29.3.19

SEE YOU DOWN THE ROAD.

A recent issue of New York's Times blurbed their online job listings.  "Run away and join the circus.  For real."  The listing is for a Circus Transportation Supervisor.

I did not investigate further as the searches require job-seekers to upload a resume and other contact information, which only makes sense.

It's likely that these days a Circus Transportation Supervisor ought be conversant with movement permits, perhaps with maintaining special vehicles, and possibly with hiring-in rigs and drivers.

I wonder if such a person also has the opportunity to serve in vehicle maintenance during the winter.

That's the rationale between my current business cards, which list me as Wagon Shop Superintendent and Train Master for the Karlson Brothers Circus.  In the model circus world, you can still run trains and show elephants.

Find yourself a circus and go to it.

Next Karlson Brothers exhibition will be in Baraboo, the weekend Circus World opens.

MAKE COLLEGIATE HOCKEY GREAT AGAIN.

Yes, the past couple weeks' posts have tended to the gloomy.  Let's close out the month with cheerful news.
The No. 1 ranked Wisconsin Badgers (35-4-2) took home their fifth-ever NCAA National Championship over the weekend after defeating the No. 2 Minnesota Golden Gophers 2–0 Sunday at the Frozen Four in Hamden, Connecticut. It was a dominant weekend performance from Wisconsin against both No. 4 Clarkson and No. 2 Minnesota, as the team did not allow a goal all weekend.

The Badgers had not won a National Championship since 2011, despite having made it to the Frozen Four every year except the 2012-13 season.
That's Wisconsin women's hockey, which we have followed for all their previous national titles, and, once again, the final game involved the best of the West.

It's always a good day when the goaltender is the first star of the tournament.  "Over the last two games of the season, [junior goalie Kristen] Campbell managed to keep a clean sheet while facing off against possibly the Badgers’ two toughest opponents of the season. Despite facing a total of 41 shots on goal throughout the Frozen Four, Campbell did not allow a single goal."

There is still unfinished business.  Back in 2006, Wisconsin's icers won both championships.

This year, neither the Wisconsin men nor the Minnesota men are in the national tournament, although one-time Western Collegiate Hockey Association stalwart Denver is.

28.3.19

LIQUIDATING THE RAILROAD?

Over the years, I've been skeptical of efforts to make businesses in general, and railroads in particular, better by shrinking the physical plant and antagonizing shippers.  The latest effort sails under the banner of "precision scheduled railroading," but, trackside, it strikes Jeff Lusanne as just another speed-up.
[T]he central focus of [precision scheduled railroading] is to “sweat the assets” of a railroad, by reducing the headcount, idling locomotives and equipment, closing shops and facilities, reducing maintenance, curtailing service, and selling off routes. The stock market joyfully responds to every cutback, pumping the stock price up in the short term, while the physical infrastructure decays, morale sours, and customers are chased away.
The approach might look good for a quarter or a business cycle, but what happens when there's economic growth?
For railroad workers, PSR is more like a spreading virus that, no matter how disastrous its results have been, continues to spread from railroad to railroad. Harrison died in December 2017, but since that time, Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific, and Kansas City Southern have adopted the PSR policies and begun or announced cutbacks. BNSF, which is privately owned, is now the only large railroad that is not openly implementing PSR, although it has made operational changes that harshly impact operating crews and dispatchers.

In each case, these railroads announce that PSR will lead to “operational efficiencies” and “better service,” with the financial and trade press providing universal praise. It is a preposterous, proven lie. The concept of PSR is that railroads can do more with less—they can get rid of workers, reduce maintenance, close repair shops and sorting yards, cut train frequency, and supposedly provide better service while still making more money. Only the latter is true, and only for a short time—until the long-term consequences emerge.

When CSX implemented these policies in 2017, service to customers plummeted so drastically that the industry-friendly Surface Transportation Board was pushed to criticize the delays and demand regular reporting on performance. Meanwhile, CSX invented its own metrics for measuring its performance that didn’t match the rest of the industry, making it impossible to determine how bad it had gotten.
I suppose we should be grateful CSX management didn't single-track sections of The Water Level Route, but when you have a columnist for World Socialist Web Site pointing out that the railroads are leaving business unsolicited during a time of truck-driver shortages, something that's contrary to most principles of business strategy, something's not right on the railroad, under-performing routes not-withstanding.
Over recent decades, the railroads have sought only the most profitable traffic, a tendency that PSR emphasizes.

The policy works to make railroad operations “efficient” only in the sense of how the railroad can spend as little as possible to provide service. For example, they may cut a train that provides the only service over a route, and instead reroute traffic hundreds of miles out of the way on another higher-traffic route to consolidate operations, in an effort to save on crews and shutter trackage. Yet the customer sees transit times that take days or even weeks longer.

Another method is to run fewer trains that are longer and heavier than ever before and save on the reduction of crews and locomotive usage—assuming that massive trains don’t suffer more frequent problems that cause more frequent delay. Traffic gets held for longer amounts of time for the fewer, more “efficient” trains that do run, which adds to transit time.

If customers complain about the service, the railroad might decide they aren’t even worth the trouble—the emphasis is on the highest-margin traffic that the railroad can run with the lowest costs, and in effect, customers are chased away. In 2017, when CSX implemented PSR, its total yearly carloads fell by 1.4 percent compared to 2016, with almost every type of traffic showing declines, yet the stock price doubled. That feeds into the cycle that allows further reduction of employees, equipment, and maintenance.
Those are just the within-mode effects.  Motorists see more congestion with big rigs operated by over-stressed drivers, and the roads get beat up.  In the limit, do the railroads have to rediscover that the Chicago Great Western model of One Big Train a day doing all the work isn't sustainable.

Will the investors figure it out before the soviets of transportation workers Mr Lusanne prays for emerge?

27.3.19

WHEN WILL THEY EVER LEARN?

In a sane world, there would be no reason for Our President to remind higher education of its responsibilities to protect free speech, or for higher education to view such an executive order as anything controversial.

We do not live in a sane world.
Among the many responses to President Trump’s executive order on campus free speech last week, some of the lamest came from the major groups representing colleges and universities. Flipping open their “Intro to Corporate PR Crises” textbooks to page one, they did what many large and powerful institutions do when faced with an embarrassing, obvious, and public problem: Deny there’s a problem at all.

Few people with any knowledge or experience of higher ed actually believe there’s no free speech problem on campus. FIRE’s 20-year history defending students and faculty across the political and ideological spectrum is a testament to the existence of the problem. So is the more than a decade FIRE has spent reading and rating the speech-related policies of more than 400 of our nation’s largest and most prestigious schools. 90 percent continue to feature speech codes that are either unconstitutional (on public campuses) or violate their own promises of free speech (on private campuses), with nearly 30 percent of them doing so egregiously. These are among the reasons FIRE gets approximately 1,000 case submissions per year from students and faculty asking for our help defending their rights.
We can concede that "free speech" is a Complex Proposition, with "standing to address the ekklesia" differing from "spouting off in the agora" and "respecting disciplinary discourse practices" is different from either.

That's not what Robert Shibley is seeing.
The higher ed lobbying organizations are, of course, free to criticize the executive order and to predict any number of dire consequences that might stem from it. But prefacing those predictions with (sometimes identical) forms of “move along, there’s nothing to see here” is so transparently erroneous that it can’t help but undermine their credibility when they talk about the potential downsides.

FIRE’s own position on President Trump’s executive order is that, while asking schools to follow the law or their own promises should not be controversial, it’s too soon to tell whether these steps will have a positive (or negative) effect. Much depends on how agencies put the order into practice. We will watch, wait, and continue helping campus communities defend their expressive rights. Because regardless of what the higher ed establishment tells you, students and faculty do not enjoy robust expressive freedoms at every school required to provide them.
But wait, there's more!

