Morning Ed: Education {2017.01.23.M}

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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117 Responses

  1. Kolohe says:

    I would actually like to know where FIRE stands on the U Puget Sound story.

    Honestly? I can’t think of a *better* way to lay off staff during budget cuts than via a transparent lottery of all relatively new hires.

    It looks like Maureen Kiernan missed a lot of school in Sept and May. [I wouldn’t say she missed it, K]Report

  2. LeeEsq says:

    The University of Puget Sound story sounds much more egregious than the University of Washington because it involved multiple real people and some very serious accusations. Its really both free speech and harassment. If the accusers really think that those called out are as evil as their flyer says than any sort of nicety regarding evidence is irrelevant. At the same time, those at the receiving end were publicly accused of some big sins without much in the way of rebuttal rights.

    Treating universities as a provider of products and students as consumers never work. Education like healthcare is one of those things that really isn’t subject to pure market economics. A former OT observed on Facebook that there really should be nothing wrong with for profit colleges but they keep end up being scams.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to LeeEsq says:

      How close to defamation/libel does the UPS come? That could be a big part of why UPS reacted so harshly.

      Otherwise I am with @damon , this whole ban the speaker attitude is tiresome.Report

    • Oscar Gordan in reply to LeeEsq says:

      For profit schools: you may be right Lee, but the demand was (still is?) far outstripping supply & the established providers weren’t interested in expanding much.Report

  3. Damon says:

    Free Speech: UoW: You know, when I was in college in the late 80s, Jean Kirckpatrick came to speak. All the protesters protested and I walked right through the crowd to the door. Then the protesters came in and asked questions challenging her speech. (Generally they didn’t interrupt her speech). Grow up you damn pansies because your actions just indicate that you can’t tolerate dissent or the real world. UPS: “I’m technically homeless right now,” said Chavez,” Maybe don’t do stupid stuff that jeopardizes your housing? That’s a good life lesson to learn in schoolz.

    Teacher layoffs: ““It’s a very unfair system,” Rhett said.” Well, it’s called LIFO. Last In, First Out. Been there myself. Maybe you want to look at that union contract?Report

    • Doctor Jay in reply to Damon says:

      Those students swim in an ocean that is very different from what mine, and I think yours, was. These days, someone on Twitter, or Tumblr, or YouTube, or whatever, can fire up a sock puppet and spew all sorts of horrible shit at you. This sort of thing happens every day now, and there are lots of people, including Jack Dorsey, who defend that as free speech.

      I’m not a fan of anonymous defaming, but it seems off to suspend someone for three years (which might as well be an expulsion, I think) for doing something that happens to them every day.Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to Damon says:

      Jean Kirkpatrick was a serious person that I’m sure it was education to listen to. Milo is a celebrity who’s famous for being obnoxious. One of these things has nothing to do with the other.Report

  4. fillyjonk says:

    Layoffs: This is oranges and the original story was apples, but – we had big budget cuts here last year. First thing done was to offer early retirement buyouts to anyone eligible (which saved our bacon for THIS fiscal year, by consolidating offices and eliminating admin positions – though it does mean it’s harder to get stuff done in a timely fashion)

    Next were “furlough days,” a polite fiction that allowed for pay cuts without violating our contracts. (Also, summer pay was slashed – I made half of what I usually did)

    Next, a number of untenured positions were closed, and the people holding them let go. This was kind of random bad luck which departments got hit – we lost a person who had been here longer than I had but who had chosen never to apply for tenure (presumably because she didn’t want the research and service burden the tenured bear).

    The firings led to a lot of outcry, and for me, it was very unsettling because the person let go was known as an excellent teacher AND she had been here longer than I had (I have been here 17 years now). So they sent around a survey asking us to rank criteria as to what made a faculty member “essential” if it came to the point of doing a Reduction In Force (essentially: laying off the tenured.)

    I had to read the e-mail four times to convince myself that it was purely hypothetical, that they weren’t planning on axing some of us – that’s how scared I was. (I am probably protected now by virtue of being a generally good teacher and teaching a couple classes that are “mission critical” to one of our majors, but that would be difficult for someone else to pick up. Still, I am doing things I might rather not do – I am going to spend my summer reviewing environmental policy to pick up yet another class for someone who is retiring- just to “prove” to the higher ups how “indispensable” I am).

    I don’t know that a lottery would be any better. I think for me it would be worse because I would feel as if nothing I did had any bearing on whether I kept my gig or not. (And I realize the vice-principal situation is very different, but).Report

    • Damon in reply to fillyjonk says:

      Indeed. My company had two furloughs. You’re required to use vacation time during those periods, or if you have none left, leave without pay. That was after a layoff. When considering further actions, one option that wasn’t implemented was paying us for 75% of our normal salary but still having us work the standard 40 hours a week. The corporation also clawed back a lot of bonus cash since the company isn’t making it’s financial targets.Report

      • fillyjonk in reply to Damon says:

        I’m salaried, so I found furlough as a concept to be really discombobulating: I am used to working until the work I need to do is done, whether that’s the 40.8 hours a week I’m paid for or more. We were told NOT to do work. I am a rule-follower inveterate, and one of those people who kind of still believes there’s a “permanent record” being kept on her somewhere….so to be told, “Well, you still need to complete your duties BUT you have two fewer days this month you can” just bothered me on a very deep level.

