Tuesday, September 25, 2012
For easily and quickly addressing problems connected to a business’ physical location with a risk of income loss, a certain type of small business insurance is designed, called “Business Interruption Insurance”. Business interruption insurance can help mitigate losses which are not typically covered by standard property insurance policies. Adding this extra coverage can really make a positive impact in the event of the unexpected, and may mean the difference between the life and death of your business.
Feel Comfortable with the Extra Protection
With business interruption insurance, your business will be protected if there is a loss of income. This can occur when it’s become impossible to do business at your existing location. Examples of why this could happen include damages due to storms or other natural disasters, break-ins, or any other circumstances which require you to do business from a different location temporarily. This can really ease the financial burden of any business which is forced to cover expenses for two different physical locations (the original and the temporary) for the short-term.
Interruption coverage will often take care of any fixed expenses as well. These are determined by examining your business records to find typical costs of those expenses, such as utilities and rent. The amount of coverage granted by the benefits for income loss is also determined by previous financial records. Extra expenses, such as those incurred by simultaneously operating from a new location while maintaining the old location, may also be covered by a business interruption policy.
Protecting Your Investment
Purchasing business interruption insurance is likely one of the most valuable coverages you can maintain for your business. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the types of business insurance policies which is very typically overlooked by business owners. It’s far too easy to forget that a physical property is needed in order to keep running the business, and take it for granted. Additionally, many business owners may incorrectly assume that property insurance covers loss of income. In reality, a property policy typically only covers physical losses such as the building itself and any inventory. For more comprehensive protection, including business interruption insurance is crucial for anyone who is interested in the longevity of their company.
The Benefits of Business Interruption Insurance
Friday, September 21, 2012
If you’re like most people, your home is probably the largest asset you have, and you have a decent homeowners insurance policy for protecting that asset. However, your insurance premiums shouldn’t come anywhere close to equaling your actual mortgage. If you think you’re spending too much on your insurance policy, here are a few lesser-known tips which can help you save.
You might think this tip would only lower health insurance premiums, but it turns out that other insurance can be increased when you’re a smoker as well. Many residential fires are started by cigarettes left burning, so it’s no surprise that nonsmokers can get better homeowners insurance quotes than those who continue smoking. As an added bonus, quitting smoking might lower your health insurance premiums as well.
Pay Your Bills
Those with better credit scores will end up paying less on insurance premiums. This is because a person who makes financially sound decisions is generally considered to be a lower risk, since they are assumed to be more responsible and steady than those with lower credit scores. Pay your bills, pay them on time, and keep your credit card balances low for the best quotes on insurance for your home.
Adjust Your Policy
Raising your deductible is a pretty well-known trick to lowering your monthly premiums. This is a great strategy, but just remember it means you’ll have to pay more out-of-pocket and upfront if you do ever need to file a claim. Keep money set aside which will be accessible in case there is a problem with your home.
Another adjustment you can make to your current policy is to insure the physical structure only, and not the surrounding acreage. Although your landscaping might be damaged by storms, fires or floods, it will repair itself over time. Your house won’t. Make sure your policy will cover your physical home, and don’t worry too much about adding coverage for the dirt where it’s actually sitting.
These three tips alone can really help you save on your premiums. Remember too that it’s a good idea to compare policies before purchasing any type of homeowners insurance, in order to make sure you’re getting the right balance of coverage which is still budget-friendly.
Secret Tips to Saving on Homeowners Insurance
Thursday, September 20, 2012
Our appearance is so much a part of who we are. More than any other animal on this planet, we are visually stimulated and choose our mates accordingly. Unlike any other species on this earth our appearance has deep ramifications on the quality of our lives. Perhaps it is because we feel we can control so much of our appearance. We choose our clothes, our style. Depending on your economic standing you can control the appearance of your body, large breasted, small breasted, a Romanesque proboscis, or a fine point, even abs and tummy tucks. We hire and fire on appearance. Studies have shown that good-looking people earn more for identical jobs as people that are more ordinary to not so handsome earn. What do you do when your own body seems to beat you down?
Nodular acne is not your run of the mill adolescent breakout. It is a deep, often painful breakout of skin lesions, that can leave scars behind. The scares are not just on the skin. Often people who suffer from nodular acne have emotional and social scars as well. Unfortunately, the treatment can be as cruel as the disease.
Isotretinoin is the generic name for Accutane pills. It is a retinoid. Retinoid drugs resemble vitamin A in structure, and how they affect epithelial skin cells. They also affect cell growth, vision, as well as bone development and the immune system. Isotretinoin is the drug of last resort for sufferers of cystic or nodular acne. Its retinoid properties make it very effective in treating the skins epithelial cells. But the other retinoid affects of the compound make it probably more dangerous to fetus development than thalidomide. Women who choose to use Isotretinoin must also engage in a strict birth control regime or risk having a child with severe birth defects as a result of the drug.
