Crystal Cook - Manifesto

1. The ten current projects of US higher education need to be treated with transparency and to be addressed with policy that acknowledges rather than conflates their ten separate projects (not in order of importance):

  • 1. the sorting of citizens by interest and aptitude
  • 2. the exposure of citizens to material and teaching that will assist them in becoming more capable of self-reflection, empathy, and social responsibility toward fulfilling their duties (voting, advocacy, holding power accountable) as citizens in a democracy
  • 3. the exposure of citizens to material and teaching that will create a more culturally literate person, capable of engaging with the fields and disciplines of our collective culture and with sharpened tools to move beyond being a culture consumer to being a culture creator
  • 4. a place to gain post-secondary training to enter a vocation, particularly in lines of work outside the liberal arts.
  • 5 a place to gain post-secondary training to enter a vocation, particularly in lines of work in the liberal arts or as a scientific researcher engaged in “basic science”
  • 6. a site to support the production of original thought or research, particularly by professors and doctoral students
  • 7. scientific, medical, and technology research toward the creation of patents for university income or corporate adoption or contract
  • 8. the generation of university income and community prestige and engagement through sports teams, particularly men's football and basketball
  • 9. the creation of social and business networks for students to rely upon for future personal, corporate, and political success
  • 10. a site for auxiliary training for the US military

Why I adopted this principle
Each of the points above calls for a mission that differs from the adjacent points. Very clearly, #8 may be important with respect to wider community needs and may have some bearing on #9 and even on #1, but only with intellectual and other finagling could it be placed in the same basket with #s 2 – 7. If these interests were explicit, and, even potentially separated structurally in terms of business models or legal structures, any of the individual missions may then not suffer due to not being an entity's primary mission. In short, it is quite difficult for any one legal structure to do all of these very different projects well. Thus, this could be why traditional liberal arts institutions often have small sports programs, why schools with large sports programs may not have the caliber of academics offered by other less sports-oriented institutions, why universities that focus on scientific patents jilt the liberal arts, and why a school known for being very “social” may not offer the most rigorous or competitive technical vocation-oriented training. In most other societies, schools at the secondary and post-secondary levels do not become catch-alls for such a wide range of projects. Small towns support sports, but they have nothing to do with the local university education. Technical and science-oriented training occurs post strong broad secondary school training, so exposure to the arts need not occur at the post-secondary level in an institution primarily focused on technical training. Further, all military training is conducted in the context of military-only institutions.

A large part of our discussion this semester has focused on the university as a site for mainly for #s 2 and 3, yet, at least 8 other “university” projects vie for defining what a university is. Some models solve the issues of #1 - #3 by making those primary and secondary school projects. #4 and #5 are solved by having these two types of projects being housed in different institutions or by differing “colleges” within on institution. Thus, when applying for college, a foundational education in #1 - #3 is assumed, and then the student applies to either a school with a more liberal arts focus or one that is more technical. Point #6 is part of the program of these #4 or #5 from the get-go, but not necessarily in that #4 serves #5 or vice versa. #7 may be included in #4. #8 is a community-sponsored entity rather than affiliated with any school… it is geographic rather than university-specific. If #1 - #8 are structured how I just described, then it follows that #9 will be specific to the needs of students at these various structures; one kind of social interlocutor or mode will not be found across all the projects. Last but not least, military training has no obvious place in #1 - #9 and would also thus be a separate project.

Could it be that as primary and secondary schools become more and more loaded in the US for character and basic skills education attributed in prior eras and currently in other countries to parental responsibility, the college and university have taken on more and more of what in the past and currently in other countries are the mandates of secondary education? We have responded to this with ad hoc situations (with adjuncts teaching remedial and entry classes) and tenured professors teaching the occasional undergraduate class but generally focused on master's and doctoral students. More on each individual # below:

1. The sorting of citizens by interest and aptitude; in most other countries this is done prior to university and at the expense of the state—we already do some but not all of this in secondary schools. By the end of high school in most developed countries (by age 19 or 20 in Germany; by age 16 in the post-Soviet countries, for example), university-bound students enter university with the first two years of preparation already under their belts, and this period of exploration paid at the expense of the state. Ditto for vocational and technical training, which begins in high school and is separated out from “university” by the moniker “institute.” One is not less prestigious, necessarily, than the other, but that their main missions are different.

2. The exposure of citizens to material and teaching that will assist them in becoming more capable of self-reflection, empathy, and social responsibility toward fulfilling their duties (voting, advocacy, holding power accountable) as citizens in a democracy: ditto. Accomplished through civics, history, and ethics class in primary and secondary school at the expense of the state. We have mandates for this to occur in the US and due to the politics of local education the education and the results vary wildly.