Inside Higher Ed gives Trinity Washington president Patricia McGuire a platform to attempt to invalidate Our President's action by invoking ... a lack of viewpoint diversity.
Valentines with religious messages. Tiny crosses on the university lawn. An activities table on the campus plaza. President Donald J. Trump chose the softest of human props as the backdrop for his executive order on campus free speech. As he brought each alleged victim of collegiate “political indoctrination” to the podium at the White House, the audience erupted in cheers for these hapless students martyred by “speech codes, safe spaces and trigger warnings.”

The three speakers at Trump’s ceremony were all young white women. As the camera panned the room, the overwhelming whiteness of the audience was clear. Certainly, some people of color were present for the occasion, but they were not featured prominently. Where were all of the African American students who suffer racial slurs and horrific threats on campuses every day? Where were the Latinos, the Dreamers, the LGBTQ students who often endure egregious hostility and intimidation during their college years?

A suspicious odor wafts through Trump’s executive order that only one kind of student is worthy of protection -- namely, the student whose political views he favors. He said at the ceremony that this order is the beginning of a more aggressive stance to protect student rights. Has the president spoken as boldly about protecting the rights of students of color on campus? Does his freedom of speech order cover the myriad displays of nooses, bananas, swastikas, blackfaces, N-word scrawls and other racially offensive expressions that some students suffer regularly?
Snarking, whataboutism, question-begging.  There are diversity offices with the power to hector or to expel students who commit bias crimes, and there are diversity hustlers who apparently have to make up their own bias crimes as the "myriad displays" aren't sufficient.

That appears to be Ms McGuire's preference.
Freedom of speech is essential to our work at colleges and universities -- but it’s not the only right or value in play on a campus. Higher education institutions have a distinct obligation to ensure the safety and security of all students; one person’s free expression can, quite often, come across to others as offensive, intimidating, even threatening.

It’s certainly true that conservative students sometimes suffer harsh and inappropriate reactions. One of Trump’s guests was a student from the University of Nebraska who set up an information table for a conservative group, Turning Point USA, and she was understandably offended by a graduate student lecturer screaming at her while waving a middle finger -- but that ugly expression, too, is free speech. It’s also true that students of many different political, religious and cultural identities suffer insults, bullying and worse -- especially when they become visible activists for their cause on a campus. Booing, heckling and ringing cowbells to express disagreement with a speaker is certainly offensive, but it is also part of free speech. To manage the campus for peace and productive exchange of ideas, administrators must exercise continuous care to understand how listeners hear what speakers are saying, how offensive and insulting speech might provoke a reaction that can easily become violent.
That sounds enough like liberating tolerance at work to make the case for the executive order.  Note the code-words: "offensive, intimidating, threatening."   Furthermore, "ugly expression" is not free speech.  It is a lack of manners, but that's probably too bourgeois a concept for a university president in good standing.

Pink pussyhats good, red MAGA hats bad!

It gets better.
We cannot protect students from feeling hurt or angry because of someone’s expression, but we have a serious obligation to protect everyone from harm. One of the students at Trump’s ceremony said, “Speech is not free when university officials put conditions on student speech.” In fact, we can and do have reasonable regulations for the time, manner and place of speech so that we can manage the daily life of the institution. Respect for freedom of speech requires that we exercise prudence in the management of those regulations, allowing as much expression as is reasonably possible, neither favoring nor inhibiting any speech because of its content.

The university is, first and foremost, a teacher, and our teaching extends to developing in students the ability to listen, learn and grow beyond narrow personal biases, to develop a worldview based on knowledge and critical reasoning. Rather than girding for political combat over the distribution of religious valentines, a more productive educational response would have fostered dialogue among the valentine maker, those who objected to her messages and the administrators trying to manage the myriad points of view. Learning can only occur in constant dialogue, not by presidential edict or political interference. Dismissing a college or university’s expectations for civility, respect and inclusiveness as mere “political correctness” insults the teaching mission and undermines opportunities for learning among all students -- liberal, moderate, conservative and politically agnostic alike.
Without irony, she pivots from the protected status of the heckler's cowbell to an expectation of civility!  Plus "dialogue."  Then she has the chutzpah to suggest it's all right-wing snowflakery.
Trump’s own words make it clear that the executive order is all about protecting one kind of speaker -- those toward the right side of the political spectrum. He said he was “delivering a clear message to the professors and power structures trying to suppress dissent and keep young Americans … from challenging rigid far-left ideology.”

By the voices he chose to lift up, the president’s ideological agenda is very clear. Trump gave a big shout-out to Charlie Kirk of Turning Point USA, sitting in the front row, and Kirk put out this statement after the ceremony: “Today’s executive order is the culmination of Turning Point USA’s tireless work to break the left’s stranglehold on campus, a grip that has suffocated the free exchange of ideas and helped indoctrinate an entire generation to hate America.”
I read the rest of her essay, searching in vain for any refutation of Our President's claim that the universities -- their Student Affairs types and area studies faculties in particular -- weren't engaging in left indoctrination.  There is this.  "Controlling language and speech is a big part of the authoritarian formula."

OK, Patty, get rid of your speech codes.

Our universities are being run by terminally stupid people.

IT'S A SHAME THAT A LAW FOR THIS IS EVEN NEEDED.

Legislation to ensure safe food and drugs is probably desirable, but does it preclude entrepreneurial kids from selling lemonade?
Although state law currently prohibits the sale of homemade drinks, the Texas House of Representatives passed a bill last week legalizing lemonade stands run by children. It now heads to the state Senate.

The legislation would outlaw permit requirements for minors who wish to operate a temporary stand selling lemonade or any other nonalcoholic beverage. In doing so, it would overturn the Texas Food Establishment's ban on the sale of unregulated drinks, which was enacted over health concerns.
Such prohibitions are in force in a few other states as well.

I suppose if something goes wrong in the subdivision, the usual suspects will have a Bush to blame.
"Yesterday was one small step for lemonade, today is one giant leap for young entrepreneurs," Rep. Matt Krause (R–Fort Worth), who championed the bill, said after the House gave its final approval.

A similar law recently passed in Colorado after the police shut down a kid's lemonade stand over licensing woes. The makeshift business was operating next to a festival where adults were selling the same beverage.

The Dallas Morning News highlights that several young lemonade vendors across Texas have met the same fate. Unaware that their business endeavors were in violation of state law, sisters Andria, 8, and Zoey Green, 7, had their stand shuttered in 2015 by police who noted that they were operating without a permit.

Krause's bill has drawn cheers from Texas politicians, including Land Commissioner George P. Bush, who tweeted a video of him patronizing a lemonade stand outside of his office.

"Can't think of anything more basic, more entrepreneurial, more creative for a child to begin the idea of learning the value of a dollar," said Bush in the video. "I'm encouraging my fellow Texans to support this piece of legislation that goes far to build imagination and creativity in our great state."
Get it passed and signed before summer!

AFTER DEATH, THE JUDGEMENT.

James H. Kunstler is no member of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.
What actually happened with RussiaGate? A cabal of government officials colluded with the Hillary Clinton campaign to interfere in the 2016 election and, failing to achieve their desired outcome, engineered a two-years-plus formal inquisition to deflect attention from their own misconduct and attempt to overthrow the election result.
In one way, the deflection might have worked. Our President could work with Republicans in Congress to cut tax rates and simplify the tax code, because what is the purpose of Republicans if not to cut tax rates and simplify the tax code?  But they might not have gotten on board with tighter border enforcement as enough of them might have accepted enough of the Narrative that they could not rule out a resignation or impeachment within the first six months or a year.  Perhaps that's what all the flying spittle on Hardball was about.