For both male and female, the drug has been linked to ulcerative colitis, a debilitating condition that can leave the individual requiring major surgery to remove the lower bowel. If you are currently using Isotretinoin and are experiencing bloody stools or recurrent diarrhea the you should stop the drug immediately and consult with a physician.
Constant medical supervision can make Accutane an effective treatment for cystic acne, provided the patient follows the doctor’s protocols, and schedules medical follow-ups with the physician.
Accutane for nodular/cystic acne requires medical supervision
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Speed Reading Techniques
Here we will present to you some tips for improving your reading speed.
Skim Through the Material and Increase your Eye Span
To improve your reading speed, you need to first skim through the material that you are going to read. If you have a rough idea about the topic, it becomes easier to understand and retain the material. If you are reading a textbook, then it is a good idea to read the summary, introduction or preface before reading the main text, reading the summary will prepare you, and give you a guide as to what you need to learn from the text. Your eyes can take in several words at a time and this is known as eye span. The longer your eye span, the more volume of information your brain can assimilate. Avoid reading word-by-word, and try reading chunks or blocks of word in a sentence. The best thing to do while reading, is to skip over words such as: the, a, it, to, etc., as even if you skip over them, you will still comprehend the main idea of the sentence you are reading.
Do not Re-read
The most common mistake made by poor readers, is frequently pausing, hn the middle of their reading to go back and dwell on some previous sentences. This is done mainly due to poor comprehension skills which leads to loss of flow and structure of the text with overall confusion and distraction. One way to avoid doing this, is to take a piece of paper and use it to place it over the text you are reading, covering each line once you have finished reading it.
Avoid Reading out Loud
Sub-vocalizing is a tendency that most people find hard to break, and do it without even realizing it. Sub-vocalizing reduces the reading speed to considerable extend, since you are reading at a speed which is just around your speaking speed. Some people move their lips while reading while others tend to "read in their head". Both these methods contribute to a low reading speed. The best way to break this habit is to be conscious while reading and if you catch yourself moving your lips, just place a finger on your mouth.
Factors That Reduce Reading Speed
Importance of Reading to Children
Have you ever asked yourself why reading is important? Or why do you need to read aloud to your child? Reading aloud to children improves their hearing skills. The technique is simple. Read the text and then ask your child to repeat. This way your child will learn the correct pronunciation right from the beginning. Let's begin with the practical benefits of reading aloud to children.
Reading aloud to children is not only the responsibility of teachers but you should also make it a daily habit home. It's important for your child to develop linguistic abilities so that he can master his language quickly. This also gives you the opportunity to spend some time with your children. Mother tongue, being taught properly at an early age helps to gather complete knowledge about it eventually.
Knowing the correct pronunciation for all words is important for every individual. It will help him to voice his opinion with confidence while participating in debate, speech or elocution. If you read aloud the text he will perceive the words minutely and will emulate the way you or his teachers teach him. Reading comprehensive activities conducted in schools also improve pronunciation of children.
You are reading aloud and your child is listening. This improves his hearing ability and grasping power. If your child is too young to go school, make sure you read aloud the nursery rhymes and poems everyday. It will help him to memorize quickly and you can also judge the catching power and the intelligence level of your child.
Your child pays constant attention while you are reading the text to him. This increases his attention span. The results will prove beneficial when your child goes to school. It will help him to concentrate on lectures delivered by teachers during class hours. Effective teaching is the other way to improve concentration in class. Reading aloud to children also enhances their ability to memorize.
Once you have your students pick a book, assigning a bunch of small projects is a great way to make sure they are reading and progressing on their own. Have these small projects due at intervals throughout the reading can help you keep track of their progression through the books. Small projects can be anything from reading logs that parents sign to vocabulary note cards with a word on one side and a definition on the other. Another great idea for a small project is to have students illustrate a character and write a paragraph or two about why they drew what they did. All of these projects are relatively simple to complete and are easy ways for you to check in with your students as they are reading.
Medium-sized projects are a great way to assess students' comprehension of their independent reading books halfway through the reading time. These projects will be worth more than the smaller projects, but not as much as the large projects because they won't take as much time and won't serve as a summative assessment. Some ideas for medium-sized projects could include a page-long written reflection on what is happening in the book so far with a prediction about what will happen at the end, or a "Book in a Bag" report that has the students bring in props that relate to the book and they explain those props in a short speech. Other medium projects could include acting out a scene from the book or writing a letter to the author. These are all great things to do when students are about halfway through their books because the projects are meant to assess how well they understand the book after reading a large chunk of it, rather than whether or not they are progressing through the reading.
