Saturday, April 21, 2018

Professor Doom Watches Vaxxed…




By Professor Doom

     For those not in the know, Vaxxed is a documentary on “possible” problems with vaccinations. I have to admit, I’d been looking forward to this documentary for a while. It’s on Amazon, with little fanfare.

       Before I talk about what it does say, let me address what it doesn’t say: there’s absolute proof of a vaccine-autism link. In fact, it doesn’t even address, medically speaking, how such a link might exist. That said, it does have some relevant things in it.

      The documentary begins with snippets of media hysteria about the measles outbreak at Disney a few years back, affecting a hundred or so people. While as good a start as any, they should have supplemented this with an important detail: around 100,000 kids a year are being diagnosed with autism…it was much closer to zero just a few decades ago. Vaxxed does mention that if the increase continues, some 80% of males will be autistic in a few decades …I’m pretty sure we’ll have rioting in the streets before then, so I don’t put much faith in this projection.

       Pretty much everyone with measles will fully recover in 2 weeks, while autism is often a lifelong debilitating illness. Why doesn’t the media focus on those many thousands of kids a year, instead of a hundred who caught measles? It’s a question Vaxxed only dances around. Vaxxed also doesn’t point out that some of the kids who caught measles were fully (i.e., twice) vaccinated against measles…it’s fair to question the efficacy of the vaccine when you have such a demonstration of failure occur repeatedly in a small (and basically random) sample.

      Later in the show, Vaxxed runs another story, which I think they should have started with:

     In 1987, Smith-Kline Beecham (SKB) released a vaccine in Canada. This vaccine, Triverix, caused meningitis.  The meningitis outbreak was so bad they quickly stopped giving the vaccine in Canada.

     Now, SKB had a choice: they could lose money, or sell the damned vaccine elsewhere. Corporations are all about money, so SKB changed the vaccine name to Pluserix, and sold the vaccine in the UK. Again with the meningitis outbreak, and again, they had to stop selling the vaccine there.

     Now, SKB had a choice: they could lose money, or sell the twice-damned vaccine elsewhere. No surprise, they then sold the vaccine in Brazil. Again it caused a meningitis epidemic in a mass vaccination campaign. These events are established fact.

      Vaxxed doesn’t reinforce the point here, but I will:

      When faced with a choice between not making kids sick, and making money, a corporation will make money. I’m not criticizing corporations here, and I say this with the same inflection I say “when faced with a choice between not making kids sick, and sucking the juice from a fly, a spider will suck the juice from a fly.” It’s just how things are, and so I’m very wary of trusting corporations to take care of kids, unless they’ll lose money for doing it wrong.

“That’s just a conspiracy theory,”

--A friend high up in the FDA assured me there’s no such thing as a vaccine court, and she’s supremely confident all vaccines are quite safe, always have been, always will be. I have doubts, and she laughed hysterically when I expressed them. Too hysterically, truth be told.


     Alas, there’s a special vaccine court where taxpayers pay the damages of vaccinations gone wrong, insulating vaccine-making companies from losing money if they make kids sick.

     This is a recipe for disaster. I wish Vaxxed had outlined the implications here clearly, because even if all vaccines today were proven to be perfectly safe for everyone, having this type of insulation against loss would mean inevitably, a corporation will choose to make more money over any safety concern (they already must do so as matter of corporate policy, of course)—any safety protocol would cost money, and that would impact the bottom line unnecessarily.

“But muh polio!”

--a common reply to any criticism of vaccines. It’s important to understand that just because some vaccines are really good, that this shouldn’t be taken to mean all vaccines are really good. I seldom seem to get this idea across when I try to explain to people in person, however.


     Vaxxed gives plenty of anecdotes of parents who saw their kids degenerate into autism shortly after receiving a particular vaccine: specifically the triple vaccine MMR (for measles, mumps, and rubella). Now, I’m no big fan of anecdotes, especially on a show with a clear agenda…but when literally tens of thousands of parents say the same thing, I think it’s fair to ask the question about there being a relationship here.

     Autism rates are skyrocketing. It used to be too rare to be even estimated, then 1 in 10,000 in the early 1980s, but in the 90s (when this particular vaccine became very popular), it skyrocketed. It was 1 in 68 five years ago. It’s 1 in 45 today, this rate of increase is VERY scary, that’s more than 2% of the next generation, not so rare at all...we should be asking loud questions about what our entire population is being exposed to in infancy, “coincidental to vaccines,” to cause this. Vaxxed doesn’t address other possibilities besides vaccines, but I’m quite willing to believe there are multiple reasons for this frightening rise in the occurrence rate of an increasingly common lifelong debilitating illness which barely existed in our past.

