Thursday, February 25, 2010

Two Anecdotes on the Issues Facing the CSU's and Like Institutions

By Yasha Karant


Two recent anecdotes that help illustrate the issues, one from outside the CSU and one from inside.

From a tenured colleague at an R1 in the Southeast: (X is substituted for the institution, although the State is obvious from context)

However, we too have serious budget cuts heading our way again. At this point in time, I am fairly sure that the state provides less than 25% of the funding that we have to run X. The rest is provided by tuition, fees, grants, for-profit programs/degrees and our endowment. The one good thing is that as the state cuts more, the cuts affect us less and less. So far, we have not had to take pay cuts or increased teaching loads. However, it looks like starting next budget cycle (this fall) this will change. You must remember, I'm in the "Old South" where higher education is valued slightly below K-12 education which is valued way below fixing the potholes. And, given the winter weather this year, there are lots of potholes that need to be fixed. Furthermore, we are a "no new taxes" state. We only cut "optional" services, such as education (K-12 is being hammered in the new governor's budget). In all seriousness, with the exception of South Carolina and Texas, I think Virginia may be the most conservative state.

As far as PhD students goes, my "last" PhD student will graduate in August. The accountants, which control the PhD committee, will not accept any more IS students. Our IS PhD seminar has not been taught in 3 years and there are no plans to offer it in the future. However, the real scary thing has been our general lack of students in all of our programs. from what I can tell, at this point in time, we have less than 15, yes fifteen, students majoring in IS. That includes all undergraduates, masters, and our 1 PhD student. That is why I am now teaching mostly accounting students.


Prior to the current ultra-right Republicans, this colleague was a Republican fiscal conservative and originally from a State in the former Confederate States of America, and of the overclass racial/ethnic group of that region. I mention these facts lest one assume that he might be a "leftist" from a minority (underclass) group -- to give some context. As for funding, note that Virginia provides less than 25 percent of the funds. Note also that although he is in a primary R1 [Research 1] (not just PhD granting such as SIUC), he in fact has no PhD students. It is obvious from the discussion that he is in a business discipline.

My point of the anecdote is threefold: (1) non-PhD programs can continue alongside PhD programs, albeit one may have to "fight" for them; (2) it is an illusion to assume that disciplinary research may be conducted strictly on Stateside support; (3) the situation in some other States, even for R1s, is as bad as in California, save that these institutions have the right and ability to pursue viable funding streams (denied to the CSU under the Master Plan).

Second anecdote. I am of the firm opinion that RPT [Retention, Promotion and Tenure] guidelines must follow the actual mission(s) of the CSU, and that funding must as well. I noted on the door of a colleague in Mathematics an announcement for an Undergraduate Mathematics Conference, in part funded by NSF [National Science Foundation]. A senior tenured full colleague in Mathematics happened to be present, so I asked him the following question: would this conference count for Professional Growth in his Department for RPT (Professional Growth is the official CSUSB RPT category for research)? After much hemming and hawing, his answer was "no" unless the Faculty member specifically was appointed as Mathematics Education (K-12 education), not regular disciplinary Mathematics. Under the original Master Plan, and under a model in which the CSU returns to the CSC, this sort of conference precisely is the CSC category of "research", in part because all of the Mathematicians are supposed to be Math Ed. Yet, today, even in a Department without any PhD programs, this sort of conference is in fact devalued. Note that Mathematics only has three Math Ed faculty members, two of whom are tenured fulls and thus effectively immune to the RPT process.

My point is that as we craft the White Paper, I am of the opinion that we need to consider the reality of RPT criteria in the CSU as actually applied, not in some artificial context.


Yasha Karant

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Rhode Island School Board Fires All the Teachers

From Randi Kaye, CNN's AC360°

(CNN) -- A school board in Rhode Island has voted to fire all teachers at a struggling high school, a dramatic move aimed at shoring up education in a poverty-ridden school district.

In a 5-2 vote Tuesday night, the board approved the plan by Frances Gallo, superintendent at Central Falls School District, to discharge the teachers, administrators and other personnel at Central Falls High School.