Monday, July 9, 2012
Friday, July 6, 2012
But I won't. Because while I'm tenured, I am still fearful. I have receiving more than $1 million in support from the Gates Foundation for my research on financial aid, and I am grateful for it-- and in need of much more. That's the honest truth. It's harder and harder to find funding for research these days, and while my salary doesn't depend on it, getting the work done does.
So I won't say all that Diane just did. Yet I have to say something, and as I wrote recently, I always attempt to do so.
Her questions deserve answers. And they should be asked of the higher education agenda as well. Why the huge investment in Complete College America, an outfit that is pushing an end to college remediation unsupported by the work of top scholars like Tom Bailey? Why the growing resistance to funding basic research in key areas where massive federal and state investments persist absent evidence of effectiveness? Why sink $20 million into performance-based scholarships, based on a single tiny randomized trial in one site?
I'm sure there are good answers out there. It's not the first time I've asked these questions. And perhaps unlike Diane, the time I've spent with the Foundation has imbued me with some confidence that there are very smart, well-meaning people inside the place-- people I like quite a bit. There's also a lot of turnover, and the outfit is a bit gangly in some areas, kinda like a teenager.
Actually, that's exactly it. The Foundation is one heck of a powerful adolescent. And maybe that's ok, as long as it recognizes its stage in life, and continues to seek expert advice and wisdom. Adolescents are good at asking questions and not so great at listening. That's something to work on. Places like the William T. Grant Foundation are full-fledged adult foundations who make smart and highly effective investments daily. I'd love for Gates's ed portfolio to seek advice and hear from them. It'd make a world of difference.
Have I just torpedoed my own chances for future support? Well, I guess only time will tell....
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
That's a good question. What I appreciate most about it is that it asks how we can understand it? Not, "who is to blame?" Too often that seems to be the goal of publishing numbers, as if the old adage about sunshine being a miracle cure would actually apply to problems involving human beings.
As I flipped through the slide show of the "11 Worst," looking at the often pretty campuses of those failing public universities, I was simultaneously struck by how normal they appear, and also how much like community colleges they really are. At Southern University of New Orleans, the average SAT score is 715, and that's after rejecting 52% of applicants. It's not much higher at Texas Southern (796) where they accept just 36% of students. Clearly there are plenty of students in these local areas seeking access without strong test abilities, which hardly makes them unqualified, but may mean they seek a 4-year degree rather than an associates. Like community colleges, these universities are also incredibly diverse institutions-- for the most part, 50% or more of their students are on Pell--many times higher than at most publics. But in three key ways, these "poor performers" are unlike their 2-year counterparts: (1) Their cost of attendance is much higher, (2) They mainly do not offer short-term degrees, so all success is measured relative to the BA, and (3) They are universities, not colleges, so most appear to be trying to do more than undergraduate teaching (i.e. also granting master's degrees). If community colleges had those characteristics, I'd expect their completion rates to approximate those of these universities (take out all certificate and associates degree completions, raise costs, and throw in a large pool of students whose apparent degree ambitions are misaligned with their tested ability along with competition for resources from graduate education).
But wait, there's more. If you look beyond the headline, and wander over to College Insight for some more data, you'll also discover the real challenge these broad access universities face -- an utter lack of financial aid. At Coppin State, just 5% of undergraduates have their demonstrated financial need met. At Southern University in New Orleans, among full-time freshmen just 4% receive any state grants (compared to 48% statewide), and just 1% receive any institutional grants (compared to 23% statewide). 93% of students enrolled there are African-American (compared to 27% statewide), and many families appear to be turning down loans. Something similar is happening at Cameron University, where the rate of loan-taking is half that of the statewide average. Clearly, these institutions aren't forcing students to take on debt to finance institutional costs, as the for-profits are accused of doing. Isn't this a good thing? And yet, how do you succeed in college without enough money?
There you have it-- a much more complicated problem, too difficult for an easy headline. Yes, there are some harder-to-explain cases, like Kent State at East Liverpool, but overall even as they are faced with the condition of being dependent on public funding, these "poor performers" are serving large numbers of low-income students who apparently desire bachelor's degrees despite low tested abilities, have to charge tuition according to the inadequate state appropriations provided, and have little in the way of financial aid to offer other than loans, which are frequently declined. And we are surprised when their outcomes don't look good?
If anything, it's we who ought to be ashamed. State taxpayers have publicly supported the opening of these institutions and then starved them. I'm all for 'no excuses' but that stance applies to institutions for whom being open is optional-– the for-profits. Public institutions are democratic, we collectively create them to meet our needs, and we therefore hold collective responsibility for their success.
