Open Letter to Media from National Adjunct Walkout Day

National Adjunct posted the following open letter to media on the National Adjunct Walkout Day (NAWD) FaceBook page, February 19, 2015. The letter also doubles as ideas for talking points. The NAWD Tumblr page is abuzz with submissions from precarious faculty in- and outside the United States, as denoted on the map of events below.

https://adjunkedprofessor.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/nawd-map.png?w=677&h=342Map by @vireeon. Send logos to @vireeon to map your event.

Dear Media,

Thank you for your requests.

It’s good that you are focusing attention on the “plight” of adjuncts, and we thank you for getting “our” story out there.

But the story of adjunctification is larger than the story of adjuncts.

It’s the story of higher education, and how it is losing its mission.

In addition to questioning adjuncts, are you also putting administrators in the hot seat? Are you asking why a system that claims to value education is exploiting 75% of its faculty?

Are you asking why, as tuition has risen at unprecedented rates, instruction allocations have gone down?

Are you asking where student fees are going? How much administrators are earning? How much money is being spent on building projects, athletics, and aesthetic upgrades?

Adjuncts are part of the story–but the whole story can’t be told by adjuncts alone.

Please also direct your questions to students, whose learning conditions suffer at the same time their tuition has risen; and full time faculty, who share many of our same concerns.

And please don’t forget to direct the hard-hitting questions to the administrators who are paid generous salaries to answer your questions–and then ask them some more

If you have already looked at these angles, it should already be clear why adjuncts are coming together on February 25.

Thanks,
‪#‎NAWD‬

Visit the National Adjunct Walkout Day Facebook page for updates, news and camaraderie here; and the Tumblr page for #NAWD ideas and to submit your event with or without logos here. For Twitter, visit @NationalAdjunct here.

Adjuncts Are But a Symptom

15 December 2014

One way to exert power in restraint of democracy is to bend the state to a market logic, pretending one can replace “citizens” with “customers.” Consequently, the neoliberals seek to restructure the state with numerous audit devices (under the sign of “accountability” or the “audit society”) or impose rationalization through introduction of the “new public management”; or, better yet, convert state services to private provision on a contractual basis.

– Philip Mirowski “The Thirteen Commandments of Neoliberalism

Who’s minding the store while thousands of academics across the globe debate ‘best practices’ for activism? The free market analogy is apropos, for while we focus our attention on the divisive nature of the two tier system, the assault on public education and the part-timization of the workforce go on unabated.

Adjuncts are a white collar symptom of systemic and deep global wounds to freedom. The plight of adjuncts is often compared to that of fast food and WalMart workers, but we need to consider that our advanced degrees provide us a privilege not shared by most of the wounded. We are equal to our fellow wounded but possess an additional step to economic access. So, even though many adjuncts subsist at or near poverty levels, we also exist within a realm of opportunity granted via advanced education – an irony we can’t afford to ignore.

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Because the piece of the pie relegated to education keeps shrinking, we are all fighting for our very existence, and without realizing it or meaning to, we are being conditioned to accept a norm that says there is no public good, only allegiance to oneself. Such a focus erodes freedom. We need a concerted effort to fight the undermining of programs that actually helped bring about the ideals of democracy for forty-plus years, one of which is public education.

The ongoing Adjunct Question is a tool being used to misdirect us from the subversion of public education since the 1940s and the big push against New Deal programs. This era saw the formation of Friedrich Hayek’s Mont Pelerin Society, the adoption of ideas by Ludwig von Mises, and the birth of the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), “generally regarded as ‘the first libertarian think-tank,’” into which both Milton Friedman and future John Birch Society founder Robert Welch put energy:

The purpose of the FEE – and libertarianism, as it was originally created – was to supplement big business lobbying with a pseudo-intellectual, pseudo-economics rationale to back up its policy and legislative attacks on labor and government regulations. (Mark Ames)

Think of it this way – there is billions at stake in the testing-accountability movement that accepts public funding into its own coffers as a way of doing business, framing the siphoning as ‘public-private.’ This means that tax dollars are being used to make profits at the expense of all of us, profits that are not being returned to the classroom. Nor are these monies being used to support citizen interests such as job security, pro rata compensation, student loan subsidies, or education the way we ourselves practice it.

No, as it turns out, public education is an investor’s dream. Often cloaked as social enterprise investing and venture philanthropy with directive strings attached, education investment opportunities include everything from owning charter schools, student loan corporations, and assessment facilities to manipulating curriculum and operating billion dollar hedge funds. As reborn education activist Diane Ravitch put it:

What’s in it for the hedge fund guys? A fun hobby; power; a chance to call themselves “civil rights leaders” (not too many to be found in the big cities’ exclusive clubs); and, yes, a chance to make money. Those who invest in charters can double their money in seven years, thanks to a federal program called the New Markets Tax Credits.

