Monday, October 25, 2010

Ginsberg vs. NCSU on academic freedom

"Film studies professor Terri Ginsberg, similarly fired in 2008 by North Carolina State University (NCSU) in what she says was a punishment for her outspoken criticism of "Zionism, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and US Middle East policy," believes that institutionalized censorship on the Palestine-Israel issue in the academic realm is eerily reminiscent of the McCarthy era of the 1950s and '60s. "So many of the dynamics and methods of discrimination perpetrated against today's scholarly critics of Israel and US Middle East policy derive from and continue, in updated fashion, practices initiated and implemented during that shameful period," she says." (quote from this article: "Uphill battle for academic freedom in US universities", 11 January 2010])
See also "Terri Ginsberg, Former North Carolina State Adjunct Professor, Files Complaint" (Tuesday, October 20th, 2009), and for recent updates and more information about the ongoing legal case, Ginsberg vs. NCSU:

Monday, September 20, 2010

Workplace No 17 (2010): Working In, and Against, the Neo-Liberal State: Global Perspectives on K-12 Teacher Unions

Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor No 17 (2010):
Working In, and Against, the Neo-Liberal State: Global Perspectives on K-12 Teacher Unions

Table of Contents

Working In, and Against, the Neo-Liberal State: Global Perspectives on K-12 Teacher Unions: Special Issue Introduction
Howard Stevenson

Terminating the Teaching Profession: Neoliberal Reform, Resistance and the Assault on Teachers in Chile
Jill Pinkney Pastrana

Social Justice Teacher Unionism in a Canadian Context: Linking Local and Global efforts
Cindy Rottmann

Australian Education Unionism in the Age of Neoliberalism: Education as a Public Good, Not a Private Benefit
Jeff Garsed, John Williamson

“What’s Best for Kids” vs. Teacher Unions: How Teach For America Blames Teacher Unions for the Problems of Urban Schools
Heidi Katherine Pitzer

Gramsci, Embryonic Organic Intellectuals, and Scottish Teacher Learning Representatives: Alternatives to Neoliberal Approaches to Professional Development in the K-12 Sector
Alex Alexandrou

Pedagogy of Liminality? The Case of Turkish Teachers’ Union Egitim-Sen
Duygun Gokturk

Book Reviews
Review of Industrial Relations in Education: Transforming the School Workforce
Merryn Hutchings

A Portrait of Authenticity: A Review of Carl Mirra’s (2010) The AdmirableRadical: Staughton Lynd and Cold War Dissent, 1945-1970. Kent, OH: Kent University Press
Adam Renner

Review of Union Learning Representatives: Challenges and Opportunities
Becky Wright

Review of How the University Works: Higher Education and the Low-Wage Nation
Marisa Huerta

Review of Academic Repression: Reflections from the Academic-Industrial Complex
Leah Schweitzer

The Sociopathology of Everyday Business: A Review of The University Against Itself: The NYU Strike and the Future of the Academic Workplace
Jim Rovira

Review of The Rich World and the Impoverishment of Education: Diminishing Democracy, Equity and Workers’ Rights
Paul Orlowski

Technology and (Human) Rights: A Review of Human Rights in the Global Information Society
Stephen Petrina

Review of The Developing World and State Education: Neoliberal Depredation and Egalitarian Alternatives
Steven L. Strauss

Connecting Teacher Unions and Teacher Union Research
AERA Teachers' Work/Teacher Unions SIG

Critical Education launches new series: A Return to Educational Apartheid? Critical Examinations of Race, Schools, and Segregation

Critical Education has just published its latest issue at We invite you to review the Table of Contents here and then visit our web site to review articles and items of interest.

This issue launches the Critical Education article series "A Return to Educational Apartheid? Critical Examinations of Race, Schools, and Segregation", edited by Adam Renner and Doug Selwyn.

Thanks for the continuing interest in our work,

Sandra Mathison, Co-Editor
E. Wayne Ross, Co-Editor
Critical Education

Critical Education
Vol 1, No 7 (2010)
Table of Contents

A Return to Educational Apartheid?
Adam Renner, Doug Selwyn

Abstract: Series co-editors Renner and Selwyn introduce a special series of articles focusing on the articulation of race, schools, and segregation. Each of the articles in this series will analyze the extent to which schooling may or may not be returning to a state of educational apartheid.