Now comes the pay-back: to the talking heads on the cable shows, and to the careerists of the Permanent Government.
There remains also, the rather sweeping panorama of misconduct and probable crime among the government (and former government) players in the agencies mentioned above. Does the full Mueller Report mention, for instance, that the animating document claiming that Trump colluded with Russia was manufactured by Mrs. Clinton’s employees? And that this document was used time and again improperly and illegally to prolong the inquisition? How could Mr. Mueller not acknowledge that? And if not, what sort of investigation was this?
Fake transcripts to get into college, fake stories about high school kids behaving badly, fake bias crimes, why not fake evidence of campaign corruption?

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised at how bad it has gotten in two years.
Iconoclasm is never pretty, though.  I did warn you. "The gentry liberals, and the academic-entertainment complex, have done much damage, as have the rent seekers. But like any other ruling class, they will not relinquish power graciously." And the ungraciousness is on display at CNN, night after night.
Mr Kunstler concludes,
My favorite college professor and mentor, David Hamilton, once put a curious question to us when we were vexing him for some reason now forgotten: “Why,” he asked, “Did Achilles drag Hector around the city of Troy three times?”

We twiddled our cigarettes and pulled our chins.

“Because he was just that pissed,” he said.
That reads like inter alia Kurt Schlichter.

Our ungracious ruling class is not going to like the new rules.

CHIEFS ESTABLISH STANDARDS AND HOLD OUR SAILORS TO THEM.

An essay by Command Master Chief William Houlihan spells out the responsibilities of the senior noncom.
Many of our sailors don’t trust the Mess. They don’t trust us because we are not doing the jobs we used to do, the jobs the Mess was intended to do.

Our focus seems to have shifted. Too many of us believe the strategic direction of our Navy is where we should be concentrating. Not enough of us are walking berthings, establishing standards, visiting the mess decks, and just listening to our men and women.

Chiefs need to get their damn heads out of their academic and post-Navy aspirations and back into the lives and development of their sailors. Our sailors don’t need chiefs pretending they understand the very complex concept of “strategy.” Our sailors need chiefs whose daily “strategy” revolves around unit mission and sailor development.
It's not quite the role of professor-as-senior-noncom as regular readers understand it, and yet, it's about saying No and upholding standards.  "We earn a sailor’s trust by doing what they’ve been led to believe chiefs do: lead, nurture, discipline, care, challenge."

Via Glenn "Insta Pundit" Reynolds, who notes, "Don’t be out of touch and career-obsessed. That’s what officers are for."  In higher education, those would be the serial administrators.

26.3.19

WHAT'S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?

National Public Radio suggests there's an affordable water crisis along the shores of the Great Lakes.
In cities across the country, the cost of water has spiked in recent years, forcing hundreds of thousands of people to perilously endure weeks or even months without an essential resource.

The crisis is especially acute where you would least expect it – the Great Lakes, the region of the country with the most abundant fresh water.

A nine-month investigation by APM Reports examined the cost of water in six large cities near the Great Lakes – Chicago, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Detroit, Buffalo and Duluth – over the past 10 years and found that rates have risen alarmingly fast.
I can throw all sorts of social science penalty flags on this reporting, or is it crisis mongering. I submit, though, that one diagram and one anecdote will suffice to make my point.

Hit this link to see the diagram.  Neither National Public Radio nor American Public Media Reports could be bothered to make a shareable image of it.  That's unfortunate, as it would be useful to see Chicago's average annual water bill rise from around $273 for a household of four in 2010 to $576 in 2018, while Phoenix hovers at around $400 a year over the full decade.

Yes.  Phoenix.  As in Arizona.  As in Sonoran Desert.  As in piping water from the Grand Canyon.  Something strikes me as unsustainable there.

The water utilities of the big cities around the Great Lakes (the chart omits Milwaukee, perhaps the sewer socialists did more than pray to Our Lady of Infrastructure) have been raising their rates in order to renew the mains, some of which are going on 200 years old, and more than a few of which are lead pipes.  Those rate increases, however, are pinching the budgets of poor people.  Here's how public radio propagates its Narrative.
Many cities have been forced to raise rates to deal with decrepit infrastructure – leaking, cracking water pipes that in some places date to the 19th century. With the federal government allocating less money for water infrastructure, most cities have foisted the bill on to their customers, especially those who can least afford it.

The APM Reports investigation found that the rising cost of water has hit poor families the hardest; the government-run water utilities in these six cities have issued at least 367,740 shut-off notices in the past decade. And an analysis of shut-off data revealed disproportionately high concentrations of water shut-offs in poorer areas and in majority black and Latino neighborhoods in every city.
"Washington austerity: women and minorities hardest hit." Wait until they look at the federal money involved in those Arizona pipelines making the lower rates for flood-irrigated golf courses possible.

Sometimes, the people who have their city water turned off turn to eighteenth-century approaches to making do.
[Chicago pensioner, Rev. Falicia] Campbell's basic tasks like doing the dishes or getting ready to leave the house became expensive and arduous. To bathe each morning, she had to pour gallons of bottled water into a pot to heat on a stove. She then carried the water up the steep stairs to the second floor and dumped it into the bath tub. She made the trip multiple times until she had enough water to take a bath. Then she'd use the water for the toilet. By the time she was on her way to her church, she was already exhausted. And there was a financial burden too: She was having to spend $20 a week on bottled water.

"There's an old saying you never miss your water until the well runs dry. And I found that out. It's very difficult to get around without water," Campbell said one day last October. By then, her water was back on. With the help of friends and family, it had taken her a month to come up with the deposit demanded by the Chicago water department. She's enrolled in a $120.93 monthly plan. If she's lucky, she'll pay off her debt by September 2021.
There's got to be a political economy problem in here: $121 a month for current and past use of city water, $80-90 a month for bottled water.  Why?

Phoenix, on the other hand, appears to have already established a reserve for maintenance and replacement, although if that reserve is relying on federal money, they, too, might be facing future problems.
Phoenix Water Services Director Kathryn Sorensen said the cost of water is determined not by a city's proximity to water but by the quality of its infrastructure.

Phoenix gets its water from the Colorado River, about 200 miles away. It's piped to the city through the Central Arizona Project, built by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation between 1973 and 1994. The project was for the most part federally funded, but there's a repayment plan in place.

"We're not like a natural gas utility or an electrical utility where you can move the product easily over thin wires or in relatively inexpensive pipes," Sorensen said. "You need concrete, steel, iron, and so the cost of a water utility is in its infrastructure, and the trap that a lot of utilities fall into is that they get behind in the rehabilitation and replacement of that infrastructure."
In the case of the big cities around the Lakes, that appears to have been the case.  The water utilities, however, were not returning calls from reporters.

As far as those "relatively inexpensive" electric and natural gas grids, don't get me started.  Cold Spring Shops pays more in transmission and distribution charges, and taxes, this being Illinois, than it does for therms and kilowatt-hours.

WHY IT MATTERS.

Two opinion columns make the case that the land grants and mid-majors and regional comprehensives are in the same business as the Ivies and ought behave accordingly.

We start with an anonymous whinge in The Guardian from someone purporting to be on faculty at one of the selective institutions you've probably read about in U.S. News.
I teach at an elite American university – one of the oldest and best-known, which rejects about 90% of applicants each year for the small number of places it can offer to undergraduates.

