New Policy?

Anybody have any idea what this email (sent on Monday) is about?



I know we’re all guessing that it has something to do with the incident at Olive Harvey (anyone know anything more about that, by the way?), but this seems like EXACTLY the kind of policy that some of us were concerned about being put in place when those stupid gates went up in the first place…a policy that will keep students out of their classes while not solving any problem–actual or potential. At least none that I can think of. Can anyone enlighten me?

And then what is the meaning of the one we got last night?



Is that a revision, limiting this policy to apply only to personnel? Or is it a clarification that the policy extends ALSO to personnel?

What the hell?

UPDATE: From your email:

In response to questions raised on the Harold Lounge, Harold Washington College’s Safety and Security team wanted to share information behind the change in procedure…This new policy is in direct response to feedback received from students who have reported unauthorized people entering the College. Discussions with students highlighted their concern with the policy for guests entering the building. This update is to ensure we know who is in the building and when they leave, helping to create a safe and secure campus.
I wish I could say that this kind offer clarified things for me, but it seems to raise more questions–who talked to these students? How many were there? Was SGA involved? Shouldn’t they be? How about faculty council? The Office of Instruction? And what sense is there that these students (and their concerns) are representative of the students (and admins, faculty, staff, and visitors) affected by this policy? Clearly they were taken to be, but on what basis and is it true?
And, of course, there is the remaining question of whether this new policy will really allow security to know who is in the building and when they leave (and, if so, whether that will do anything to create “a safe and secure campus”). The assumptions driving both of these claims are questionable, at least, I would say. Unsurprising, though.

The Background on the New Authorship Policy

So, there’s been more than a little drama about posts and authorship over the last six months while I’ve been mostly absented from the blog helm. For selfish and other reasons related to giving things enough wait time that they solve themselves (masterful inactivity one might call it), I tried to stay uninvolved for the most part. Alas, I am no longer uninvolved and opinions over the last six months have strengthened with opinion holders becoming much more vocal that “something must be done.” But what? And how? And why? Well, here’s my version of things: (more…)

A Programming Note and New Policy for the Lounge

As of Monday morning, authorship and editorial status on the Lounge will require that authors be:

  1. Full-time Faculty members;
  2. Clearly identifiable by name, either by writing under their own name or writing under a pen-name that is easily traced to the person using it.

The second criterion is new and means either the disclosure of all authors’ identities or the end (or spin-off onto another blog) of the Realist and 12Keystrokes projects. I do not know what they will do, but I guess we’ll find out by Monday morning.

I will have more to say about how this decision evolved (probably tomorrow) and why, but the short version is that two editorial sidebars, conducted by email–one back in March, and one this week–revealed support for, first, taking some kind of action, and second, taking this particular one.

This policy ONLY applies to posts. Readers will still be able to comment by name or pseudonym or anonymously.

Reminder: Sabbatical Applications Due on Friday

Just in case you’re eligible and thinking about applying for one, per your email, you might want to spend a little time over the long holiday weekend putting together your sabbatical application, since they’re due to the suits this week.

And if you don’t know how to think about it (or aren’t yet eligible), you might get some help from THIS article about how to plan a productive (and enjoyable) sabbatical.

And if you don’t know from sabbaticals, read this before filling out this.

A Departmental, Philosophical/Plagiarism Discussion for All

So, on Thursday, a student asked me, “Do you ever have, like, philosophical discussions with people?”

“All the time,” I said, thinking of some of the stuff that goes on here, as well as discussions with colleagues and students and friends, including one that broke out in our department email on Wednesday night. The catalyst, which I have permission to post but with the name withheld by request, was this:

Hi folks,

I’m in a debate right now about self-plagiarism. I believe it’s legit, as students should be expected to produce work original for each semester. I have a student retaking a course that resubmitted one of their papers. The argument I’m hearing is that students (and many others) are not aware of the concept and therefore shouldn’t be held accountable (I think they should, would it matter if you told a cop that you didn’t know you were breaking the law?). What do you all think?

So, rather than tell you what you said, I’ll deflect it unto y’all–what do you think?