A Separate Education: The Segregation of American Students and Teachers
Erica Frankenberg, Genevieve Siegel-Hawley

Abstract: Despite the obvious connection between the two, student and teacher segregation are rarely examined together. To help fill that gap, this essay explores what is known about the extent of interracial exposure for students and teachers in U.S. public schools. This article reviews evidence underscoring the paramount importance of school integration. A description of the legal landscape governing desegregation follows, as well as a discussion of why current patterns of racial isolation persist. The essay next describes the demographics and segregation of today's students and teachers. In particular, the essay focuses on the growing segregation of students of color, the lingering isolation of white students, and the ways in which the overwhelmingly white teaching force reinforces patterns of student segregation. We close with a discussion of the implications of these trends.

Monday, July 5, 2010

A video about the University Reform in Finland (and elsewhere)

hello everybody! Here's a message from the edu factory list - it's at once sad and yet encouraging to see the determination to continue the struggle for universities for the common good. A story from Finland. Best wishes, Claus
- - -

Greetings all,

A little late to the party, but wish to acknowledge all about a video we made to a good, ambitious seminar held in United States in April, "Beneath the University". The video, and a presentation given by Juuso Tervo, describe the finnish university reform process, what we can learn from it and possible paths forward. E-mail me ( antti . jauhiainen AT gmail . com ) with any comments or ideas for co-operation and follow-up, would be glad to hear comments and ideas for the future.

The video is available here:

Speech for the Beneath the University -seminar in Minneapolis, April 9th 2010.

University reform in Finland, it's background, progress and current situation. We discuss what can be collectively done to overturn the disastrous effects that market driven, managerial reforms continuously impose on us and our communities. We end by collecting the themes we've discussed, and summarize some central issues we've learned through our struggle in Finland.

Full text available here:

Our presentation was done to compliment a talk given by Juuso Tervo from Aalto University (former University of Art and Design).

Text from his talk available here:

And his presentation slides:

In solidarity,
Antti Jauhiainen

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Academic freedom lost - and found?

There was a short article on academic freedom in the Times Higher Education on Thursday the 6th of May 2010. The article would have perpetuated some misconceptions on academic freedom (e.g., that it cannot be defined, or that it should not "give scholars the right to criticise the running of their own institutions"), had it not been for the detailed intervention of Terence Karran who made an extensive commentary just below the article, a comment I think is a must reading. Karran states that
"There are international differences in the interpretation of the concept, but most scholars of academic freedom agree it has four elements: two are substantive, and two are supportive. The first substantive element is research freedom (the right to choose the subject for research and the methodology used, and to publish and disseminate research findings). The second substantive element is the teaching freedom (including the right to determine the curriculum, the mode of teaching, the method of assessment, etc). The supportive elements are academic tenure and the right to participate in academic governance."
See Karran's commentary on the Times Higher Education site here (or a pdf copy here). In many countries, such as Denmark, there is an urgent need to promote a higher awareness of all the dimensions of academic freedom.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The other really useful knowledge: revalorising critique in the university

The other really useful knowledge: revalorising critique in the university
by Sarah Amsler

After UK universities were subsumed into the newly formed Department of Business, Industry and Skills in June of last year, it seemed that few changes in academic life could be any further surprising. Until the Times Higher Education featured a hot-pink guide on ‘20 steps to increase your ranking – ways to rise in the league tables without breaking the bank’. Neither the wisdom of the rankings nor the belt-tightening rhetoric was out of the ordinary: performance indicators, league tables and the spectre of radical budget cuts have become the grit of academic life. The banks, of course, have already been broken. But the framing of this consequential and contested political agenda as a playful popularity contest again pushed the boundaries of belief.

The guidance seemed simple, almost commonsense: hire good researchers, give them autonomy and power, and keep them happy. They bring prestige, money and networks. And if they can be transformed into managers, they can shape institutional culture and extract high levels of productivity from others.

But there was a more troubling message is in this guidance, in Tip No. 6: ‘no pain, no gain’. You must cut losses and losers to win. While elite researchers, institutional managers and ambitious young scholars are poised to accept this agenda as common sense, it is argued, ‘it is unlikely that everyone else will’. The reason? ‘We all tend to prefer the status quo.’ Within this logic, alternative positions are impossible. You can play hard and win or lose fairly, or you can win at all costs and take out whoever is standing in the way. But you cannot stop to question the rules of the game and still be included, or seriously suggest that we might all play another.

The problem is that this is not an idiosyncratic narrative. It is part of the wider and increasingly hegemonic discourse that diminishes democratic processes, marginalises opposition to the transformation of universities into fully integrated economic and political enterprises, and legitimises the withdrawal of public funds from higher education. It goes to the top. After releasing a controversial blueprint for education reforms in late 2009 and threatening what now appear confirmed as radical incisions into many university budgets, Peter Mandelson has caricatured critics as ‘people who don’t like change’, who ‘don’t want reform’ and who embody a ‘desire to maintain the status quo’.