These are problems that should be fixed, and can be fixed because these are public institutions. The troubled for-profits, we have far less say about (as we learned yesterday) and that's a shame, since far too many students wander into their traps without knowing that there's almost no public accountability for their behaviors.
Of course, I realize some people will view all of this as further evidence that the public system doesn't work, can't work, and that we ought to just shut these schools down and go home. To do so is to refute the naton's history, to forget the many revitalized public institutions that are succeeding now in ways they never did previously because of a renewed focus, commitment, and corresponding investment. We have fabulous cities and public services in places that decades ago less optimistic people abandoned, while others stayed and fought for change.
The solutions for these public universities won't come from waving our hands about their bad outcomes, but from public outrage about the appalling trap we are creating for the people who work in these places and the students they educate. We have not provided them with the conditions for success, which we increasingly reserve for public flagships. Instead of shaking our heads in anger or disgust, we should get busy putting our priorities and investments in order, taking care of our public institutions so they can succeed in meeting our needs.
Monday, July 2, 2012
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
"In solidarity with our colleagues at the University of Virginia, we affirm that a public institution of higher education is not a business."
Here are initial signatories-- please comment on this post to add your voice.
Gloria Ladson-Billings, Kellner Family Chair in Urban Education, UW-Madison
David Ahrens, President, Wisconsin University Union
Charity Schmidt and Matt Reiter, Co-Presidents of the TAA
Seth Hoffmeister, President, United Council of Students
Beth Huang, Incoming Vice-President, United Council of Students
Sara Goldrick-Rab, Chair, UW-Madison Committee on Undergraduate Recruitment, Admissions & Financial Aid
Sunday, June 24, 2012
We diverge most often on the methodology-- what approach we think will work best. Some people I work with really think innovation is encouraged by competition, while others (including myself) advocate for greater cooperation, and a strong faculty role. But I have found over time that it is far better to be in active conversation with those I disagree with rather than limit myself only to relationships I am in alignment with because:
- It makes me much more cognizant of what other points of view lean and how people argue their case
- It helps me sharpen my own lenses and causes me to ask more relevant questions in my work
- Being around others with differing points of view doesn't change my fundamental principles or make me their pawn but rather helps me establish credibility on both sides of the aisle. It is because of my continuous willingness to show up and engage-- to banter, to debate, and to speak freely--that both Democrats and Republicans now talk with me about higher education
Thursday, June 21, 2012
It seems some people want you to believe yes-- the real problem isn't the rampant excitement over a fairly untested pedagogical approach to education, but the resistance of the educators. So today IHE shares a new survey: Conflicted-Faculty and Online Education, 2012. The story's lede reads: "Faculty members are far less excited by, and more fearful of, the recent growth of online education than are academic technology administrators." Professors are described as lacking optimism, having a "bleak" view of the quality of online education. The survey report wonders "why"-- rather than praising profs for their skepticism, something faculty are widely known and respected for.
So-- big finding, right? WRONG. This story doesn't belong in a respected publication like IHE. Here's why:
The survey, conducted by a team known for its studies of distance learning, and including advertisements by online educators, obtained a 7.7% response rate among faculty, and a less than 10% response rate among administrators.
Yes, you read that right. About 60,000 professors were surveyed and just 4,564 provided enough of an answer to be includdd in the study. For real? This isn't nationally representative of anything. It's a horribly biased little subsample, and yet the RR isn't even mentioned in the reporting!
Moreover, look at the questions-- where'd they get the "fear vs. excitement" answers? Because they only provided those two options. Gee, am I fearful or excited about a new untested pedagogy being pushed on me? Well...neither. But I'm not stupid enough to jump on a bandwagon, so I will choose "fearful." By which I mean skeptical.
I have such respect for folks like Doug Lederman and his crew at IHE, that I am honestly shocked this is running in that publication at all. It shouldn't.
Take it down.
Update: I have already heard from Doug Lederman, and he will be adding the response rate to the text of the article and to the PDF of the study. He feels a low response rate is a non-issue here, doesn't imply selection bias, and it is an achievement to get 4,500 faculty to do any survey at all. Moreover, he does not agree that the study demonizes faculty. We can agree to disagree on that.
To: Interested campus employees
Date: June 20, 2012
RE: Memos from Huron Consulting Group
As you may know, Wisconsin University Union (WUU) has filed a series of open meeting and open requests to UW administration to gain access to information on the HR Design Project (the Project). We initiated these requests because we believed that the effects of the Project will likely be far-reaching and long-term and that despite the administration’s attempt to project a gloss of participation and transparency to the process, it was fundamentally top-down and opaque.