        I wound up taking grading home with me and doing it on my furlough days. Because the only other option was shorting my research (not gonna do that, not in a time where “they” might be looking for reasons to get rid of you) or grade much more sloppily (not gonna short the students whose tuition is keeping us afloat) so….

        I would have rather just taken an honest pay cut, but I guess they legally could not do that.Report

        • Damon in reply to fillyjonk says:


          We also got the “time to step up” “all hands on deck” stuff. Hey, I’m willing to go the extra mile. Need to stay until 9pm to get something done? Ok. Need to come in on Saturday or Day off? Ok. Frankly, the only people that weren’t affected by the furlough were the accounting folks, who HAD to be here since we were closing the month. But I’m not to consistently kill myself or sacrifice my life continuously so you can make your numbers.Report

          • Troublesome Frog in reply to Damon says:

            One of the departments in my last company had what I liked to call a regular “lunch meeting minus the lunch part” which is just a fancy way of saying they’re taking your lunch break and turning it into more work.Report

    • Troublesome Frog in reply to fillyjonk says:

      My wife was a grad student when furloughs were affecting the faculty and it was pretty common for professors and research students to hide out in the lab and continue research while they were supposed to be furloughed. That led to weird situations like tenured faculty members and their grad students bolting out of a building and hiding like a bunch of kids when they they tripped a breaker doing off-the-books research. Strange times.Report

      • Kim in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

        *snort* The “quick hide from the beancounters” would be a nice change from “hide from all the other grad students who forgot to autosave”. (One prof of mine had a nasty tendency to trip power to the whole building.)Report

      • My last year on the state legislature’s budget staff there were furloughs. Initially, a couple of the days were going to fall during the session. I greatly enjoyed listening to the committee meeting where the budget staff director was invited to explain the consequences of idling the staff for a day (a Tuesday was the day in question). Basically: “Members, during the session the budget staff all work sixty-hour weeks. If you actually intend for them to do nothing on Tuesday, then the Appropriations Committees can’t meet because there’s no one to do the staff tasks at the meeting. If they do nothing on Tuesday, none of the preparation for Wednesday gets done, so the committees can’t meet on Wednesday either. At this point in the session, if you miss Tuesday and Wednesday, you will almost certainly miss some statutory deadlines. If what you really mean is that you want the staff to donate a day’s labor, I’ll be happy to call them in and you can tell them that. I won’t.” Furlough days all got pushed out past the end of the session.Report

      • And I fear they’re just gonna BE strange for a while.

        I couldn’t bring myself to go in and “secretly” work on research because I was too afraid of being caught.

        I probably need to work on that rule-following thing. I’m good at disobeying truly unjust rules but merely annoying ones, not so much.

        That said: I did manage to take a furlough day during Spring Break and another one on Good Friday (which we actually get off even though we are a state school).Report

        • Troublesome Frog in reply to fillyjonk says:

          I can definitely understand the stress involved. Faculty who were advising a lot of grad students had very real concerns about delaying their students’ graduation because their research wouldn’t finish in time. The labs were supposed to be *closed* on furlough days.

          I can see getting a little bit of joy out of strictly adhering to furlough rules and watching people miss me when I’m not there, but that would only work for me if my job description wouldn’t cause innocent bystanders to get screwed in the process. Being a professor with both semi-dispensable bureaucratic duties and very real obligations to students would suck.Report

  5. Kolohe says:

    I believe this is the Toni Airaksinen article. The irony is that Airaksinen herself is presenting a hypothesis without any actual supporting data, just gut feels.Report

  6. notme says:

    The FBI took over a child porn site and instead of immediately shutting it down they ran it for a short period of time to catch other folks. Now the folks they caught are objecting.

  7. Oscar Gordan says:

    Underclass link is bad.Report

  8. notme says:

    Ex-House Speaker Dennis Hastert paid sex-abuse accuser $1.7 million to stay quiet. Now he wants the money back.

    Is their verbal agreement enforceable?Report

    • PD Shaw in reply to notme says:

      I would think the issue is that illegal contracts are not enforceable by the courts. If A and B enter into a contract to engage in illegal gambling, neither would normally be able to seek a remedy for its breach. If the bookie or the gambler owe money, its really possession is ten-tenths of the law because the law won’t intervene.