      Vaxxed decorates their story with damning recorded phone calls from a CDC whistleblower, Dr. Thompson. He was part of “the big study” saying that absolutely, positively, no way, no how, is there a link between the MMR vaccine and autism, and that all those parents have lying eyeballs. Dr. Thompson says the CDC cooked the data to get that result of “no evidence.”

      One of the CDC workers responsible for the study is now very highly paid working for the vaccine company protected by that study. There’s a conflict of interest here which merits consideration, but Vaxxed doesn’t spend much time on it (to be fair, it would take many hours to cover all these points)…they mention it, so that’s something.

     So what does Vaxxed discuss? Mostly Vaxxed talks about statistical results from that data.

      Before addressing their result, I want to talk about statistics for a bit. The bulk of research today is just statistical research. Some researcher makes a guess, gets some data, then manipulates the data to confirm his result. Then it gets published. Much of our “scientific” research published in the last 20 years or so is bogus, which is why there’s a huge problem now as many “scientific” results cannot replicated (close to half, it depends on the field).

     As something of a statistician, I know full well how trivial it is to manipulate the data to say what you want once ethics is abandoned…but you need not trust me when I say this, since this manipulation is clearly what’s happening in our “research” today.

     So if the whistleblower says the data has been manipulated, I believe him—at this point I’d have to have collected the original data myself to believe the results of any study. The whistleblower has been asked to testify before congress, but the CDC won’t allow it. When the government acts this suspiciously, I’m inclined to believe the worst.

We did not prove an association between measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine and the syndrome described. Virological studies are underway that may help to resolve this issue.”
--from Wakefield’s paper.


     Vaxxed also interviews Dr. Wakefield. Wakefield made and published a very small study showing something bad about the MMR vaccine, and in the study he even concedes that it was just a preliminary study suggesting more research, and encouraged people to take individual vaccines (i.e., just the vaccine for measles, then another for mumps, the another for rubella—the company responded to the rising demand for this by refusing to offer the individual vaccines any more, as they had loads of MMR vaccines to sell). Despite Wakefield’s own (justified) reservations about his own study, his career was utterly destroyed and the study repudiated by the journal which originally published it.

      Again, perhaps it was a bogus study (although, unlike many studies, it can be replicated). But…half of the studies in those journals are bogus, aren’t getting repudiated, and the researchers involved aren’t getting destroyed. I have to ask: why was Wakefield singled out for a piffling study that only suggested more study? Vaxxed doesn’t ask this question, alas.

     Vaxxed claims that they have the original data from the whistleblower, and one glaring detail in this data is it shows a massive correlation between the MMR vaccine and its effect on African-American males in particular (to be accurate, they show such males to be more likely than others to get autism after getting the vaccine, but bear with me for now).

      One more time: Vaxxed has evidence that African-American male infants are more likely to get autism from vaccination than other races.

     Now, wait just. One. Minute.

     Time and again I hear talking heads on TV screeching about how blacks are being so oppressed in this country, and it seems every week there’s another infinitesimal outrage that reasonable people would ignore (hi Starbucks!). To some extent, I see their point on some things, but here we have evidence that blacks are literally being targeted for a lifelong debilitating illness.

      Where’s the screaming in the media? Did I mention a hundred thousand kids a year get this diagnosis? And somehow the media doesn’t see anything to cover here. Hmm.

     Now, even though I don’t have the data in front of me, I’m still going to trash this result, and would even if I did have the data. Vaxxed doesn’t give me a p-value, which is a number, hopefully small, which indicates how good the evidence is. Let’s suppose this p-value is 0.0001—this is considered ridiculously strong evidence (I’ve reviewed doctoral dissertations with p-values around 0.09, to put in perspective how strong I’m assuming the evidence is).

       And yet I’m still suspicious of the result? Yes. See, this was a massive data set, and they probably looked at hundreds of cross-variables. Not just “male” and “female” but also “black,” “white,” “Hispanic,” “Asian,” all the other races. Now cross reference with age of vaccination—3 months, 6 months, 9 months, 12 months, 15 months, etc. Now cross reference with prior illnesses and antibiotics use. All those cross-references mean you’re looking at thousands of p-values. In this circumstance, just on pure luck, you could easily get a p-value below 0.0001. So as a professional statistician, I’m not convinced even with this p-value, at least based on my understanding of the data set.

