Tenured LSU Professor Fired for Cursing

28/06/2015
Fired for saying fuck, and shit.

Fired for saying fuck, and shit.

I hate to be the buzzkill after all of the celebrations of marriage equality and people being able to keep their insurance, but the war on education just got hot and heavy, and the anti-intellectual corporatists are winning big. Down in Bubba Jindal’s Louisiana, a tenured associate professor who has worked at LSU for 20 years has been fired for allegedly cursing and supposedly saying something about a student’s adhd.  So far, there is minimal information about this case. Inside Higher Ed has said nothing, and only a short take at the Chronicle spells out the future for the rest of us.

Teresa Buchanan, Associate Professor of Curriculum and Instruction was in charge of assigning legions of mostly female students to schools for student teaching. A multiple award winning professor who was recommended for promotion to Full before this “complaint”,  Dr. Buchanan is not one to mince words, indeed the Chronicle describes her as “salty” as if that is funny. They are reporting on the most devastating case since Salaita, and they’re joking about a tenured professor being fired for profanity. Buchanan admits that she was in the middle of a divorce and may have said some things about men that the young sorority girls didn’t like. And, she allegedly implored them to make sure they used condoms so they didn’t ruin their lives. Given that most of them had abstinence education in Louisiana, I’m not so sure this is out of line at all. Curriculum and Instruction is a professional program, and you’ll hurt your professional development with an unwanted pregnancy. Allegations that she had said something about a student having ADHD were found to be unsubstantiated by the faculty panel, which unanimously rejected a ruling of termination put forward by the loser ass second generation corporatist president of LSU, FuKing Alexander.

So, a tenured heterosexual female professor supposedly “sexually harassed” students by, what, saying fuck a lot? Telling them not to get pregnant once in a while? Is that harassment? Was she calling all of them every night to ask if they had condoms in their purse? NO. She said something once. And, she maybe whined about her divorce–as people often do. And for this, she was fired from a tenured job at a supposed research university.

There is a much better article in the Advocate about this. Basically, the faculty committee criticized the vague sexual harassment policy, and the chair of the LSU Faculty senate said that Buchanan’s cursing could not in any way be construed as  sexual harassment. They also pointed out that any complaint against Buchanan (no student testified….) should have simply been handled at the department chair level ‘ Hey Teresa, knock off the dick jokes, you’re scaring the children…”  That the Chronicle makes a joke of it and Inside Higher Ed didn’t even bother to cover it reflects their ownership by corporate education, who are just fine with having Human Resource Deanlets policing the faculty.

This is our future. Boards of assholes appointed by politicians flanked by corporatist administrators and legions of deanlings and deanlets will be monitoring what we say and firing us for saying fuck.  Nobody will say anything about it. The “academic press” will ignore it. Every week this will happen with greater frequency, until we all accept that we cannot usurp the authority of our corporate overlords. We’ll have speech codes, conduct codes, dress codes, and content codes for our courses—syllabi and textbooks will be provided by Pearsons and Wiley and Elsevier…….Deviation will not be tolerated, it’s in the code.

How We Lost the War on Tenure

18/06/2015
I feel the Pulse of the Populace, I can feel it!

What do you mean it’s not real? It feels real!

Obviously, I’m a bit pessimistic about the future of higher education outside of the gated communities of elite private and elite privatized/public universities. But, why can’t we win? Why do I think we’ve lost? Won’t there be a pushback? My pessimism is rooted in the complete domination of the educational field by corporatist elites, the extension of this mentality to the vast majority of political leaders in both parties, and the acceptance of the corporate narrative by the vast majority of college-educated (and virtually everyone who doesn’t have an education).

