IT IS HARD IN MARYLAND TO FIND CRITICISM OF ANYTHING BECAUSE THERE IS NO TRANSPARENCY, BUT BELOW I WAS ABLE TO FIND CURRENT ASSESSMENTS FROM STAFF AND PROFESSIONALS NOT BOUND TO SILENCE. MOSTLY ADJUNCT PROFESSORS WITH NO VOICE BEING INCREASINGLY PUSHED INTO MORE 'EFFICIENT' MODES OF TEACHING, TURNOVER AT A MAXIMUM, STUDENTS PUSHED INTO EVER-SHORTER CLASSES, AND FALLING QUALITY......ALL THE SIGNS OF PRIVATIZING. THESE ARE STUDENTS FROM MIDDLE/LOWER CLASS FAMILIES WHO ARE TAKING THIS ROUTE BECAUSE THEY CAN'T AFFORD THE U OF MD COLLEGE PARK EXPERIENCE. THIS IS TIERED EDUCATION AT ITS PEAK AND IT IS WHAT THEY ARE TRYING TO DO TO OUR K-12 RIGHT NOW.
VOTE YOUR INCUMBENT OUT OF OFFICE!!!!!
Dangers of Depleted Morale
February 28, 2012 - 3:00am By Kevin Kiley
Inside Higher Ed
Faculty members at the University of Maryland University College – whose president, Susan C. Aldridge, was placed on indefinite administrative leave last week – have repeatedly expressed dissatisfaction with the university’s administration, raising concerns about pay, shared governance, and professors' views that the administration lacked interest in academic standards.
When they received no response from the university's administration, based in Adelphi, Md., they took their concerns to the University System of Maryland, which oversees the institution and 11 other public universities in Maryland. In November 2010, faculty members in the university’s Asian division, which serves students in Japan, Korea, and Guam, sent a letter to William E. (Brit) Kirwan, the system’s chancellor, highlighting the findings of a survey they conducted among themselves.
“The attached faculty survey is a de facto vote of no confidence in the present administration,” wrote Mervin B. Whealy, a former member of the Faculty Advisory Council representing the Asian division, who wrote the cover letter to the survey. “Issues that have degraded faculty morale in Asia include the declining economic value of UMUC employment, a lack of shared governance, problems associated with the appointment of the next Asian Director, the Aldridge administration’s insufficient interest in academics, and the management of the Asian division and Adelphi.”
The University System of Maryland has not yet offered an explanation for why Aldridge was placed on leave. UMUC faculty members do not have tenure, so those asked to comment declined to speak on the record or be quoted. Several said they do not think faculty complaints were the reason Aldridge was placed on leave, since the complaints have been on the books for a while and the system has shown no hint of action until last week.
UMUC is one of the largest public universities, serving more than 90,000 students in the U.S., Europe, and Asia, including many active military personnel. It has grown significantly in the past two decades. In 2000, the university reported that it enrolled 71,560 students. In 2011, it reported that it enrolled 96,342. Many of these students are part-time, so the full-time equivalent enrollment is about 32,000.
UMUC has often been held up as a model of how public higher education can take advantage of tools often employed by for-profit institutions – such as online education and sped-up course schedules – to reach a group of nontraditional students that four-year, residential campuses rarely do. The survey from Asia and other complaints from faculty members in the United States show that the university’s notable gains haven’t been made without some resistance from faculty members and that problems have existed beneath the surface for several years.
A spokesman for the University System of Maryland said there has been no public airing of the issues raised by the survey, and that any concern about the manner in which an employee has conducted his or her duties is a personnel matter and therefore confidential.
The survey was sent to 104 faculty members in the Asian division, and 53 of those faculty members responded -- a fraction of the university’s total of about 2,200 faculty members. The overwhelming majority of UMUC faculty members work for the institution part-time.
Rating their morale on a scale from one to 10, with 10 being the highest morale, more than half of the survey respondents said their morale was a three or lower.
The issues that most faculty members said contributed to low morale were tied to compensation, including a lack of raises in the previous three years; the currency-adjustment formula; and their housing allowance.
“Morale is low in the Asian division because the administration seems to have little regard for our economic condition and basically gives us the choice of ‘quitting’ if we do not like these conditions,” one survey respondent wrote. “We need some encouraging word about their intentions regarding our economic condition in the future.”
Many respondents also said administrative turnover, academic issues, and a lack of shared governance were factors in the low morale. “At UMUC, shared governance has little practical meaning,” Whealy wrote in the letter. “When the Asian faculty sent a letter to Dr. Aldridge in 2010, expressing concerns about its degraded financial condition, she did not respond.”
Responses to open-ended questions throughout the survey decried the university’s top-down leadership style. Respondents said the administration was not open to input from faculty members, even on questions of academics, where faculty members at most traditional colleges and universities tend to exert significant authority. They also complained about the departure of several administrators whom faculty respected.