      It looks like Hastert was sued because he stopped making payments and now he is countersuing, possibly because the judge has at least initially rejected the argument that the contract was unenforceable. I would guess that when all is said and done, the court system won’t order either to pay anything.Report

  9. Saul Degraw says:

    College/White Men: I would say that this one is more class-related and cultural resentiment than other groups. If you go to a middle-class or upper-middle class community, almost all the white men will go to college (if not all of them) because their parents went to college. There seem to be a lot of white guys still stuck with the idea “My dad and uncle were able to have middle class lives right out of high school….” It also tends to be white men who have the most resistance to the growth fields because they are allegedly soft and for women. Young men who are POC probably never really knew the middle-class life without a university degree thing and are more willing to attend if they can get in.

    Harvard Certificate Program: IIRC the article noted that Harvard’s theatre program got in trouble with the DOE specifically because it was a certificate program and not an MFA program. Harvard had some of the first advanced theatre classes/creative writing classes in the United States with the founding of Workshop 47 in 1912 but Harvard always refused to give a degree and the founder of Workshop 47 moved to Yale and founded the Yale School of Drama.

    The thing I worry about with going after non-profit institutions is that the Arts and Humanities are going to be the hardest hit/targeted and we will see more relentless “practical” education where the Business and STEM departments are the only ones standing.Report

    • Kolohe in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      The stats show that white men, black men, and Asian men all go to college at the same rate (within a percentage point) in 1994 as they did in 2012. (and to be clear, this is ‘traditional students’ i.e. recent high school grads. The numbers for people going to college for the first time in their thirties I’m sure are different)

      Why Hispanic men broke this trend is anyone’s guess (my own is a change in the English proficiency of the population between 1994 and 2012, as a greater % of the Hispanic population became born in the USA and thus started education in English for their entire time in primary school)

      The notable change is in female enrollment, and the real dramatic change is in % of African American and Hispanic women that are going to college soon after high school.Report

      • Roland Dodds in reply to Kolohe says:

        My brother in law is the director of Latino outreach at a large public university in California. The group he has the hardest time attracting is Mexican-American boys. Every meeting or program he puts in place draws lots of parents with their daughters, but few boys. According to him, there is still an expectation that men should get a job as soon as possible and attending college prolongs that.

        He also noted there are some negative cultural side effects of the latino population at colleges being mostly women: they then marry other college graduates as well, and thus, less likely to marry a latino male. He wasn’t complaining about this based on some racial purity idea. A lot of young guys are going to look elsewhere for a wife, maybe back in their home countries, rather than a large middle class of Mexican-Americans developing.

        My wife is a good example: she dated other latinos when she was young, but when it was time to settle down and start a family, the pool of latino men around her with similar education and class status were limited.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Roland Dodds says:

          There are dynamics that come from the difference between “marrying up” and “marrying down” and what is socially seen as acceptable, commendable, or mockable, and these things will change how sub-cultures evolve.

          We’re going to see some weird stuff change in response to these changes that everyone agrees are good changes.Report

        • notme in reply to Roland Dodds says:

          Maybe not racial purity though it sounds more like cultural purity or cultural propagation. If whites were concerned about such things it would be racist but with minorities it’s understandable.Report

          • Mo in reply to notme says:

            There’s a difference between people are choosing to intermarry because they don’t care about ethnicity and culture and people are choosing to intermarry because they feel forced to because the people of the opposite sex in their race/culture are disproportionately poorly matched mates. The former is a good thing, it’s Italians and Irish not caring anymore. The latter is a bad thing because it is a symptom of deeper ills.Report

        • LeeEsq in reply to Roland Dodds says:

          I’m relatively sure that the Latin American countries are filled with universities just like any other country in the world. The Spanish started setting up universities relatively soon after they conquered their New World Empires. These universities were an all male preserve for much longer than the Anglo-American ones. I’m not sure where this cultural expectation comes from.Report

          • Roland Dodds in reply to LeeEsq says:

            Of course Latin America is full of universities, but the folks who have migrated here in mass from the region in the last 60 years have been from the lower classes. Understandably, attending the university was not part of that classes’ cultural practices (although that is changing).Report

            • notme in reply to Roland Dodds says:

              If this is part of their cultural practices, why don’t we respect it instead of trying to change them?Report

              • Roland Dodds in reply to notme says:

                We could say the same for the white working class as well. I guess the obvious argument is that a college degree often correlates to an improved financially standing in society, and thus, we want to make it available to people who have historically not had access to said education.Report

              • notme in reply to Roland Dodds says:

                We could but I doubt there is a white outreach director at your brother in laws university.Report

            • Hiring practices in the US have also made the value of a degree as a career boost questionable (eg, a bachelor’s degree in accounting does little good if no one is hiring Hispanics as accountants).

              Some years back when we had our house painted I was chatting with the young man managing the crew. He told me that it was his summer job, that his Uncle Luis’s business was as a subcontractor providing crews for a number of the local painting companies, and that Uncle Luis wouldn’t hire him for the summers unless he made adequate progress on his degree in accounting. “Because — no offense — Uncle Luis is sick and tired of having to hire anglos to do his accounting.”Report

        • Saul Degraw in reply to Roland Dodds says:


          What is interesting to me about how there are immigrant cultures that send their kids to college early on and those that do not.