You can be either in or out now; either for a prefigured, market-oriented vision of ‘progress’, or charged with advocating anti-values of stagnation and mediocrity. To criticise present trends in higher education policy – the institutionalisation of political-economic ‘impact agendas’ for research, the rapprochement of industry and academe, the hypocrisy of ‘raising student expectations’ while simultaneous slashing their financial support, not to mention other problems of campus surveillance and academic freedom – means to take up a position of either mediocrity or ridicule that exists beyond legitimate recognition.

Speaking when you anticipate criticism is possible, if hard. But speaking into a conversation where your positions are already discredited is absurd. This is why the pre-empting of critique and diminishing of public debate are such effective forms of disciplinary power within UK universities today. Here, academics are increasingly beholden to external validation, as skills of self-valorization give way to endless rankings by public opinion surveys and performance indicators. The prohibitions on critique are also strategically disorienting, for many academics have been tooled to expect – however so naively – that it can be recognised as a value within the university itself.

But this power throws sticks and stones as well as names. It is political; anchored outside the discursive realm in the new performative regimes of legitimacy and economic regimes of value now being embedded across the sector. Fixed prerequisites of professional participation are being defined, imposed and monitored for compliance (or in the softer language of power, for performances of ‘cooperation’ and ‘commitment’). But the particular politics of these terms remain unsaid, and can thus be performed as democratic and in the interests of the imagined common good. For what self-respecting scholar could possibly oppose change, progress, flexibility or public and social engagement? The problem is framed as the solution to the ‘other’ problems created by an (imagined) autonomous and democratic educational system. It might be called Orwellian, if the concept was much less oldthink.

From any alternatively reasonable perspective, the question is not about whether one supports a generic process of social ‘change’, but rather how the articulation of alternatives becomes framed as a generalised objection to progress itself, and as a danger to the general will. The problem is the suppression of political spaces in which this framing might itself be contested. Despite the proliferation of localised conversations and committees, genuinely public spaces for dialogue, critique and opposition are negated by pre-emptive threats of misrecognition and marginalisation. And on a more material level, critique is quietened by internalised fears that in the competitive ‘race’ for rankings and institutional survival, with jobs and reputations on the line, now is ‘not the time’ for asking such questions.

Fortunately, this logic exposes its own ironic contradictions. By legitimising technologies of control that foreclose debate, plurality and democratic process from the bottom up, the fear of the alternatives is revealed, and the stakes of the game made clear. By working so visibly to justify the restoration of elite education and research, to integrate these fully into business and industrial productivity, and to minimise or eliminate opposition to the agenda, the programme is exposed as the political struggle it is rather than the meritocratic movement it claims to be. It is known that the ‘reforms’ now being imposed on universities are divisive, disreputable and unjust. For if the proposals are so obviously progressive, why would they be impeded by public debate? And if this re-visioning of the university is so widely compelling, why is there so urgent a need to reshape academics’ perceptions and behaviour? What and whose is this pain that must be suffered in order for whom to gain what? And although it is assumed to be self-evident, it must be asked – why?

This is a time for questioning and for critique. However, provided that people can muster the will to speak into the absurdity of a discourse of foreclosure, concern and resistance must develop into acts of reclamation. We need to reclaim the commons within the university, to establish it where it has never been, to clarify in which intellectual and professional values we should defend and which should be transformed, to articulate and build alternative relationships between universities and other social institutions, and subject all of this to ongoing public and professional scrutiny. These things must be asserted collectively, despite whatever sort of name-calling and marginalisation might ensue. It is probably not a task well-suited to anyone whose self-respect, professional identity or intellectual relevance imbricate with the ratings game, and it is not the sort of programme that can be summarised, as recommended in ‘Raise your game’, in a ‘simple list of key priorities’. But that’s okay. It could be really useful knowledge.


BIS (2009) ‘New Department for Business, Innovation & Skills to lead fight against recession and build now for future prosperity’, online at: The department was created by combining the departments of Universities, Innovation and Skills, and Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.

Goodall, A. (2009) ‘Raise your game’, Times Higher Education, 18-24 February, pp. 32-37 and online at:

Thirft, N. (2010) ‘It’s now or never’, Times Higher Education, 4 March, p. 41.