In this setting, where teaching quality is at a premium and students expect faculty to give them extensive personal attention, the presence of unqualified students admitted through corrupt practices is an unmitigated disaster for education and research. While such students have long been present in the form of legacy admits, top sports recruits and the kids of multimillion-dollar donors, the latest scandal represents a new tier of Americans elbowing their way into elite universities: unqualified students from families too poor to fund new buildings, but rich enough to pay six-figure bribes to coaches and admissions advisers. This increase in the proportion of students who can’t do the work that elite universities expect of them has – at least to me and my colleagues – begun to create a palpable strain on the system, threatening the quality of education and research we are expected to deliver.
I suppose I should be heartened that the Varsity Blue fallout discovers what access-assessment-remediation-retention looks like at the top of the academic food chain, and, in a perverse way, perhaps I should be encouraged that the students at wherever this is have enough initiative to advocate for their own accommodations, rather than rely on the swarms of deanlets and deanlings in the various special education retention offices to take care of things.

Apparently those students also have enough initiative to mau-mau this individual, who would rather get an anonymous whinge off to Manchester and couch it in such a way as to call out the least likable part of the Elite, rather than to note, publicly and proudly, that his job is to say No and uphold standards, and then get back to the research he claims these snowflakes are keeping him from finishing.

There are too many wimps and not enough Grumpy Old Road Foremen in higher education.  "The Grumpy Old Road Foreman would note something more along the lines of 'If you [snowflakes -- ed] spent half as much time studying as you're spending attempting to game the system, you wouldn't have to game the system.'"

Sadly, no.
Every unqualified student admitted to an elite university ends up devouring hugely disproportionate amounts of faculty time and resources that rightfully belong to all the students in class. By monopolizing faculty time to help compensate for their lack of necessary academic skills, unqualified students can also derail faculty research that could benefit everyone, outside the university as well as within it. To save themselves and their careers, many of my colleagues have decided that it is no longer worth it to uphold high expectations in the classroom. “Lower your standards,” they advise new colleagues. “The fight isn’t worth it, and the administration won’t back you up if you try.”

In comparing stories, we have also found that such students strive to “work the system”, using university procedures to get the grades they desire, rather than those they have earned, and if necessary to punish faculty who refuse to accede to those demands. It is perhaps unsurprising that students whose parents circumvent the rules to get them into elite universities are often the ones who become adept at manipulating the university system in a corrupt way.
There are unqualified students and whatever analogue to jailhouse lawyer fits in higher education, no matter where you go.  Deal with it.

It came to this, though, when the faculty abdicated its stewardship of the curriculum.  Do we have to produce red hats with the legend

MAKE FACULTY GOVERNANCE GREAT AGAIN!

The management fads and boutique intersectionality are hazardous to faculty careers.  This anonymous complainant sees it.
Students who represent money, whether in the form of their parents’ donations or athletic prowess that attracts viewers and media coverage, are simply worth more to universities as long-term sources of revenue than the faculty themselves. However well-known our names might be, most of us can easily be replaced from among the army of un- and under-employed PhDs struggling for a place in a shrinking labor market. We, not the rich students, are expendable.

For untenured faculty members, the pressures created by this setup can be a threat to their careers: it’s very difficult to teach well, let alone do the research and publishing necessary to keep your job, when you’re being hounded to provide a remedial education on top of an already heavy set of official duties.

Even for tenured professors, whose jobs are supposedly secure, becoming known as someone who won’t “play ball” by giving the sports star or the legacy an easy pass can mean exclusion from important opportunities and sources of support. So we suck it up as we recap our lectures for students who couldn’t attend due to golf team practice, or teach them skills most Americans learn in high school, or create extra credit assignments to bring up their marks.

This kind of thing has easily added 10-12 hours a week to my workload, and I know I’m not alone in that respect. As one of my colleagues put it, the unskilled and entitled students will “eat you alive”. Over the past decades as an instructor, I have seen my teaching workload increase dramatically despite holding the same number of courses in the same subjects. What has changed is the proportion of unqualified students in the classroom.
Perhaps the trustees can dip into the reserve army of unemployed faculty for a while, but eventually they'll eat their seed corn.
University presidents serious about this program will have to treat their research faculty with more respect as their sycophants in the retention ponds turn on them. (Yes, I am deliberately being churlish here. I earned a research degree and was hired for my research skills. Skimpy pay raises and increased special-education responsibilities do not much for the morale do.)
(Have I really been raising this argument for fifteen years? What's that line about it not being given to me to finish the task and yet I must not give it up?)

Moreover, an overworked contingent faculty is unlikely to add many Nobel Prizes or genius grants or what have you for the development office to brag on.  The Ivies might have begun as finishing schools for social-climbing Dunces, and perhaps to that status they shall return.

That might be an opportunity for the state universities, whether the basketball factories, flagships, land-grants, mid-majors, or regional comprehensives, to gain by default.  Margaret Renkl elaborates.
The idea of a college search would have been foreign to me as a high-school senior. Of the two flagship state universities, I picked my mother’s alma mater and was admitted simply by having my ACT scores sent there. When I got to Auburn University in the fall of 1980, Pell Grants, work-study assignments and low-interest federal loans were still plentiful enough that students like me — people not impoverished enough or brilliant enough to earn a full ride — could nevertheless get a good education, even if their parents couldn’t afford to pay a dime. It never crossed my mind that I was “settling” for something less than an elite education. I was grateful beyond belief to be going to college at all.
Been there, did that. At the time, there was one flagship state university in Wisconsin, and their thing was not basketball or football.  I suspect, though, that the emergence of college searches as a thing is a consequence of several causes: rising prosperity, at least for some people, and the increasing focus on access-assessment-remediation-retention as the objectives for higher education, with the obscure institutions lowering their standards.

That's the other side of the fractured social contract; Ms Renkl trots out the state universities' grievances.
Cash-strapped legislatures too often balance their budgets by cutting funds to higher education, resulting in catastrophic tuition hikes. Provincial yahoos too often serve as university trustees or administrators, energetically erecting barriers to the kind of wide-ranging curiosity that a university education is supposed to foster. Tenured professors retire and are too often replaced by adjuncts so underpaid and so shamefully overburdened that their work amounts to exploitation. And that’s just for starters.
Note the "shameful overburden" again. Much of that, and much of the legislative expenditure, is about paying for high school a second, or a third, time.  Moreover, the reliance on contingent faculty destroys the institutional memory.  Eventually the administrators will discover that the pool of deanlets and deanlings to screen for genuinely decanal office has been fished out.

I'll let Ms Renkl have the final word, though.
My sons are getting much the same kind of education at the University of Tennessee that I got so many years ago at Auburn and that my husband got at the University of Georgia. With some exceptions — just as there were decades ago — our sons are being challenged intellectually and supported emotionally. They are making friends who will be their friends for life.

As with my oldest son, a large state university isn’t the right fit for every student. There are many kinds of schools and many kinds of students, and I understand that. What I don’t understand is why so many people seem to think you can’t get a good education at a rank-and-file state university — not Berkeley or the University of Virginia, but still the kind of school the vast majority of young people in this country would feel grateful and honored to attend.

In the end, students who want an education will get an education wherever they go to school. No cheating required.
Indeed.

25.3.19

A CASE FOR THE CANON AND THE CURRICULUM?

Our President recently signed an Executive Order notifying institutions of higher learning that they are on Double Secret Probation or something, and at risk of losing federal funding if they suppress free speech.  The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (disclaimer: they are on the Cold Spring Shops "nice" list at Christmas) issued a statement that summarizes the stakes well.
To the extent that today’s executive order asks colleges and universities to meet their existing legal obligations, it should be uncontroversial.

FIRE will watch closely to see if today’s action furthers the meaningful, lasting policy changes that FIRE has secured over two decades — or results in unintended consequences that threaten free expression and academic freedom. We note that the order does not specify how or by what standard federal agencies will ensure compliance, the order’s most consequential component. FIRE has long opposed federal agency requirements that conflict with well-settled First Amendment jurisprudence. We will continue to do so.

