Orwellian Reform

I am always fascinated by the way the ruling class of academia, or its professional mouthpiece, the ACTA, manages to both invert common sense and to slyly inject a “market solution” into almost any debate without actually calling it a market solution. Orwell couldn’t have described it better. This week, in “Message to Senator Durbin: Level the Playing Field”  the ACTA asks the public universities to model themselves after Phoenix.

This isn’t a call for “fairness” in any sense, and it’s a proposal that would un-level the playing field in the same fashion that the public schools have been made profoundly inequitable through standardized testing, on the one hand, and by undermining the creative role of teachers, on the other. It also ignores the real inefficiencies, which lie in administrative costs. Why? Democracy is like learning itself: unruly and messy and difficult to control.

They’d rather have more control over how we’re educated and they’d rather weaken the public system– which by definition values people over profits–whenever possible. That’s why there’s so much interest in standardized forms of educational and institutional measurement and in the for-profit universities, which are allowed to experiment in reductive methodologies that are unacceptable– so far, anyway– in the public university.


About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and Smarthinking.com. I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol] writinginthewild.com

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