          My great-grandparents largely came over from the old country and my maternal grandfather grew up in tenament poverty. My maternal grandmother grew up comfortably but only because she was taken in by a comfortable, foster family from the Russian-Hebrew Orphan’s Asylum where she and her siblings were placed when their mom died of the Spanish Flu in 1920. IIRC her dad worked as a cobbler in the orphanage. My paternal grandfather was also a first generation American who grew up in real poverty.

          Three of my four grandparents went to receive some or full undergrad educations. They were part of a whole class of first-generation Jewish-Americans whose parents pushed them into whatever school they could get into. Usually a public university like City College or Brooklyn College. Others in this generation were Jonas Salk, Arthur Miller, Richard Feynman, etc.

          Though there were plenty of people in my grandparent’s generation that did not attend university (like my maternal grandfather’s three brothers). It was still done as a push. I think Asian-Americans do the same pushing with their first generation children today.

          But when I was in college, there were not a few people who boasted about their families being in the United States since colonial times or early Republic times and they were the first person to attend College/University (these people mainly came from what we know call the WWC). I find this kind of anti-intellectualism strange but it is a thing.

          So there do seem to be cultures that value formal education above others.Report

          • Roland Dodds in reply to Saul Degraw says:

            Good points. I try not to step in it by saying “this culture respects education and this one doesn’t,” especially if it isn’t my culture (I said something like this a few weeks ago when talking to my wife about a similar subject and she rejected my broad generalization). Yet, it seems pretty clear that it is a cultural norm that is not universal.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      “If you go to a middle-class or upper-middle class community, almost all the white men will go to college (if not all of them) because their parents went to college.”

      Genuine question: What percentage of white men grew up in middle-class or upper-middle class (and above) communities? I think when you’re from one, as many of us are, it is really easy to assume this to be a more universal experience than it actually is.

      Relatedly, how much of a weird definitional bias do we have going on here? How are we defining the various classes? Is part of being a middle/upper class community having a high percentage of college graduates?Report

    • Kim in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      yes, if you go to a mythical place, you find legendary people.
      You clearly have a very poor grasp of what middle class meant (past tense, as it doesn’t exist anymore in a valid enough way to be a valid Public Relations term, let alone definitional anymore).
      Middle class used to mean mainly blue collar — and that’s mainly “got jobs out of high school.”Report

    • DensityDuck in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      ” There seem to be a lot of white guys still stuck with the idea “My dad and uncle were able to have middle class lives right out of high school….” ”

      Well, yes there are. And not all of them are spoiled entitled grown-babies who are getting a well-justified kick in the ass by consensus reality. Some of them are saying things like “why can’t we go back to the America that gave us strong unions, well-funded and -paying pensions, long-term jobs for the working class that can support a family, and science that delivered new miracles every month?”Report

      • Chip Daniels in reply to DensityDuck says:

        And not all of them are spoiled entitled grown-babies who are getting a well-justified kick in the ass by consensus reality.
        Some of them are saying things like “why can’t we go back to the America that gave us strong unions, well-funded and -paying pensions, long-term jobs for the working class that can support a family , and science that delivered new miracles every month?”

        I honestly can’t tell whether your comment was sarcasm or sincere. Because aside from the science one, all the others are statements I’ve heard made in total sincerity around the political world sometimes form both sides of the aisle.

        Not a shot at you, or anyone, more a commentary on our current political situation.Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to DensityDuck says:

        science that delivered new miracles every month?

        It still does! A lot of them are lumped under the label of ‘automation’.Report

        • fillyjonk in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          Which is eliminating some of the jobs referenced in the earlier part of the statement…

          That said, I did hear rumors of a possibly big breakthrough in treating Alzheimer’s, which I am very hopeful about (lost a couple of dear family friends to that monster)Report

          • Oscar Gordon in reply to fillyjonk says:

            Which is eliminating some of the jobs referenced in the earlier part of the statement…

            Which is my point.

            Regarding Alzheimer’s, Google it along with Prickly Pear.Report

  10. Doctor Jay says:

    The story on the UW is badly garbled, I think. It appears that the issue with the flyer is that it contained doxxing – it published her address. This is what Zak Burns, (‘a Democrat’) says.

    [Ok, it’s kind of weird. She’s the president of the College Republicans, and he’s ‘a Democrat’].

    But given the sort of stuff that Milo has incited and defended as ‘free speech’, calling someone a racist is weak tea. Milo does it all the time, and worse. What goes around comes around. Milo’s stock in trade is a harassment campaign which is defended as ‘free speech’. He isn’t being opposed because of his ‘political views’, he’s being opposed because he uses tactics that deprive other people of their free speech through harassment dressed in the clothing of ‘free speech’. Coming from his mouth, ‘free speech’ is empty words.

    Nevertheless, I do not support banning him from UW. When I was there, in the Seventies, every day you could walk by the Student Center and hear the guy talking about “today in Communist China”, wearing his Chairman Mao hat. And a little bit further along were the Lyndon LaRouche supporters with their flyers supporting nuclear power 4ever. And lots of other crazies, some of them on literal soapboxes.