FIRE knows from years of experience that censorship silences students and faculty from across the ideological and political spectrum. Any principled and effective defense of freedom of expression must protect student and faculty expressive rights without regard to viewpoint. To secure the benefits of the “marketplace of ideas” for campus communities and for our nation as a whole, all students and faculty must be free to peacefully speak their minds.

As our work demonstrates, campus censorship is a real and continuing problem. We appreciate the executive branch’s attention to this issue. As a proudly nonpartisan organization, FIRE will continue to lead the fight for campus speech rights and academic freedom regardless of the political party in power or the popularity of the speech at issue. The First Amendment and freedom of expression require no less.
The separate mention of "campus speech rights" and "academic freedom" is salient, and it's a point not necessarily well understood by politicians, or by academicians themselves.

Academic freedom does not mean academic license.  Rather, it means academicians enjoy a great deal of latitude to investigate questions that interest them, subject to the constraints of the discourse practice in their discipline.  At the risk of oversimplifying to finish this post in finite time, scholarly inquiry involves variations on the theme "Proposition P is valid under conditions C."  The rules of construction include an aversion to logical fallacies; a preference for the simpler as opposed to the more complex explanation, thus reaching P by less restrictive types of C; at least some basis for falsifying or generalizing or making more specific the argument, perhaps by checking against reality and seeing whether you do better with your inference than you would by flipping a coin; and ways by which stronger arguments displace weaker arguments.  "Narrowly viewed, tenure is a protection for professors to investigate, and to properly present, contested ideas. The fundamental principle of scholarly inquiry is 'no final say,' no matter how many claims a scholar or a publicist says 'definitive.'"  Yes, sometimes that approach can become self-parody.

Campus speech rights, however, cross the line into Constitutional protections, and here, Oxford political theorist Teresa M. Bejan offers a useful investigation of what that means.  One might use the term "freedom of speech" loosely as in the liberty to pop off about anything, any time, anywhere.  That's not the same thing as the liberty to address a governing body in order to influence a particular policy.

We have good manners to serve as a constraint on free speech in the first sense, or perhaps enlightened self-restraint.  It's probably not smart to go into a Harley bar and pour beer over the riders and say good things about rice-burners.  We have rules of order to serve as a constraint on free speech in the second sense.  No matter how good it might feel to yell "Believe all victims" when the legislature is debating tax policy or the siting of an airport, that really isn't convincing anyone not already convinced, or is it germane to the question before the house.

That's something that Union College president David R. Harris appears to understand in his "A Campus Is Not the Place for Free Speech."  Sometimes you have to be outrageous to make a point; his point is not outrageous at all.
The mission of a higher education institution is to provide students and all in our community with the information, experiences and opportunities to understand not what to think, but rather what the arguments are for various perspectives and how strong each argument is. Our focus is on how and why, and only indirectly on what.

Free speech, in its purest form, is an exercise in what is achieved when a person yells a view and then leaves, after which someone with an opposing perspective does the same. The speakers do not grow as a result of the experience, and the audience has no opportunity to probe the opposing points of view. Such an exercise is guaranteed by the Constitution, and I wholeheartedly support the exercise of free speech in public spaces.

On campuses, however, we must strive for something more than free speech. Our mission requires that we seek what I refer to as constructive engagement. It is not enough for individuals to speak freely. We must also find myriad ways to put a range of views into conversation with one another. It is what we do in classrooms every day. It is what we do on debate teams. It is what happens across every campus, far more than critics appreciate. It is what happens in the lives of college students much more frequently than in the lives of most adults, in part because college campuses and social networks tend to be more diverse than “real world” neighborhoods and social clubs.

This emphasis on constructive engagement is why, at Union College, we have launched an initiative to create the conditions for hearing and learning from diverse perspectives.
The first paragraph: yes, ideally, that is what education is all about, playing with ideas.

The second paragraph: that's the category error Professor Bejan takes on.  Yes, the Constitution guarantees the right of peaceable assembly to seek redress, which is not the same thing as getting a policy intending to provide redress onto the legislative calendar, and which doesn't apply to screaming heads on cable news panels or rumbles in biker bars.

The trouble comes up in the third and fourth paragraphs.  "Constructive engagement" and "learning from diverse perspectives" is too often honored in the breach in higher education.  Mr Harris is getting lit up in the comments on precisely that score.

On one side of the campus culture wars, we have people arguing from extremely tight priors and ruling some conditions C as out of bounds, perhaps with the best of intentions, but none-the-less, violating the rules of construction It does no more good to blame all sorts of ills on some -ism or -phobia than it did to lay them off on Original SinTeach the controversies, and consider other sets of C.

On the other side, we have people bringing in provocateurs simply to set the True Believers off.  That might demonstrate how tight the True Believers' priors are; it doesn't do much to open students' minds to the possibility that there are other C leading to the validity of P.

Here, I've filled up a mini-dissertation without yet introducing the Canon and the Curriculum.

Like any aspiring circus impresario, I saved the Big Finish for the end.  Here's the basis of Professor Bejan's argument.
The reason that appeals to the First Amendment cannot decide these campus controversies is because there is a more fundamental conflict between two, very different concepts of free speech at stake. The conflict between what the ancient Greeks called isegoria, on the one hand, and parrhesia, on the other, is as old as democracy itself. Today, both terms are often translated as “freedom of speech,” but their meanings were and are importantly distinct. In ancient Athens, isegoria described the equal right of citizens to participate in public debate in the democratic assembly; parrhesia, the license to say what one pleased, how and when one pleased, and to whom.
I submit her argument is incomplete, in that the discourse practice in the academy is not the same thing as isegoria, as, to pick one example, an economist ought take on a mathematician on the details of a proof with the greatest of circumspection, whilst "put a sock in it, parrhesic!" might be something to roll out in a social media setting sometime.

Note, though, the intellectual origins of these two concepts.
As a form of free speech then, isegoria was essentially political. Its competitor, parrhesia, was more expansive. Here again, the common English translation “freedom of speech” can be deceptive. The Greek means something like “all saying” and comes closer to the idea of speaking freely or “frankly.” Parrhesia thus implied openness, honesty, and the courage to tell the truth, even when it meant causing offense. The practitioner of parrhesia (or parrhesiastes) was, quite literally, a “say-it-all.”

Parrhesia could have a political aspect. Demosthenes and other orators stressed the duty of those exercising isegoria in the assembly to speak their minds. But the concept applied more often outside of the ekklesia in more and less informal settings. In the theater, parrhesiastic playwrights like Aristophanes offended all and sundry by skewering their fellow citizens, including Socrates, by name. But the paradigmatic parrhesiastes in the ancient world were the Philosophers, self-styled “lovers of wisdom” like Socrates himself who would confront their fellow citizens in the agora and tell them whatever hard truths they least liked to hear.
Read on, and discover that the discourse practice of the academy is something different from popping off in the agora or attempting to persuade the ekklesia.
Noting the lack of success that Plato’s loved ones enjoyed with both isegoria and parrhesia during his lifetime may help explain why the father of Western philosophy didn’t set great store by either concept in his works. Plato no doubt would have noticed that, despite their differences, neither concept relied upon the most famous and distinctively Greek understanding of speech as logos — that is, reason or logical argument. Plato’s student, Aristotle, would identify logos as the capacity that made human beings essentially political animals in the first place. And yet neither isegoria nor parrhesia identified the reasoned speech and arguments of logos as uniquely deserving of equal liberty or license. Which seems to have been Plato’s point—how was it that a democratic city that prided itself on free speech, in all of its forms, put to death the one Athenian ruled by logos for speaking it?
And these days, "logocentric" is a put-down; one of the postmodernist invocations of Sin. Sad.
To a generation convinced that hateful speech is itself a form of violence or “silencing,” pleading the First Amendment is to miss the point. Most of these students do not see themselves as standing against free speech at all. What they care about is the equal right to speech, and equal access to a public forum in which the historically marginalized and excluded can be heard and count equally with the privileged. This is a claim to isegoria, and once one recognizes it as such, much else becomes clear—including the contrasting appeal to parrhesia by their opponents, who sometimes seem determined to reduce “free speech” to a license to offend.
It's not clear to me that those students respect equal rights or bourgeois norms.  Nor is it clear that speech codes and privilege-shaming or the rest generates equal access to the agora.  It's simply a new form of privilege, and Professor Bejan is correct about where that leads.  "When the rights of all become the privilege of a few, neither liberty nor equality can last."

