Where did we ever get the silly idea that everything is, or should be “run” like a business? After decades of repetition I guess, like Pavlov’s dogs, we begin to drool whenever we hear the word “business.” People who really aren’t running businesses feel that there’s something wrong with them if they don’t have the title CEO.
This attitude has taken a crushing toll on public education in general and public universities in particular. In terms of K-12 education, a lot of the “business” crap is partly a way of union busting and partly a way to steal taxpayer money for the fake innovation of such things as charter schools. But it’s even worse at colleges, and beyond awful at universities. Back in the day, there was the university administration, the faculty and staff. The job of the administration and staff was to keep it all running smoothly; the job of the faculty was to teach and conduct research. The students were there to be educated. These days the administrators at some public schools have started to refer to themselves as “senior management” – that can’t be good! They seem to think they have been transported to Wall Street, where their job is now to hoard as much money as they can while giving back as little as possible. They feel no concern for students – students exist to be sucked dry. They don’t see the university existing to provide the best education possible. These days faculty members must provide their own funding, and only those who look like they might bring in some bucks get tenure-track jobs. (Tenure-track is a probationary period lasting 3-5 years – a lot of places deny tenure because it’s cheaper and no commitment to a professor is needed – they can simply be used and then replaced.) Many faculty members are beholden to some industry and must spend huge amounts of time writing grant proposals and begging for money – this can’t be good, either! A lot of the teaching is done by graduate students and adjunct faculty. If you have a conscience and try to do a good job teaching as an adjunct, you may not even be making minimum wage and will have no benefits if you’re less than half-time. Most are still required to have a doctorate in their area of expertise, but the “management” knows there are a lot of desperate PhDs out there, floating around without a union. They are easily taken advantage of.
I recently saw a job announcement for an administrative position at a public university – the job paid upward of 100K. At the same time, this same university was taking applications for its “adjunct faculty pool.” Even though public universities are non-profits, the “management” pays itself handsomely, much like the banksters. And in similar fashion, they hire their buddies. Does anyone know just what the duties of the Assistant Vice Provost might be? And how many (if any at all) are actually needed? Someone who used to be Dean of the branch campus of a public university got himself re-titled Chancellor! Seriously! Do you think the guy now does more work? I doubt it. Do you think he makes a fatter paycheck? Damn straight! We need to take a very hard look at this behavior – what used to be a culture of knowledge is now being poisoned by its own greed. It’s collapsing under the weight of the management’s lust for more power and money. And the poor students! It’s no wonder that Americans have become so ignorant! I could be accused of bitterness because I wanted to be a botany professor. My timing pretty much sucked, I guess. Still, this doesn’t change my basic assertion: Everything isn’t a damn business!