Links: Schools, TSA voyeurs, parenting, and more

* “The end of higher education’s golden age” (maybe; if the problems Shirky discusses have existed since 1975, why can’t they exist for another 40 years?)

* In “Hit ’Em Where It Hurts: The solution to the higher-ed adjunct crisis lies in the U.S. News rankings,” Rebecca Schuman proposes that colleges be discouraged from hiring adjuncts by having U.S. News and similar college raters penalize colleges for hiring adjuncts. But I see two big problems: I haven’t seen any conclusive evidence that adjuncts are worse teachers than full-time faculty; yeah, we can provide a lot of anecdotes for either side, and, based on a very minor study, the answer so far appears to be “no.”

The second problem: how many colleges care about rankings, or play rankings games? Maybe 300 or 400 out of 3,000. Matthew Reed over at Confessions of a Community College Dean is fond of pointing out that everyone in the media focuses obsessively on those 300 or 400 colleges and especially on the ones perceived as elite, despite them representing a tiny portion of the college population or market.

* “TSA Agent Confessions;” these are the people “keeping you safe.”

* “Fight Over Effective Teachers Shifts to Courtroom.” Brilliant maneuver.

* “How the left’s embrace of busing hurt the cause of integration;” file under “unintended consequences.”

* “Is Parenting Really All Joy and No Fun? A Happily Childless Reviewer Investigates Jennifer Senior’s Book.” I read the book and find the behavior of many of the women in it bizarre. There is an interesting long-form magazine article to be written about All Joy and No Fun, Esther Perel’s Mating in Captivity, Bryan Caplan’s Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids, and a few other of the baby-crazy-backlash books (perhaps the one about French parenting). It does seem that the more children are objectively safer, the more parents and especially mothers worry.

* Humans of New York: The Dating Coach. Fiction has for the most part not written about individuals like John Keegan.

* The terrifying surveillance case of Brandon Mayfield.

* “Mooconomics,” a terrible title for a fascinating piece about how we might get to online education works (or it may already be here).

2 responses

  1. Re: the Schuman article, I found it weird that she (or her headline writer) characterizes her proposal as a “solution.” Assuming she’s right that the USN&WR rankings matter (which, as you point out, isn’t the safest assumption), if schools succumbed to pressure and converted adjunct gigs to full-time positions, the majority of adjuncts wouldn’t just be working for peanuts; they’d be permanently excluded from academia. That is a sort of solution, but I can’t imagine it’s the happy ending she’s hoping for.

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    • That is a sort of solution, but I can’t imagine it’s the happy ending she’s hoping for.

      As with so many real political or quasi-political disputes, there is no happy ending for everyone. Resources are finite. Even the people who sensibly say that most grad programs should be shut down can forget that the programs continue because they’re a source of prestige, cheap labor, and faculty engagement.

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