When the administration finally complied with our request, we were disappointed, though not surprised, that most of the documents added little if anything to our knowledge base. For example, minutes of meetings described the topics under discussion but gave no account of the discussions themselves. The exception to this lack of transparency were memos from Huron Consulting Group (HCG) to the Project managers. These memos very briefly summarized the week’s events and posed concerns and questions on the future work of the Project.
For this reason, a month ago, we filed a new request for records specifying HCG memos to administration along with a request for their billings to the UW. After a month wait, we received the records this week.
The memos did not disclose a “smoking gun.” Instead, they confirmed much of what we know about the potential effects of the recommendations. The following are excerpts of the HCG memos:
(5/3/2012) The work teams are proposing a “contemporary” but not radical approach to HR management at a research university. The model puts greater emphasis on performance and employee development and shifts the focus from internal equity to external competiveness.
The implied shifts for HR management implied (sic):
• Greater emphasis on data and analysis (over set rules)
• Greater reliance on the skills of managers/supervisors
• Ongoing development of central HR as a center of excellence
I (from the HCG staff member) don’t have a good sense of the project team’s appetite for this type/level of change. If this does turn out to be the direction you choose to go, substantial pieces of it will be phased in over time. Still, it represents a significant amount of change that will to be championed by OHR and supported through the application of potentially significant resources.
(5/10/12) Compensation, Performance Management and Workplace Flexibility all have suggestions related to boards or committees being involved in appeals of decisions that impact employees. Ongoing governance (small “g”) of HR functions and processes will be a topic that we need to address over the summer. This is an area where I expect that the campus community will want more specificity in the fall.
Understanding our resource requirements for the summer will evolve as our project plan evolves. At the same time, I would suggest that adding resources is an opportunity to start to build the long-term capabilities of OHR in areas such as compensation.
These excerpts confirm a few of the central objections we have made in prior analyses:
• Salary equity will be abandoned in favor of labor market “competitiveness.”
• Compensation based on labor market analysis will require a substantial on-going investment to build capacity. It is difficult to estimate the cost for new HR staff members or more likely, consultants, to conduct wage and benefit analyses for hundreds of job titles.
• Supervisors and managers will have substantial new powers due to the major shift in compensation responsibility along with new discretionary authority in promotion, hiring, etc. This will require a major investment in training and, one would hope, oversight and supervision of the supervisors. What will be the safeguards against favoritism, discrimination and other adverse effects?
• HCG advises that, that because these new offices will be “substantial”, HR should build its new “empire” slowly and incrementally so as not to call attention to its long-term costs.
• Committees acknowledged that some form of dispute resolution methods will be necessary but have either not specified how this might occur or recommend that the dispute process be overseen by HR. The HCG seems to recognize that employees will likely want better answers.
Billings to UW from HCG:
Nov. 2011: $32,751
Dec. 2011: $154,738
Jan. 2012: $61,714
Feb. 2012: $93,798
Mar. 2012: $89,976
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Apparently, at today’s University of Virginia, business values trump all. There is a troubling recent trend toward viewing all public institutions in market terms, where value is measured by dollars produced. In recent years, UW-Madison has felt this too, as some of our leaders focus on efficiency via new “flexibilities.” But universities are not businesses. The proper role of universities is the creation of knowledge for the public good, and education of the new generations of citizens and leaders for civil society. Business management approaches are ill suited to nurture the intellectual expansiveness that underlies great scholarship and deep learning. Reliance on narrow, industry-driven curricula simply won’t do. Great universities encompass a wide variety of disciplines, methods and perspectives, irrespective of the marketability of the knowledge they create. Nourishment of the young minds of our future leaders is invaluable to our country, and the University of Virginia and UW-Madison are shining examples of excellence in this regard. I worry that this excellence is at risk.
Without the human capital embodied in their faculty, universities have nothing to offer the students who enter their doors. Great scholars are in high demand, and competition to hire and retain them is fierce. As President Sullivan said yesterday, “At any great university, the equilibrium - the pull between the desire to stay and the inducements to leave - is delicate.” If faculty members feel unsupported in their scholarly pursuits at one institution, they will move to another where there is greater support. The best scholars are the ones with the greatest number of opportunities; therefore, maintaining an outstanding cadre of faculty is an ongoing challenge. Money, as salary or support for scholarship, is only one of many parameters that influence an individual’s decision to stay at an institution or leave it. And perhaps some of those who threaten UVA know this—aiming to drive out many of the full-time faculty, creating the opportunity to replace them with bottom-line focused adjuncts.