It may seem realistic to accept the neoliberal argument that education is not a right (and it is eek, socialist!), and therefore schools must compete for consumers just like businesses, but it’s actually opportunistic and clearly doesn’t work. The question should be: how do we fight the nexus of the behemoths of big politics and business in order to redress the contingency crisis?

https://i1.wp.com/dollarsandsense.org/archives/2014/0314friedman--fig3--500x368.gifThe two-tier system is an excellent tool for the divide and conquer strategy of Jeffersonian free markets. Forcing tenured professors to protect the tenure system misdirects attention away from the assault on the teaching profession as a cover for union busting and removing obstacles to the godhead of the market. While educators as a whole are attacked on multiple fronts, the unions we rely on to protect academic freedom and tenure are in a fight for their lives. The business-political elites have been busy forcing education unions to spend large sums fending off legislation meant to weaken our voices. Unfortunately, the two tier system, viewed by assailants as a socialist program, unwittingly and conveniently helps weaken public education. This is not a justification for the inability of unions to protect academic freedom and make gains for all faculty members – just a demonstration that the assault on multiple fronts is working very well.

So, if the unions are busy fighting for their existence (relying on the same methods used in the past), and tenured faculty are busy protecting tenure (relying on academic freedom arguments that necessitated the rise of faculty unions), and the adjunct faculty are busy working to improve their working conditions, who is minding the store?

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Our old ways of handling academic infighting is made obsolete by the legislating of our lives in which every move is calculated toward repealing any semblance to the freedoms we understand as guaranteed in the Constitution. In “Reclaiming the Politics of Freedom,” Political Science Professor Corey Robin argues that big business, “uncurbed and unchecked, portends…personal domination,” and that government is a source of freedom:

When government is aligned with democratic movements on the ground, as Walter Reuther and Martin Luther King Jr. understood, it becomes the individual’s instrument for liberating [oneself from one’s] rulers in the private sphere, a way to break the back of private autocracy.

Contingent labor is being made out to be the new norm, not just in academia, but worldwide. We need to consider that our fight is not just a fight for adjunct faculty, but for the denial of what the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights states as

The right of everyone to the enjoyment of just and favourable conditions of work which ensure, in particular:

(a) Remuneration which provides all workers, as a minimum, with:

(i) Fair wages and equal remuneration for work of equal value without distinction of any kind, in particular women being guaranteed conditions of work not inferior to those enjoyed by men, with equal pay for equal work;

(ii) A decent living for themselves and their families in accordance with the provisions of the present Covenant;

(b) Safe and healthy working conditions;

(c) Equal opportunity for everyone to be promoted in his employment to an appropriate higher level, subject to no considerations other than those of seniority and competence;

(d) Rest, leisure and reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay, as well as remuneration for public holidays.

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We must take the big picture into consideration to broaden our thinking and thus our discourse. This doesn’t mean abandoning our work to claim our rights and improve our working conditions, but enriching it. Educational budgets are ensconced in state budgets, and changes to Ed Codes are likewise made without consulting the public, so working to change the very legislative conditions that cripple education is a necessary tool. In this way, lobbying advocacy groups such as California Part-time Faculty Association (CPFA) are vital. We must also challenge the entrenched power of the business elite who seek to further shift Americans from citizen to consumer with calls to investigate this unwarranted influence at the local, state, and national levels. Equally important, adjuncts should join efforts against the business elite, working hand-in-hand at every level of education and connecting to efforts from those who, like us, are being denied freedom through economic manipulation.

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Think about how we have become accustomed to doing so much more with so much less – and with little to show for it but our sense of loyalty to the public. If we are to take back education and our freedom, we need to be a solid front of citizens who seek to denormalize what is being force fed us as givens.

0 This article appears in the Fall 2014 issue of CPFA’s Community College Journal.

Is ACCJC’s Bumbling a Set Up?

15 November 2014

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Ever heard of the Higher Education Reform and Opportunity Act — or HERO Act? Nah, me neither. At least not until I started wondering what role  the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is playing in Higher Education Reform.  It seems some of ALEC’s biggest supporters have think tanks on the job, and as it turns out, in 2012 the Koch Bros’ Heritage Foundation came up with a way of privatizing Higher Ed via an accreditation reform paper that found its way into a bill called — you guessed it! — the HERO act. Here’s how the act is being sold by one of Heritage’s policy research fellows:

Finally, Congress now has the opportunity to actually address the college cost crisis through reforms to accreditation. This is one of the biggest opportunities conservatives have to advance transformational education policy in the coming year.

