A Handbook for the Education Revolution ….It’s Here

educationalchemy

JUST IN TIME FOR TESTING RESISTANCE SEASON!

An Activist’s Handbook for the Education Revolution

United Opt Out has crafted a book accessible to parents, teachers, and activists. What can you expect? An “Education Reform 101” for those looking for a comprehensive history of how public education got here, a personal narrative from our organizers describing our journey to build a movement, research-driven explanations about how test-driven “reform” is designed to destroy public education, and a brilliant Forward by Ricaro Rosa… But wait! There’s More!  Each chapter includes an “Activist Workbook” to help readers build their own local efforts.

The scales are tipping and we CAN dismantle harmful corporate-driven policies that: 1) use high stakes testing as the cornerstone to privatize public education, 2) treat children like data bites, 3) bilk tax payer dollars as their personal saving account,  and 4) re-segregate and colonize urban communities in the name of “choice”.

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Rage against Rhodes heritage shifts up a gear – University World News

“After a week of student protest, the University of Cape Town’s vice-chancellor has given the clearest indication yet that he believes the controversial statue of Cecil John Rhodes should be moved from its “pride of place, at the focal point of the campus”. But this will do little to quell the spread of protests against the lack of transformation to other campuses, write Reitumetse L Pitso, Shaun Smillie and Poppy Louw for Times Live.

Using the hashtag #Rhodes So White, students in Grahamstown also staged a demonstration last week about the slow pace of transformation and lack of inclusiveness at Rhodes University. The chairman of the Higher Education Transformation Network, Lucky Thekisho, said racial equality was an issue at other universities. He singled out the North West and Stellenbosch universities.

UCT students began protesting 10 days ago after political science student Chumani Maxwele threw a bucket of faeces over the statue of Rhodes. Maxwele has told The Times he wants to end the division between black and white students at UCT and to eradicate the eurocentricity he claims is still rampant at the institution. University of Cape Town, or UCT, vice-chancellor Max Price has said he is in favour of the relocation of the statue, which he described as a symbol of UCT’s colonial past, and announced intensified student participation in the process in the next four weeks.”

Full report on the Times Live site

via Rage against Rhodes heritage shifts up a gear – University World News.

Impact of Social Sciences – The Impact Factor and Its Discontents: Reading list on controversies and shortcomings of the Journal Impact Factor.

Thomson Reuters have released the annual round of updates to their ranked list of journals by journal impact factor JIF in yesterday’s Journal Citation Reports. Impact Factors have come under increasing scrutiny in recent years for their lack of transparency and for misleading attempts at research assessment. Last year the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment DORA took a groundbreaking stance by explicitly disavowing the use of impact factors in assessment. This document has since drawn support worldwide and across the academic community. But what exactly are Journal Impact Factors and why are they cause for so much concern? Here is a reading list that highlights some helpful pieces we’ve been able to feature on the Impact blog over the last few years.

via Impact of Social Sciences – The Impact Factor and Its Discontents: Reading list on controversies and shortcomings of the Journal Impact Factor..

The politics of disimagination and the pathologies of power, Henry Giroux,

Philosophers for Change

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by Henry A. Giroux

You write in order to change the world knowing perfectly well that you probably can’t, but also knowing that [writing] is indispensable to the world. The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you alter even by a millimeter the way people look at reality, then you can change it.  – James Baldwin

The Violence of Neoliberalism

We live in a time of deep foreboding, one that haunts any discourse about justice, democracy, and the future. Not only have the points of reference that provided a sense of certainty and collective hope in the past largely evaporated, but the only referents available are increasingly supplied by a hyper-market driven society, mega-corporations, and a corrupt financial service industry. The commanding economic and cultural institutions of American society have taken on what David Theo Goldberg calls a “militarizing social logic.”[1] Market discipline now…

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U of S fires Robert Buckingham after he spoke out on TransformUs – Saskatoon – CBC News

The head of the University of Saskatchewan’s School of Public Health was fired this morning after he spoke out against the school’s TransformUs restructuring plan.