“The mysterious firings and resignations of competent [administrators] tell us that the integrity and high standards of our university are not a priority in Adelphi,” one respondent wrote, referring to the university's headquarters. “When our best advocates leave, and cannot tell us why – something is very wrong. It harms morale and increases distrust of administrative policies.”
Faculty members outside the Asian division have also complained about the university’s rapid embrace of technology and course restructuring over the last five years, which have placed an increased workload on them while, in their opinion, diminishing the quality of the education offered, faculty members said.
The university has moved quickly to reformat classes to make better use of online technologies and to transform the schedule. Classes have been pared down from 14 weeks to eight weeks to make offerings more flexible, particularly to accommodate military personnel who often don’t have a full 14 weeks to take a class.
UMUC Jun 10, 2012
2012-06-10 22:46 PDT
Compensation & Benefits 4.0
Career Opportunities 1.0
Senior Leadership 1.0
Culture & Values 1.0
Work/Life Balance 4.0
UMUC Adjunct Faculty: (Past Employee - 2012)
“Horrible Diploma Mill”
* Pay is slightly above market rate.
* Work to be done is simple grading and very limited conference postings.
* Course material is laughably thin, poorly presented, and frequently factually incorrect.
* Infrastructure for providing online courses is a decade or more out of date.
* Facilities for managing the course are not available to adjuncts, despite the apparent fact the major investments have been made in facilitating and automating the needs of higher level administrators.
* Management provides no meaningful professional development, and mainly communicates through threats.
* Grading instructions to adjunct explicitly and expressly violate grading policies published to the students.
* Administrations is hostile to even obvious suggestions about improving course content, and responds to such suggestions by closing down avenues for public communication.
* No meaningful enrollment standard means most students are completely unprepared to do meaningful coursework.
Advice to Senior Management
Collect as much cash as you can now, because eventually the military will look into why so many of its personal are so poorly educated.
UMUC Transcript Evaluator in Adelphi, MD: (Current Employee)
“Culture of ineptness, academic integrity last thing considered” Pros
Good state university system benefits.
Pay scale average.
Poor communication from upper management.
Agree with 'fear-based management' assessment
minimal adherence to accreditable standards when putting together degree plans
definitely becoming a diploma mill
lack of openness to innovation at all levels. management especially defensive and not open-minded to criticism, concerns, or new ideas, even when they assert they are.
employees looked down upon, even those with professional degrees.
of online technologies and to transform the schedule. Classes have been
pared down from 14 weeks to eight weeks to make offerings more flexible,
particularly to accommodate military personnel who often don’t have a
full 14 weeks to take a class." How exactly is "paring down", except when applied to one's girth, an improvement in the quality and substance? While someone is researching this, you might want to look a bit more deeply at the "life experience" credits UMUC has expanded into robust marketing approach that has historically been a favorite methodology of diploma mills. Maryland deserves better than this, as do the tens of thousands of military personnel all over the world.
Both of these decisions came as directives with no input from faculty or the students from President Aldridge and Dean Cini.
1. They reduced the length of every course to 8 weeks! This is overwhelming students because faculty are teaching twice as much content each week. Faculty were given no reason for the change and were informed by email that it was to happen as of the Fall 2011 semester.
2. Just a couple of weeks before the Fall semester was to begin, the Dean of the undergraduate school (she is still at UMUC so far) sent an email informing faculty that UMUC will no longer offer proctored final exams. Again, we were given no explanation. Faculty were shocked and are still trying to figure out how to have some semblance of exam integrity given this reckless decision.
There are many top level administrators at UMUC who should be investigated. I won't be surprised to see more of them in the unemployment line.
These comments apply to the stateside programs only.
Diane Ravitch's blog
The Gates Foundation has more than $30 billion, and when Warren Buffet’s gift of another $30 billion is added to the Gates fund, the Gates Foundation will have the power to direct global policy on almost any issue of its choosing.
Anthony Cody published a guest column in Education Week (funded in part by the Gates Foundation) that describes how the Gates Foundation intervenes in agricultural and environmental issues around the world, often in ways that support corporate profits rather than the public interest.
I have never believed that the Gates Foundation or the Gates family puts profits above the public interest. I work on the assumption that anyone who has more riches than they can ever spend in their lifetime or in 100 lifetimes is not motivated by greed. It makes no sense.
I believe that Bill and Melinda Gates want to establish a legacy as people who left the world a better place.
But I think their their efforts to “reform” education are woefully mistaken.
I have tried but had no luck in my efforts to meet Bill Gates. On the two occasions when I was in Seattle in the past year, I tried to arrange a meeting with him well in advance. He was never available.
