As the Adjunctiverse Turns

cheeky, no respect for academia

Oscar Wilde on the Poor and Socialism

from the becoming radical renamed — but still radical, Paul Thomas, ‎@plthomasEdD

radical eyes for equity

While I highly recommend a careful reading of Oscar Wilde’s The Soul of Man under Socialism, I also urge you to consider that this examination of the consequences of private property and how that perpetuates poverty is stunningly similar to the current education reform movement, notably: “But their remedies do not cure the disease: they merely prolong it. Indeed, their remedies are part of the disease.”

poor oscar wilde copy

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My next Devil’s Dictionary: a call for nominations

Ready for some fun? Send suggestions to @BryanAlexander’s Devil’s Dictionary of EdSpeak

Bryan Alexander

In 2016 we satirized educational technology keywords through a Devil’s Dictionary (part 1, part 2).  Now I’d like to tackle the words of education beyond ed tech.  Which vocabulary would you like to see skewered?

I have assembled a first list, to whet your appetite:

Faculty governance
Graduate school
Legislature (state)
Private (as in institution)
Professional development
Public (as in institution)
Publish or perish
Residence halls
Social sciences
Student life
Traditional student

What else deserves a good Biercing?

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Intervention – “Control, Resistance, and the ‘Data University’: Towards a Third Wave Critique”

data, social media and audit culture in the neo-liberal university

by The Analogue University[1]

From Auditing, Controlling, to Desiring Data

The term “neo-liberal university” has become shorthand for a range of contemporary pressures in university life (Burrows 2012; Strathern 2000). However, increasingly we are not only considering specific pressures – such as workload, anxiety, and the reduction of research to profit – but also the general position of the university itself in history (Chatterton et al. 2010: 251; Gill 2009; Mountz et al. 2015; mrs c kinpaisby-hill 2011).

In an early critique of the neo-liberal university, Marilyn Strathern (2000) put the bifurcation point for North American and European Universities around the turn of the new millennium, when neo-liberal metrics and audit culture moved from the worlds of business and accounting into mainstream academic life. This first wave of critique of neoliberalism in the academy saw education as a public good being forced to mimic the market where academic values could…

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Workplace bullying: Acknowledging grief

In a season of renewal, acknowledge the grief of workplace injustice but don’t let it winning by taking over your life…

PS now that most of my sharing is manual, I’ve been remiss in keeping up with sharing. Confronting precarity and its traveling companion, inequity, invariably means more workplace bullying and savaging as resources get thinner. We need more counsel not less.

Minding the Workplace

Catching my attention this week was an essay by religion professor Jacqueline Bussie (Concordia College, Minnesota) on the experience of grief. Titled “On Becoming Grief Outlaws” and published in The Cresset (the journal of Valparaiso University in Indiana, my undergraduate school), the piece questions how our popular culture urges us to internalize our grief rather than to express it openly. Bussie herself did this when her mother suffered with Alzheimer’s:

For a long time, I extradited my grief underground. I didn’t want to be a Debbie Downer. I didn’t want to live in the jail of other people’s judgment (especially the colleagues, acquaintances, and church folks who thought I should “move on,” “get over it already,” accept “God’s plan,” and “not grieve as one without hope”).

But the life of lies and fake Barbie smiles wore me out. Eventually, I let grief back into its home country—my heart—and let my heart…

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Still more campus cuts

#Adjunct or contingent faculty surprised by this or think it won’t affect the profession all the downstream have either been asleep/comatose/in denial or just not been paying attention.

If setting news alerts is too much bother, Bryan discusses, analyzes and compares trends and patterns in cuts. Ray Schroeder has been chronicling them without discussion on Recession Realities in Higher Education since 2008.

Bryan Alexander

April is the cruelest month, and some American colleges and universities are showing their agreement with that sentiment by cutting more staff and faculty.  As my readers know, these new cutters arenotalone.

One of the latest examples is the University of Oregon, which is getting rid of some humanities faculty (adjuncts) and staff (mostly IT).

Some details: once more the humanities are hit.  The rationale here is typical, based on quantitative demand: “[UO’s College of Arts and Sciences dean] Marcus… said humanities classes have drawn fewer students in recent years.”

Why are these cuts happening?  You, dear reader, already know the drill by now.  First, university revenue is dropping.  After an uptick in student numbers during the financial crisis, “enrollment has dropped in recent years” and there is “less funding from the state of Oregon”.  Second, campus expenses are growing, namely the “steadily rising cost…

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Folsom Prison Graduation Address (No Blues or Jeans)

Julian Vasquez Heilig addresses prisoners receiving diplomas and certificates of different types. One student was finishing his four-year college degree and two others were finishing two-year associates degrees. There were about 10 other prisoners that had finished their high school equivalency. The other 35 or so were receiving honors such as Microsoft, technology and parole program certificates.