      But that’s what a skeptical statistician would say, and our media doesn’t think things through nearly so clearly. I’ve seen the media go ape on much flimsier evidence regarding poor treatment of black people. So, I’m forced to wonder why the media silence here. Why is the possibly unjust shooting of one black adult male (often with a criminal history) a huge deal, but this patently unfair damning of many thousands of innocent black male infants not a problem at all?

     My concerns about this evidence aren’t relevant, however. There is a real hammer blow in Vaxxed so powerful it not only smashes their dubious statistical evidence given above into complete irrelevancy, but also completely annihilates the relevance of all those studies which fail to show any connection between vaccines and other ailments.

     Next Time.



Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Colleges Struggle With Belated Attempt To Make Online Ed Legit




By Professor Doom

    Admin, addressing full time faculty: “We’re going to put more of our programs online, for more efficiency. I know we’re asking for a great deal of work from you, but you’ll be helping to build a great institution.”

     Admin, 6 months later: “Thank you for your hard work developing these courses. We’re going to hire a Vice President of Online Education and a full complement of support staff for our four faculty teaching online courses.”

     Admin 6 more months later: “We really don’t need as many faculty for online courses, so we’re letting three of you go. Also, we’ll be hiring another Dean to handle the extra students. Feel free to apply for that position, but we’ll need someone with recent experience working in the last year as a Dean.”

     Admin (one semester later, after considerable growth): “We have an open part time adjunct position to teach the online courses. We’d be quite happy to see a resume that doesn’t have any online degrees on it, so we can finally hire someone. If you know someone, have them apply.”

---It’s a real joy working for these people.


     Online education has been a huge growth industry for higher ed. It barely existed 30 years ago, and today just about every student takes at least some online work to get a degree.

      Trouble is, many online classes, even whole degree programs, are fraudulent. It isn’t just the obvious cheating, the content of the coursework is so minimal that it doesn’t actually help a student learn anything, much less train for a job. The latter detail is the important part, since much of online college is sold as “train for a new job without leaving your old job!”

      But it’s mostly fraud. The administrators of online colleges know its fraud, too, since they refuse to hire people with online degrees. If the people running the “jobs training” programs won’t hire anyone trained in such programs, it’s little wonder that the real world generally won’t hire online graduates, either.

      After decades of such fraud, the Federal government has finally, after seeing much of a generation destroyed by this type of fraud, decided to do a little something about it, by instilling basic rules like “the college must inform students that their degrees are of limited, if any, market value.”

       Naturally, colleges are having a tough time adapting to such draconian rules:



     The implication of the above needs to be drawn out a bit. One of the big justifications for online education was that students from anywhere could take the courses. But, the colleges had been selling their online job training courses knowing full well that their “certifications” weren’t worth the paper they were printed on in most states (and by “most” I mean 49, possibly 50 of them).

       Now, if we give the schools benefit of the doubt (not my inclination, to be sure), it still makes little sense that so many kids were “accidentally” misled about the value of the job training. Our schools are drowning in admin, after all, it would have only taken a few phone calls to find out if the training would have passed muster in another state (assuming they bothered to check their own state, there are only 49 other states to check certification rules in…and that’s a worst case scenario, it could be done every year without a problem).

     Under the new regulations, all higher education institutions that offer classes online must demonstrate that they are authorized to operate in every state where they enroll students who receive federal financial aid. The rules also mean that institutions must make clear their refund policies and procedures for receiving student complaints.


     Again, the implications of the above bear highlighting. These schools knew what they were doing, and knew that the students, once they graduate, were going to come back and say “hey, this certification is absolutely worthless. I want my money back!”

      And the schools doubtless responded with “No refunds, even when we knowingly sold you something worthless. Sorry.”

       The students complained to the government, and the specific types of complaints hinted at above came up so often that, yeah, the Federal government decided to make the rules very clear about how schools sold their training programs, and about that whole “no refunds” thing.

     I should also mention, accreditation forces every school to put, in writing, that they operate with integrity. But, alas, accreditation has no penalty whatsoever for violating accrediting rules so, integrity is jettisoned shortly after a school becomes accredited. Accreditation now only serves to grant a school access to Federal student loan money, which, again, is why the specific wording above clarifies for whom this new rule applies.

      If accreditation were legitimate, you wouldn’t need that specific wording at all, because accreditation would already be forcing schools to act with integrity, or, more accurately, removing accreditation from schools acting without integrity.