I don’t hang out with academics much. I have a few academic friends, but most of my friends are regular people—lawyers, doctors, finance people, small business owners. Most of my friends share my passion for racing and riding bikes, and I race for a large, strong, Midwestern team with lots of older racers like myself. Many of my teammates are from Wisconsin and are Scott Walker supporters—one is a major donor. I try not to let politics intrude on my cycling friendships, but I have to say I am the last liberal on my team—and politics played a role in many people leaving the team. I meet a lot of people in the community through bike racing and training, and not just racers, regular folk who are outside and visiting So Ill. In the last two years I have had at least ten people, friends, teammates, acquaintances, and strangers gently or not so gently discuss the issue of tenure with me. My teammates all know that I’m a professor, so that may be natural. Others come to know what I do, and then raise the issue. This never happened 10 years go or even 5 years ago. Most people don’t know what tenure is, but they are absolutely certain that it is bad, and that I’m a bad and lazy person for having it or wanting it.

One of my Scott Walker supporting teammates (who is an extremely nice guy and has a college degree) asked me a few months ago if I have tenure. He’s known me for 14 years, so, obviously he doesn’t know much about tenure. He wanted to know what I do, and how long I work–which he identified with how many courses do I teach, and how many hours am I in the classroom? Well, six hours a week in the hole, right? Geez, I guess my lazy tenured ass needs to be in the classroom for at least 36 hours, so I should be teaching 12 and 12 instead of 2 and 2! I briefly tried to explain that even teaching requires much more effort than the simple classroom time—course prep, grading, meeting with students, staying current on materials, dealing with administrative bullshit….And, the more sophisticated the course, the more time it takes. I don’t do multiple guess tests unless I’m teaching large section courses, which I don’t often do. And, I mentioned that the main reason why I’m employed is research, not teaching. He did seem marginally impressed that I published two books last year, but I think he wanted to know if I was going to publish another one this year. And, it is pointless to begin to describe the myriad activities that take up most of my time (reviewing 6-8 articles a month, writing letters for promotion files, letters of recommendation, data coding, analyses, writing, faculty meetings, grad student defenses….). The average person doesn’t understand any of that.

My good friend Michael Humphries (a religious studies/english professor) and I had a much more negative interaction with a group of uneducated tourists. They really didn’t think much of teachers or professors, and thought they made a shit ton of money for doing nothing and spent summers on vacation. What those damned lazy liberals need is to be fired if anyone complains about something they don’t like. We finally lost it and told them that what they were saying was offensive and wrong. Do you really think people don’t try to do a good job? Do you think we’re that unprofessional? Seriously. In my 30 years in higher education I have only seen one case where a professor needed to be removed from the classroom. I have rarely had colleagues who were “dead wood” in research after tenure, and all of the “dead wood” did yeoman’s work in teaching and administration.  Even colleagues who did not make tenure because of research deficiencies  deserved employment (and again, the bar has been raised way too high since the good old days of the 1960s and 70s when a heartbeat and a PHD got you tenure).

It isn’t just Scott Walker, and the message that Raygun birthed in the 1960s has now come to dominate public discourse. College is about teaching. teaching is about satisfying the children and making sure they get jobs. If it doesn’t lead directly to a job, then it is useless and should be done away with. The barrier to making college lead to jobs is the recalcitrance of the tenured faculty, so if we get rid of tenure, we can reinvent college as a vocational school. Research? What’s that? Why do you need to do research? Humanities faculty sit around all summer reading books? How is that helpful for getting jobs for the proletariat? You study sociology? Why do we need people doing research on that? Indeed, why should anyone have to take that shit when it won’t get them a job. I’m telling you with absolute certainty that this is the dominant opinion in the United States, even among supposedly educated liberals. We’re fucked.

The War on Tenure

14/06/2015
Once they get tenure, they do nothing....

Once they get tenure, they do nothing….

Twenty years ago I was awarded tenure at Vanderbilt University. The senior faculty put me up two years early because they didn’t want me to come up at the same time as Holly McCammon. Tenure meant nothing to me. I expected it. I deserved it. Having tenure changed nothing about my work habits, how much research I did, how I taught my courses, or treated my students.  But I don’t think about tenure the same way anymore, or, I guess I should say tenure means more to me now than it did in the rarefied air at an elite private university.