BIS, Higher Ambitions: The Future of Universities in a Knowledge Economy, online at:

Morgan, J. (2009) ‘Defenders of the academy? More like the status quo, says Lord Mandelson’, Times Higher Education, 18-24 February, p. 8 and online at:

Dr Sarah Amsler
Lecturer in Sociology
Aston University
s . s . amsler [at] aston . ac . uk

Monday, March 8, 2010

Sign the petition Trust Researchers

Dear friends and colleagues,
many of us feel that we spend too much time on proposal writing, project management, evaluation, and reporting.
As we have more important things to do, I have decided to sign the following declaration, which made a serious impression on me.
"The funding of European research should be based on trust and responsible partnering. Today researchers in Europe face a lot of red tape and cumbersome financial regulations. We are not against rules.
But we need to simplify.
Those who have signed this declaration ask the European Council of Ministers and the Parliament to simplify the administrative procedures and the financial provisions of European research funding."
If you would like to support this declaration as well, you can sign it at , which just takes 2 minutes of your valuable time. I hope this can move things ahead towards a science funding system that supports more science and less administration.

Thank you for considering this and best wishes,

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Network of Struggles and Resistance

from the edu-factory list:
To Build Up a Transnational edu-factory Network of Struggles and Resistance
Since its beginning, edu-factory has tried to be a place of political discussion and communication, a site of the free circulation of knowledge and networking at the global level. In the “double crisis” (i.e., the global economic crisis and the crisis of the university in ruins), the edu-factory list and web site have been enriched by communiqués from different collectives, news of university occupations and demonstrations, as well as proposals for political organization. In fact, on March 4th there will be a day of mobilization in universities across the United States (; on the 11th and 12th of March there will be a European mobilization against the Bologna Process ( in Vienna; and, in general, many struggles are challenging the corporatization of the university all over the world.

Please find attached a flyer to read, improve, share, print, and diffuse. It is a text that is an open proposal: the construction of a transnational network of struggles. Please comment and add, in order to build up a common process of transnational discussion and organization. And please use and distribute the flyer, the 4th of March in US, the week after in Vienna, and everywhere there are struggles and conflicts.
edu-factory is not a logo: edu-factory is a common name for the resistance within and against the corporate global university.
edufactory mailing list

Elements of British Press cause pressure upon academic freedom

A strange story indeed. At 31 December 2009 you could read this in a Times Higher Education report by Professor Malcolm Grant:
"Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was arrested on Christmas Day for the attempted bombing of an aircraft on a flight to Detroit from Amsterdam. Had he succeeded in his mission, it would have been an act of terrorism causing mass murder on an appalling scale."
"What induced this behaviour remains a mystery. He has not emerged from a background of deprivation and poverty. He came from one of Nigeria’s wealthiest families. He was privately educated, and to a high level. He gained admission to University College London, where he studied mechanical engineering with business finance between 2005 and 2008, and was president of the UCL student Islamic Society in 2006-07."
"Elements of the British press have taken a different line. Mr Abdulmutallab studied at UCL, therefore he must have been “radicalised” at UCL; after all, according to The Daily Telegraph, “[e]ven though Abdulmutallab is not even a British citizen, he was still allowed to be elected president of the Islamic Society at [UCL]”. And more: “It is easy to imagine that the authorities at UCL took quiet pride in the fact that they had a radical Nigerian Muslim running their Islamic Society. You can’t get more politically correct than that. They would therefore have had little interest in monitoring whether he was using a British university campus as a recruiting ground for al-Qaida terrorists such as himself.”"
"This is quite spectacular insinuation. And without so much as a shred of evidence in substantiation. The Telegraph blog that follows the publication of this piece displays quite disturbing Islamophobia, anti-immigration rants and even postings calling for the bombing of UCL itself." (Link to Grant's whole article).

See the media release "UUK to establish working group following arrest of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab" of 06/01/2010 here.
And see the "Update on Universities UK academic freedom working group" of 26/02/2010 here.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Establishing academic standards

A report from University World News by Gavin Moodie:
The privatisation of higher education in many countries has increased the financial incentive for institutions to compromise standards to maintain their viability. It has also led to the increased influence of institutions and their managers over lecturers and their academic decisions which were previously more strongly influenced by disciplinary norms and the expectations of the ‘invisible college’.
Full report on the University World News site

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The erosion of academic freedom

Have you seen this cover feature about academic freedom from Times Higher Education:

Leader: Rise up, freedom fighters
11 February 2010
By Ann Mroz
The cornerstone of the academy is the liberty to pursue ideas and knowledge without constraint. It needs vigilant defending (Read the story here)

"It's a rocky road ahead, and many predict that 2010 will be a "crunch year" for academic freedom. Lose it, and you have not just lost a freedom, you have lost the university."