"Given all the competing demands on our time, that people have continued to read and appreciate these dead white males suggests that their work has value."

21.3.19

WHAT BERNIE SANDERS OR KSHAMA SAWANT CAN'T DO, THE INVISIBLE HAND CAN.

Madison restaurants’ struggle for staff nears a crisis point.  Artisanal food, foodie residents, atmosphere, all the rest, and yet the working conditions aren't great.
Surya Café, a vegan spot serving smoothies, snacks and sandwiches in Fitchburg, will open a second location in the old Garver Feed Mill on Madison’s east side this summer.

When head chef Lauren Montelbano thinks about staffing it, she shudders.

“It’s terrifying,” said Montelbano, who runs her current café inside a yoga studio with four employees. “I look at how many restaurants there are in the city and the suburbs. Where does staff come from for these restaurants?
Incentives matter, even inside the thirty square miles of socialist wishful thinking surrounded by reality.
The inability of Madison-area bars and restaurants to find and keep employees has been nearing a crisis point for years. Low unemployment in Dane County (1.9 percent as of December 2018) and a proliferation of new dining spots has led to more competition for fewer workers.

Those who start a job may not stay long. As of 2017, restaurants’ annual turnover rate was 72.5 percent, compared to 46 percent for the U.S. private sector overall. (Many people move in and out of restaurant jobs on a seasonal basis, so it’s not three-fourths of a restaurant’s full-year staff turning over each year.)

Restaurant consultant Sam McDaniel has been telling clients, “retention is the most important thing in the restaurant business.”
Strip away the numerology and the business bafflegab, and what the owners have to do is make sure the staff isn't motivated to sing an old country song.
“There’s a systemic failure in the hospitality business to create good jobs,” said McDaniel, who co-founded Graft on the Capitol Square and now works at the Goodman Community Center.

“It’s a chicken and egg thing,” he said. “Are we struggling with staffing because there aren’t enough people? Or is it that jobs are not good, so people don’t want the jobs?”

Restaurants get stuck in a cycle of constantly hiring and training workers who themselves might be juggling two or three jobs. It’s expensive for the restaurants and exhausting for everyone.

Many chefs said they don’t call references anymore. Once someone is in the door, she can start immediately. Some even rehire people they don’t want to work with, because they feel they don’t have a choice.

“Most of us are in such dire need,” Montelbano said. “It’s like, do you have a pulse and can you hold a knife? Great! You have a job.”

Madison’s not alone. Staffing challenges are universal in restaurants from Denver to Baltimore. In Chicago, “a surge of new openings, a smaller pool of immigrant workers and more opportunities for cooks in non-restaurant jobs with saner hours” has stressed the industry, according to a recent Chicago Tribune story.

“The squeeze is particularly profound at small independent restaurants without the allure of big-name backing or room in their budgets to absorb higher pay.”
Saner hours and better pay. Imagine that. Or perhaps a reality check: your artisanal veggie stuff only sells when it's cheap.
Madison is short on both of those things. Restaurant closures, the sudden spike in easy-to-train concepts like poke, and dark Mondays and Tuesdays at popular restaurants and bakeries all have some connection to staffing issues.

Wages are one part of the problem, particularly for cooks. Restaurants could charge diners more, but what kind of backlash will they get if the burger goes from $8 to $10?

It’s like a game of chicken. Raise the price on the wings to pay the dishwasher an extra buck an hour and give the fry cook a week off, and see your ratings dive on Yelp. But without a decent salary, those jobs are even less attractive.

“Food and labor are so expensive,” said Caitlin Suemnicht, chief creative officer of Food Fight Restaurant Group. “Something’s gotta give. Restaurants are going to have to start charging more. We’ve been battling it to keep it down, but sooner or later prices are going to have to rise. And no one wants to be the first one.”
Nobody might want to be the first one, but the place that stays open on Monday and Tuesday with higher prices might just be on to something. Remember the fundamental logic of competitive markets: price taking is a behavior in equilibrium, but the adjustment from equilibrium to equilibrium isn't well understood, even by experienced economists.
Last October, Stephen Carroll left Brasserie V, where he started as a sous chef in 2014. To give a snapshot of the kitchen situation now, Carroll offered a chef’s litmus test.

“In the last two years the biggest difference I’ve noticed is, how many days a week or a month do I find myself in the dish pit?” said Carroll. “There was a stretch last year at BV where we didn’t go a week fully staffed. At least one time a week something would happen, someone wouldn’t show up.”

Dishwashers, like fast food counter service workers, are among the lowest paid employees in the industry. Carroll called washing dishes the “hardest and least respected (job), but it’s more integral than any other part of the restaurant. We can’t put beautiful food on dirty plates.”

Over the past few years, those in charge of restaurant hiring report scheduling interviews with people who didn’t show, cooks who worked a single shift and never returned, and a rash of no call/ no shows on all sides of the house. Carroll doesn’t think pay is the main reason for turnover.
Some of that might be a breakdown of manners, yes, and yet ...
“I think all of this comes down to the problem of, there’s too many restaurants in the city,” Carroll said. “I can’t say I’ve ever experienced anything like the situation in the last two years in the previous 15 years I’ve been in kitchens.”

As the consultant McDaniel pointed out, some restaurant jobs don’t inspire loyalty. Nationally, line cooks make an average of $25,000 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the front of the house, base pay for tipped workers in Madison is $2.33/hour, which makes a difference in cold, slow months like March. Front of house pay can vary wildly based on time of year, style of restaurant and accuracy of tip reporting, but the BLS claims that waiters make only $20,000 on average per year.

“In a large chunk of the industry, both high level — what would be considered great restaurants — and your normal, run of the mill, employees are seen solely as a cost to control, and not as an asset,” McDaniel said. “After years and years, the labor force has recognized that.

“When you combine that with a robust restaurant city where there are other jobs available, there is less reason for people to stay and deal with the crap.”
College towns might be great places to locate cheap and contingent labor, and yet, capital cities might be full of legislators and bureaucrats and rent-seekers looking for an environment in which to wine and dine those public servants; then there's the financial and technology sector, and a business model that relies on cheap and contingent labor might not work out so well.
Restaurants need to “normalize” jobs with basic amenities like sick days, health insurance and vacation days, McDaniel said. In the front of the house, month-to-month or unpredictable schedules may work well for people looking for a side or summer job but not for career employees.

“Hiring and scheduling practices are not keeping up with the way people are approaching these jobs,” said Brian Hamilton, an industry veteran currently working at Brothers Three and the Ohio Tavern. “The kids these days — I know that’s a common opening — they really depend on flexibility and that’s incredibly hard sometimes.

“There are ways you can go about alleviating that as the person making the schedule, but it’s a challenge on both sides, for the employee and the employer. There’s a serious deficit of talented, driven, career restaurant people, and that’s what this business needs more of in Madison.”

Becky Schigiel is the former director of the Worker Justice Center and worked on the Just Dining Guide from 2012 to 2015. The guide, which is no longer updated, focused on working conditions in downtown Madison restaurants.

In the process of creating the guide, Schigiel noticed that some employers had grown antagonistic, aiming to “keep labor as low as possible no matter what.”

