Monday, May 09, 2011

Faulty Towers

Great article from The Nation on dysfunction in higher education, much better than the many less-than-realistic diagnoses offered by the likes of Hacker et al. over the last couple of years.

Students, particularly at state universities, have noticed some of the symptoms for a long time now: graduate students and adjuncts teaching many of their classes, run-down classroom buildings flanked by immaculate, brand new athletic facilities, and a constant carousel of university presidents using the gig to add a feather to their cap and moving on after two years, among other things.

This article, unlike many of the books written on the subject, also deals substantively with issue of adjunct professors. I maintain that is not just a symptom of poor leadership for a university to load up on "academic lettuce pickers" and treat them the way universities do rather than hiring proper faculty for their lower level courses (or, hey, promoting their long-time adjuncts), nor is it merely bad policy; it's unjust, and Deresiewicz is right to fault everyone from university presidents to tenured and tenure-track professors for allowing the exploitation of current and former students.

Much as I hate to say, college football is a parasite to the system as well, leeching countless millions of dollars just on the head coach's salary, nevermind the truckloads of cash spent on assistant coaches, facilities, stadiums, and bowl games (yes, schools usually end up losing money on bowl games even despite the payout from the bowl).

It's interesting that many of the structural problems facing colleges right now are echoed in their football teams: mercenary executives with astronomical salaries seeking success according to a laughably flawed ranking system, and doing so on the backs of overworked, virtually uncompensated kids, whose scholarships can be stripped from them with little to no warning and on no account of their own performance, and the majority of whom will never get the opportunity to make a living wage plying their trade.

No comments: