many retail sales workers will be being replaced by online sales. We’re about to see a wave of online courses and classrooms — supplanting some teachers.

Health care has to become more efficient. So patients will carry their own medical files on memory sticks. We’ll also have personal health apps, allowing us to self-diagnose — even measuring our own blood pressure and other vital signs.

All this is good for us as consumers — but as workers we’re putting ourselves out of business. At this rate, 50 years from now, a tiny machine may satisfy all our needs. Call it the “iEverything.” The only problem: none of us will be able to afford it because we’ll all be unemployed.

The reality, though, is I am hot piping mad, as usual, this time, about a teacher in Kansas put on leave and being asked to not just leave education all together, but to commit seppuku. For what?  For Tweeting that maybe those people in the NRA who are calling for every human being to be triple armed, after the Navy Yard killing, should think twice about their national political vote and whore buying:

[Image from Alternet, for the story — “Eight-year-old suspended for using finger as fake gun”]

From Inside Hyper-Conservative Higher Education :

David W. Guth wrote: “#NavyYardShooting The blood is on the hands of the #NRA. Next time, let it be YOUR sons and daughters. Shame on you. May God damn you.”

“I am angry, frustrated, sad and determined. The news of the senseless slaughter today at Washington’s Navy Yard has me again questioning how we can let this madness continue. Frankly, I don’t care if I am criticized for being too quick to judge, too harsh in my criticism or too strident in my tone. The time has passed for niceties and tact. The blood spilled today is on the hands of the National Rifle Association.”

He continued: “I don’t wish what happened today on anyone. But if it does happen again — and it likely will — may it happen to those misguided miscreants who suggest that today’s death toll at the Navy Yard would have been lower if the employees there were allowed to pack heat.”

In previous media interviews, Guth said he was tweeting as a private citizen, and that his First Amendment rights should be respected.

Patricia Stoneking, president of the Kansas State Rifle Assocation, said in a news release that the organization would “do everything possible” to see Guth fired.

On Friday, Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little announced that she was suspending Guth in order to “prevent disruptions to the learning environment for students, the School of Journalism and the university,” pending a review of the “entire situation.”

Ann Brill, dean of the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communication, said in a separate statement that while the First Amendment allows free expression, “that privilege is not absolute and must be balanced with the rights of others. That’s vital to civil discourse. Professor Guth’s views do not represent our school and we do not advocate violence directed against any group or individuals.”

From Salon

The exact opposite is true of college professors, as is recognized in KU’s Code of Faculty Rights, Responsibilities and Conduct: “Freedom of inquiry, expression, and assembly are guaranteed to all faculty members.” This was reinforced by  Guth’s colleagues in the KU journalism department, who issued a statement saying, “[W]e support his right to express his ideas, just as we support the rights of others to express their own opinions about his comments. Promoting freedom of expression has always been a core value of our school.”  Tenure entails a free speech protection that’s conceptually similar to the First Amendment, but is legally more robust, and protects faculty at private institutions as well. That’s because academia thrives on the conflict of ideas — not on stifling them.

I interviewed historian Ellen Schrecker, author of several books on McCarthyism.”What we’re seeing is an attack on whole disciplines, on Middle East studies and ethnic studies,” Schrecker told me. “That will have a chilling effect on how these are dealt with in the academy.”

Schrecker said something similar in an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, writing about the related, Orwellian “Academic Bill of Rights” campaign organized by former-Communist-turned-rightwinger David Horowitz:

Today’s assault on the academy is more serious. Unlike that of the McCarthy era, it reaches directly into the classroom. In the name of establishing intellectual diversity, Horowitz and his allies want to impose outside political controls over core educational functions like personnel decisions, curricula, and teaching methods. Such an intrusion not only endangers the faculty autonomy that traditionally protects academic freedom, but it also threatens the integrity of American higher education.

Guth received death threats along with calls for his firing from the GOP’s Kansas state senate leader, and others, along with threats to cut state funding for the university.

Can you believe this “statement of solidarity” below? “We do not agree with  his comments, but . . . .” Real solidarity is to tweet the message Guth tweeted; each and every one of these signers should indeed just retweet what he tweeted.  Just retweet it en mass. Plaster his comments up on walls. Sign it. Just say it, failing teachers:  “Mr. Guth Tweeted (what a pansy thing in our society now, our language – I Tweeted this and I liked you on Facebook. . .err, Effe-You Book.. .  or I Googled him) what we all have a right to think or say WITHOUT being fired, without being put on  leave and eventually being brought before the stocks of the Kansas prison industrial complex or any other state body and within that body any group of tar and feathering, lynching-loving citizens or rotten, slimy whoring politician.”

Oh, here are the few words defending Guth, who is now on the outs, who is not going to be prime material on the job market if he eventually says adios to higher education because of what the psychopathic NRA and their demented followers are saying.