    I would try to organize, or support organizing a counter demonstration that what Milo does is anti-free-speech. He doesn’t get to claim the banner of free speech, when the goal is to drive other people from the space, or make it impossible for them to carry on a conversation.Report

  11. Michael Cain says:

    The computer ate our homework. (An ongoing series on the thought, “Software allows you to screw things up on a much larger scale.”)Report

  12. notme says:

    Mexico deports 91 Cubans after U.S. ends ‘wet foot, dry foot.’

    It sounds like the Mexicans were fine passing the Cubans along to the US when they knew they weren’t going to stay but now that they might stay, the Mexicans are cracking down. The Trump wall sounds better and better.Report

  13. Saul Degraw says:

    Trump’s potential science advisor thinks that 9 out of 10 universities will fail and the arts and humanities need to go:

    In Gelernter’s view, the future of higher education will involve a focus on STEM subjects while “throwing out” the arts and humanities. Online courses will become commonplace, but not without evolving, and students will need a “digital guides or mentors” to carry them through online education.

    Why is there always a certain kind of STEM guy that loves the idea of throwing out the arts and humanities? Sciences have a place in the university and should be well-funded but I seem to hear a lot of STEM people think that history and literature are just a waste of time and need to go.Report

    • Kim in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      STEM people have at least one argument: you need labs to teach science, computers to teach CS. All you need to teach literature is a bloody book

      Please note: for you drama students, yes, Drama is one of those things that you need a stage for. And fake blood.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Kim says:

        For history, you need primary sources to make an argument and any good undergraduate history degree program will be about how to research and use primary sources to make a thesis argument. Not quite the same as labs but much more than just a book.Report

        • Kim in reply to LeeEsq says:

          Which would be great if history was actually about winning the fucking argument.
          No, instead its about telling the stories that people like to hear.

          You want to win an argument? Go hire an economist. And yes, let them go through the shipping manifests. You think you can find me shipping manifests in your uni library? Cause I sure as hell don’t. (This particular rant is based on what happens when you ask someone with more STEM training to evaluate alternate histories of the civil war).Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Did you actually read the WSJ piece?Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        It has been clear since the 1980s that U.S. colleges are failing. They spend more every year to finance their growing administrations and pass the bill to students, while indulging their penchant for being sinister and ludicrous at the same time. Over 90% of U.S. colleges will be gone within the next generation, as the higher-education world inevitably flips over and sinks. Top schools will remain, because they sell a valuable commodity: not education but prestige.

        Many colleges do well teaching technical topics like mathematics, engineering, science. In the first phase of the big sink, local colleges will likely make a pitch for smart students by strengthening their tech sides, throwing out their arts and humanities departments—and offering better online-education options instead. A group of smaller schools might hire some big-name scholars who are good onstage, and produce a shared suite of internet courses in arts and humanities.

        His whole piece is a prognostication about how the education bubble is going to burst and things will evolve in the face of that. I don’t agree with predictions, but that is what this is.Report

        • Oscar Gordon in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          Given how one of the links in the OP is about how an arts program at a top prestige school is just too damned expensive, and how less prestigious schools also charge way too much for such programs, the guy has some supporting evidence.Report

        • fillyjonk in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          I’ve heard of the bursting of the education bubble for at least 10 years.

          I’m hoping it can delay at least another 12, at which point I will be able to retire and….well, it won’t be good, but at least it won’t be catastrophic for me, personally.

          (I do NOT want to have to try to find a new job at nearly 50. That’s the kind of thing the phrase “good luck with that” was coined for)Report

      • j r in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        Did you actually read the WSJ piece?

        I think you know the answer to that question. And judging by the thread, not many other people bothered to read the original op-ed either.

        It doesn’t matter what he actually said. We are in the post-truth era. It must be because we don’t have enough English majors.Report

    • Morat20 in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Why is it that these idiots think America is starving for STEM students and has vast swathes of empty jobs for STEM students?

      I know off the top of my head three stem graduates who now do…other things, because the STEM jobs they could get paid peanuts. Science jobs are actually really effing hard to come by. Engineering jobs are better, but that’s pretty region — where I live, Chem E will get you a decent living — but ME’s and EE’s have a harder time finding work.

      And if you tripled the number of engineers out looking for a job, it wouldn’t magically triple the number of openings.

      “MORE STEM” is the idiot chant of a man who has no plan, just slogans. At best, you’ll find STEM graduates in 10 years in the same boat lawyers are in now.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Morat20 says:


        My view is that when politicians talk about STEM, they might as well mean TE. Science is okay if you are pre-med or going to work in pharma/industry (Chemistry basically). Math is okay if you are going to be a teacher or quant on Wall Street. No one is looking for more biologists or experimental physicists.Report

        • If that’s accurate, it displays ignorance on their part. These are exciting times in materials science, for example, producing new knowledge that engineers will very definitely use — but not develop on their own, other than acting as scientists, not engineers. New algorithms in signal processing — math, and not just applied math — enable better radar and more bandwidth, among other things. To pick another one that’s been given popular treatment at this very site, new developments in pure math graph theory yield improvements in integrated circuit layout and performance. The dividing lines between the categories are not particularly sharp, they depend on each other.