The firings, which will be effective at the end of this school year, came after the district said it failed to reach an agreement with the teachers' union on a plan for the teachers to spend more time with students to improve test scores.

A union spokesman called the firings drastic and cited a 21 percent rise in reading scores and a 3 percent increase in math scores in the past two years.


Central Falls High is one of the lowest-performing schools in Rhode Island. It is in a community where median income is $22,000, census figures show.

Of the 800 students, 65 percent are Hispanic and for most of them, English is a second language. Half the students are failing every subject, with 55 percent skilled in reading and 7 percent proficient in math, officials said.

In a proposal based on federal guidelines, Gallo asked teachers to work a longer school day of seven hours and tutor students weekly for one hour outside school time. She proposed teachers have lunch with students often, meet for 90 minutes every week to discuss education and set aside two weeks during summer break for paid professional development.

A spokesman for the union said the teachers had accepted most of the changes, but wanted to work out compensation for the extra hours of work.


When the negotiations on those changes failed at Central Falls High, the superintendent switched to another option: the turnaround model, which means firing every teacher at the troubled school.

Kathy May, a teacher at Central Falls High, said she's disheartened. "I feel like, after 20 years, I can see some progress beginning to be made. And I'm sad that we're not going to be around to follow that through, to push that forward."


At a community rally before the school board meeting on Tuesday, supporters of the teachers slammed the plan.

Jane Sessums, president of the Central Falls Teachers Union, said teachers have been unfairly targeted and scapegoated and the union will fight to have them reinstated.

"We want genuine reforms, not quick fixes that do nothing but create a wedge between teachers, our school and our community," said Sessums. She added that "teachers have agreed to numerous solutions and reforms."

George McLaughlin, a guidance counselor who was fired along with his wife, a chemistry teacher, said the school has been inaccurately cast as a place with low graduation rates.

"We have the most transient population in this state. Nobody comes close to us. So when they say that 50 percent of the people graduate, a very high percentage of our students leave our school. They return. They leave again. They go back to other countries," he said, noting that three times as many of the school's students are accepted to colleges now than they were five years ago.


McLaughlin said the negotiations were about job security, not pay, and said the teachers are ready to resume talks.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Deliverology Renamed by CSU ... But It Still Smells the Same

See also "Chancellor Wants to Speed Graduation But Doesn't Want to Spend More Money on Instruction, Even When Offered the Money"

This is a copy of a comment I just left at the Poly Post Newspaper's website in response to the below-mentioned article. My comment has been very slightly edited for purposes of this site.

I am rather astonished that Provost Martin denBoer is cited in today's (February 10, 2010) Poly Post story (“CSU system launches ‘Deliverology’-based graduation initiative,”) as stating: "Deliverology is a more sarcastic term."

Since Sir Michael Barber was invited by the Chancellor as an outside consultant on teaching and learning (a subject, by the way, that Barber has no direct experience with as a teacher since he isn't a teacher), why would his hosts describe the term that Barber himself invented and uses to describe his own system as "sarcastic"? Certainly Barber doesn't think it's sarcastic. He uses the term without any hint of irony and says it and writes about it, one must presume, with a straight face.

Does our administration think that they will make the program sound more legitimate by calling it "ACE" (Advising, Curriculum and Engagement)?

Between 2003 and 2006 I served on Cal Poly Pomona’s Enrollment Management Advisory Council Executive Committee and as Faculty Co-Chair of the Academic Quality and Support Subcommittee. I reported to President Ortiz and Provost Morales in 2006 that graduation rates for male enrollees within six years of entrance of CPP was in the low 30 percentile. I was shocked to find that the figure was so low. This oral report of mine about the graduation rates was part of my larger analysis of the results of an EMAC survey that I played a leading role in initiating and writing in which our subcommittee attempted to determine what was standing in the way of students' graduation.

