higher education under heavy fire from all sides, tectonic shifts underway

hi all. this post has been on the drawing board for a long time, almost since the origin of this blog. was waiting for an opportune moment.

an amazing news item came across & is the final ignominious trigger for this post. there was a teacher scandal in atlanta where they were involved in cheating on standardized tests and got caught. this is not so uncommon probably (the cheating) but what was astonishing was the investigation and response. a 2yr investigation and a very heavy/ harsh crackdown, making international/ tabloid headlines.[a18,a19] teachers were charged under *racketeering* laws and convicted of *felonies*. the sentence for some could be up to *TWENTY* years.

now am all for ethics and integrity in education and government service, but convicting school administrators under this heavy handed prosecution seems a bit outrageous and crazy to me, but yet is probably a key sign of the times (“dark zeitgeist”). 😮

[a] there is an intense push toward measuring both students and teachers by test scores, but this seems like it is reaching bizarre levels of obsession. it seems to me that test scores are almost like a symbolic standin or proxy for some kind of economic metric, ie money. capitalism measures everything based on $$$ and now test scores and $$$ are becoming more tightly linked eg wrt teacher pay, raises, and school funding. holy cow! as the expression goes “this can only end badly”.

[b] there is some good news with the rise of Moocs over the last few years, these seem somewhat revolutionary. alas though it is apparently not common that students are self-motivated enough to take advantage of these systems. and schools rarely attempt to encourage self-motivation and self-study. “self-service” is a term that does not seem to apply to education. and it does seem like an intrinsically highly social process where successful. ie requiring inherently low-tech “f2f/ face-to-face” interaction.

[c] the cost of edu & skyrocketing student loans are all over the news. a complex problem but it appears the corporatocracy is rearing its ugly head in exploiting the youth of the country almost as indentured servants…

[d][e] there are big shifts/ changes in the air, though, and it appears that the massive higher edu establishment might be under major pressures to evolve/ adapt/ reform.

[f] “morale” is a topic that doesnt always get much attn in US, although it sometimes goes under the heading “work/ life” balance. whats it like going to universities nowadays? experiences probably vary widely but theres also some distinct signs/ reports of stress, and thats sure not surprising.

[g] and theres some wideranging and stinging criticism of the systems/ “establishment” (an old word you dont hear a lot since the 1960s but maybe is even more relevant/ apropos today); higher edu is under fire like never before from all different angles, both insiders and outsiders. not a lot of ringing endorsements from anywhere, quite the opposite.

so we seem to be on the cusp of some major shift where the universities of tomorrow are going to have a different feel, but that exact shape is still largely indistinct at the moment. but it will likely be stitched together out of elements that are lying around right now.

a. stdized tests
b. mooc
c. cost/ loans
d. shift/ change
e. reform
f. morale
g. criticism

1 thought on “higher education under heavy fire from all sides, tectonic shifts underway

  1. Jon Awbrey

    A general tactic for making off with fabulous riches is to identify some source of wealth that nature created though ages of accumulation or that some other people created through long years of careful cultivation — the common factor here is sticking one’s flag or one’s frack in some resource that one could never do the work of creating oneself — and then simply take it, by hook or by crook, as they say.

    The private liquidation of public education is just another variation on the old conquistadorial theme.


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