Today The Chronicle of Higher Education sent me an email with three stories (among others.) First, they report survey results indicating that alumni (i.e. the handful of students who finish) of for-profit, largely online colleges had favorable views of the teaching and scheduling, they didn’t think the cost was worth it.
They also notified me of the latest editorial by Jeff Seligno, who read last week’s report in the New York Times about the latest consumer spending breakdowns for predictions about where Higher Ed will need to go. I read those reports - which point to the fact that only very high end and very low end markets are seeing any growth, with places that used to serve the hollowed-out middle class (e.g. Red Lobster and Olive Garden) finding it hard to subsist in an environment where nearly all of the income growth of the last five years has gone to the top 1% of the population - and the rest of the country has yet to recover. Seligno, assumes that this is the new normal, absent some drastic political changes:
In the absence of the political will and the job growth that will strengthen the middle class, colleges and universities will need to adjust to that economic reality with new models that reduce their costs and, thus, prices for students.
In other words, we need more McDonalds level colleges (or at least something more along the lines of a Costco) - which makes sense when you consider that the guru of “disruptive innovation” bases some of his theory on watching people buy milkshakes at the fast food chain (here you can see him explain this theory in a lecture sponsored by the University of Phoenix).
For several years it appeared that MOOCs might fill that gap, but unfortunately actual education research and experience demonstrated that serving the so-called “low-end” of the education market actually requires more skills. On the other hand, we are also being told that, if we think about why people are going to schools like Phoenix, it has more to do with getting actual jobs. And, as the Department of Labor (echoing Seligno above) points out, few of the jobs on the near horizon require anything more than a High School education.
So it is in this light that I read the reports that Texas is planning to offer an almost completely online BA, for under $13,000. There is a lot of information on the specifics of the degree, e.g. it will be somewhat competency based, which is probably a bigger threat to traditional ed than online itself (and is made possible by legislative changes brought about to foster the other online ed project Texas is already participating in, Western Governors University.) But what is barely mentioned (and obviously only marginally important to the commodity BA they are attempting to produce) is what field the degree will be in. Buried in the piece is the following, quite vague description: “The degree emphasizes organizational leadership.” If you cross reference that with the Department of Labor predictions above, you’ll see what that means. Out of the top twenty jobs with the most growth between now and 2022 the only one that requires a BA is something called, “General and operations managers.” Or organizational leadership in a pinch.
"In the absence of the political will" this is the world we’ll soon be living in. The upside is that, according to the commission offering the degree, they will still prize all the things our traditional colleges and universities do - promising to produce "graduates with critical-thinking skills who are quantitatively literate, can evaluate knowledge sources, understand diversity, and benefit from a strong liberal-arts and sciences background.” Of course, they are promising that because that is what the few employers interested in hiring people with BAs are asking for. Meaning that the idea of “critical thinking” is really “creative problem solving” i.e. figuring out how to manage their low-income, illiterate co-workers and serve their downwardly mobile, increasingly agitated customers, with fewer resources and less promise of advancement.
BREAKING: BILL KELLER THINKS MLK JR DAY IS IMPORTANT TIME TO FOCUS ON WHITE HEROES -
It’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a federal holiday honoring the great civil rights movement leader. It’s a day for many of us to reflect on the legacy of a man who was more radical, flawed, brilliant, complex, and human than our media cares to remember and many of us care to admit. Or, if you’re…
English Literature, DePaul University
See guys, it’s already been written.
I’ve been coming across various commentaries of the new scantily clad, tongue flashing and twerk-filled performances of Miley Cyrus. Many critics have claimed that Miley’s provocative behavior is inappropriate because she has so many young fans that have looked up to her since her days as…
Pretty accurate account of what Adorno & Horkheimer would saay about Miley Cyrus, from one of my students.
Think of how inspired we all are by the example of Mandela’s actions in life. Then remember: Ronald Reagan considered Mandela a terrorist.— Anil Dash (@anildash) December 6, 2013
"I stand here before you not as a prophet but as a humble servant of you, the people." RIP, Nelson Mandela.
A Brief, Critical Retrospective of Nelson Mandela’s Revolutionary Legacy, Post-Apartheid South Africa, and Piero Gleijeses’ Havana’s Policy in Africa, 1959-76: New Evidence from Cuban Archives
Piero Gleijeses: Havana’s Policy in Africa, 1959-76: New Evidence from Cuban Archives — .PDF
- Karen Wald: Mandela thanks Cuba for its solidarity (1991)
- Nicole Sarmiento: Cuba and the South African anti-apartheid struggle
- Cuito Cuanavale: How Cuba fought for Africa’s freedom
- Carlos Martinez: Cuito Cuanavale 25 Years On: Revolutionary Internationalism and the Struggle Against Colonialism and Apartheid
- Nelson Mandela ‘proven’ to be a member of the Communist Party after decades of denial
- Nelson Mandela: “An ideal for which I am prepared to die” (Mandela made this statement from the dock at the opening of his trial on charges of sabotage, Supreme Court of South Africa, Pretoria, April 20, 1964)
- Mike Kuhlenbeck: Obama’s hypocrisy regarding Nelson Mandela
- John Millington: Liberals Cannot Claim Nelson Mandela
- Brian Becker: It was the CIA that helped jail Nelson Mandela
- Vishwas Satgar: Reclaiming the South African Dream: Analysis of Post-Apartheid South Africa 17 Years On
- Jerome Roos: South Africa’s untold tragedy of neoliberal apartheid
- Peter Murray: Unfinished Revolution — Post-Apartheid South Africa shows the need to take on capitalism at its roots
- Charlie Kimber: Brief Retrospective of Nelson Mandela, 1918-2013
- Louis Proyect on Dear Mandela: An oustanding 2011 documentary on current-day struggles in South Africa
- A brief look at 2011 documentary, Dear Mandela
- Patrick Bond: South Africa — Public sector strike highlights post-apartheid’s contradictions
- Inequality in post-apartheid South Africa
- Visions of Freedom: New Documents from the Closed Cuban Archives
I came to the conclusion that as violence in this country was inevitable, it would be unrealistic to continue preaching peace and non-violence. This conclusion was not easily arrived at. It was only when all else had failed, when all channels of peaceful protest had been barred to us, that the decision was made to embark on violent forms of political struggle. I can only say that I felt morally obliged to do what I did.
—Nelson Mandela, “An ideal for which I am prepared to die” (1964)