Like all bad things, the War on Tenure began with Ronny Raygun. The general war on education forever changed public universities. Cuts to direct funding, student aid, the development of a “student loan” racket, and the decline of publicly funded research squeezed the entire sector. Competition for scarce jobs led to a dramatic escalation of requirements for tenure—I know several people who were actually hired in as tenured professors straight out of grad school. One publication would suffice for tenure at any low-tier research university such as my current humble institution, and there was no research expectation at colleges requiring 3 or 4 course teaching loads. Now,  I’ve lost a lot of sleep worrying about junior colleagues coming up with six or eight publications—and even non-research institutions are now expecting to see publications and regular conference presentations (even though less and less money is available for conference travel).

The growth of obnoxious administration led to an increasingly intrusive culture of “accountability” whereby it is assumed that professors in general, and especially tenured professors, must not be doing their jobs. Student evaluations became increasingly important, even though real research shows that they are bogus. Professors were not only supposed to do more research, but also to be more available to students as advisors and to increasingly prioritize teaching and pleasing the children . Now we have assessment administrators asking us to prove that our students learned anything, as if our grades are meaningless.

Tenure became more directly relevant to me when my spouse did not make tenure at Vanderbilt. We spent a year on the job market searching for places that would hire us both. But, the new trend in administration was to make it nearly impossible to hire someone with tenure. I mean, what if you wind up being a psychopath, or if your research record doesn’t mesh with your classroom teaching? SIU didn’t want to hire me with tenure even though I’d had tenure at Vanderbilt for 6 years. In the end, after Herculean effort from my eventual chair Rob Benford the Dean and Provost relented and we moved to SIU.

But, now, we have a new war on tenure and the professors are losing. Post-tenure review has become commonplace at many institutions, even though most are “toothless” policies. Now, ALEC inspired laws are flooding state legislatures going for the jugular—ending tenure entirely. Giving administrators and boards the power to fire tenured professors at their whimsy. As the Salaita case showed very clearly, wealthy donors and political interest groups can now influence who is hired and who is fired—to the extent that you don’t even know if you have a valid contract. Our speech utterances are being monitored and punished for infractions of civility or content. Administrators are sitting in on our classes and judging what they think to be controversial materials to be a fire-able offense. Soon, we will see conduct codes that will further enable administrators and boards to fire us at will.

I’m 49 years old, and I expect that by the time I am 60 I will no longer have tenure. I may not even have a job. I’ll be forced into early retirement. I’m lucky. If I was 29, I’d be fucked. The AAUP just slammed the University of Illinois over their abridgement of academic freedom, tenure norms, due process, shared governance, and failure to rectify their wrong in the Salaita case. I just joined.

On Church and Sect in the 21st Century

03/06/2015

sectmaintrend

Sectarian religious groups claim to have exclusive access to supernatural rewards and compensators, while more “churchlike” groups are more universalistic in their approach to divine rewards and generally abhor the notion of punishments coming from their gods. It has long been fashionable to assume that religious exclusivism was a plus for religious groups, and it was wrongly associated with shifting religious allegiances favoring sectarian groups. In reality, what little growth sectarian groups saw in the late 20th century was a function of high birth rates. The more universalistic mainline Protestant churches “lost” because they had fewer kids after the immediate post-war baby boom.

The notion of mainline Protestant collapse has become so entrenched that even liberal protestant clergy miss the demographic point, and seem not to understand how to respond to their fundamentalist brethren touting the superiority of exclusivism as a solution to empty pews. The fact is, white mainline protestants command almost exactly the same share of the religious market as white sectarian Protestants. You wanna talk market share? Look at that! Mainliners need to suck it up and stop acting like they’re whupped by these mouthbreathing morons.

Notably, not only does Pewk mislead the public about mainline “collapse” and sectarian growth, they also claim that Catholicism is on the wane, which it is not. Further, the growth of the “nones” isn’t just a white thing, it’s spurred even more by increasing Latino defection, and also higher proportions of Asians, who are disproportionately irreligious, as I show in Changing Faith.