The university confirmed that it fired professor Robert Buckingham, but would not comment further.

When Buckingham showed up to work this morning, he said he was met by two police officers. He said they handed him a note, which talked about a letter he released yesterday called ‘The Silence of the Deans.’

Buckingham said the university claimed he breached his contract through the letter, and irrevocably damaged his relationship with the university.

He was escorted off campus by the pair of officers. He was told to stay off university property, but will be allowed to return at a later date to collect his personal belongings.

He said his tenure and benefits have been revoked.and cannot comment further until he obtains a lawyer.

U of S reaction

Brett Fairbairn, provost and vice-president academic at the University of Saskatchewan, said in a statement issued today that leadership positions at the institution are roles of trust and stewardship.

“It is not open to anyone to wear the hat of a leader and a non-leader simultaneously,” he said in the statement.

Fairbairn said that being a leader includes putting the good of the organization ahead of one’s own interests or views. He added that deans and other senior leaders had opportunities throughout the TransformUs process to raise their views in small and large group settings.

Sask. opposition weighs in

Saskatchewan opposition leader Cam Broten said that Premier Brad Wall should be calling university president Illene Busch-Vishniac in for a meeting. He said the provincial government did not hesitate to get involved at First Nations University of Canada and the University of Regina in 2005.

The leader of the Saskatchewan NDP said this is “not some university in Arizona run out of someone’s basement” but a real, reputable university whose reputation will be hurt by this.

‘The Silence of the Deans’

In a public letter Buckingham titled “The Silence of the Deans”, he detailed a December 2013 meeting between senior academic leaders at the school. He said Deans and Vice-Presidents were in attendance. Buckingham claims that president Busch-Vishniac told the group not to “publicly disagree with the process or findings of TransformUs”. Buckingham alleges President Busch-Vishniac went on to tell the group that if they did speak out against the cost-cutting process their “tenure would be short”.

“I felt, at that time, [the] deans were being threatened,” Buckingham told CBC News on Tuesday afternoon, a few hours after his letter was raised by the NDP in Question Period at the Legislature. “If we did share publicly, [President Busch-Vishniac] stated that our tenure would be short. I thought that was a threat. What I am concerned about here is freedom of speech at a university,” Buckingham said.

Warned again

Buckingham, who became Dean of the School of Public Health at the U of S in 2009, said it was always his intention to come to the school, improve the school and leave his post at the university after five years. Because of this, he contends university administration, including Provost Brett Fairbairn were vigilant in reminding him that speaking out against TransformUs, publicly, was not condoned; especially as the university prepared to make the details of the TransformUs plan public in May 2014.

Buckingham points to an email sent by Provost Fairbairn on April 29, 2014, addressed to him and Dr. Ken Sutherland the Associate Dean and Professor of Fixed Prosthodontics at the U of S, as evidence that academic leaders were muzzled.

An excerpt from the email reads; “you are in an especially tough position and are subject to the expectation the president has of all of its leaders, that you will support TransformUs and the university’s messaging.”

University issues statement

Following the circulation of Buckingham’s letter on Tuesday, CBC News requested an interview with either President Busch-Vishniac or Provost Fairbairn. CBC News was advised no formal interview would ever be granted on the matter, however the university’s communications department forwarded the following statement and said it was attributable to the Provost:

“The University of Saskatchewan has high expectations of its senior leaders to support the university’s directions and to lead their implementation. Top among current priorities are the university’s TransformUS initiatives. Leaders have opportunities to express personal opinions in leadership discussions. Once decisions are made, all leaders are expected to support the university’s directions,” read the statement.

However, Buckingham hopes his decision to publicly speak out against TransformUs will encourage others in similar positions to do the same.

“I certainly felt stifled and muzzled,” Buckingham said “I think there are probably other Deans at this university who are feeling muzzled also, afraid to speak out.”