It is far easier to lose stature as a great university than it is to gain it; wise university leaders understand this, and they bring change to their institutions through steady and deliberate engagement of faculty, staff and students. This was precisely the type of leadership that President Sullivan appeared to be providing. Meaningful participation by these stakeholders in institutional governance is a hallmark of universities that are the most productive in terms of scholarship, and where faculty are most likely to happily reside throughout their careers. The courageous opposition to President Sullivan’s dismissal by the University of Virginia faculty senate and its executive committee, and the student council and their leadership, speak of an institution where shared governance is valued and appreciated—if not respected by its Board of Visitors.
The unilateral decision to remove a sitting university president, in the midst of a summer weekend no less, is unprecedented. Despite objections to the firing of President Sullivan by faculty and student leadership, including a vote of no confidence in the board itself by the faculty senate, the board continued its takeover. Acting like a cabal of thieves, they met late into the night, emerging with an egregious decision to replace Sullivan, a sociologist of work, with an interim president: Carl Zeithaml, F.S. Cornell Professor in Free Enterprise and Dean of the McIntire School of Commerce. This action is inimical to their responsibility as the governing board of a university. In the words of Hunter R. Rawlings III, president of the prestigious Association of American Universities and former president of Cornell, “This is the most egregious case I have ever seen of mismanagement by a governing board.”
Last year UW-Madison engaged in many discussions about the creation of its own governing board. The actions at UVA leave great cause for concern. As University of Michigan professor Michael Bastedo has written, governing boards are increasingly embedded in money and politics, engaging in self-interested decision-making. They tell us “it’s for your own good” in an attempt at moral seduction, and a desire to appear ethical. Intelligent communities like those at UVA and UW-Madison do not buy this. And they shouldn’t, if they are to remain the excellent and public institutions we can all respect.
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
My feelings about Walker are well-known. I have a hard time believing he has the best interests of UW System at heart. That said, I don't think this was Walker's idea, and I don't think his interest in it means it's necessarily a bad idea. Here are a few reasons why:
1) Competency-based online instruction has been implemented all over the world. It aims to break the link between seat-time and credit in order to get students accessible, affordable degrees. Those are good objectives. Credit for sitting in a seat for a certain amount of time has never felt smart.
(2) The typical conservative approach to implementation is a clear effort to undermine full-time faculty --bring in an outside group reliant on adjuncts. In other states that is Western Governors University. (Ok, slight modification-- WGU uses full-time contracted faculty. Not tenured. And not really faculty-- they don't instruct or grade, they "mentor" and coach.) While he may have considered it, that's not what Walker's done here. Smart- because if he had, the faculty and academic staff would have been rightly up in arms -- me included. (Indeed, that's what's happening in California.) Instead, this program is led by UW Extension faculty and staff. That's good- Cross is smart, and I am betting he brought this idea with him, perhaps even discussing it in his job interview.
(3) The focus here isn't UW-Madison (despite some poor press tweets)-- it is aimed at folks on the margin of no credential or an online credential. That's the right demographic.
Now, here are the key questions and big things to keep an eye on:
- What will be the balance between industry and educators in crafting these programs? If they are too specific, the programs will have little value over the long haul.
- Who will actually teach? Will UW Extension put the resources in to ensure that full-time faculty add online teaching to their load, or segregate it to adjuncts?
- Good technology isn't free. Will Walker invest in helping UW Extension with the resources needed to ensure the platform for delivery is of high quality?
- Will some potential students perceive this as their ONLY option for higher ed in the state? Will this mean other opportunities will be constricted or narrowed? Will these programs serve as entry points to other blended or in-person forms of instruction?
Edited 6/20 for the parenthetical on WGU's staffing model.
Saturday, June 16, 2012
Pardon my French, but it's about time everyone opened their eyes, ears, and mouth. This stuff stinks!
It's impossible to count how often during the past several years those of us residing at her sister public flagships have heard UVA held up as a model, a "best-practice" of public higher education for the 21st century. Haven't you heard all about her wondrous break from state government that allowed her the "flexibility" and "innovative freedoms" to raise tuition while expanding affordability, thriving when the rest of us starved? We at UW-Madison got an earful of it from ex-chancellor Biddy Martin during the fiasco known as the New Badger Partnership. And true believers abounded.
As I said then, that emperor has no clothes. UVA hasn't been a true public university in some time. It is not a democratic institution where the voices of all constituencies are honored. It is not succeeding in expanding affordability with Access UVA, an ineffective sinkhole into which millions of dollars have been thrown. It is not flourishing with strong academic programs and a great faculty retention rate. It is not innovative, not independent, and not a model. No, it is a rich man's campus, run by millionaires and political conservatives, who are driving agendas disconnected from the needs of educators and students. And those elites just got their way, evicting a president who appears to have stood up to their efforts at "strategic dynamism"-- e.g. the crappification of all that is good and meaningful, and worth investing in in public higher education.