          A bigger complaint is @morat20 ‘s main point — there’s not much sign of large numbers of STEM jobs going unfilled in the US today. Bill Gates and Andy Grove (now deceased) used to whine about too few STEM students, but that was more about them being unable to hire PhD-caliber people for $45K per year than anything.Report

          • Morat20 in reply to Michael Cain says:

            I am always fond of “We don’t have enough applicants” wherein the phrase “We’ve raised our starting wages several times” does not appear.

            A man once complained to my face that he couldn’t find any good coders for a rate that was, to be blunt, about 2/3rds the going rate for this area.

            Of course he couldn’t. Anyone taking that rate was inexperience or pretty unskilled. Or new to contracting, at least.Report

          • Oscar Gordon in reply to Michael Cain says:

            Bill Gates and Andy Grove (now deceased) used to whine about too few STEM students, but that was more about them being unable to hire PhD-caliber people for $45K per year than anything.

            Yep. AKA “Why can’t I get a decent STEM grad in the US for what I can get in India/Vietnam/etc? It’s so unfair!”

            It has nothing to do with pure science/math versus practical application. About the closest you can get to that argument is that schools might be producing more pure science/math graduates than there are jobs specifically in those fields (e.g. academia and research labs public & private).Report

          • DensityDuck in reply to Michael Cain says:

            “…that was more about them being unable to hire PhD-caliber people for $45K per year than anything.”

            Yes, it’s why the big tech-industry people are so pro-immigration. It’s because some guy from Mumbai here on an H1B will work for half what an American citizen takes as a minimum.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to DensityDuck says:

              Hey, H1Bs aren’t the problem. Automation is the problem. A handful of scripts and a guy with a set of procedures can now do the job of what it used to take an entire *TEAM* to do.

              These people need to realize that the 90’s are gone and they’re never coming back.

              They should retrain as sign spinners.Report

            • fillyjonk in reply to DensityDuck says:

              Happened to a cousin of mine. He was asked to train his replacement (mostly under threat of “if you want a good recommendation from us”). He already had another job lined up (he heard rumors) so he told them to shove it.

              Me? If I lost my teaching gig, I’d happily work for $45K I think. I have a Ph.D. But I’m a biologist, and about the softest kind of biologist there is (botany), so they probably wouldn’t want me.

              I could probably spin a sign, though. But that won’t keep a roof over my head and food on the table.Report

            • It’s because some guy from Mumbai here on an H1B will work for half what an American citizen takes as a minimum.

              Which is against the law. H1Bs are supposed to be paid the prevailing wage; otherwise the program is just a way to lower tech salaries. I wonder if Trump is going to start enforcing that.

              As I’ve said many time, I have no problem with the H1B program that couldn’t be solved by not tying the visa to a specific employer.Report

          • Dark Matter in reply to Michael Cain says:

            there’s not much sign of large numbers of STEM jobs going unfilled in the US today.

            Ranked by pay the STEMs are on top.

            Ranked by (lack of) unemployment the STEMs are still on the top.

            This is suggestive.Report

            • Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter says:

              Suggestive of what?
              Rankings by definition will always have something at the top and bottom.

              Lawyers earn more that janitors, but I don’t think that tells whether there is a glut or shortage of either one.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Low unemployment means it’s relatively easy to find a job.
                High pay relative to the rest of the market suggests there’s high demand relative to the supply.

                RE: Glut
                Lawyers have an unemployment rate of 15.5% (google).

                The national unemployment rate for law graduates has grown for the sixth year in a row to a whopping 15.5 percent, according to a report by the National Association for Law Placement.

                Janitors have an unemployment rate of 6.9%, which in combo with their median income of $23k suggests both a glut and a lack of demand.

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter says:

                Well of course.
                But comparing the unemployment rate of STEM to humanities only gives us their relative demand.
                The link says physical science grads have an unemployment rate of 5% which is about average for all trades.

                The claim being made is that there is some sort of market shortage which is why we need gummint intervention in education to properly allocate educational resources.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                The claim being made is that there is some sort of market shortage which is why we need gummint intervention in education to properly allocate educational resources.

                The case for market failure is weak.

                Having said that, brain drain is mostly a good thing for the US, we should be doing more of it. I don’t see the point in having the best colleges, educating the world’s smartest people, and then forcing them to leave.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels says:


                Just to clarify, who is making that claim?Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                The claim this time is by Team Trump in asserting that STEM should be prioritized over arts and humanities.
                But they are not alone. It’s a familiar refrain.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Might I recommend you read the actual WSJ Op-ed, or even the section I quoted above, and then explain how that is even suggesting, much less arguing for a prioritization of STEM over Arts?

