As universities turn toward corporate management models, they increasingly use and exploit cheap faculty labor while expanding the ranks of their managerial class... Debra Leigh Scott points out, "administrators now outnumber faculty on every campus across the country." ... colleges and universities are drawing more and more upon adjunct and nontenured faculty -- whose ranks now constitute 1 million out of 1.5 million faculty -- many of whom occupy the status of indentured servants who are overworked, lack benefits, receive little or no administrative support and are paid salaries that increasingly qualify them for food stamps.3 Many students increasingly fare no better... treated as consumers for whom education has become little more than a service. Too many students are buried under huge debts, [their] misery breeds a combination of contempt and source of profits for the banks and other financial industries... Workers, students, youths and the poor are all considered expendable this neoliberal global economy. Yet the one institution, education, that offers the opportunities for students to challenge these anti-democratic tendencies is under attack in ways that are unparalleled, at least in terms of the scope and intensity of the assault by the corporate elite and other economic fundamentalists. Casino capitalism does more than infuse market values into every aspect of higher education; it also wages a full-fledged assault on public goods, democratic public spheres, and the role of education in creating an informed and enlightened citizenry... Critical thinking and a literate public have become dangerous to those who want to celebrate orthodoxy over dialogue, emotion over reason and ideological certainty over thoughtfulness. Hannah Arendt's warning that "it was not stupidity but a curious, quite authentic inability to think" at the heart of authoritarian regimes is now embraced as a fundamental tenet of right-wing politicians and pundits and increasingly has become a matter of common sense for the entertainment industry and the dominant media, all primary modes of an education industry that produces consumers, smothers the country in the empty fog of celebrity culture and denounces democracy as tantamount to the enemy of free-market fundamentalism... The deficit argument and the austerity policies advocated in its name is a form of class warfare designed largely for the state to be able to redirect revenue in support of the commanding institutions of the corporate- military-industrial complex and away from funding higher education and other crucial public services... Of course, the burden of such reductions falls upon poor minority and other low-income students, who will not be able to afford the tuition increases that will compensate for the loss of state funding. As the political state is replaced by the corporate state, tuition rises, the ranks of the poor expand, more social problems are criminalized and the punishing state blooms as a default register for potential dissent. What has become clear in light of such assaults is that many universities and colleges have become unapologetic accomplices to corporate, interests, values and power, and in doing so increasingly regard social problems as either irrelevant or make them invisible. The transformation of higher education in the United States and abroad is evident in a number of registers. These include decreased support for programs of study that are not business-oriented; reduced funds for research that does not increase profit; the replacement of shared forms of governance with rigid business management models; the lessening of financial support for academic fields that promote critical thinking rather than an entrepreneurial culture; the ongoing exploitation of faculty labor; and the use of purchasing power as the vital measure of a student's identity, worth and access to higher education. In addition, many universities are now occupied by security forces whose central message is that dissent and protest, however peaceful, will be squelched through violence. Leftover weapons from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan have found a home on many college campuses that increasingly look as if they have become potential war zones. These weapons stand as a grim reminder that they could be used against all those students who question authority, imagine a more democratic role for the university, and connect learning to social change. Universities are increasingly becoming dead zones of the imagination, managed by a class of swelling bureaucrats, inhabited by faculty who constitute a new class of indentured, if not sometime willing, technicians, and students who are demeaned as customers and saddled with crippling debts.
Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
"Beyond Neoliberal Miseducation"