The people governing UVA are like so many of the so-called "reformers" who think efficiency and flexibility are magical words, and who have conveniently but very wrongly diagnosed the challenges facing colleges and universities as residing in the "inmates" -- i.e. the faculty. These boards and trustees have an unbelievably disrespectful attitude towards the teachers to whom they pay tens of thousands of dollars to educate their children in what they fondly call an "asylum."
The conservative agenda to defund public institutions at all possible levels has created this situation-- not the faculty. Don't fool yourself -- those who advocate for "holding the line on college costs" are not doing it for the good of the students but for the good of the corporations who seek to benefit from the rapid growth of the for-profit sector. It is nothing short of devastating that this agenda had confused the public from embracing a genuine affordability agenda, such as the one I support, that works with educators to find affordable approaches to high-quality education and a system of paying for it that maximizes the enrollment and success of students who will benefit most.
Institutional insiders-- high-level administrator types-- have too-easy embraced (sometimes unwittingly) the conservative agenda because they are paid handsomely to do it. Heck, if they don't oblige quickly, it's clear they'll be fired! After a bit, they begin to enjoy drinking that kool-aid, since they are ensconced in fancy homes, taken to lovely meals, and sent on jaunts to Paris. It's far easier to embrace the business people than to labor in the trenches doing battle with state legislators who fear college's so-called liberalizing tendencies (what we call "being educated"). It's not surprising that the Board at UVA assumed Teresa Sullivan would go along with them. It's pretty clear that Biddy Martin would've. But they made a mistake, since as a sociologist Teresa has a knack for using her skills as an "outsider looking in" as well as an "insider looking out." She's a sociologist of work and organizations and no doubt saw their scheme for what it was, refusing to play along. After all, she views the university as a "compact among generations," not a compact between business and politics.
She was ousted. Good for her. Twenty minutes of good hard labor in public higher education is worth far more than decades of pandering to the likes of business school deans, Bob McDonnell and Scott Walker, and wealthy alumni.
Want to be a 'Sconnie, Teresa? We'd love to talk.
ps. For more superb reading on the UVA drama, I recommend these astute commentaries:
Kris Olds- a friend, a colleague, a genius
Dagblog -- this guy even uses the word 'neoliberalism'
Friday, June 1, 2012
Hansen is a former Bush appointee who lobbies for the Apollo Group, and has worked against every effort to contain corruption in for-profit schools. He was president of Scantron, of the "fill in the bubble" testing industry, and has worked to advance the cause of student loan providers. And his jobs have been described as things like "creating a new education line of business...and integrating the education services activities throughout the company into a strategic product portfolio." Stephen Burd's long been on to this guy- he is troubld.
No doubt about it, these folks will use Education Sector to advance an agenda aimed at ensuring the federal government stops helping students afford college. They'll start by telling us that college isn't really necessary, and that financial aid is ineffective-- but they'll also do nothing to ensure public higher education becomes free. Instead, they will push free-market solutions -- mainly online education-- for other peoples' children, while probably sending their own kids to elite private schools.
So next time you see a report from Education Sector, give it a second look. Theirs are no longer "Charts You Can Trust." They are acts of political manipulation pushed by the hard Right.
Consider yourself warned.
Updated at 11:16 am CST. Gee, Google is so much fun.
Saturday, May 26, 2012
These days, when the government defunds our public institutions, passes laws to strip workers of their rights, and even attacks with tear gas and other weapons, too many among us simply throw up our hands and say "Let's face facts. This is the new normal. It's time to adapt." These are not the Americans you want to follow. Instead, look to the Menominee and others like them who refuse to give up. They say this: "If you need to ask a question, ask it. If you need to say something, say it. Always move forward, otherwise nothing will change." Following their example of persistent questioning, what UW calls sifting and winnowing, we can together fight for a new, far more powerful existence for our kids.
Public education is facing the threat of termination as we speak. It occupies and represents space and resources that others want to control. Will people who believe in public education advocate for assimilation to a "new normal" of no resources, reliance on those whose values don't reflect our own, all in the name of pragmatism? Or will they fight for restoration? Thankfully, our Wisconsin Idea Seminar with the people of Menominee Nation reminded me that optimism is not futile, naive, or unwise. Far from it. It's what plants the seeds of our future.
Thursday, May 10, 2012
Hess's mounting of the barricades is no surprise as the Right is framing this as a crucifixion driven by political correctness. Ms. Riley's husband, Wall Street Journal editorial writer Jason Riley, is quoted by Hess as saying of his wife's sacking, "The mob rules." Well, there's an independent source. (Also see Mona Charen and Checker Finn for similar takes.)