                Don’t make me defend Team Trump by assigning to them arguments they aren’t making.

                PS if you don’t know how to get around the paywall, let me know.Report

              • Kolohe in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                My quick read of the internet is that sometime last year, the WSJ closed the loophole that allowed the google search hack. So neither that nor private browsing works anymore.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Kolohe says:

                Yup. Not sure about cookie deletion — does the WSJ give you N freebies a month?Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Kolohe says:

                I did a Google search on the title this morning and got past the paywall.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                The claim this time is by Team Trump in asserting that STEM should be prioritized over arts and humanities.

                The arts and humanities are basically Democrat plantations. Starving them punishes them for current and previous transgressions.

                STEM on the other hand is what you use to build hotels and is more neutral.Report

            • One of the things I’ve always been curious about in this kind of discussion is, oh, call it “within discipline” vs “outside discipline”. For example, someone with a PhD in physics doing system admin work is “outside discipline”, even though they may still be well paid, and they’re both STEM by the usual definition. I was a fairly extreme example of “outside discipline” over the years of my tech career. BS in math/computer science. MS in operations research with a heavy emphasis on optimization algorithms. Among other things, did: (1) actual optimization modeling; (2) exotic test and measurement (pissed the EEs off no end by proving that addressing one of their problems using nonlinear optimization instead of signal processing produced better results faster); (3) printed circuit board design; (4) hard real-time programming; (5) algorithm development well outside of optimization; (6) statistical analysis; (7) a bit of control theory; (8) technology forecasting; and (9) lots of cross-discipline education (eg, making tech forecasts accessible to marketing which, I was told later, once led to the remark, “Perhaps we should just kill Mike before he goes to work for DirecTV).”

              My one-sentence version of what I did (and do) is: “I analyze complex systems.” STEM is useful. So is history, economics, and political science.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Michael Cain says:

                STEM is useful. So is history, economics, and political science.

                I think we hold up STEM because it’s always policed by Mother Nature.

                If your side has a better lawyer, then you have an advantage, but both of them can be dimbulbs.

                When it comes to things like engineering, there’s a minimum level under which things don’t happen correctly. The Bridge falls, the water is filled with lead, the software doesn’t compile.

                At some level, all these calls for more STEM are calls for smarter people (like we talk occasionally about sending everyone to college)… but majoring in STEM doesn’t make someone smarter.

                It might be the STEM degree now is what the college degree used to be, a signal.Report

              • Right, which is why the arguments for and against are so similar.

                “Look at the data for careers of those with A vs those with B!”

                “Actually, you have to control for selection, and whether it’s actually increased human capital or credentialism, and…”

                Plug in either college and STEM for A, and no college or other majors for B. It doesn’t track perfectly, but it tracks!Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Rightist and authoritarian regimes always place a lot of emphasis on STEM because they believe that focus on those subjects will lead to less thinking about the nature of the regime among the subjects. Russia became a science power house during the late 19th and early 20th century because Tsar Nicholas I really emphasized STEM because he thought technical education would lead to fewer people clamoring for parliament and civil rights.

      STEM also has a clearer link between what is studied and the job you do in theory. Not in practice but in theory. You study chemistry and even if you only get a BA you get a lab job somewhere in theory doing something related to chemistry. Real life tends to be different. I’ve dated a woman who studied chemistry but ended up working managing a dentist’s office. The study-career link in the arts and humanities is more abstract. That’s maddening to some people.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to LeeEsq says:

        With fewer Arts and Humanities graduates, the American people will be unable to purchase coffee in the mornings and fast food at lunch! American Industry will grind to a halt! MWUH HAH HAH HAHReport

      • DensityDuck in reply to LeeEsq says:

        “Rightist and authoritarian regimes always place a lot of emphasis on STEM because they believe that focus on those subjects will lead to less thinking about the nature of the regime among the subjects.”

        I think this might be the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen someone type on these boards.

        “We shouldn’t teach kids science because it’s a totalitarian plot.”

        Really. Really.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to DensityDuck says:

          Once upon a time, a degree in the humanities communicated a certain level of intelligence, a certain level of perseverance, and that a certain level of Middle-Class Values had been internalized.

          “I am raw meat and an otherwise good investment, Mr. Recruiter!”

          Sure, Philosophy might have fewer weed-out courses than Electrical Engineering, but not every job requires an electrical engineer. Given that a lot of work (once upon a time, anyway) relies on the ability to assimilate into the Corporate Culture, the degree communicated that you are assimilable. If that’s a word. I guess it is now.

          Has that assimilability signal been changed or weakened in the last few decades?

          If it has, is *THAT* worth looking at?Report

          • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

            Has that assimilability signal been changed or weakened in the last few decades?

            That’s a really, really good question, one I’ve puzzled over as well. My guess (tentative…) is that the signal is as robust as ever but the baseline expectation of assimilable employees has changed, thereby changing the terms of the agreement (assimilability is no longer a sufficient condition for employment).

            IOW, assimilability is still the game but it’s tightening up.

