Bad news is sometimes good in academe, since it often sheds light on the nasty shit -prattled assholes in desperate need of a wipe. The incident in Virginia gives me hope for the future for all public universities. One of the only truly excellent campus leaders, Terri Sullivan, was almost shitcanned by a gaggle of sorority girls and frat boys, and the corporatist assholes got their asses handed to them. Maybe, finally, we’ll see some administrators and faculty grow some spines and push back against the twin pillars of mediocrity—assessment and on-line education. After all, how can we possibly justify having a department of German? Or Physics? Or whichever department you wish based on whatever bullshit measure they concoct. The measures are uniformly produced by people who could not pass my first level statistics course, and have never been successful scholars or classroom teachers. We have to have “accountability”, we, of course, being those lazy faculty members who do nothing and contribute nothing to the true mission of the University (football, basketball, fraternities and sororities….). And, we’re going to demonstrate that we are accountable by spending an extra week of work concocting bullshit “no child left behind” assessment reports, while simultaneously transforming our courses and curricula into something we can sell on-line in exchange for student loan money. This is being shoved on us by careerist administrators who suck up to the “educational” consulting industry and its for-profit associates, so that they can make a killing off of public education.
And what does the public get? Debt, and worthless degrees. We don’t accept on-line degrees for admission to the graduate program in my humble department. And, it is well known from our own experience that nobody gets anything out of on-line courses. Our completion rate for intro to sociology taught on-line is about 10%—that means 90% of the students (many of whom are military personnel who are wasting their veteran’s benefits trying to take on-line courses while dodging bullets in Iraqistan) never finish the course and are eventually given an F. And, of course, if they did finish the course, that is hardly equivalent to having actually taken a real college course from a real human. How does that on-line course compare to having proven that one can wake up in the morning, bathe, dress, get to class, take exams (in class), and turn in assignments? Can your online “instructor” write you a letter of recommendation? Can a prospective employer trust that someone who took all of their “courses” online will show up for work, bathe, or turn in assignments on time? Can that person interact with your clients? What kind of Cheetos-munching moron gets an online degree?
Public University Presidents should be unified in their opposition to for-profit “education” and the ill-conceived mechanisms they have developed to make money. These fake universities are a giant parasite draining a huge and growing portion of the resources available for public education. Instead, careerist administrators have teamed up with corrupt ideological boards of trustees to embrace the gutting of public education. The middle class doesn’t deserve a real education with professors and courses and a diverse curricula—you know, like what they have at elite private universities. Nah, the middle classes can just take some on-line courses in exchange for $100k in student loans, and that way Muffy and Biff who went to an elite private university will always get a better job.