The results of the survey indicated that the two most often-cited reasons were both related to the fact that students couldn't get the courses that they needed. Several of the other people within EMAC were convinced, despite what the survey said, that the main reason was that students were frittering away their time and taking courses they didn't need or refusing to take courses that they could take because they didn’t want to inconvenience themselves schedule-wise. This opinion was contrary to the survey findings and was based on anecdotal data alone.

Ortiz and Morales didn't even blink at my report. Morales described it as "interesting." President Ortiz's response was to suggest that we have more online classes.

A hint of the real agenda at work here behind their attempt to impose “Deliverology” upon the CSU is the administration’s talk of loosening up graduation requirements ("There will be more flexibility with skipping classes for a speedier graduation for certain students..."). The only way you can accelerate graduation rates in a time when faculty ranks are being sharply reduced, programs and departments and classes cut, and so on, is to make a degree easier to get – and therefore less valuable. Deliverology treats education as if teaching and learning could be reduced to the assembly production of widgets. Thus, its name: Deliverology. It’s aptly named. Education isn’t something you can just deliver. It is, and has always been, a relationship between human beings, between mentor and mentee. It is, and has always been, something that required effort to attain. Teaching is an art and a craft. It’s not something that you can package, reproduce like Xerox, and sell to the highest bidder. An education is not something that you are simply handed. Deliverology is a hoax, whether you call it ACE or you call it by its real name.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Chancellor Wants to Speed Graduation But Doesn't Want to Spend More Money on Instruction, Even When Offered the Money

In explaining why the Chancellor opposes AB 656, which would tax the oil companies, who aren't now being assessed an extraction tax (the only place in the country where they aren't), the Contra Costa Times, February 8, 2010 reported:

"Even the Cal State system, which would be the main beneficiary of the tax, has had trouble backing it. The 23-campus university has bristled at the requirement that it spend the money on instruction.

“‘We have things that need to be done that aren't just about hiring faculty,’ said Karen Zamarripa, Cal State's assistant vice chancellor for advocacy and state relations.”

Of all things! Instruction. Imagine that. We don't want more money for instruction, even if we don't have to spend any less on anything else because of the bill, even though this would just be more money purely for instruction. Why, if we got more money purely for instruction and were forced to spend it on that alone, can't you see how this would distort the CSU system? Can't you see that this constitutes sufficient grounds for us to oppose the bill?

What do you think higher education is principally about, teaching and learning (and related scholarship and research)? My lord. What planet are you from? We in the Chancellor's Office, why we have much better things to spend the taxpayer's money on such as half a billion or more on a software program (PeopleSoft) (that doesn't even work very well and works less well than its predecessor), hiring outside consultants like Sir Michael Barber from England (who is not a teacher and knows nothing about teaching and learning) to teach us about teaching and learning (why would we ask our own faculty about such esoterica?), paying outside lobbyists (which even the UC system doesn't do) to lobby for us in Sacramento, funding the free housing and cars that top administrators get (after all, the work they do is so very hard), giving large sums to ex-presidents for unspecified work (after all, the work they used to do was so very hard), arranging (sweetheart) deals and further privatizing the system? Why, if you gave us more money that had to be spent on instruction, we might not be able to reduce further the courses we presently require for general education and we might not be able to reduce the number of faculty further.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Globalization and Education as a Commodity

This is an essay about the struggle in NYC over the state and future of higher education. Those of us who are seeing this fight unfold in California will find it unerringly familiar. It was written in Summer 2001 and appears in the "Clarion." It reads as if it could easily have been written yesterday. I have boldfaced certain passages.

It bears repeating that the efforts, by all too many public officials and by high administration figures, to implement neoliberal policies - unleashing market forces, dismantling (starving) public goods and replacing them with private interest and private goods (aka privatization), standardization (Taylorization), attacking and destroying tenure (job security) and replacing tenured ranks with contingent labor (lecturers), and replacing face-to-face learning with online, distance learning - preceded the current budget crisis.

They are now seizing on the budget crisis, which neoliberal policies brought upon us in the first place, to justify implementing their draconian agenda.

