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Friday, April 29, 2011

Friday, April 29, 2011
By Toby Higbie

How many times have you asked provocative and probing questions in the classroom, allowed students to air half-baked ideas, or read aloud quotations that you disagree with? Now through the miracle of selective video editing, you may soon see a carnival-mirror version of your classroom in which you and your students advocate violence, revolution, or worse.

That is what happened this week to University of Missouri, Kansas City professor Judy Ancel and her co-instructor Don Giljum when conservative provocateur Andrew Breitbart published a story on his website about her teleconferenced course, “Labor, Politics and Society.” The videos, illegally ripped from a university server, appear to show Ancel and Giljum advocating violence and revolution. But as Ancel and Giljum (and eventually UMKC officials) have noted, the jumpy editing gives away the game. In one clip Giljum’s clothing mysteriously changes in mid-sentence, an artifact of Breitbart’s clumsy splicing of snippets from two different lectures. In another clip, Ancel appears to advocate violence as a legitimate social movement tactic. In reality she was quoting from historical figure in a documentary film about the assassination of Martin Luther King to kick off classroom discussion.

The American Association of University Professors issued a press release denouncing Breitbart for “compromising academic freedom, quality education, and the rights of students to a safe classroom environment,” and called on the University of Missouri to “speak out clearly and forcefully in defense of the rights of their professors and students.”

Previously Breitbart has published bogus videos of U.S. Department of Agriculture official Shirley Sherrod and the activist group ACORN.  Both cases were later revealed to be fabrications, but the damage was done--Sherrod lost her job and ACORN disbanded.  Breitbart recently announced that he was going to take on unions and teachers, and this appears to be his opening salvo.

The Chronicle of Higher Education has more HERE

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tuesday, April 19, 2011
By Wendy Brown
Heller Professor of Political Science and Co-Chair, Berkeley Faculty Association

Cross-Posted From UCBFA Website

Last year, UC Berkeley Law School Dean Chris Edley provided numerous assurances that the project to explore the feasibility of an on-line undergraduate curriculum would be funded wholly from extramural sources. He was as confident that he could raise money for the pilot as he was that a fully developed on-line curriculum would itself be a money-maker. Indeed, Edley insisted that on-line ed would soon be a net benefit for UC in many ways. It would, he said, generate surplus revenue for the discretionary use of the bricks and mortar campuses, extend the benefits of a UC education to all who sought it (especially those unable to access the campuses in coming years due to physical capacity limits), and provide the high quality education UC currently offers. He summed up the project of an on-line UC curriculum as simultaneously providing “social justice,” educational excellence and a revenue boon for UC.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday, April 15, 2011
Updated Below:

On Wednesday, thousands of people protested across the CSU system in opposition to the cuts that have been imposed, and the cuts that are threatened, to California higher education.  Students occupied administration buildings at nearly half of the CSU campuses and organizers report that nearly 12,000 students, faculty, staff, and supporters took part in a wider events across the CSU system.  The protests were organized by the California Faculty Association.  Reports of individual campus protests can be found here, here, and here.

As always, Angus Johnson's blog Student Activism contains links and commentary.

Not surprisingly, Protests were also held across the country at Portland State, Rutgers, and UMASS, Boston. 

April 13 marked the kick-off day for a period of protest across the nation.  We will keep you posted.  

Update: Protests Continue at Sacramento and Fullerton

Monday, April 11, 2011

Monday, April 11, 2011
Despite assurances last fall that UCOP's proposed online program would only be funded through donations, the University has now announced that it will borrow several million dollars to support the first steps towards the Edley-versity  Although the official UC News buried mention of this decision in the middle of an article touting a Grant from the Gates Foundation, the fact remains that the funds that have been raised are not sufficient to fund the online project.  If they were UC would not be incurring debt to support it.  Vice-Provost Greenstein assured the Chronicle of Higher Education that UC would most likely raise other funds and not have to use all of its available credit.  That would be reassuring, of course, if UCOP hadn't insisted that there would be no need to borrow money in the first place.

Perhaps UCOP, recognizing the large numbers of students who go into debt at online universities has decided--in an act of solidarity--to go into debt with them.  It is hard to understand otherwise why they would go back on their commitments.

At least, according to UCOP, these funds are not being taken from any other place where they could serve an educational purpose.  According to the Chronicle, Greenstein insisted that  ”'It’s not like we’re taking student-fee money,...It can’t be used for anything else. I’m not shutting the Spanish department to do this program.'” Given their track record on this subject I know that I am comforted by that statement.