In L. A. Unified, over 80% of our students live in poverty. We serve three meals a day and provide health care in our clinics and wellness centers. We offer a safe and welcoming space for nearly 20,000 students experiencing homelessness.
The halls of academe are known to be hospitable to people with radical views on power relationships between capital and labor, but colleges themselves are often merciless actors in the labor market. Many adjuncts earn only a few thousand dollars per course, with no health insurance or retirement benefits. Twenty-five percent of part-time faculty receive some form of public assistance.
But there’s a crucial difference between schoolteachers and college professors. Elementary, middle, and high school teachers all have versions of the same job. They sink and swim and bargain together. The academy is a two-tier caste system, split between those who won the tenure tournament and those who lost.
From the comments:
I had a philosophy professor in college who said “if you’re thinking about a PhD in Philosophy, let me talk you out of it.” Great advice.
The Bleak Job Landscape of Adjunctopia for Ph.D.s
Ruthless labor exploitation? Generational betrayal? Understanding the job crisis in academia requires a look at recent history.
Kevin Carey, NYTIMES
On Sunday, The Simpsons aired The Miseducation Of Lisa Simpson, an episode in which Marge — with the help of a song from John Legend (“STEM, it’s not just for dorks, dweebs and nerds / It’ll turn all your dumb kids to Zuckerbergs”) — convinces Springfield to use a windfall the town reaped by seizing shipwreck treasure to build the Springfield STEM Academy to ‘prepare kids for the jobs of tomorrow.’ All goes well initially — both Lisa and Bart love their new school — until Lisa realizes there’s a two-tiered curriculum. While children classified as “divergent pathway assimilators” (i.e., gifted) like Lisa study neural networks and C+++ upstairs, kids like Bart are relegated to the basement where they’re prepared via VR and gamified learning for a life of menial, gig economy side-hustles — charging e-scooters, shopping for rich people’s produce, driving ride-share. Hey, it’s not so different from the two-tier caste systems at Google and Facebook, Lisa!
A lot of what we did is write Common Apps and sort out how we were going to make these students look good. The tough part was that this sometimes involved fabricating activities, or for lack of a better word, “passions.”
The fact of the matter is that these kids don’t have passions, so they are trying to do what others did with the test scores and buy their way in. Trying to fake passion is hard. It’s upsetting that people would pay good money rather than trying to cultivate it themselves.
For instance, there was a kid who ran a 5K for a hospital that was near the school he wanted to go to—a very elite school. I spun that to say he was involved in volunteering at that hospital. They really don’t check that kind of stuff, as long as it’s somewhat believable.
Rally @ Civic Center. Denver, 4/27/2018.
“It’s a struggle that many parents are familiar with — your child doesn’t want to go to school. But for some kids, this happens every day, leading to weeks and sometimes months of missing school. Mental health professionals say these students’ chronic absenteeism is part of a condition called “school refusal” that may be triggered by anxiety, depression, family crises and other traumatic life events.”
Interesting talk on Here and Now.