One of neoliberalism's original founding figures in the political arena, Britain's former Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, liked to roll over those who opposed her with the slogan "There Is No Alternative" (TINA). Keep this in mind as we hear and read the neoliberals of our state (and their imported representatives such as Sir Michael "Deliverology" Barber) tell us that there is no alternative.

By William Tabb, Queens College and the Grad Center

When people think about globalization, most focus on sweatshop labor and the loss of manufacturing jobs overseas. It is easy to understand the race to the bottom that results as factory workers in one place face more intense competition from lower-cost labor on the other side of the world. College teachers would do well, however, to include their own future prospects as they consider the impact of globalization over the coming years. The university will be a very different place in another decade or two, and what it will look like depends to a large degree on what version of globalization wins out.

Today we are often told that education must be made more efficient by being forced into the market model, moving away from the traditional concept of education as a publicly provided social good. This neoliberalism—the belief that today’s problems are best addressed by the market, and that government regulation and the public sector should both be as minimal as possible—is not unique to debates over education: it dominates economics, politics and ideology in the U.S. and most of the world.

There are three elements involved in the neoliberal model of education: making the provision of education more cost-efficient by commodifying the product; testing performance by standardizing the experience in a way that allows for multiple-choice testing of results; and focusing on marketable skills. The three elements are combined in different policies—cutbacks in the public sector, closing “inefficient” programs that don’t directly meet business needs for a trained workforce, and the use of computers and distance learning, in which courses and degrees are packaged for delivery over the Internet by for-profit corporations.

Market Mantra: Cut, Cut, Cut

Corporate provision of education will seem increasingly appealing as traditional schools are deprived of funds. The corporate model stresses rewarding winners and letting losers adjust. “In the 1990s U.S. companies cut costs, jettisoned marginal efforts, bolstered internal cooperation and formed strategic alliances. Hold on to your hats—universities are set to do the same.” This was how Robert Buderi, writing last year in Technology Review, began “From the Ivory Tower to the Bottom Line,” one of many essays on how today’s university doesn’t jibe with today’s competitive environment, and requires market-oriented reorganization. Buderi makes clear that the kind of selective excellence being pitched in the CUNY Board of Trustees’ Master Plan is part of the corporatization of the university which, like globalization itself, is being touted as both inevitable and desirable.

What is the rationale for this program of cut, cut, cut? Why has it been considered necessary for public education to tighten its belt, year after year? The drive for “market solutions” is not the result of some force of nature, as its proponents pretend. It is a policy decision to abandon the needs of the poor and leave them to shift for themselves. It is the same logic that forces the poorest countries of the world into the IMF’s structural adjustment programs, with their drastic cuts in public services. The Third World may have been hit first and hardest, but the same pattern can be seen in New York State, in the de-funding of CUNY and the disinvestments in public education as a whole.

Justice Leland DeGrasse’s landmark ruling of January 2001 in fact declared that the state has deprived New York City’s children of the “sound, basic education” guaranteed by the state constitution. “The majority of the city’s public school students leave high school unprepared for more than low-paying work, unprepared for college and unprepared for the duties placed upon them by a democratic society.” CUNY faculty know this all too well as we are blamed and penalized for not being able to make up for the years of deprivation, thanks to these same officials. This might seem to be a local problem—except that public education is under attack in many places, as part of a neoliberal strategy that uses reform as a cover for cutback.

In practice, the principal objective of such reforms is to begin a process of privatizing education by starving public-sector schools in the name of forcing them to compete. The Civil Society Network for Public Education in the Americas, a group that brings together South, Central and North American workers in education, notes that “in developing countries that apply austerity measures, this system has generally led to the reduction of educational resources for the poorest regions.”

Serge Jonque

Educators and other public workers joined FTAA protests in Quebec.