Additionally, institutions must provide specific information to students who are pursuing professions that require state licensure, which is common for nurses, teachers and counselors, among others. Institutions will be required to inform students if they are taking a program that will not qualify them to practice their chosen profession where they live. This means every institution must track the requirements for professional licensing in every state where they operate. Failure to meet these requirements could result in institutions losing eligibility for federal financial aid.


     Not to beat a dead horse here, but the above rules were created because, obviously, schools weren’t acting with integrity as far as their license-required jobs training courses.

     Sooner or later the Federal government is going to realize what a mistake, what a waste of time, it is to have accreditation as the gatekeeper for Federal funds. When that happens, they’ll simply change the rules to remove accreditors from higher education completely. They already serve no purpose, mind you, but I reckon it’ll be another decade or so before our government will make them obsolete.

      I don’t think this will be a good thing. Accreditation came into existence because schools legitimately wanted to do honest work. All accreditation rules were written with an assumption of good faith in the participating school. Accreditation was never meant to be a gatekeeper for over a trillion dollars of student loan money, and, with that kind of money on the table, assuming good faith is, simply, stupid.

     Maybe after the government annihilates our current system of accreditation, we can hope that a new system of accreditation will come back into play, but I have my doubts: as long we’re talking over a trillion dollars on the table, the entire idea of good faith will be an antiquated concept.

      Now, like any set of rules from the government, they’re pretty confusing and subject to arbitrary enforcement. So, colleges are complaining, and to some extent I see their point.

      But the fact remains: if colleges acted with integrity, or if accreditation was legitimate, these new rules would never have been written…and the fact also that none of the “leaders” running our schools get this important concept speaks more about the state of higher education today than any number of pages of new Federal regulations.



    

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Chicago Professors Walkout To Protest Working Conditions




By Professor Doom

     Leftism, in its current representation, is nothing without hypocrisy, and today I  want to focus on one aspect of this system of belief, namely socialism. Socialism is all about “power to the workers.” The most common worker on our campuses used to be, and should be, the professoriate, the people who actually do the teaching and research.

       Our campuses are to a considerable extent taken over by believers in Leftism. 

How’s that working out for the workers? Terribly. Time and again I’ve covered how the average professor in higher ed is a sub-minimum wage adjunct, barely able to get by only if he teaches quadruple the class load that was typical of faculty before the takeover.

      Now, professors tend to be free thinkers, so we’ve been slow to join a group, a union, to organize to resist this treatment. After years of being squeezed, it’s starting to happen:


      The above was only a one day walkout from the English faculty. I certainly decry what’s happened in mathematics, but I feel great sympathy for English faculty: grading papers is grueling, time consuming work, but there’s no other way to help students improve their writing skills. For this reason, class sizes in English courses are supposed to be smaller than in other disciplines. Trouble is “smaller than” used to mean their classes were around 20 while everyone else’s were around 25. But now the typical class size is 50 to 100, and admin are using the “well, English classes should be 5 students fewer” idea for the writing courses…English faculty find the increased workload impossible, so they have no choice but to strike for better conditions.

      They joined the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and so now take their marching orders from the SEIU in hopes of a better life. SEIU has a good track record:

SEIU won a commitment from Tufts University in 2014 to bring the pay for part-time faculty members up to at least $7,300 per course by 2016. To non-tenure-track faculty members in much of higher education, such levels are two or even three times what they earn per course.


       Yes, the SEIU basically tripled adjunct pay. As I’ve said many times, the money is already there in higher ed, it was just being sucked into administrative pockets.
      Loyola Chicago has been slow to negotiate:

Union officials say there has been progress in negotiations over issues of pay per course, typically around $4,500 for those with terminal degrees, but with a limit of four courses per year for part-timers.


      Allow me to do the math here, to really emphasize how little Loyola Chicago thinks of faculty. They want to cap the total amount of yearly income for their adjuncts, their typical college professor, to $18,000, and this princely sum only for those with “terminal degrees,” for example a Ph.D.

      Think of how ridiculous this is. Imagine spending 4 years to get a college degree, another 4 to 6 years getting a Ph.D., paying outrageous tuition all the while, as the university tells you how valuable your education is.

      Then, you get your degree, and the same university will tell you all they will offer for that precious education is a no-benefits, no-security job paying $18,000 a year…this income puts you below the poverty line once interest on those student loans comes into the calculation.

      Oh, wait. I’m getting ahead of myself, the union is negotiating to raise faculty pay to the poverty level, and Loyola Chicago isn’t interested.