Sara, my wife, a former Chronicle blogger herself, called for NSR's firing on this very blog. She described NSR's piece as "emotion-laden spewing, a venomous disdainful piece directed at young women scholars of color." Indeed. As a non-higher education expert and non-journalist, but amateur blogger, I perceived NSR's blog post as a screed better suited for a stream-of-consciousness, verbal diatribe on right-wing talk radio or the Sean Hannity show than the virtual pages of The Chronicle.
Hess's defense of NSR is wobbly, or "on the rocks," if you will. First, Hess equates NSR's attacks on junior academics with political protests against an elected official -- Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Second, Hess conflates NSR's blog post with scholarly work protected by academic freedom. There is a critical difference between rhetorical flourishes directed at public figures and similar ones directed at private citizens. Such instances are, in fact, treated differently in libel case law, with public figures having a greater burden of proof. "Scholarly concerns for academic freedom" are not incompatible, as Hess suggests, with an opinion that a scathing, personal critique such as NSR's doesn't belong on the pages of a respected media-sponsored blog. Agreeing or disagreeing with her isn't relevant. As the Chronicle editors noted, her post simply did not conform to "journalistic standards and civil tone." Academic freedom, freedom of speech, and the right or privilege to publish a blog or column on a given web site or publication are each very different things.
Conservative blogger and UW-Madison law school professor Ann Althouse offers a refreshingly nuanced take on the NSR affair. She points out that NSR "mocked individual graduate students.... [C]ombining that blogging style with an attack on named, individual students, where you are speaking from a high platform in the established media... that's the problem, and I don't see Riley stepping up and acknowledging it."
That's right. This dust-up isn't much about ideas at all, or freedom of speech, as some have contended. The dispute is fundamentally about journalistic standards in the realm of social media and about the specific personal attacks lobbed by NSR through the Brainstorm blog. The Chronicle and other media outlets should have a higher standard for such blogs -- and if commentators like NSR can't or refuse to meet that standard, they should be replaced by someone that can. If political or philosophic balance is of concern, there are plenty of conservative scholars and thinkers, Hess included, that even on a bad day could more than fill the vacancy created by NSR.
Monday, May 7, 2012
Driving home afterwards, I had a few reflections and observations I hope it's productive to share.
First, it seems all-too-common for our administrators to mistake faculty critique for dismissal of their hard work. As if when someone says "I disagree or don't like your idea" they are really saying "You didn't try hard to come up with it." That strikes me as a defensive posturing that's entirely unhelpful, since the critique is leveled at the idea not the person or their effort.
Second, it is also all-too-common for our administrators to bring forth proposals to the community without providing evidence to support those proposals. The documents from the New Badger Partnership were heavy on big claims and light on data, and the same can be said for the HR recommendations. As researchers, this is excruciatingly hard for us to accept. After all, we spend our days seeking proof for ideas. As such, we expect from anyone bringing forth ideas to say things along the line of "Based on a thorough review of evidence such as X, Y, and Z, we have concluded Q." Instead, what we were told today was basically "Believe us, we did research--we talked to people in the community at many forums." Well, that's not research-- it's a convenience sample of anecdotal evidence. Where is the literature review? Where are the systematic methods? That's what we need to know.
Third, a favorite refrain appears to be "but we asked you faculty to be involved, and you wouldn't do it. Now you can't blame us." Well...sorta. But a key problem underlying faculty non-participation is how administrators treat advice from faculty. See above-- would you want to participate in meetings where the people you're having discussions with act as though your difference of opinion with them is an assault on their effort? Where they want to have policy discussions based on anecdote? Where they pull the common punch of "this isn't your area of expertise, so what would you know?" Where requests for data and evidence are consistently met with suspicion? This is the environment many of us faculty encounter when we serve on university committees. So some rightly ask, why bother?
Sadly, that creates a vicious cycle-- out of frustration, we don't spend the time on these key administrative tasks that govern our daily work lives, and in turn we become increasingly disenchanted with the place. That goes to simply prove the administrators' point-- when the going gets tough, where are we?
My honest question is this: Does the administration genuinely want the faculty involved? If so, then the kinds of questions we asked at today's Senate meeting should be welcomed. No one should respond defensively when asked for further information -- instead, it should be sought and provided. Instead of redirecting well-informed questioners to other people, people not present at the meeting, those who proffered their ideas for questioning should offer to promptly ascertain the information and respond. Data should be plentiful, evidence brought forth, and open debates should ensue. That's how academia works. Despite the wishes of some, UW-Madison remains at its core an academic enterprise, not a business. Thankfully, some professors stood up today and reminded us of that.