Here is where globalization enters the picture. The proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas agreement (the recent target of protests by educators and others in Quebec) would demand equal treatment for corporate providers of public services. Thus, a company like Edison, whose bid to take over several public schools in New York was rejected by a vote of parents, could appeal to an international tribunal and sue the city for being treated “unfairly.” Government “subsidies” to CUNY could be challenged as providing an “unfair” advantage over for-profit companies that want to offer competitive educational services. These agreements define educational services as a tradable commodity and so require it to be treated like any other product.

Taking Away Control

The idea of wresting academic control from the faculty is at the heart of such business models. It adds up to educational Taylorism—treating the art of teaching in the same way that Henry Ford treated the manufacture of automobiles, breaking skilled labor down into a series of lower-skilled tasks, assigning some tasks to machines and imposing strict managerial control over the rest.

One important tool for transforming the educational workplace is distance learning. The idea is to develop learning modules in which the knowledge of the faculty is extracted and implanted into on-line programs owned and controlled by management. This requires the kind of standardization that typifies the commodified model of education: standardized testing and straight-jacket learning plans. Already imposed on high school teachers, the higher-education counterpart can be found in new corporate providers of college degrees. The plan is to take knowledge from the heads and hearts of teachers and put it into CDs and online courses, creating an interchangeable education that can be as standardized as Starbucks or Wal-Mart.

Fearful that such new “brands” such as Phoenix University and other providers will drive them from the distance-learning market, many colleges and universities have created their own for-profit subsidiaries. Such education can be sold globally. Distance is no longer an obstacle. Education markets merge as distance becomes irrelevant to this commodified credentialing.

“For online education to become mainstream is kind of a depressing thought, because it is such a crappy experience,” Marc Eisenstadt, a distance learning researcher in the UK recently told The Wall Street Journal. “The bottom line is that learning online is a soul-destroying experience. . . . It’s always second-best” to face-to-face learning. But if governments won’t pay for first-best, most students will end in private-company college “equivalent” facilities with interchangeable adjunct instructors teaching out of corporate-designed lesson plans, or being “educated” by a computer screen and a one-size-fits-all course package from some other for-profit corporation. It is CUNY students who will be relegated to such second- or third-class choices. The children of the affluent will attend traditional colleges and universities. This scenario is not far away if we let current trends continue.

Destroying the quality of public-sector education is necessary for the full marketization of education. There is ample polling evidence that the politics that pays for tax cuts with service cuts is not favored by most Americans and other citizens around the world. What corporate globalization has done is tell us there is no alternative. But if we think government exists to serve all of the people, not just the rich and powerful, the neoliberal model must be resisted. This struggle goes on globally, but it will be decided in a series of struggles which are local. What is happening to CUNY is not unique. The bumper sticker that tells us to “Think Globally – Act Locally” is good advice.

The PSC is on to something. The union’s new focus on the need to rebuild CUNY as a great university recognizes that it is inadequate to oppose marketization without offering an alternative. Our alternative is a counter-understanding of the goals of education, as enhancing critical citizenship, personal development and the participation in culture that is the right of all students in a democracy. Instead of a race to the bottom and growing inequality, a healthy public sector can redistribute opportunity so that we can have a leveling up. This, after all, is the historic mission of the City University. Our union is leading the way in defending public education, and with it a democratic vision of the future of our city and global society. The PSC’s success will depend in significant measure on our participation.

One Reason Why Online Classes Aren't Some Kind of Panacea

This comment on the CFANet at Cal Poly Pomona was in response to administration proposals that we facilitate graduation and deal with overcrowded classes and budget cuts by going online with more classes.

Reprinted by permission:

Here's my own personal history lesson. In 1976, yes, that's a long time ago, I graduated with my B.S. in biology from Cal Poly Pomona. My father, a design engineer, sent me to CPP because he wanted me to be an engineer and CPP engineers were hired over grads from other institutions due to the polytechnic, learn by doing, practice. In other words, he wanted me to get a job and move on. I didn't want to be an engineer, I wanted to be an environmental scientist and later a high school biology teacher.

So I majored in biology. My educational experience was amazing, I felt so prepared to enter the job market.