3. The exposure of citizens to material and teaching that will create a more culturally literate person, capable of engaging with the fields and disciplines of our collective culture and with sharpened tools to move beyond being a culture consumer to being a culture creator – also a project of primary and secondary school. Same issue as #2 in terms of accomplishing this.

4. A place to gain post-secondary training to enter a vocation, particularly in lines of work outside the liberal arts. Maybe best solved as a project of an institute with faculty specialized in these fields.

5. A place to gain post-secondary training to enter a vocation, particularly in lines of work in the liberal arts or as a scientific researcher: √ college or university

6. A site to support the production of original thought or research, particularly by professors and doctoral students: √ college or university

7. Scientific, medical, and technology research toward the creation of patents for university income or corporate adoption or contract: could be a partnership with an institute like in #4 or a university… or a private-public partnership: √ college or university

8. The generation of university income and community prestige and engagement through sports teams, particularly men's football and basketball – community, private, or through state-owned sports centers; generally located outside the college or university system; clearly a different mission from vocational, liberal arts, or scientific research education?? Is this not an anomaly??

9. The creation of social and business networks for students to rely upon for future personal, corporate, and political success – can be argued for in terms of institute or college/university: √ college or university

10. Military training: has some overlap in some areas. Again, if you are in the military before you come to secondary ed., then #1 has been accomplished before you arrived. #2 and #3 could be accomplished in primary and secondary school. You don't do #6. #4, #5, and #7 may be necessary parts of some military training or military goals.

Other ways of solving some of these issues of mission conflation: extend secondary school to cover the first two years of college, or, extend state-sponsorship of the first two years of college and make those years focused primarily on the objectives of #s 1 – 3. Upon completion of these first two years, students then either enter the upper division course in the “institutes” – focused on vocational training outside the liberal arts (technology, medicine, visual arts, media, film production, broadcasting, applied sciences, elementary education, etc.) or enter “college” where original thought production or preparation for research careers is stressed (basic sciences, languages, literature, math, film theory, art history, subject matter specialization for secondary education, etc.) toward extension of learning for graduate school

What the implications are for others (academy, society) by adopting it
Briefly, some results could be:

  • students don't go into debt trying to figure out their aptitude… this extends the age period for them to do so
  • more effective age teaching of democracy, etc. service learning and so enters the preparation focus rather than academic focus
  • each institution is cleared to excel at what it is best at without competing for resources with institutions with very different missions
  • more focused preparation in #1 - #7

Why this should be taken seriously for possible inclusion in the collective manifesto
This is a potential starting point. If our goal is the modification of the “university” we need to clarify what is being supported. We speak as if the the Latin definition of the university describes the university as it is currently practiced in American society. What exactly is it that we propose to keep or discard, or, argue ought to be the primary focus of the university? How would we use any of the points above to strengthen that argument?

Sources
Menand, Louis. "Debating the Value of College in America." The New Yorker. 6 June 2011. Web. 15 Oct. 2011. <http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/atlarge/2011/06/06/110606crat_atlarge_menand>.

2. Free education beyond high school should be extended to students to complete two-year associates and four-year college degree programs at public higher educational institutions and capped by age as is compulsory secondary education.

Why I adopted this principle
Currently in the US we spend $525 B yearly (or almost $20k per student) for public elementary through high school education and levy the majority of these funds through state and federal taxes because a basic education serves the minimum purposes of #1 – #5 under point one. More advanced preparation in #1 – #5 under point one is required now than when primary and secondary education became a right (from the mid 19th C. to the mid 20th C.), and this can be achieved through redirecting current tax monies and through re-distributional levying upon the corporate beneficiaries of already-trained employees.

What the implications are for others (academy, society) by adopting it

  • Young Americans not saddled with as much debt to become trained as citizens and to have a vocation. The US becomes more on par with other advanced nations in terms of how much debt young people take on for vocational training.
  • A more educated populace in the areas identified—democratic practice and general culture, along with more focus in a specific areas
  • More students prepared for post-secondary school and the workforce
  • Relieve the academy of partial burden of grant chasing— it can focus on its mission rather than only on money
  • Keep “from robbing Peter pay Paul” i.e. keep auxiliary institutions from having to fund primary projects. Don't have to focus on gaining grants in order to prop up teaching students

Students don't go into debt trying to figure out their aptitude…

Why this should be taken seriously for possible inclusion in the collective manifesto
The current system makes aspects of post-secondary education remedial. Post-secondary education is saddled with too many goals to accomplish. Students get penalized financially for showing up at a post-secondary school only to discover they are ill-prepared (and then drop out). Student loans are big business; educating our citizens should be part of a national agenda rather than something from which to earn interest. Corporations should also shoulder the burden through taxes of having their workers trained before they come to them to work.

Sources:
"Fast Facts." National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Home Page, a Part of the U.S. Department of Education. Web. 20 Oct. 2011. <http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=372>.