The Higher Education Reform and Opportunity Act—or HERO Act— introduced by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., would empower states to allow any entity to credential courses, which could pave the way for a more flexible college experience for students and make possible a dramatic reduction in college costs.

The proposal would allow states to establish flexible accreditation models that would infuse a level of customization in higher education not possible under the existing accreditation system.

Accreditation reform is long overdue. By enabling states to take the lead on accreditation, the HERO Act creates a promising way to drive down costs and increase customization and opportunity in higher education.

In other words, by deregulating the Board of Education, profiteers can move in with their own accreditation agencies. Makes sense if you consider the ongoing City College of San Francisco (CCSF) fiasco in which beleaguered ACCJC corpora-darling Barbara Beno has been unable to convince elected officials that a thriving, excellent community college needs to be shut down.

But wait… there’s more! Heritage’s paper, known as Backgrounder #2728 on Education: “Accreditation: Removing the Barrier to Higher Education Reform,” reads like a free market privateer manual to open up taxpayer funds for private venture: create reform policy; leak policy into media; create state-level legislation; spend money to get legislation passed; siphon public funds away from public programs toward privately owned weak facsimiles; toss education under the bus and into the open market.

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Meanwhile at another co-Koch think tank, the American Enterprise Institute, the Center on Higher Education Reform put together a paper boldly named “Protecting Students and Taxpayers: The Federal Government’s Failed Regulatory Approach and Steps for Reform,” in which Hank Brown, “former U.S. congressman, senator and president of the University of Colorado, writes that the nation’s accreditation system is a ‘public policy and regulatory failure by almost any measure.'” Hmm, while the ACCJC, the Lumina Foundation, and the Gates Foundation work one end of the candle, the Accreditation Reformers work the other.

With such heavy hitters girding the Koch’s dream of a United States free of the united and the states, plural, is it any wonder the HERO Act, like so much other Higher Education Reform legislation, is creeping in right under our noses? In light of this, it really doesn’t matter if ACCJC’s bungling is purposeful or not. The vulture philanthropists aren’t giving up their war on education without a fight. And they’re impatient, too, for it’s not enough to lure giddy wannabe administrators to the K-12 dark side. And it’s not enough to replace long time experienced teaching professionals in administrative HE positions with corporate CEOs & CFOs. Better to control via the state, a place where ALEC’s friends reside.

by Marnie Webster

The Mystery of the Mysterious & National Adjunct Walkout Day

Beginning October 2, a few tweets went round the twitterverse calling for adjuncts to stage a national walkout on February 25, 2015.

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Since then, quite a bit of buzz surrounding the idea has circulated, including a short piece in the Quick Takes section at Inside Higher Ed asking, “What would academe look like without adjuncts?” IHE quotes an anonymous adjunct regarding the walkout:

The adjunct said the walkout day doesn’t have a central organizing committee, and that it will look different on different campuses. Groups might highlight the “educational or administrative issues impacting adjuncts within that particular campus, across the country, or [the] plights of individual adjuncts,” she said. But the central idea of the movement is that “no adjunct or campus must face these shared issues alone.”

Yes, a national call to overt action is long overdue. Calling for organizing not at the national but at the campus or district level is a good idea, too. This keeps thing on a grass roots level.

Even so, we need to think about the various ways this thing can be accomplished so that the maximum amount of people feel comfortable joining in. In addition, since this affects students, it seems only natural to include their voices. All this suggests that the walkout be either literal or metaphorical, as determined by each local group or individual choice. A metaphorical walkout could be manifested as protest rallies including supportive non-adjuncts: educators and others who are affected by the casualization of labor.

There are those who feel the need to know who is behind the national call to action. This is understandable as humans are curious beings. But the idea to maintain anonymity as to who is behind the call may be essential to making ourselves heard. Think in terms of why The Economist, famous for anonymous attribution, prefers to maintain its tradition: “The main reason for anonymity…is a belief that what is written is more important than who writes it.” From this perspective, placing content above attribution allows for more people to have a voice and an impact.

And after all, isn’t what’s wanted is that we be heard?

Flow Chart: How Privateers Undermine Our Education System

Advancing the Quality of The Common Core Flow Chart

Many thanks to Karen Bracken for painstakingly clarifying Morna McDermott’s original chart.

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Video explaining the Flow Chart:

Walking the Labyrinth of the Corporate-Owned-Common Core

This chart shows the insidious web of assault on our public education system. While the chart reveals the system behind privatizing our primary and secondary schools, many of the same groups are actively involved in similar takeover of our higher education system. The goal in all this at every level of education is to access public funds and bust unions so as to have more control over the entire operation.