Dad was right, I graduated and was hired right away by Engineering- Science/ Ralph M. Parsons where I worked for 5 years as an environmental scientist. They straight away told me that I was hired because I had hands-on experience from a polytechnic university. When I left to be a teacher (with my M.A. and teaching credential also from CPP), I was told right away again, that my educational background made me the preferred candidate.

I was hired in a recession in the 1970's, it was a tough time then too (not as tough as now) and the competition was great. But I had the edge over others to be a promising employee. We need to be that same resource in these tough times and that CANNOT happen on-line in science or in education (I can't speak for other areas).

Now, in addition to teaching at CPP, I work with the Pomona USD [Unified School District] and interview and recommend teaching candidates. We tend to hire CPP candidates over others because many (not all) candidates from other institutions quit within 2-3 years. CPP candidates do not quit because they have a better preparation due to the polytechnic, hands-on pedagogy of our institution.

I was not as erudite in my message as Jared, but that's the practical view.

Forge ahead, all!

Stephanie Saccomen

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Cal Poly Provost on Why Administrators Are Sacrosanct

At Cal Poly Pomona, CFA representatives and other concerned faculty have been meeting with our provost about the budget cuts and the programs he is trying to eliminate (such as Physics) in order, he claims, to save money.

The fact that academic services are facing more severe cuts than administrative services has provoked a lot of consternation among faculty. How can so many highly paid VPs be justified when classes are being cut, faculty are losing their jobs, faculty pay raises gone by the wayside, furloughs instituted, and students can't get into classes that they need to graduate? The provost's rationales for this disproportionality have been varied.

At one point he said that they have to maintain the size of the administrative ranks because of "regulatory requirements." When asked what those "regulatory requirements" were, his answer was that the university needs to report annually to the federal government the allotment of personnel and compensation and the university hasn't yet gotten back an adverse federal response on that report. In other words, because the federal government hasn't said to him that the university has too many administrators being paid too much money, the university is in regulatory compliance!

I'm reminded of what the Bush White House (aka Bush Regime) did when it informed a select group of Senators and Congressional Representatives in 2002 that it was a) waterboarding detainees, and b) wiretapping everybody in the U.S. As a result of that meeting, since they let some people in Congress in on their dirty secrets, they could then tell everyone that they were in "regulatory compliance!"

Our provost has also said that the numbers and compensation of administrators at Cal Poly Pomona are similar to peer institutions. This is rather like saying that we have similar numbers of people suffering from AIDS as other comparable countries, so our numbers are fine.

He has further justified the number of administrators by saying that someone is needed to keep the buildings running and the bulbs replaced. When it was pointed out to him that he was conflating maintenance and clerical tasks with administrators, who don't screw in bulbs, he said that someone has to supervise the people who screw in the bulbs.

Which provokes the question: "How many administrators do you need to screw the faculty and students?"

Friday, February 5, 2010

Another Rip-Off: Privatizing Student Payments

This just in. Just like Ticketmaster's "Convenience Fees" Rip-Off, Cal Poly Pomona's announced that it's turning over fee and tuition payments to a Third-Party Vendor. (CSU Long Beach is also doing this and it's quite likely, other CSUs too.) There is no good reason why Cal Poly Pomona's Cashiers Office can't continue to receive student payments directly, without enriching a private corporation, in this case, CASHNet, by over $1.5 million (assuming that 60% of our 20,000 students pay by credit card).

This is adding insult to injury at a time when students have to pay more but get less: the administration is tacking on even more charges that do nothing for the students. Another good reason why the people in charge, the privateers, need to find an honest job elsewhere (or perhaps retire with their unearned pensions) and stop ripping off students and the community for private interests.

From: Student Accounting & Cashiering Services
Date: Tue, Feb 2, 2010 at 2:14 PM

Cal Poly Pomona is introducing a new credit card payment process beginning in Spring 2010 which will impact how you pay for both registration fees and fees that you currently pay in person or by mail for transcripts, GWT, and graduation applications. Online payments will significantly reduce the time and inconvenience of paying these fees either in person or by mail.