A clear and present danger
11 February 2010
Many scholars feel that their freedom to question is in danger of being eroded or even lost. Zoe Corbyn examines the threat in the UK, while Christoph Bode and David Gunkel consider the state of affairs in Europe and America. (Read more here)

"Karran ... makes the point that two bulwarks of academic freedom are largely absent from the UK. Tenure (which basically ensured that an academic could not be sacked) was abolished in 1988, and the right of academics to engage in the governance of their institutions is all but non-existent."

Sunday, February 7, 2010

How America's Universities Became Hedge Funds

Have you seen this article by Bob Samuels from Huffington Post, January 28, 2010?
"In August 2009, just one month after the state of California cut over a billion dollars from its higher education budget, the University of California (UC) turned around and lent the state $200 million. When journalists asked the UC president, Mark Yudof, how the university could lend millions of dollars to the state, while the school was raising student fees (tuition), furloughing employees, canceling classes, and laying off teachers, Yudof responded that when the university lends money to the state, it turns a profit, but when it spends money on salaries for teachers, the money is lost.

Welcome to the university as hedge fund world. In this strange new world, institutions of higher learning care more about interest rates than educational quality. In fact, Harvard cared so much about reducing the cost of borrowing money that it made several expensive credit default swaps, which resulted in a loss of hundreds of millions of dollars and the halting of an ambitious expansion plan. Not only did Harvard gamble on interest rates to support future construction plans, but it moved much of its endowment into high risk investments, and the result is that the world's wealthiest education institution is now claiming poverty."

Read more here...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Critical Education inaugural issue

Critical Education logo
The Editorial Team of Critical Education is pleased to launch the inaugural issue of the journal.

Click on the current issue link at the top of the home page or the abstract and article links at the bottom of the page) to read "The Idiocy of Policy: The Anti-Democratic Curriculum of High-stakes Testing" by Wayne Au.

Au is assistant professor of education at Cal State University, Fullerton and author of Unequal By Design: High-Stakes Testing and the Standardization of Inequality (Routledge, 2009).

To recieve notification of new content in Critical Education, sign up as a journal user (reader, reviewer, or author).

Look for the initial installments of the special section edited by Abraham DeLeon titled "The Lure of the Animal: Addressing Nonhuman Animals in Educational Theory and Research" in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

In Defense of Public Education And Against Privatization

Call for International Day Of Action on March 4, 2010, In Defense of Public Education And Against Privatization

To all student, worker, and teacher organizations and activists worldwide:

A California statewide conference of over 800 education faculty, workers, trade unionists, students and community people on October 24, 2009 at the University of California Berkeley issued a call for a Strike and Day of Action on March 4, 2010 in defense of public education and against cuts, fee hikes, and layoffs.

A key component of this strike and struggle is the fight against the catastrophic privatization of public education system in California. But we know that this attack on education and public workers is a worldwide offensive. Thus there is a need for an international struggle to defend public education and social services and against funding for militarization and war.

We therefore ask organizations of workers, students, and teachers throughout the world to send solidarity statements and organize mobilizations on March 4 in defense of public education. Through international solidarity, we will win!

- The California Coordinating Committee

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Rouge Forum News, Issue 16—Call for papers

Rouge Forum News, Issue 16—Call for papers—Deadline: April 1

The Rouge Forum News is an outlet for working papers, critical analysis, and grassroots news. Issue 16 feature articles will be focused on experiences with, pictures of, research regarding, and stories on PROTEST and RESISTANCE. Given the upcoming march in California on March 4, 2010 and the occupation of businesses (Republic Window) and schools (the New School in NY and several in the California system) over the last year plus, we invite your essays, poetry, photos and art that surrounds the theme of protest and resistance.

Along with these feature articles, we invite, as usual, other essays that treat the links between runaway capital, the rabid and rapid standardization of curriculum, the co-optation of our unions, the militarization of our youth, and the creep of irrationalism in our schools.

Review a book, talk about what lessons have worked in your school lately, play with theory, critique theory, give us some highlights on your research, write a poem, etc.

We are interested in work from academics, parents, teachers, and students: teachers at all levels, students in ANY grade, parents of children of any age.

We publish material from k-12 students, parents, teachers, academics, and community people struggling for equality and democracy in schools --- writing (intended to inform/educate, or stories from your classroom, etc.), art, cartoons, photos, poetry.

You can submit material for the RF News via email (text attachment, if possible) to Adam Renner at

Download The Rouge Forum News Issue 15 here.