       How better to represent the miserable conditions of the faculty there that they have to negotiate to get enough pay to reach the poverty level? Isn’t socialism supposed to help the workers at least a little?

SEIU contracts at Tufts and elsewhere have included provisions that, while short of tenure, have given some job security to adjuncts.


      Pay isn’t everything, and one of the main perks of teaching in higher ed is supposed to be some level of job security. Tenure is scarce in higher ed today, and most faculty not only do not have it, they will never get it. I totally understand people don’t like the idea of tenure, and I share some of the common concerns…but the bottom line is many of our campuses have degenerated into the moral and academic abyss because tenure is gone. Every time a non-tenured faculty tries to bring standards back, he just gets eliminated.

      Added to this issue is that adjuncts are “temporary” workers who work for a decade or more at the same job. Admin justify the low pay and lack of benefits to these “temp workers,” even as they know the adjuncts will be at the school long after the administrator doing the hiring has retired with a golden parachute.

      Like I said, they’re nothing without hypocrisy.

      So, the union called a 1 day walkout just to show the university that it’s time for them to show a little respect to the faculty. I hope it helps.

      These types of actions aren’t just restricted to Chicago, however:

“…the American Federation of Teachers, which represents lecturers at all three University of Michigan campuses, said it would strike for two days next week if a new contract is not negotiated…”

Many faculty members in Kentucky are angry over a provision in the state's budget bill, expected to soon become law, that would roll back tenure protections in cases where colleges are changing or eliminating programs.



     There’s been a real pattern of “roll back tenure protections,” claiming such a roll back doesn’t mean anything beyond bureaucratic formalities…and then immediately destroying the newly-vulnerable faculty. After years of this sort of behavior, faculty are starting to catch on: professors can do nothing about administrators summarily changing contracts after they’ve signed them. That said, if they simply refuse to be abused further, perhaps admin will listen?

     I have my doubts these short strikes will make a difference; there’s a huge Ph.D. glut and so I suspect it’s not yet too inconvenient to just fire every teacher in the school and then hire a new crop (and, again, I’ve seen the like). Eventually, these strikes will get longer, and hopefully will work—Ontario had a 5 week professor strike last year, and they made real progress.

     The fact remains: our most educated workers have been backed into a corner for so long that many of them are seeing no choice but, at long last, to fight back. Is it too little, too late? Perhaps, but at least they’re fighting back.





Thursday, April 12, 2018

Higher Ed Pay Skyrockets In Canada Too




By Professor Doom

     So I’m finishing up on an excellent article taking the entire Canadian higher education system to task. The American system operates by essentially the same rules, however, and Canada’s is merely a reflection of the incredibly corrupt system of their much larger southern neighbor.

       The last abuse discussed in the article is administrative looting of the system. It’s little different, of course, from what goes on in the U.S., only smaller in scale. For American readers, you should increase the numbers given by around 40% to get an idea of what even a tiny college is raking in from the taxpayers.

In 2011, David Johnston, president of the University of Waterloo, made $1,041,881. [40] Indira Samarasekera of the University of Alberta had a total compensation package of over $1.1 million in the final year of her contract. [41]Elizabeth Cannon of the University of Calgary and David Turpin of the University of Alberta banked $897,000 and $824,000 respectively during the 2016–’17 academic year. [42] Even presidents at small- and medium-sized universities now routinely receive between $300,000 and $500,000 in compensation, this not including additional forms of remuneration that combined can reach as high as $200,000 per year. [43]

      The author paints in well-documented but broad strokes, so allow me to fill in an important missing detail:

      Administrators greatly outnumber faculty, and the latter have seen their salaries actually shrink over the years, especially as more and more faculty positions become “part time” jobs, or at least are paid as much.

      Yes, the person at the top is making sickening amounts of money, and it’s even more repugnant when you consider these guys gets perks like free cars, free jets, a free mansion, a personal restaurant, an expense account greater all by itself more than faculty pay, and all the other insane benefits that simply did not exist before the student loan scam drowned our campuses in money.

      But compounding this putrescent pay is the legion, and I do mean legion, of under-administrators infesting our campuses. Yes, I’ve seen a couple of classrooms-buildings erected in my 30 years of teaching in higher ed…but I’ve seen more administrative palaces built in the last 2 years than all the classrooms-buildings of my career put together.

      These palaces are built from the ground up with luxury and beauty in mind, great glittering chateaus built for the royal caste sucking up all that student loan money. Our campuses are covered in these things, and each one is filled with functionaries, from deanlings to vice-presidents of Diversity (oh so many of those!), and they, too are paid handsomely, often with royal perks which, all by themselves, any faculty would feel privileged to take in lieu of their usual adjunct pay.