Registration Fees and Tuition Payments

Beginning with the Spring 2010 quarter, credit card payments for registration fees and tuition made online via BroncoDirect will use a new third party vendor, CASHNet/Smartpay. CASHNet will accept MasterCard, Discover and American Express (Visa will no longer be accepted). With this new service, the Cashier’s Office will no longer accept credit card payments in person for registration fees and tuition.

To provide this online service, CASHNet will charge a convenience fee of 2.9% for registration fees and tuition. As an example, if your fees are $949.64 for part-time enrollment, a fee of $27.54 will be added by CASHNet to your transaction.

The following payment options will continue to be available for payment of registration fees and tuition::

· Cash at the cashiers’ windows

· Checks at the cashiers’ windows or by mail

· Money order at the cashiers’ windows or by mail

· Electronic checks or e-checks via BroncoDirect (no convenience fee)

· Installment Payment Plans

Parking, Housing, Transcripts, Graduation Application, Graduate Writing Test (GWT) and Other Fees

The Cashiers’ Office will continue to accept credit card payments for parking, housing both online and in person at no additional cost to you. For your convenience, you will be able to make the following online payments by credit card beginning in April. (We will email you once these are available online.)

· Transcripts

· Graduation Application fees

· Graduate Writing Test (GWT) fees

· Orientation

· Enrollment Deposit

Questions regarding this new service should be directed to Student Accounting and Cashiering Services, or (909) 869-2010. Thank you.

Student Accounting and Cashiering Services

Thursday, February 4, 2010

What Shall We Do? "Privatize" He Said

When Cal Poly Pomona President Michael Ortiz was asked by a student this past summer what could be done about the budget crisis, he replied: "Privatize. It seems the only way."

In light of this, and since Sir Michael Barber, last of the Tony Blair Administration, is now being touted as the solution to our ills, I came across this posting from a British website named "Campaign for Public Ownership" as I searched the term "privateer," a word that I thought would convey the nature of those whose solution to all ills, perceived and illusory, is privatization. For such people, things that are working just fine are to be broken by their "fixes." As an illustration of this fact, the effort to restructure the university predates the budget crisis, an effort by the top administration that they dubbed "Prioritization and Recovery" on my campus. The budget crisis is now being cited as the rationale for restructuring.

As it turns out, the term "privateer" already exists, prior to my coining it. (Alas, the advantages and disadvantages of the web!) Its denotative definition, however, does not convey the pirate-like connotation that I am using the term for.

This excerpt from the Campaign for Public Ownership is from last summer:

"[T]he leading parties ignore public opinion on the most important issues of the day.

"Take public ownership. Despite opinion polls showing a clear majority in favour of renationalising the railways, not one of our leading parties even considers the measure.

"The neoliberal, pro-privatisation model has never been so unpopular, yet here we have an election where the four leading parties, according to opinion polls, can only offer more of the same.

"Labour offers little for supporters of public ownership - the Labour government, despite Britain's disastrous experience of privatised railways, has been pushing for other European countries to 'liberalise' their excellent domestic rail services.

"The prospect of Virgin Trains, First Great Western and Arriva being allowed to run services in countries like Belgium is too depressing for words, but if Labour has its way, it could be happening a few years down the line.

"In their Euro manifesto, the staunchly neoliberal Conservatives boast of being 'strong defenders of the single market' and say that their aim is 'working to open up new markets.'

"At the top of the party's list in the South East region in the poll, is MEP Daniel Hannan, an enthusiastic privateer.

"In a recent appearance on Fox News in the US, Hannan claimed the NHS was a 60-year 'mistake,' which made people 'iller' and he urged US viewers not to support plans for socialised health care.

"The Liberal Democrats are singing from the same pro-competition hymn sheet. While the party did call for the renationalisation of Britain's railways in its 2005 manifesto, it has embraced a more 'free-market' approach since the elevation to leadership of the Blairite banker's son Nick Clegg."

For the rest of this entertaining essay, see here.