Cloaking Inequity

Last Friday, I was honored to give a graduation address at Folsom Prison.

Folsom State Prison (FSP) is a California State Prison in Folsom, CaliforniaU.S., approximately 20 mi (30 km) northeast of the state capital of Sacramento… It opened 137 years ago in 1880, Folsom is the state’s second-oldest prison..  Folsom was also one of the first maximum security prisons, and as such witnessed the execution of 93 condemned prisoners over a 42-year period.

Folsom is probably best known in popular culture for concerts performed at the facility by musician Johnny Cash, particularly in 1968, when the two shows of January 13 were made into a live album. He had written and recorded the song “Folsom Prison Blues” over a decade earlier. Source.


The prison is as the end of a long, beautiful winding road through cow pastures and is located in front of Folsom…

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Our next reading: Tressie McMillan Cottom, Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy

ICYMI (and even if you haven’t), join us at the book club /reading group cross platform free-for-all to read and talk about Lower Ed

Bryan Alexander

Last week I asked you all to vote for the next reading in our online book club.  After some good discussion and 88 votes, the selection was clear:

Cottom, Lower Ed (cover)Tressie McMillan Cottom, Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy. (publisher; Amazon)

This critical look at how the for-profit higher education sector boomed and took advantage of many Americans clearly appeals to you, and is definitely a major education book for 2017.  It may point us to what comes next, especially if Trump tries to restart the for-profit edu industry.

Later this week I’ll post a reading schedule and links to materials.  For now, grab yourself a copy.

If you’re new to our book club… welcome!  The way it works is I post about selections (circa one chapter) every week.  Each post is assigned a tag,, so you can…

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Still more American university cuts and mergers

when a queen sacrifice hits on the table, the seismic waves ripple through the entire campus workforce but often with most drastic outcomes for on the adjuncts in the basement of the Ivory Silo™

Bryan Alexander

As American colleges and universities work to fill up their fall classes, some are struggling to cope with low enrollment and financial pain.  Once more, our higher ed sector continues to be unhealthy.  Once again, the queen sacrifice is on the table.

ITEM: more than one half of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education‘s public universities are consideringcutting programs and faculty.  We know about this because the faculty union has publicly warned its members of this administrative intention.  (The specific term isn’t layoff but “retrenchment”.)

axITEM: the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system is considering massive administrative consolidation, along with combining a dozen community colleges into a single entity.

ITEM: two Connecticut Catholic institutions are considering a mergerSacred Heart University and St. Vincent’s College.

Two different states, private and public campuses – what do they have in common?  My readers already know the answer:…

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Universal basic income: Bruce Sterling imagines the rest of the 21st century

On BruceSterling imagining the #future & #BasicIncome at #SXSW…not for the faint of heart.

Bryan Alexander

How might universal basic income play out, if we choose to adopt it as a way to restructure our economy and society?  Cyberpunk writer, journalist, and killer speech-giver Bruce Sterling dove into some possibilities at the close of this year’s South By Southwest.

The speech begins with a gloomy rumination on the conference, so you can skip ahead to around 25:00 or 26:00 for the possible UBI futures.  And no, there’s no transcript available yet:

Sterling turns to human history to find ways of structuring a society that pays people not to work.  Helpfully he plays them out against the left-right political spectrum.  They include:

  • a universal academy, where people devote themselves to learning.
  • militarization: people serve and receive basic support, which pleases the right wing.
  • refugee status, where authorities supply clothing, food, shelter (“universal basic everything”).
  • a religious settlement, like living as monks or under sharia
  • expanded retirement.  “Everyone retires…

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A Day Without Women action shows the importance of teachers in public schools

the same goes for #adjuncts and other #highered faculty/staff whether public, private or online

Seattle Education


Women have always been a valuable and integral part of the economy, and women’s paid work is becoming increasingly important to family well-being. In 2015, 42 percent of mothers in the United States were breadwinners, and an additional 22.4 percent were co-breadwinners, making between 25 percent and 49 percent of household earnings. The women’s strike offers an opportunity to reflect on how important women’s labor is to the country and remind Americans of what remains to be done to accurately value the work that women do to sustain the nation’s families and economy.

A Day in the US Economy Without Women: Center for American Progress

I will wear red.jpg

A Day Without Women action shows the importance of teachers in public schools

How exactly would a day without women affect the economy? According to the Center for American Progress’ calculations based on the labor share of the gross domestic product, or GDP, and…

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