“There’s this small business mentality, ‘I’m giving those people a job and they are screwing me over,’” Schigiel said. “A job is not a gift. You can’t open your doors if nobody’s washing the dishes, waiting the tables.”
On the other hand, you can't open your doors if nobody wants to wash the dishes, or if your pay packets are not career focused. Talent and drive still command a premium.
Pay for cooks has finally started to rise. Epic Systems in Verona recently posted $19 an hour for line cooks. Palette Bar & Grill, coming into Hotel Indigo, advertised $15-$17/hour for the same. Tangent, open since December, is offering up to $15/hour for night line cooks, and the newly opened Portillo’s is at $12-$15/hour for cooks.

Food Fight’s group of 19 restaurants and one bakery in the Madison area saw turnover start to slow after giving a $1/hour increase to every kitchen employee and implementing a $13/hour minimum wage for all kitchen staff. It represented an investment of $500,000 in labor.
Incentives matter.
Job boards teem with offers for cooks, servers, delivery drivers and bartenders. Not uncommon are $200 sign-on bonuses. Capitol Lakes, a retirement center downtown, posted a sign-on bonus for up to $1,000 for line cooks. Some promise no nights or five-day weeks, bus passes, paid time off after a year, dental and health insurance.
There's no discussion in the article about higher pay for those evenings and weekends, and yet, that is another margin along which to optimize. Particularly with the rent-seekers gathering after the legislative sessions close for the day.

THE COLLEGE BUBBLE RUNS FLAT.

The University of Akron would like to unzip almost half its faculty.
The University of Akron offered a buy-out to about 47 percent of faculty on Monday in an effort to balance its budget.

Taking a “voluntary separation or retirement" offer would pay a faculty member 100 percent of 2019-20 base pay, split into two installments. The employee would leave the university on May 31, 2020. The first payment would come on July 2020, the second in January of 2021.
The offer does not appear to be an attempt, in the style of a 1980s railroad, to retrench to a core system, hiving off extravagances such as the Pacific Extension of The Milwaukee Road.  "Only full-time, permanent professors not teaching in what Akron calls 'strategic investment areas' are eligible -- some 340."  At the moment, the "strategic investment areas" are law, engineering, and polymer sciences.  (Rubber is a polymer, you see.)

The university's interim president, John Green, explains his efforts in a memorandum that is a paradigm of bafflegab.  "The feedback I have received from our continuing conversations has been useful and instructive on the key challenges of making UA’s academic programs more distinctive, fostering greater faculty collaboration, and addressing our enrollment challenges to achieve financial sustainability."  It goes on in that vein, and there is an accompanying set of talking points.

Nowhere in the talking points does anyone note that the university is losing enrollments.  But George Orwell would not be surprised.
Reorganizations are usually about eliminating “redundancies.” How many people would be let go?

There is no intention for involuntary personnel reductions because of the potential reorganization proposals.
Presumably, the lump sum offer to step out of line and disappear will achieve sufficient personnel reductions.

But is anybody really reassured by what appears to be a sacrifice of rigor?
How does this help to establish “clearer, easier-to-follow, and more efficient academic pathways for students?”

As one example, many students start out believing they want to become engineers but find they are unable to meet the math requirements. Having the degree offerings from the School of Engineering Technology that currently reside in the College of Applied Science and Technology located within the proposed “College of Engineering, Science and Technology” would enable those students to continue to pursue an engineering-related degree within one college. This is the type of model used at The University of Cincinnati’s College of Engineering and Applied Science.
With apologies to John Gardner: neither their curricula nor their polymers will hold water.

But at least Akron's women's basketball squad got a participation trophy.

TOO TACKY FOR WORDS.

A vigil is no place for Frat Boy Casual.  "A man wearing a 'Make America Great Again' hat attended a vigil for victims of the New Zealand mosque shootings and was told to leave by upset mourners."

There used to be such a thing as manners, and one of the conventions was that gentlemen would remove their hats during prayers.  "On Monday, students at York University in Toronto held an on-campus vigil for victims. During the closing prayer, a young man wearing a MAGA hat appeared in the crowd."

Nyekulturny.

Apparently the individual in question is in the habit of flaunting his disregard for convention, whether of the traditional kind or of the post-modern kind, around York events.

Unfortunately, the people who might have the responsibility for developing character among York's students and neighbors know neither how to simply say nyekulturny, nor how to invoke Emily Post.
Yanni Dagonas, the deputy spokesperson for York University, tells Yahoo Lifestyle:

“York is one of the most diverse and inclusive universities in Canada and our commitment to diversity and inclusion is a great strength. All community members are expected to conduct themselves in a way that promotes an atmosphere of civility, diversity, equity, and respect in their interactions with others. Our community should be able to enjoy a safe environment for work and study, free of violence, harassment, intimidation, and bullying.”

“We are guided by our values as an institution of higher education and remain committed to intellectual integrity, freedom of inquiry, freedom of expression, and equal rights and dignity for everyone,” Dagonas said. “Any student, staff or faculty member may file a complaint under the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities (CSRR) if they feel unsafe or experience acts that are disruptive or diminish the rights and dignity of individuals.”
I suppose York, being a university, and, worse, a university located in Canada, cannot take the stance that students and faculty shall conduct themselves like ladies and gentlemen.  Too bourgeois, too binary, too triggering, not inclusive enough.

19.3.19

A CASE FOR MARKET TESTS?

California-Merced sociologist Charlie Eaton explains How Wall Street Buys Ivy League Access.

His complaint deals with the insider dealings among eating club members, trustees of the Ivies, and fast-track partnerships on Wall Street, which he contends are more pernicious than a couple of celebrities passing their spawn off as rowers.

His essay focuses on the emergence of a new subset of the power elite, this subset equipped with the best quantitative tools money can buy and computers can simulate.
Private equity and hedge fund managers have particularly benefited from Ivy League connections, and they have returned the favor. Private equity and hedge funds hardly even existed at the beginning of the 1980s. But financial deregulation made it possible for their managers to make fast fortunes. This led to a rapid migration to the new funds from the ranks of investment banking, a profession long dominated by Ivy League graduates, according to sociologist Lauren Rivera.
The old-school ties might perpetuate limited-access highways for the well-connected, as the research he cites suggests.
My analysis of the Forbes data adds quantitative evidence to recent qualitative research by Rivera, Megan Tobias Neely and a team of researchers working with Amy J. Binder. These sociologists have shown how elite private universities foster shared identities, trust and social networks that provide advantages to their alumni in ways that have helped keep the top echelons of finance closed to women, people of color and those without degrees from the most prestigious private universities.
What might be more important, dear reader, is that the top echelons of finance are full of people with similar intellectual proclivities and shared models of reality.

Crash.  "If you have a run of events several standard deviations above the mean, and you've played your financial cards right, you're rich, but if those events start coming in below the mean, down comes your house of cards."

14.3.19

THERE'S REALLY TOO LITTLE COMPETITION.

Higher education's spinmeisters rally around the narrative that trustees at the University of Spoiled Children and elsewhere who bought access to the rich and famous is reason to double down on faux-egalitarianism.  Start with John Warner in his "Just Visiting" page on Inside Higher Ed.
Competition is bad for education, bad for learning, bad for students, bad, ultimately, for educational institutions as well.

Competition is wasteful and inefficient, and leads institutions to engage in deliberately obstructive practices to hide the trust [c.q] cost of attendance to students.

Competition has squeezed poorer students not just out of admission at elite private universities, but public flagships as well, as demonstrated by a report from New America Education.

Students competing for scarce slots in magnet schools or college feeders experience increased stress and anxiety. Even the winners are losing.

