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16 June 2016 @ 10:11 am
SpeakLoudly  
I am still fine tuning my Nerd Talk for Nerd Camp this summer. It centers on censorship and the various euphemisms that some use to disguise what is, in reality, censorship. So, this piece on university life in Wisconsin reverberated with me: http://www.slate.com/articles/life/education/2016/03/university_of_wisconsin_and_the_aftermath_of_destroying_professor_tenure.html

The finding of education is an issue everywhere and at all levels of education. We have seen our funding cut here at the university and were told to make up the shortfall with tuition. We did so. Now the lawmakers are pointing fingers at us and asking why tuition is so high. Talk about a Catch-22 (though I doubt many of my state representatives would catch this reference).

Here is the crux: "What’s at stake here is the total loss of the public research university. Anyone with functioning eyes and a pulse knows that most U.S. states barely fund their universities anymore, relying instead on ballooning tuition and big donors, both private and corporate." When we have to turn to corporations for funding, what might we be giving up, surrendering, in terms of our intellectual freedom? Whose research is deemed important from a corporate standpoint? Which gets funded?

And I have heard the arguments against tenure during my 25+ years at the university. It is the same argument we hear about tenure in the K-12 system where it exists (and it does not exist here in Texas, unfortunately). Tenure protects the bad teachers from being called into account. Um, no, it does not. Tenure is not a finite point after which we kick back and put our feet up on our collective desks and cease to do any real work until we retire or die. While there are others whose productivity puts me to shame, I am still writing, still speaking, still learning. Tenure did not change me as an educator. It did, however, offer me some job security. And for this:

"But academics don’t want tenure because they think they’re better or smarter than you. Academics, whether they have it or not, want some form of tenure to exist to protect the integrity of the knowledge that is produced, preserved, and disseminated."

If we do not #SpeakLoudly, whose ideas will be valued in the future? Who will decide what research is done? Imagine a world where a corporation corners the market in education (looking at you, Pearson) and controls not just the content of the measurements and the measurements but the curriculum as well (it's all about "alignment," right?). It is far worse than anything Orwell could have imagined (a last reference that will be missed by those who seek to control education from outside).
 
 
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