3. The right to collective bargaining and representation by students and all employees (contract and tenured) in higher education.

Why I adopted this principle
If you have no collective protection, you cannot look out for your own or your colleague's interests without fear of individual retribution or ostracism. Here is a great list of why this works at the secondary and primary school level and should be a right and a consideration of university employees, and in particular, those that teach in post-secondary education: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/02/20/947474/-Why-is-collective-bargaining-good-for-my-classroom

What the implications are for others (academy, society) by adopting it
Many other interests are run by money. They define their collective worth in terms of money. Although wages may be high, academics are still wage earners. Academics would become a much more powerful force on their own campuses and in society if they were unionized. As a collective they can counter interests that seek to remake post-secondary education into a free market model. This could include exploring alternative means to tenure, broadening or narrowing how tenure is sought, circumventing the IRB, etc.

Why this should be taken seriously for possible inclusion in the collective manifesto
It is very difficult for individual academics to counter attacks on them personally or on academics generally. In general, individuals far poorly against institutions as individuals have less experience in fighting legal matters and fewer financial resources to do this with (Deborah Stone: Policy Paradox). Contract workers have little recourse if unfairly targeted. This would provide contract academics with more job protection and create an entity to which they and tenured academics could belong without upsetting the tenure process. This would also grant tenure-track academics also with a procedure and protection with respect to grievances without jeopardizing (necessarily) their potential for tenure.

Sources:
ITeachQ. "Daily Kos: Why Is Collective Bargaining Good for My Classroom?" Daily Kos :: News Community Action. Web. 09 Nov. 2011. <http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/02/20/947474/-Why-is-collective-bargaining-good-for-my-classroom>.

Stone, Deborah A. Policy Paradox: the Art of Political Decision Making. New York: Norton, 2001. Print.

4. It is clear in public elementary and secondary institutions that the job of educators is to first fulfill and steward the educational needs of their students as defined by the state; this should be the first dictum of the academic as a participant in a public institution of higher education or in any educational institution which takes federal or state education tax money to support any part of its institution.

Why I adopted this principle
Under point 1, there are other institutions in society that meet the needs of points #1 - #3 and points #7 - #10: elementary and secondary schools are supposed to fulfill part of the roles of #1 - #3. With respect to #7, corporations can sponsor their own research at their own institutions. Clubs, civic groups, and so on fulfill the role of #9. We already have professional sports teams as a model— thus, #8 is redundant or potentially transferable into the community. Regarding #10, the military already has its own schools and institutions for training. Thus, with respect to points #4 - #6, very few institutions at the post-secondary level outside of a college or university offer education or training in these areas. If one wants to move beyond being an autodidact or to engage in learning or research in these fields beyond that which is independent, then, currently, for the most part, colleges and universities are the main games in town. However, these core missions have been burdened with additional projects, though potentially valid in their own right, they have little to do with the core of high level training in the humanities or for vocational education.

If our society wants to continue to weaken and burden our higher education system with redundant goals that can be achieved perhaps as readily through other means, then our society has to face that we risk undermining our higher education system in its entirety. It is impossible to be all things to all people and to do everything well.

What the implications are for others (academy, society) by adopting it
This would entail a rethinking and restructuring of the projects outside of points #1 - #5 under point 1 with respect to the project of higher education. See my explanations under point 1 with how #1 - #5 should be handled, #7 - #10 handled, etc.

Why this should be taken seriously for possible inclusion in the collective manifesto
How did we get to a place where this was not the case? Why would this seem an odd demand if the main goal of educational institutions is first to educate?

5. One year of pedagogical training for all faculty, tenured and adjunct.

Explanation & Why I adopted this principle
If the main goal of institutions of higher education is to be education then just as primary and secondary school instructors are required to engage in pedagogical training, so should university and college professors. This would cure the first problem—which in many cases in life, is as a friend's father cautions, “Do not attribute to malice that which can be attributed to ignorance.” Thus, if professors are focusing first on research or show little regard for teaching, engaging them in ways to consider learning theory for teens and adults as well as consider issues of knowledge transfer would eliminate ignorance of pedagogical methods or theory a cause for academic apathy regarding teaching.

What the implications are for others (academy, society) by adopting it
The adjacent projects piggy-backing on higher education may become less urgent if the urgency of strong teaching is encouraged, demonstrated, and valued. Currently, professors are not rewarded for great teaching; they are rewarded for any number of adjacent projects: publishing, grant-seeking and winning, public speaking, starting centers, etc. etc. etc. If the main mission of the university is education, teaching should become its main focus, and thus, be valued, considered, instructed, and central in intellectual regard and academic practice.

Why this should be taken seriously for possible inclusion in the collective manifesto
As I have stated before, how did we get to a place where this was not the case? Why would this seem an odd demand if the main goal of educational institutions is first to educate?

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