      Every year, the statistics on salary are compiled…and every year, these guys see a 10% or more pay raises. Anyone who feels like it can see with his own eyes that making less than $100,000 a year as a college administrator, no matter how irrelevant the position, is difficult to do. Meanwhile, your typical college teacher qualifies for food stamps (no money in the budget, you see. Too bad.).

       After a lifetime of teaching, my retirement package beyond money I was forced to invest (at ridiculously poor returns) is typical: zero. It’s different for admin:

Peter George netted $1.4 million after leaving his position at McMaster University, $99,999 annually, or one dollar less than the salary limit prescribed by the Public Sector Salary Disclosure Act (PSDA) so McMaster wouldn’t have to reveal the amount publicly. [45] And this doesn’t include the tens of thousands of dollars George received in additional compensation for insurance, health care, car allowance, and travel — all after he’d resigned!

--emphasis added. Do note that even when these people quit, they still get huge rewards.


      I’ve mentioned before the insane golden parachutes these guys get, which are only a fraction of what the author sees in Canada. Isn’t it completely ridiculous that you can quit your job as a university admin and still rake in the loot? I emphasize we see this in the US on a regular basis as well.

     In case the gentle reader is wondering how a system could be so broken that saying “I quit this job,” even quitting under a cloud of criminal accusations and obvious fraud, could still merit a million dollars or more of bonus payments, the underlying concept is called “best practices.” Honest, they justify the looting because of prior looting…it’s just that simple.

…these packages don’t compare to the one received by Harvey Weingarten, former president of the University of Calgary, who stands to collect as much as $4.75 million in pension monies after serving as president for only eight years. [46] The discovery of Weingarten’s remuneration package came to light just as he was warning the University of Calgary community that up to 200 jobs would have to be cut in an effort to address a budget shortfall of $14 million.


     The ostentatious arrogance of the Poo Bah does nothing for my temper. The above is little different than being told the school just doesn’t have the budget for the $10,000 it would take to light up the parking lot so the students could feel safe…then watching the $500,000 a year Poo Bah get into his $80,000 “perk” car and go to his $1,000,000 home (mostly paid for by his annual $300,000 year bonus for good growth), while the $100,000 a year dean and her $80,000 a year assistant tells us all dozen faculty at the school have been denied our 1% pay raises because no money, you see; and all five $100,000 a year HR people and the $150,000 a year Vice President of Finance confirm the Dean is telling the truth. Afterwards, the $250,000 Vice-Provost and his $80,000 secretary also come in to confirm it. After the 3 pm meeting, we bump into the $120,000 Registrar and four of her co-workers whose titles we can’t guess coming back from lunch at a place we all know about, but could never dream of having enough money to eat there just because it's lunch time.

     In a school with only a couple thousand students on campus, by the way.

I’d like to conclude by addressing our university administrators directly. So far I’ve written about you; now I want to talk to you.


     For laughs, the author actually addresses the admin…you’ve got to be kidding me. Please understand the numbers being quoted here are not pulled out of a hat…they’re documented—these schools take government money, you see, and one of the many government strings attached to that money is documentation of how it’s spent.

The first thing faculty expect from you is some honesty about the situation. The data is in and all credible sources agree that our students are in trouble and so too is our curriculum. We can’t get anywhere if you continue to deny what’s actually happening. The university in this regard increasing feels like a government in permanent damage control, where nary a word against anything can be spoken and no admission of failure is permitted. If you’d simply drop the facade we might be able to get somewhere.


     Wow, asking for honesty? Good luck with that. The primary reason these guys lie so blatantly is because there’s nothing to stop them now. Addressing admin and asking them to play nice accomplishes nothing.

      On the other hand, simply starving them out, by shutting down that student loan scam, will get their attention far more effectively than polite requests to stop looting so much.

     I grant my solution is as likely to occur as polite requests are as likely to be heeded, at least in the near term. However, at some point, the money will stop flowing.

Finally, you must drop the childish and short-sighted sidelining of sciences and humanities not obviously related to your commercial interests…


     The author then goes on to ask for quite a few other things from admin, but this is just extended idiocy. Admin holds all the cards, and these appeals are as pathetic as those from the high school nerd begging for mercy as a bully pummels him again and again…It’s not gonna happen, and so not worth further comment on my part.