Are Latinos Abandoning Catholicism, or is that Pewk?

28/05/2015
2006-2014 GSS

2006-2014 GSS

A recent article in Salon reported some startling/unbelievable estimates from the latest Pewk study, first a claim that Catholicism appears to be in decline, and second linking this to a supposedly sharp decline in Latino Catholicism–along with the claim that more Latinos are joining sectarian Protestant denominations. Most alarming was the claims that the Pewk Study finds fewer than half of Latinos identify as Catholic. The author writes “The Pew survey found the percentage of Hispanics calling themselves Catholic dropped below 50 percent for the first time, from 58 percent in 2007 to 48 percent today. And while nearly 20 percent of Hispanics now identify as Evangelicals, that’s only up three points since 2007.” Wow. Really? That’s not what I found in Changing Faith, and so I updated our best estimates to the 2014 GSS to see how it compares to the Pewk study.

Interestingly, the Pewk data dramatically underestimate the proportion of Latinos who are Catholic in both time points. the GSS finds nearly 70% of Latinos were Catholic in 2006, and while this has decreased to about 56% in 2014, that’s an eight point gap to Pewk. And, where may these Latino Catholics be going? Are they joining fundy protestant groups like Pewk claims? No, they’re not. The proportion of Latinos who identify with sectarian protestant groups has fluctuated trendlessly, really, though you could say it is DOWN if anything. And, nowhere near 20% of Latinos are sectarian Protestants! Less than half that, at 9.5%. No, like other Catholics who leave the faith, most become Nones, and the GSS shows that by 2014 non-identification among Latin Americans almost doubled from 2006 totals–up to nearly 20%. So, about one if five US Latinos are Nones (just slightly less than the rest of the US population), while about one in ten are fundy protestants.

2006-2014 GSS

2006-2014 GSS

The claim that Catholicism is in a demographic collapse also does not fit with the reality presented by the best estimates we have available. And, I’d hardly call the Pewk estimate of a decline from 24% to 21% a demographic collapse. Indeed, the GSS finds relatively trendless fluctuation in Catholic identification—as it has for decades. They may be down slightly, but I wouldn’t hang my hat on it—and I half expect a “New Pope” bounce upward once the 2016 data are gathered. Nones have certainly increased from about 17% to about 21%—and sectarian Protestant identifications are in decline, from about 25% of identifiers to under 20% of adherents. The misreporting of religious demography makes me Pewk.

Atheists, Nones, and the Obama Vote

24/05/2015
Obama Vote by Religion--2010-2014 GSS

Obama Vote by Religion–2010-2014 GSS

The growth of secularism in the US is already having a profound impact on politics. While pundits have largely viewed the religious right as the only viable mobilizing force, the non-religious have quietly become the most important minority group in American politics. To give you some idea, above I plot the Obama vote in ’08 or ’12 from the GSS for Atheists and Agnostics versus others, “non-Theists” who are either atheist, agnostic, or “believe in a higher power but not a god”and respondents who don’t identify with a religion (“nones”). Across all three measures about 74% of the secular respondents chose Obama in the last election, while only about 54% of their alters reported voting for Obama.

obamanone2

To get a sense of what that means I chart out the percentage of Obama voters from this group, and compare it to two other influential minorities–African Americans and White sectarians voting for NObama. Atheists and agnostics make up 9.1% of the sample and a bit less of voters (9%), but they accounted for 12% of Obama’s votes, add in the other nontheists, and it is 26% of Obama’s take. None’s account for 23% of Obama voters—though they are only 18% of voters. African Americans make up about 15% of the GSS sample (16% of voters), and account for 27% of Obama’s vote. About 74% of white Sectarian Protestants voted for the NObama, and while they are about 13% of the sample, they were 23% of NObama voters—about the same importance for the Republicans as Nones are for Obama. But, since there are far more “nones” and non-theists than white sectarian Protestants, Obama wins! ha, ha, ha…..