Education by-because of-through the  NRA?

Statement by members of the tenured faculty of the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications:

As tenured members of the faculty of the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Kansas, the undersigned individuals strongly support the freedoms of expression specified in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. We do not agree with our colleague David Guth’s recent comments, but we support his right to express his ideas, just as we support the rights of others to express their own opinions about his comments. Promoting freedom of expression has always been a core value of our school.

Another core value of our school has always been to provide a productive learning environment for our students. This includes the importance of conducting class without concern of disruption. Because of the polarized nature and volume of response to Professor Guth’s comments, we support his decision and the decision of the university administration for Professor Guth to transfer his students and classes to other professors at this time.

Charles Marsh,  Doug  Ward,   Susanne Shaw,    John Broholm,    Max Utsler,    Scott Reinardy,  Barbara Barnett,    Michael Williams,    Tien-Tsung Lee,    James Gentry,  Tim Bengtson,  Carol Holstead                     Mugur Geana

These people are FAILURES. Agreeing that chucking the guy out is okay for the time being . . .  that disrupting classrooms would be the height of madness for students?  *&@#!% The polarizing nature of his comments make him incompetent? These people are slimy, unworthy of their breathing air on campus. What kind of statement of solidarity is this now? Their ideas are mulch.

Okay, okay, some updates by Joe Berry with COCAL, Coalition of Contingent Academic Labor. With some pulled blurbs from each source. Again, this is on ADJUNCT faculty, and the first item is around Margaret Mary, written about here –

“Two More Inches of Rope form Which to Hang Us Up As Examples of Detritus Teachers.”

Later, and back to the salt mine.

1. More reactions to case of Margaret Mary Vojtko at Duquesne Yahoo News (sic)

Many readers, though, believe that adjunct professors — who make up about 60 percent of the Duquesne faculty and about 75 percent around the country — should be better compensated.

“So much for Christian values,” Dawn Fels wrote. “There are hundreds of dedicated individuals just like Margaret Mary across the country trying to make ends meet as professors. They’re adjuncts, contingent workers who make a fraction of what they need to survive. It’s truly sickening.”

“I hope everyone understands that adjuncts are the backbone of university education,” Dana Trusso wrote. “In fact, Madame Vojtko was my French teacher in GRADUATE SCHOOL at Duquesne. [Adjuncts] are even teaching Ph.D. students! And this is how we compensate them for their dedication to education? The higher educational system is broken.

Others say that given the amount of money universities pay to college coaches, the low wages given to teachers like Vojtko are borderline criminal.

“So you pay a coach $150,000 to 500,000 and a teacher $20,000 to 40,000?” Patrick James wrote. “These are not universities they are pre-professional sports arenas.”

and a petition at Duquesne in the wake of this case

and Gary Rhoades on CNN

The dirty little secret is that higher education is staffed with an insufficiently resourced, egregiously exploited, contingent “new faculty majority.” In addition to the 49.3% of faculty in part-time positions (70% in community colleges), another 19% are full-time, nontenure-track. (These numbers do not include graduate assistants or postdocs.)

Adjunct professors, like many hard-working Americans, are the working poor. They are one step away from “We don’t need your services anymore” or one medical emergency away from being destitute, like Vojtko.

and Opposing Views:

Anyone who has railed against teachers’ unions as greedy organizations looking to prop up lazy and ineffective educators need only look at the plight of the adjunct professor to see what might happen were the unions to vanish. A number of non-academic unions, including United Steelworkers and SEIU, have made efforts to organize for adjunct faculty but have met with opposition from Universities. They have also faced some reluctance from adjunct faculty themselves who, despite their low wages, fear the loss of the tiny paycheck that they could not live without.

and rotten HuffPo 

and The Tiger News.

and US News 

2. Bentley Adjunct in Boston voting on union representation by SEIU

3. Another blog from Paul Haeder at Dissident Voice

Whether Vojtko’s death, and the circumstances surrounding it, will effect lasting change in working conditions for adjunct professors remains to be seen. However, in light of recent data that suggests students achieve better learning outcomes when taught by non-tenured faculty members, the debate could reach a boiling point in the near future.

4. More on the contract at Eastern Washington U. See below.
5. Wright State adjunct union (AAUP) get first contract

6. U of OR faculty get historic agreement and classified employees may strike

7. Faculty Assoc of CA CCs (FACC) fall part-time faculty Symposium, Nov. 2. Details below
8. Senior religion contingent fired after years of service after coming out as transgender, Salon.

 Heath Adam Ackley told Religion News Service that, after teaching at Azusa Pacific University for 15 years, other faculty will be taking over his classes. Ackley is in his third year of a five-year contract.

A veteran theology professor at a California Christian college has been asked to leave his teaching post after coming out as transgender in a sermon.