     The comments are, of course, quite supportive, but all neglect to point out the simple fact that the solutions and appeals the author provides have zero chance of changing anything on campus.

     I assure the reader: stop the flow of billions of dollars via the student loan scam, and campuses will change very, very, quickly.






    

Monday, April 9, 2018

Take Down the Administrative University, Part 2




By Professor Doom

      I’m continuing to look at a thorough discussion of the main reasons higher education is such a mess today. The author cites four key problem areas, but as always I have some things to add.

Students

    By all available metrics, student intellectual performance has declined precipitously as the university administration has ballooned…the takeaway numbers regarding the university’s role in the decline are shocking: 45 percent of students “did not demonstrate any significant improvement in learning” during the first two years of college…


     While the above is certainly correct, and I’ve already noted college graduate IQ is in freefall right now, to the point that it’s reasonable to consider today’s college graduates of below average intelligence. The author fails to identify why this is the case. Again I emphasize the twin issues of corrupted (by administration) accreditation and fraudulent student loans.

     Back when accreditation was legitimate, accredited schools were forced to have “respectable entrance requirements.” Honest, if universities restricted admissions to only students who displayed some interest in education, the author would not be able to blame the students for what’s happening in higher education today.

     The student loan scam provides money to anyone who wants to set foot on campus, and that includes people who have no interest in learning anything. And…this is where admin come in. They took over accreditation so that “restricted admissions” was removed, and campuses flooded with students (and those sweet student loan checks!).

      Then admin told faculty to keep on passing even the fake students, instead of flunking them off campus after one semester. And so faculty no longer asked students to read, to write, to learn anything at all which couldn’t be picked up in a few minutes’ effort at most. We now have social promotion in college because it’s so important to keep those student loan checks flowing.

     The author goes into more detail why students are a problem, but…no. Administration, through corrupted accreditation and the broken student loan system, are far more a problem than the students, and the many fake students on campus today will vanish overnight if we remove student loans so they’d have nothing to gain by coming to campus, or alternatively (by some miracle) make accreditation force entrance requirements on schools.

Where is all the money going? In 1970 in the United States, 268,952 administrators and staffers supported the work of 446,830 full-time professors. Today, the proportions have almost flipped. Now we have 675,000 professors being “supported” by 756,595 administrators and staffers. [16]


      The above is documented, but it should also be pointed out that we’ve tripled our student base in that time, and tripled our administrators…while the number of professors has increased only 50%. It’s actually worse than this, as many administrative positions have been “reclassified” as faculty positions (for example, the library staff), even if these supposed faculty teach nobody and perform no research. The reason for doing so is it make the “student/faculty” ratio look better. Supposedly, this ratio is around 17 on many campuses, even if every classroom has at least 50 students and every faculty teaches at least 5 classes…it’s curious how no administrator understands how these numbers can’t possibly be accurate, though I certainly forgive the author for not realizing this part of the fraud of higher education (so many frauds to follow, after all).

One exception to this grim story is how elites educate their own children. The Waldorf School of the Peninsula, which teaches the kids of many who work for Silicon Valley giants like Google, Apple, Yahoo, and Hewlett-Packard, doesn’t allow computers or cell phones or iPads in its K-12 classrooms. There it is all about real human contact, free conversation, and tactile, intellectual, and emotional engagement. [20] And when it comes to elite universities, things are similarly oriented. The children of the wealthy and powerful are not reading half-page op-eds for their weekly course content and then pressing a clicker to indicate whether they like it or not


     While the above isn’t directly related to the rest of the article here, I include it because it’s really, really, important for the gentle reader to know. The education commoners get is nothing like the education the elite get—John Taylor Gatto discusses this in detail (I strongly encourage the gentle reader to consider what this multiple teacher-of-the-year winner has to say, and to read his other works as well).

      Similarly, the elite don’t send their kids to the mostly bogus higher education system the commoners go to. In particular, their kids don’t go to community college, hence why the frauds there are generally so huge.

      The author returns to discussing the problems of our current higher education system.


The University Curriculum

…one cause of the decline is “lack of rigor.” Students can’t do things they used to be able to do for the simple reason that we no longer insist that they do them. And why is that? …If students cannot think, read, or write any longer, it’s because administrators don’t care if they can or can’t.