So, to sum up, secular Americans are as important to the Democrats as African Americans, and they are not overlapping constituencies.  And, secular Americans are at least as important for the Democratic vote as are white sectarian Christians for the Republican vote. The “religious factor” in American politics has changed. It is now a battle between secular rationalists and white fundamentalist Christians, and the rationalist can team up with the non-white religious folk! Why? Even though most African Americans and Latinos have relatively conservative religious commitments (Asians are almost uniformly secular, as I show in Changing Faith), they know that white Republican Christians are a bunch of racists. So, we see the new coalition….secular Americans and ethnics against Christian fundamentalists and plutocrats. I’m liking the numbers…..

Nones, Atheists, and Sectarian Protestants—Winners and Losers in the 21st Century

18/05/2015
2006-2014 General Social Survey

2006-2014 General Social Survey

The punditocracy is all a flutter about the latest non-scientific poll by Pew which found many things based on the 10% of targeted respondents (liberally defined) who bothered to respond. It’s sickening that Pew gets all the press when Mike Hout and Tom Smith at NORC did a very nice summary of GSS religion findings from an actual scientific poll.

One thing that people have been pondering, because they failed to read my book, Changing Faith , is how the rejection of religious identification matters for the religious character of the nation. Particularly, does this mean that America is becoming more secular? The OTHER problem with Pew is that at critical junctures they conflate identification with religious organizations with religious beliefs. That is a huge shortcoming for anyone trying to make sense of believing and belonging, because many people who do not believe, nonetheless belong. And, many people who do believe, do not belong. I address this at length in Changing Faith and am updating those findings to the 2014 data.

Still, above you can see REAL estimates (0r the best we have) from 2014 on the proportion of Americans who reject religious identification, and how that has increased over time (from 16% in 2006 to 21% in 2014). A similar trend is found for rejecting belief in a god (combining atheists, agnostic, and people who “believe in a higher power but not a god”)–with more than one in five Americans rejecting belief in a god. A more strict definition limited to atheism and agnosticism shows an increase from about 7% to 9% between 2006 and 2014—and about 7% of 2014 GSS respondents are atheists or agnostics who also reject religious identification (“nones”).  If we broaden that to non-theists, nearly 13% of Americans are nones who don’t believe in a god.

The growth of nones and atheists and atheists nones is mirrored by a decline in sectarian protestant identification—which decreases from nearly 25% in 2006 to under 20% in 2014. If we take out the non-whites, because they are not real Americans, the proportion of Americans who are white sectarian protestants falls from about 16% to about 13%—so non-theist “nones” are as prevalent as white sectarian protestants. Just for shits and giggles, I note that mainline Protestants are not in the freefall claimed by Pew and others—their proportions decreased from about 19% to just under 17%—and Catholic proportions fluctuate randomly around 23%. White sectarian Protestants are a minority of American Christians, and they are in decline.

 

Dewey Wins Again! UK Edition…..

11/05/2015
Because nothing is more important than made up numbers.

Because nothing is more important than made up numbers.

Well, Ralph Miliband’s boring son and the Labour Party lost big across the pond last week, and the crushing defeat was completely unexpected. Shit polls and pollster hacks like Nate Silver were quite confident that Labour would rule the day and all of Brittania….Only they lost. Big. Just like Eric Cantor. And Dewey.

This is a function of the worldwide decline of scientific polling, and the growth of polling profiteers. The idea that we should have daily polls supposedly tracking “changing opinions” based on whether a politician farted or something is ridiculous. All this has done is to misinform parties, candidates, the media, and citizens about the opinions and preferences of the public. Aggregating bad data doesn’t help, nor does it make any sense to make data aggregators into revered shamans.