Heath Adam Ackley (who, before coming out as transgender, went by the name Heather Clements) told Religion News Service that, after teaching at Azusa Pacific University for 15 years, other faculty will be taking over his classes. Ackley is in his third year of a five-year contract.

“I did not get a sense directly from the individuals with whom I was speaking that they had a theological problem with transgender identity,” Ackley told RNS. “I did get the message that it has to do with their concern that other people, such as donors, parents and churches connected to the university will have problems not understanding transgender identity.”

9. Apollo Group (U of Phoenix) ramping up its advertising and buying partners

The Apollo Group owns The University of Phoenix which receives eighty nine percent if not more, of its revenue from you, the taxpayer who will bail out the banks again once the stolen swag by Apollo in the form of student loans for phony diplomas comes home to roost.

Meanwhile, corporate media outlets and the internet will see huge revenue increases as the for-profit drive-by college spends your tax funds on promoting their criminal enterprise.  Apollo spends MORE than any other advertiser on the internet!

10. Adjunct faculty and food banks — Coloradoan

Because 70% of the teachers who teach 85% of the classes at Front Range Community College earn below-poverty level wages, the FRCC Chapter of the American Association of University Professors has begun sponsoring weekly visits to area food banks for the colleges 500 adjunct teachers.

In most cases, adjuncts need to bring to the food banks only a recent paystub and a recent bill to verify residency. Going with other adjuncts to get groceries, say many, removes the stigma of their need. Without such help, many of the teachers borrow money from relatives or use credit cards to purchase groceries, they report.

11. Adjunct Tragedy

12. NLRB agrees with Pacific Lutheran admin to review (again) bid by adjuncts for union recognition

The National Labor Relations Board has agreed to review Pacific Lutheran University’s request to that it reconsider a regional board official’s recent decision to allow the university’s adjunct faculty to vote on forming a union. Pacific Lutheran objected on a number of grounds, including its religious nature. The national NRLB issued a brief statement that said: “The employer’s request for review of the regional director’s decision and direction of election raises substantial issues warranting review solely with respect to the assertion of jurisdiction over the employer and the determination that certain faculty members are not managerial employees.” The local Service Employees International Union, with which the adjunct faculty union is affiliated, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

NOTE: The SEIU 925, which I worked for, is rotten to the core. Can’t even muster a comment. They are dirty dealing here. Open your over-paid mouths and get a comment in the media. This is how SEIU operates. Lack of guts, transparency, and basically some really bizarre communications managers (sic) working with some really rotten PR firms. Oh, heck, read DV here on SEIU — “Low Wage Workers, Top-down Unions” 

13. Debate at SUNY New Paltz over admin and adjunct pay gaps and basis

14. Are tenured professors really worse teachers?

and more Cedar Digest.

15. More on Duquesne U fight — Labor Radio  &  Post-Gazette

16. Adjuncts are the new working poor CNN.

17. 5th annual forum on contingent faculty, SEIU 500, Nov. 15-17. See below for details and call for presentations
18. Tufts adjunct win union votes with SEIU

Adjunct Action, IHE, Chronicle, Boston Globe 

19. SEIU hiring adjunct organizers for Los Angeles campaign — Union Jobs, and note they want a pound of flesh, total control of your life, any hour of the day, and, to be fair, SEIU is a rotten union in many respect. Hypocrites to the MAX.

20. WA AFT pres calls for pay equity

22. how higher ed fails adjuncts — Observer Today

Compensation and treatment of adjunct professors has been a simmering issue since the early ’70s, when campuses began to see a shift from full-time to part-time faculty. According to a survey by the Coalition on the Academic Workforce, these itinerant teachers make up a 75 percent of college instructors, with their average pay between $20,000 and $25,000 annually. They do no less work for each class than a tenure-track professor might, and usually have to teach many more courses per semester in order to make ends meet.

Most adjuncts are not unionized and few receive benefits. This is why colleges nationwide are increasingly curtailing adjunct hour workloads to avoid providing health care as required under the Affordable Care Act.

[A sign indicating the closure of the Lincoln Memorial is posted on a barricade in Washington on Tuesday. Congress plunged the nation into a partial government shutdown as a long-running dispute over President Barack Obama’s health care law stalled a temporary funding bill, forcing about 800,000 federal workers off the job and suspending most non-essential federal programs and services. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)]

Paul Haeder's been a teacher, social worker, newspaperman, environmental activist, and marginalized muckraker, union organizer. Paul's book, Reimagining Sanity: Voices Beyond the Echo Chamber (2016), looks at 10 years (now going on 17 years) of his writing at Dissident Voice. Read his musings at LA Progressive. Read (purchase) his short story collection, Wide Open Eyes: Surfacing from Vietnam now out, published by Cirque Journal. Here's his Amazon page with more published work Amazon. Read other articles by Paul, or visit Paul's website.