18 February 2011

Assault on Education

At Idaho State University, the state Board of Education has suspended the faculty senate.

In Wisconsin and Ohio, the state legislatures want to ban unions entirely, including the unions that represent college faculty and public school teachers.

In New Jersey, faculty at one institution are being required to fill out time sheets to prove that they actually spend a whole 35 hours a week at work.

In South Carolina, the House of Representatives is considering a bill that would require all faculty to teach at least nine hours a week. A Republican state representative said "I think we need to have professors in the classroom and not on sabbatical and out researching and doing things to that effect."

What does he think faculty are up to when they're "out researching"? Where does he think knowledge comes from? (Also, maybe he doesn't realize that it's a tiny number of faculty who teach fewer than nine hours a week -- 12 or 15 is standard at many schools.)

In New York City, the mayor appointed a schools chancellor with no experience -- none at all -- in any kind of education system.

A lot of this is about labor. New York's governor Cuomo is also apparently thinking of unions when he writes that the state's education system is "bloated with waste and inefficiency."

But I'm struck by the number of assaults specifically on teachers.

What is it about education as a profession -- from kindergarten through graduate school -- that has the public steaming so badly? Is it the disconnect between a public that sees education as a credential to be paid for, and a faculty that demands it be worked for? Or something broader and deeper than that?