The decline in data quality and scientific polling has also led to the disturbing trend of using Cheetos munching weirdos from marketing panels in all kinds of “research.” These panels are not drawn from a random sample of the population, and panelists are expected to complete at least 4 surveys a year in or else they’ll only get baked Cheetos or be “withdrawn.” No attempt is made to assess the veracity of the data completed on-line by who knows whom. We saw this, of course, in the Regnerus fiasco, and the severity of the problems with this poll received more attention in a new reanalysis of his shit data.

But, the problem with reanalyzing shit data is that stirring the shit just makes it smell worse. Nobody should ever be allowed to publish a paper in a journal with “science” or “sociology” in the title analyzing data from a shit poll. It isn’t just Regnerus. GLBT activist scholars are busy right this very moment analyzing a shit poll taken from the exact same panel used by Regnerus. And, that 7 foot 8 guy who weighs 88 pounds is probably picking up his case of Cheetos for that one as well.

What kind of weirdo would agree to fill out longwinded polls online in exchange for Cheetos? How many Americans are really that connected to the internet, even? Are ethnic minorities who are online just like other ethnic minorities? What about the elderly? Can we just assume that the non-randomly recruited 80 year-olds in some online marketing panel are just the same as other old people? Yeah, just adjust the data. Right.

In the last year I’ve reviewed four or five papers using data from non-random., online marketing panels. If you are a sociologist and you’re using such data, stop. If you continue, you are hurting scholarship and likely hurting your career and those of your students who are being encouraged to take short cuts with dirty unscientific data.

Wilma Mankiller, 1945-2010

06/05/2015

sherkat:

I just learned that Wilma Mankiller is on the short list for the $20 to replace that horrible racist shitbag Andrew Jackson. There is some tough competition. Harriet Tubman is a tough act to follow. But, I sure hope they don’t give it to some milquetoast white woman…..

Originally posted on Iranianredneck's Weblog:

She saved the Cherokee

The Cherokee tribe has lost its most important leader of the last century. Wilma Mankiller died of pancreatic cancer April 6th. When Mankiller took over the tribe the Cherokee were in turmoil. Their facilities and tribal support system was shot, the BIA was screwing them, and they had no way to make things better for their people. Until this firebrand grabbed the feds by the balls and dreamed to make things work for  her tribe. She didn’t want a handout, she wanted the ability to survive as a nation. And, she did it. Now, the Cherokee are prosperous and proud. It never would have happened without Wilma Mankiller.

I met Wilma many times when I was a lowly busboy working at restaurants in Tulsa. She was like a gracious queen. You couldn’t be in her presence without realizing her enormous integrity and grace. She looked busboys in the eye, and…

View original 132 more words

Religion and Marijuana Legalization—420 Special

20/04/2015

weed14

Support for the legalization of marijuana has increased dramatically since the dark old days of Nancy Raygun’s “Just say No” and the 2014 GSS found for the first time that a majority of Americans, 56%, support legalization. And, who do you think has been left behind? It’s no surprise that Christian fundamentalists are the least supportive of legalizing marijuana, and that secular Americans who think the Bible is a book of fables are most supportive of legalization–and the difference is huge. But, that is only part of the story. Race plays a huge role, and while African American fundamentalist are quite prevalent, they are now and have always been more circumspect about the War on Drugs.

Indeed, even in 1988 African American fundies were somewhat more supportive of legalization–17% compared to 12% of white fundies. Fast forward to 2014 and the majority of African American fundies have realized that illegal pot is just a plot to put black people in jail. Support among African American fundies is at 54%, just about the same as in the full sample of the GSS regardless of race or religion (55%). In contrast, only 34% of white fundies in the 2014 GSS support marijuana legalization—making them far different from real normal Americans. The war on drugs has always been a war on ethnic minorities and political and religious dissidents. Secular Americans understand this, which is why nearly 80% of respondents who think the bible is bunk support legal weed.

Maybe in a few more 420s we can eliminate this question from the GSS…or maybe we should keep it so we can continue to see what the fundies would do to us if they wrest control of the means of coercion.


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