7.11.19

THEY DIDN'T LISTEN, THEY'RE NOT LISTENING STILL.

At Inside Higher Ed, media theorist Michael Johnson lays on the jargon to decry administrative usurpations.
Research shows that the main culprit [in higher ed's "slow extinction"] has been the incremental and imperceptible increase over time of higher education administrators. In other words, the budget that could have been allocated to reducing student-to-teacher ratios by hiring tenure-track faculty members has been consumed by the salaries such bureaucrats command. Other researchers have also concluded that this incremental process has often occurred without much input from the faculty.

Admittedly, the erosion of faculty governance has a lengthy history that began well before I was born. Administrators have been hired without the faculty even knowing (typically during summers, when we’re technically supposed to be off work), while in other cases, they’ve been appointed despite outright rejection of any faculty input whatsoever. This incremental decline of faculty influence has diminished our ability as faculty members to spend time on priorities of our own making. And the imposition of a business-like model onto nonprofit educational institutions has created the time-consuming need for faculty members to perpetually attend to “performance indicators” and unending “assessment rubrics.”

Such “accountability measures” demonstrate a fetishistic need to quantify everything in keeping with a capitalist model of profitability that reduces people and their work to numerical values represented by credit hours, FTEs, K-factors and WTUs relative to cost-benefit analyses. That has resulted in the systematic undermining of our collective power as faculty members who know best not only what to teach but also how to teach it, in what numbers it can be taught and under what conditions to do so.

Unfortunately, the growing managerial class is often represented by administrative positions that focus on cost-effectiveness and vague and changing metrics of student learning. One predictable consequence of the imposition of this kind of neoliberal ideology is the decline in the arts and other creative disciplines. Faculty teaching small classes or one on one, as is commonly the case in art or music or other teaching-intensive disciplines, is a best practice that should be encouraged and supported. But when faculty are forced to teach increasingly larger class sizes, despite research that says such actions produce poor student performance, it shouldn’t be surprising that declining morale among the faculty becomes an issue. Though that may well not be a concern for administrative officials pathologically dedicated to cost-effectiveness, it should matter to faculty members, who have a professional obligation to uphold the principles with which all academicians should be preoccupied: the education of future members of society.

Another unfortunate, but entirely avoidable, by-product of the rise of managerialism and neoliberal policies is the recharacterization of the student (or sometimes parent) as a consumer, ripe with an unearned sense of entitlement to an education that should be delivered to them as quickly and cheaply as possible -- complete with the righteous need to justify why our intellectual demands upon their time shouldn’t be equivalent to reading Wikipedia.
It's probably too late to push back, and where were the brain-brothers of Professor Johnson when the administrative usurpations were to override faculty hiring committees in the name of Diversity, and the rubrics and all the other impedimenta heaved up by the colleges of education were in the service of Access and Retention?  "It came to this, dear reader, when the faculty first acquiesced to administrative usurpations, because the usurpers appeared to be on the side of the angels."

That's the bed the woke scholars of today will have to lie in.  Sorry, not sorry.

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