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via U of S fires Robert Buckingham after he spoke out on TransformUs – Saskatoon – CBC News.

The neoliberal assault on academia – Opinion – Al Jazeera English

The New York Times, Slate and Al Jazeera have recently drawn attention to the adjunctification of the professoriate in the US. Only 24 per cent of the academic workforce are now tenured or tenure-track.

Much of the coverage has focused on the sub-poverty wages of adjunct faculty, their lack of job security and the growing legions of unemployed and under-employed PhDs. Elsewhere, the focus has been on web-based learning and the massive open online courses (MOOCs), with some commentators celebrating and others lamenting their arrival.

The two developments are not unrelated. Harvard recently asked its alumni to volunteer their time as “online mentors” and “discussion group managers” for an online course. Fewer professors and fewer qualified – or even paid – teaching assistants will be required in higher education’s New Order.

Lost amid the fetishisation of information technology and the pathos of the struggle over proper working conditions for adjunct faculty is the deeper crisis of the academic profession occasioned by neoliberalism. This crisis is connected to the economics of higher education but it is not primarily about that.

The neoliberal sacking of the universities runs much deeper than tuition fee hikes and budget cuts.

via The neoliberal assault on academia – Opinion – Al Jazeera English.

Washington’s pivot to ignorance – Le Monde diplomatique – English edition

Often it’s the little things coming out of Washington, obscured by the big, scary headlines, that matter most in the long run. Items that scarcely make the news, or fail to attract your attention, or once noticed seem trivial, may carry consequences that endure long after the latest front-page crisis has passed. They may, in fact, signal fundamental changes in Washington’s priorities and policies that could even face opposition, if only we paid attention.

Take the current case of an unprecedented, unkind, under-the-radar cut in the State Department’s budget for the Fulbright Program, the venerable 68-year-old operation that annually arranges for thousands of educators, students, and researchers to be exchanged between the United States and at least 155 other countries. As Washington increasingly comes to rely on the “forward projection” of military force to maintain its global position, the Fulbright Program may be the last vestige of an earlier, more democratic, equitable, and generous America that enjoyed a certain moral and intellectual standing in the world. Yet, long advertised by the U.S. government as “the flagship international educational exchange program” of American cultural diplomacy, it is now in the path of the State Department’s torpedoes.

Right now, all over the world, former Fulbright scholars like me (Norway, 2012) are raising the alarm, trying to persuade Congress to stand by one of its best creations, passed by unanimous bipartisan consent of the Senate and signed into law by President Truman in 1946. Alumni of the Fulbright Program number more than 325,000, including more than 123,000 Americans. Among Fulbright alums are 53 from 13 different countries who have won a Nobel Prize, 28 MacArthur Foundation fellows, 80 winners of the Pulitzer Prize, 29 who have served as the head of state or government, and at least one, lunar geologist Harrison Schmitt (Norway, 1957), who walked on the moon — not to mention the hundreds of thousands who returned to their countries with greater understanding and respect for others and a desire to get along. Check the roster of any institution working for peace around the world and you’re almost certain to find Fulbright alums whose career choices were shaped by international exchange. What’s not to admire about such a program?

via Washington’s pivot to ignorance – Le Monde diplomatique – English edition.

Academics condemn police attempt to spy on students – University World News

More than 100 academics have condemned an attempt by the police to spy on the political activities of students at Cambridge University. The academics said such \”highly invasive and unjustifiable\” covert surveillance would deter students from joining political groups, writes Rob Evans for the Guardian.

The condemnation comes after the Guardian revealed secret footage recording how a police officer tried to recruit an activist to become an informant and pass on information about demonstrations. The activist wore a concealed camera to record the police officer asking him to feed him the names of students involved in demonstrations, their Facebook postings and the vehicles they used to travel to protests. The officer said the police needed information about \”student-union type stuff\”, citing as examples demonstrations against education cuts and tuition fees.

via Academics condemn police attempt to spy on students – University World News.