Weekend Reading

I don’t know what’s in it (yet), but I’ll be reading pieces of this promising looking report over the weekend when I get tired of reading student essays on Categorical Syllogisms, Pornography, and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

In response to these issues, MDRC launched the Opening Doors Demonstration in 2003 — the first large-scale random assignment study in a community college setting. The demonstration pursued promising strategies that emerged from focus groups with low-income students, discussions with college administrators, and an extensive literature review. Partnering with six community colleges across the country, MDRC helped develop and evaluated four distinct programs based on the following approaches: financial incentives, reforms in instructional practices, and enhancements in student services. Colleges were encouraged to focus on one strategy but to think creatively about combining elements of the other strategies to design programs that would help students perform better academically and persist toward degree completion.

Opening Doors provides some of the first rigorous evidence that a range of interventions can, indeed, improve educational outcomes for community college students.

Click HERE to read the Policy Brief inspired by the research (it has descriptions of the programs and their effects).

Snowpocalypse Reading: Venture Philanthropy

Poking around on Arts and Letters Daily yesterday, struggling to see the screen because of the bitter tears streaming out of my eyes regarding the sheer volume of amazing stuff there that I would never be able to read, I stumbled onto this piece from Dissent Magazine, which is co-edited by Michael Walzer, a political philosopher whom I love (thanks, Jim Shultz, for the introduction to his work–Spheres of Justice is a great book!)

Anyway, the article, called “Got Dough? How Billionaires Rule Our Schools” is about how three foundations–Gates, Broad and Walton–have managed to exert disproportionate influence and for all purposes basically co-opt national educational policy. It is a stunner of an article and like nothing else I’ve seen.

The cost of K–12 public schooling in the United States comes to well over $500 billion per year. So, how much influence could anyone in the private sector exert by controlling just a few billion dollars of that immense sum? Decisive influence, it turns out. A few billion dollars in private foundation money, strategically invested every year for a decade, has sufficed to define the national debate on education; sustain a crusade for a set of mostly ill-conceived reforms; and determine public policy at the local, state, and national levels. In the domain of venture philanthropy—where donors decide what social transformation they want to engineer and then design and fund projects to implement their vision—investing in education yields great bang for the buck…

Drilling students on sample questions for weeks before a state test will not improve their education. The truly excellent charter schools depend on foundation money and their prerogative to send low-performing students back to traditional public schools. They cannot be replicated to serve millions of low-income children. Yet the reform movement, led by Gates, Broad, and Walton, has convinced most Americans who have an opinion about education (including most liberals) that their agenda deserves support.

Given all this, I want to explore three questions: How do these foundations operate on the ground? How do they leverage their money into control over public policy? And how do they construct consensus? We know the array of tools used by the foundations for education reform: they fund programs to close down schools, set up charters, and experiment with data-collection software, testing regimes, and teacher evaluation plans; they give grants to research groups and think tanks to study all the programs, to evaluate all the studies, and to conduct surveys; they give grants to TV networks for programming and to news organizations for reporting; they spend hundreds of millions on advocacy outreach to the media, to government at every level, and to voters. Yet we don’t know much at all until we get down to specifics.

The rest of the piece has the specifics. Whether you agree or don’t, it’s a great read.


One that I Saved This Summer

According to our FC President who met with John Metoyer this week, there seems to be a lot of confidence among our administration that the new leadership team is not out to blow up developmental education and “slam the door” on students who need help. As you may know (if you read his email) Metoyer has taught developmental ed and is working on a Ph.D. in that very area. According to John, through Amanda, there is a lot of genuine and open-minded inquiry going on to try to solve what is, recognizably to all, a big, expensive, and nastily complicated issue.

This week saw a couple faculty emails that were not nearly as optimistic as our President sounds.

I hope that whoever ends up working on this issue is required to read THIS, an article from Inside Higher Ed, published in July.

And the depth of our nation’s complacency over the fact that those who need the most receive the least is also clear in the fact that some students are reaching college age with third-grade skill levels. How is it possible that in the United States, this supposed beacon of hope around the world, students can reach the age of 18 and still have only third grade skills? That’s not just about community colleges being overwhelmed; it’s about our nation’s collective failure to commit to the principle of equality or even “equal opportunity” at every level of education…Old solutions that deflect attention to pedagogy rather than policy have not taken care of these old problems…Those of us who teach in the community colleges can’t deal alone with the scandal of racism, classism, and other deepening social inequalities in this country, but given our place in this conversation, it is incumbent on us to sound the alarm. We need help. Our whole educational system needs more investment, not less.

Take a look…