            Add: And that’s how we got Trump!!Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

              In thinking about this some more, “Corporate Culture” has changed a lot too.

              In the 70’s, it sure as hell meant something to work for Bell.
              In the 80’s, it sure as hell meant something to work for HP.
              In the 90’s, it sure as hell meant something to work for Boeing.

              Now? I just remember the old cartoon with the guy behind the desk yelling into his phone “Find out why our temp workers don’t have any company loyalty!”

              You willing to be a salary man? Well, so are the next 14 people I’m interviewing today. What’s your degree in? One of those “I know how to complain about Capitalism from three different moral foundations” degrees? NEXT!Report

          • LeeEsq in reply to Jaybird says:

            I think what happened was that more and more specialized degrees got created and students have the option of learning skills at college that were formerly learned on the job.Report

        • Boy, that Andrei Sakharov sure fooled them!Report

        • LeeEsq in reply to DensityDuck says:

          You are twisting my words. What I pointed out is that there is a tradition of authoritarian regimes favoring education with a heavy emphasis on math, science, and other things considered practical because the powers that believe that they will lead to fewer deep questions asked than those asked by historians, philosophers, and lawyers. This might be an unfair assessment but thats how the regimes saw their educational policy.Report

          • Stillwater in reply to LeeEsq says:

            If I’m understanding this correctly, Lee, your view is that government should subsidize liberal arts education (via imposed tax burdens) in order to prevent totalitarianism.

            Is that right? If so, then I think you’ve just given expression to the Right’s complaints about academia for the last twenty years.Report

            • LeeEsq in reply to Stillwater says:

              No, nothing of the sort. I’m just pointing out that the education system favored by authoritarian regimes has been heavy on the technical and practical because they did not want to create questioners and opposition. Authoritarian regimes always saw students, artists, and intellectuals as the enemy or potential enemy.Report

          • Chip Daniels in reply to LeeEsq says:

            I would suggest a different sort of relationship.
            Authoritarian regimess have always had an adversarial relationship with the arts, and so favor non-arts by default.

            Eventually some end up crossing swords with even the sciences, like the USSR and Lysenkoism.

            I’m trying to think of an authoritarian regime that had a warm and flourishing relationship with the arts.Report

            • j r in reply to Chip Daniels says:

              Lots of authoritarian regimes had a warm and flourishing relationship with the arts. Leni Reifenstahl was quite popular with the Nazis as were the social realist painters with the Soviets. Authoritarian governments prosecute art critical of the government and support art that supports the favored ideas of the government.

              Not all that much different than what happens in non-authoritarian countries. It’s just that non-authoritarian countries limit just how much the government can persecute unfavored artists.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to j r says:

                Yeah, true that.
                After posting I thought of how the entire history of art flourished under tyranny or oppressive regimes of some sort or another.

                I guess its more accurate to say that modern art, separated from its role as the official spokesperson for the Official Truth as given by the State and Church, doesn’t exist easily with authoritarianism.

                The Nazi and Soviet artists were given such narrow paths to tread, their art was only enjoyed by the faithful.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Rightist and authoritarian regimes always place a lot of emphasis on STEM because they believe that focus on those subjects will lead to less thinking about the nature of the regime among the subjects

        It is well-known that all revolutions are led by MFAs.Report

    • I am skeptical of pushing ever more people into STEM for the same reason I am skeptical of sending ever more people to college.

      I mean, the arguments for and against both are rather related.Report

  14. Dark Matter says:

    the University of Puget Sound … a three-year suspension seems awfully hefty.

    If I did anything slightly like this I’d be fired, for that matter our CEO would too. College seniors are roughly 22, so “adult rules” apply.

    As for that list of 100(ish) incidents, 5% resulted in suspension or worse, much of the remaining weren’t actionable. It’s easy to think what they did was at the upper end of what the U deals with, and this wasn’t the first offense.

    Toni Airaksinen worries that social science book assignments are giving students a false sense of understanding of the underclass.

    [quote from the article] Misfortune unrelentingly befalls the families, who are often portrayed as hapless victims of structural poverty with little responsibility for their personal situation.

    Yes. None of this matches up with the various trainwreck relatives/friends I’ve observed over the years. Sometimes the gov steps in and enables, but that’s a different problem.

    It also doesn’t match with the whole high school teachers’ experience, i.e. a free education is offered, this could be an easy way to elevate yourself. By far the biggest problem the teacher faces is many (or most) of the students don’t see any value in education.

    It’s not just ITT Tech that is failing the DoE’s standards. It’s also… Harvard? The article asks some good questions about whether we should be expecting more from our non-profit colleges, too. {via Saul}

    Good article, I’d prefer more transparency as the solution. It’s not at all shocking that some normal-school degrees carry a negative value.Report

  15. j r says:

    That U of Puget Sound story illustrates something that the contemporary social justice movement is going GTO have to learn, maybe the hard way. You can’t destroy the system by giving the system more power. Invariably, you will find that power being used against you.Report