I am puzzled by what I read in the column cited here. I am also puzzled by the Gates Foundation’s persistent funding of groups that want to privatize public education. I am puzzled by their funding of “astroturf” groups of young teachers who insist that they don’t want any job protections, don’t want to be rewarded for their experience (of which they have little) or for any additional degrees, and certainly don’t want to be represented by a collective bargaining unit.
I am puzzled by their funding of groups that are promoting an anti-teacher, anti-public education agenda in state after state. And I am puzzled by the hundreds of millions they have poured into the quixotic search to guarantee that every single classroom has a teacher that knows how to raise test scores.
Sometimes I wonder if anyone at the Gates Foundation has any vision of what good education is, or whether they think that getting higher test scores is the same as getting a good education. I wonder if they ever think about their role in demoralizing and destabilizing the education profession.
When Bill or Melinda Gates is asked whether it is democratic for one foundation, their foundation, to shape a nation’s education policy, they don a mask of false modesty. Who, little old us? They disingenuously reply that the nation spends more than $600 billion on education, which makes their own contribution small by comparison. Puny, by comparison. Anyone with any sense knows that their discretionary spending has had a powerful effect on the policies of the U.S. Department of Education, on the media, on states and on districts. When Bill Gates speaks, the National Governors Association snaps to attention, awed by his wealth. They are pulling the strings, and they prefer to pretend they aren’t.
But their disclaimers do not change the fact that they have power without accountability. They want accountability for teachers, but who holds them accountable?
When I see Bill or Melinda make a pronouncement on education, I am reminded of the song in “Fiddler on the Roof”: “When you’re rich, they think you really know.”
They don’t. And no one will tell them that they are out of their depth. They may be well-meaning but they are misinformed, and they are inflicting incalculable damage on our public schools and on the education profession.
Who elected them? Why should they have the power to shape American education?.
The privatisation of higher education is forcing out poorer students Tuition fees and the government's marketisation of universities mean that bright working class students will no longer apply
The reality, as major studies have suggested ever since tuition fees were introduced, is that rocketing tuition fees have pushed bright students from working-class backgrounds away from university.
This is supported by the fact that the biggest drop to occur is among people over the age of 23 – often among the most disadvantaged set of applicants. These mature students are not the Willetts fantasy of "ill-informed" 18-year-olds, failing to understand that debt repayments are income-linked. The fact is that the government is in the process of creating a system driven by consumer choice, in which the rational money-driven decision could be never to apply to university.
The only possible result of this process will be fewer people going to university, or, to put it more accurately, fewer working-class people going to university. For those not fortunate enough to get good grades at a nice secondary school, a degree in some subjects, costing £27,000 before living costs, will result in a net earning loss over your lifetime. Education as a life-enhancing, horizon-broadening experience – even if only inadvertently and in passing – is being snatched away, both by the ideology of the system, and now by debt and post-graduation data.
Even without this process, the result of the government's programme for education will be the systematic exclusion of many of Britain's less affluent prospective students. The market system – put in motion by Labour's introduction of fees and moved to its logical conclusion by the coalition's higher education white paper – will starve newer universities of teaching grants, concentrating wealth into the hands of whatever the market, regulated by the Research Excellence Framework (REF) and mechanisms like it, decides is best.
A quiet cull of "unprofitable" courses has been taking place for some time: students at London Met, Britain's most working-class university, have lost their history and philosophy departments. A report released by the UCU this year found that the number of courses on offer in England has declined by almost a third in four years.
On the surface, course cuts, fees and marketisation, not to mention the abolition of EMA, appear to be the betrayal of a generation; but in truth they stem from a deeper and more typical Tory agenda. The 9% drop in applicants will not be from the sons and daughters of government ministers, whose parents can pay, or whose knowledge of the system and schooling means that they can be assured that university will be a sound investment, not a financial nightmare.
Equally, the winners from the white paper, if there are winners at all, will be "world class" and research-intensive universities. Fees and marketisation may yet boost the global prestige of a handful of Britain's universities, and the collective ego of the likes of universities minister David Willetts and the vice chancellors who inform his thinking, but their broader social implications will be a disaster for the vast majority of ordinary people.
The latest Ucas data is not at its root a lesson in students getting the "wrong information", or the fact that the government's reform programme is often chaotic and dysfunctional, which it is. The truth is that the reforms are having broadly the desired effect: higher education is shrinking and increasingly being privatised, and different tiers of learning are developing – some for the elite, and some for the rest.
The key question as students and trade unions prepare for another autumn of discontent will be "who pays?", and when Ucas releases reports on student numbers, attention is focused on fees. This narrative is in part correct, but if education and other evaporating public services are to be saved, we must also be clear that student numbers are more than statistics; they are the symptoms of a rapidly accelerating class war.
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