Message sent on behalf of Chancellors Cindy Miles and Constance Carroll

 

Myriad California higher ed leaders take a stand on the ACCJC’s unreasonable actions against City College of San Francisco. 

June 9, 2014

Dear Drs. Amador and Beno:

We want you to be aware of an effort that is underway among the CEOs of California’s community colleges to advise ACCJC as to actions we hope to see regarding City College of San Francisco. Because this is an urgent matter, we are sending you our statement today with the initial 35 signatories received today, and we ask you to share it with the Commissioners. We will send you a final letter on June 16, which will include the same statement, as well as the final list of signatories.

We the undersigned Chancellors, Superintendent/Presidents, and Presidents of California’s community colleges urge the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges to provide an extension of 12 to 18 months for City College of San Francisco to complete the enormous progress it has been making under its current leadership to comply with all standards of accreditation and to maintain its accredited status during this period. We urge the Commission to either follow its current policy or create a revised policy to enable this extension, perhaps calling a special meeting of the Commission for this purpose. We believe that this action is in the best interests of the 80,000 students of City College of San Francisco, the City and County of San Francisco, the California Community Colleges, and the State of California.

Sincerely,

Dr. Cindy Miles
Chancellor
Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District

Dr. Constance M. Carroll
Chancellor
San Diego Community College District

Dr. Cindy Miles, Chancellor, Grossmont-Cuyamaca CCD
Dr. Constance M. Carroll, Chancellor, San Diego CCD
Dr. Francisco Rodriguez, Chancellor, Los Angeles CCD
Dr. Brian King, Chancellor, Los Rios CCD
Dr. Sandra Serrano, Chancellor, Kern CCD
Dr. Ned Doffoney, Chancellor, North Orange County CCD
Dr. Ron Galatolo, Chancellor, San Mateo County CCD
Dr. Rita M. Cepeda, Chancellor, San Jose-Evergreen CCD
Dr. Linda M. Thor, Chancellor, Foothill-De Anza, CCD
Dr. Melinda Nish, Superintendent-President, Southwestern CCD
Mr. Robert Deegan, Superintendent-President, Palomar CCD
Dr. Dick Robertson, Interim Superintendent-President, MiraCosta CCD
Dr. Victor Jaime, Superintendent-President, Imperial CCD
Dr. Mark Rocha, Superintendent-President, Pasadena CCD
Dr. Debbie DiThomas, Superintendent-President, Barstow College
Dr. Peter Allan, Interim Superintendent-President Victor Valley College
Dr. Dena P. Maloney, Superintendent-President, West Kern CCD
Dr. David Viar, Superintendent-President, Glendale CCD
Dr. David Wain Coon, Superintendent-President, Marin CCD
Dr. Cheryl A. Marshall, President, Crafton Hills College
Dr. Byron Clift Breland, President, San Jose City College
Mr. Henry Yong, President, Evergreen Valley College
Dr. Sunita Cooke, President, Grossmont College
Dr. Mark J. Zacovic, President Cuyamaca College
Dr. Lynn Neault, Interim President, San Diego City College
Dr. Pamela T. Luster, President, San Diego Mesa College
Dr. Patricia Hsieh, President, San Diego Miramar College
Dr. Anthony Beebe, President, San Diego Continuing Education
Dr. Tod A. Burnett, President, Saddleback College
Dr. Rajen Vurdien, President, Fullerton College
Dr. Paul Parnell, President, Norco College
Dr. Bob Simpson, President, Cypress College
Dr. Judy Miner, President, Foothill College
Dr. Brian Murphy, President De Anza College

California Tenure Ruling Sneaks Past Higher Ed

I spent a quite a bit of time yesterday researching and Tweeting news of California Judge Treu’s ruling that tenure prohibits students from accessing a quality education. I have loads to say about how this is wrong in so many ways, but that’s not the reason for this post.

This post is to urge all levels of Higher Ed faculty and media:

• to see that a decision against tenure affects every level of education.

• to start viewing every attack against teachers as part of a campaign to undermine not only faculty unions at every level but unions and the voice of the middle and lower class

• to connect the dots between neoliberal free market capitalism, Citizen’s United, the rise of our Oligarchy, deregulation, state legislative actions, and access to public funds.

• to perceive that undermining unions allows greater leverage in the so-called free market

• to work together to fight the destruction of what we know best and are supremely capable of delivering

And finally, to get that all of this applies to you, citizen or not, because this is part of the undermining of our participatory democracy.