     The above is certainly correct, and again highlights the failure of accreditation, which is supposed to certify the legitimacy of the education at an institution. My first decade in higher education, I believed my universities were systematically defrauding accreditation. It was only when I went to an unaccredited school, and went through all the forms necessary to get accreditation that I realized the truth:

       You can’t defraud accreditation regarding the education at a university. Accreditors DO NOT CARE about education. I’ve gone line by line over how a school gets accredited, at no point is education relevant to the process. As UNC demonstrated, you can literally run fraudulent courses for thousands of students, actively work to cover up the fraud, destroy the careers and livelihood of any faculty who tried to fix the fraud, maintain the fraud for a couple decades…and the accreditor does not care, and at no point will the accreditor threaten to remove accreditation and the flow of those sweet, sweet, student loan checks.

     And so again I point out that if we fix accreditation, or get rid of the student loan checks, this problem will likely dramatically reduce in severity. The author discusses the problems in more detail but I feel it’s better simply to identify how to start fixing the problems.

       The next issue identified is:

University Governance

…that was how the university used to function. Administrators arose from the general faculty, served their terms in office, and then returned to their home departments.


     As I’ve mentioned before, the university used to be run by scholars, each taking over the many part-time administrative positions for a while before fully returning to faculty. Please understand, this made sense, as most administrative positions really aren’t necessary for 8 hours a day, particularly when classes aren’t in session.

      Now our campuses are run by full-time administrators, filling their time doing things no faculty could even guess. I’m inclined to blame faculty for ceding the reins of power to the wandering plunderers who run campuses today. The student loan scam poured so much money on campus it seemed like a good idea at the time to just hire a full time Dean or whatever to deal with issues, little realizing what non-scholars would do in these positions…faculty gave loaded guns to these chimpanzees.

      That’s my opinion based on direct observation. The author offers a different reason for the appearance of the plunderers:

Once the mandate changed to supplying the economy not with “skilled” labor — universities have always done that — but with a certain technically minded human being, scholars were deemed not merely unqualified to execute the mandate, but antithetical to it. And they were, stated in this way, which is why they were removed from university governance and academic decision-making.


      I disagree here. Who removed faculty from university governance? Obviously, faculty did, at least initially, as they were the only ones who could do so. Who set the new agenda for what higher education was supposed to be about, leading to the mess we have today? The people faculty foolishly hired to replace them.

     Oops.

     Once we let them in, they used their power to hire more of their kind, which in turn hired more. It’s been a very destructive parasitic infestation:

A first step in the process was to hire senior managers from outside the local university so boards of governors could vet them for agreement with the new corporate ethos. These managers were in turn empowered to duplicate themselves within the institution through the appointment of like-minded colleagues and staff. This cohort of the corporate-minded has grown at a rate such that it has outpaced all other university appointments — in the United States a 240 percent increase from 1985 to 2005 compared to a mere 50 percent for faculty. [34] 


     I see only the drastic solution of cutting off the money paying for these guys: kill the student loan scam, and schools will either quickly go bankrupt (and most will), or fire the vast bulk of their useless administrative staff. I can’t fathom a guess at how many will take the latter option. 1%? 5%? Not many. However, the bankrupted schools will create an educational vacuum which allow new schools to be built from the ground up.

     With luck, the new schools will adopt the methods which allowed us to have the best system of universities in the world. It sure won’t be pretty for the first few years after the student loans are finally shut off, however.

      Please understand, this drastic action is both necessary, and inevitable:

Why do calls for austerity and downsizing apply to everyone except these people? Isn’t the point of good administration that it’s done efficiently and cheaply? In Canadian universities, part-time faculty now do 60 percent to 70 percent of the teaching because full-time faculty have been cut so dramatically. [35]


     The parasitic administrative class has grown so large that it’s destroying the host. Already, many schools cannot afford to have teachers because they spend so much on endless ranks of administrators, who mostly spend their time scrambling to find the cheapest teachers they can get…even as tuition climbs and climbs and climbs.

…as David Layzell, fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, said to the National Observer when asked about the administrative culture at the University of Calgary: “‘I really don’t feel that I can talk with you about this.’ He added: ‘Maybe that says more than us actually talking’.” [39]


      The culture of fear of higher education really has what faculty as remain terrified. Again, I point at the money. During Prohibition, mobsters controlled alcohol, because there was so much money in doing so. Everyone still drank…but you were afraid to talk about it openly.

     However, once Prohibition ended…the fear factor in getting a beer vanished overnight. And the mobsters no longer controlled the alcohol.

      In a similar vein, even though 80% of the citizens of this country go to college in some form, there’s a culture of fear here due to higher education’s control by the thugs running the institutions. Kill the student loan scam, and I very much suspect that culture of fear will disappear quickly.

      Next we’ll look at the final issue in this article.