I’m thinking about an even larger class of those who are harmed. How about black and brown children who are subjected to emotionally abusive practices at so-called “no excuses” charter schools so they may fare better in an admissions competition that will always be stacked against them?
All the ills that Mr Warner lays off on competition are actually evidence of the absence of competition.  Competition is the discovery of improvements in the way of doing things.  That's most commonly understood as market competition with the introduction of new products and technologies and finding more creative ways of using resources.  There is also competition among jurisdictions to provide bundles of amenities that voters will support with their taxes, and governance structures more generally understood also emerge in a form of competition.

Why does nobody pay list price, and why do the recruiters mislead students and parents about what they might be on the hook for?  Might the presence of third-party money in the form of grants or loans or quasi-scholarships pay a role?  In classical political economy, competition is the outcome of arms-length transactions between parties spending their own money, with some pretty good information about who the alternative sellers or buyers are.

Why are the state flagship universities filling up with students who might otherwise have enrolled at the Ivies and the fanciest small college?  Might it be that the kind of entrepreneurial awareness that expands choices in orange juice or computer tablets (or test-prep coaching?) doesn't work when it comes to expanding capacity in higher ed itself?  (A fun aside: the chief operating officer at Wisconsin-Milwaukee quipped this morning that none of Wisconsin's state colleges and universities got caught up in this investigation.  That despite the increased interest among upscale coastal types in Madison turning Milwaukee into the campus with the most state residents enrolled.)

Might it also be that the expanding upper middle class (are there now more millionaires in the United States than there are people in Sweden?) manifests itself in excess demand for spots in the Ivies, or Michigan, or Wisconsin, or, horrible dictu, at the University of Spoiled Children and its neighbor in Westwood?  With the reluctance of the Ivies to expand their classes, or stingy legislatures not funding expansion at the state flagships, or the people running higher ed doubling down on boutique multiculturalism, is anyone surprised that a positional arms race follows?

I'll leave it to others to sort out whether that "black and brown children who are subjected to emotionally abusive practices" isn't implicitly about what we used to speak of as "culture of poverty."

Mr Warner offers some constructive suggestions, to which I'll return anon.  First, though, let's enjoy "If selective colleges were less selective, there would be less incentive to cheat to get in." The Atlantic gave somebody named Adam Harris a platform to explain.  He starts in a logical enough way, recognizing the positional arms race.
College seats, overall, aren’t scarce by any means, but seats at selective institutions are—and purposely so. Institutions typically argue that keeping a steady, reasonably sized enrollment allows them to maintain high-quality services for students: student-teacher interaction, tutoring, and a vibrant campus culture. But scarcity has the added benefit of increasing an institution’s prestige. The more students who apply, and the fewer students who get in, the more selective an institution becomes, and, subsequently, the more prestigious. And parents are clawing over one another to get a taste of the social capital that comes with that.
That's exactly the Cold Spring Shops argument. But where we contend that the way to compete is for the state flagships to spend some money on strengthening their faculties generally, and for the regional comprehensives and the mid-majors to strengthen programs that might already have a decent profile (think Northern Illinois and Western Illinois jockeying for the highest pass rate on the Illinois C.P.A. exam), what Mr Harris wants to do is to take out the competition by ... well, words fail me.
The simplest way would likely be for selective institutions to stop being so selective and enroll more students. Instead of carefully crafting admitted classes—taking a little bit of diversity and a little bit of athleticism and a little bit of legacy and mixing them into the ideal freshman stew—institutions could open their doors and serve more students, Julie Posselt, an associate professor at the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education, told me. (Though USC was mentioned in the suit, Posselt was unconnected to the scandal.) Selective institutions would undoubtedly take a “prestige hit” because of that, but it could alter the way parents think about college: not as social capital to be bought, but as an opportunity for learning and growth.
I doubt it. Harvard indistinguishable from Massachusetts-Boston? And parents and employers won't recognize it?
If something doesn’t change, things are likely to get worse. “The population only continues to grow. Demand for these elite schools only accelerates,” [Arizona State president Michael] Crow said. And currently, [Southern California education professor Julie] Posselt said, there is an incredible incentive to get into a selective institution—to purchase that elite credential: The labor market rewards it. “The prestige factor won’t go away until the labor market stops rewarding it.” But perhaps colleges could preempt the labor market. If elite schools enrolled more students and forfeited some prestige, maybe there wouldn’t be such angst about who does or doesn’t get into any one in particular.
Hang on, how do you stop the labor market from selecting for ability?  There might still be more corporate CEOs with Wisconsin degrees than with degrees from any one Ivy, and people attuned to the placement rates of their colleges and to the participation in their job fairs will twig to that.  In addition, there is a faculty labor market, and the Ivy that decides to go full-in on access will have entering classes that will discourage striving students and frustrate faculty.

Apparently, though, the people at Arizona State don't mind being a figure of fun in the case.
Arizona State, where Crow became president in 2002, is now a higher-education behemoth with more than 100,000 students enrolled on campus and online across the world. It was, notably, not the type of institution that these parents were trying to get their children into. In fact, one parent cited in the complaint even went as far as to ask for a “road map for success” to getting his daughter “into a school other than ASU!” Parents don’t need to use a “side door,” as William Rick Singer, a cooperating witness for the government, called it—legal or illegal—to get into an institution that is more accessible.

After I spoke with Crow, a spokesperson for Arizona State sent an email with the university’s comment on being mentioned so flippantly in the suit. “Some universities have decided the most important thing they can do is turn away deserving, qualified applicants just so they can seem more exclusive,” the spokesperson wrote. “That leads to perverse incentives and perverse actions, as we are witnessing unfold right now.”
There are likely strong departments at Arizona State, but somewhere their story isn't being told, perhaps because there's too much talk about access.  Thus, to call on another Atlantic story, this by Matthew Stewart, it's the people who haven't yet participated in the expanding upper middle class who are hard done by.
Meanwhile, the rest of America’s families haven’t got the time or money for the helicopter bills, they are much more likely to find themselves in single-parenting situations, and they have longer commutes from neighborhoods with less desirable schools. They are the ones who are counting on public schools to prepare their children for the future, and on colleges to give their children a chance to do good things. And they are the ones that this system, and the 9.9 percent, is shafting on an epic scale.

This case should open the eyes of the people who haven’t yet learned to use their families as weapons in their ongoing fight to maintain privilege. The core of the problem that emerges with rising inequality is that it makes everybody unreasonable. And it’s a very short step from unreasonable to flat-out immoral.
We don't have that unreasonableness when it comes to obtaining tablet computers, or dependable cars, or apples in March. The lesson: there's really too little competition in higher education.

The good news is, the options are there, if you but recognize them. Here's Town Hall columnist Laura Hollis.
I am not saying that people do not get the value for their tuition dollars spent. The vast majority of schools have to supplement tuition with tax revenues (for state schools) and development dollars; tuition does not begin cover all the expenses associated with running a college or university.

Nor am I saying that schools with a historical reputation for quality no longer deserve that reputation. Most administrators and faculty take their responsibilities to the public extremely seriously, as generations of successful graduates demonstrate.

What I am saying is that there are a lot more places to receive a truly excellent education and broad-based college experience than there used to be. The “Black Friday” clamor to get your kids into the handful of institutions that comprise the top 25 is absurd and unjustified.
Mr Warner echoes that argument.  "There are thousands of institutions like [his College of Charleston, S.C.] across the country, including our community colleges which are providing educational access for many students who are the least resourced. We should be working to make the path much smoother for those folks, and if it means taking elite privates down a peg or two in the process, consider it past due payment for services already rendered."

It's actually there for the taking, but it starts by recognizing that the community colleges and the regional comprehensives and the mid-majors are in the same business as the Ivies, and they ought emphasize the degree programs with good job and professional school placements and their honors programs and their opportunities for students to get out of their comfort zones simply by interacting with their classmates.