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Ohio legislator: public education is socialism, so let’s privatize everything

In a blog post, Ohio state representative Andrew Brenner (R) asserts that “public education is socialism.”  Insofar as he uses the wikipedia definition of socialism and notes that public education is publicly owned, he’s not necessarily wrong.  Brenner goes on to blame public ownership of schools for what he perceives as the evil of teachers’ unions.  His solution to these perceived problems is to “sell off” everything, and privatize all, because “the free-market system works for cars, furniture, housing, restaurants, and to a lesser degree higher education.”  There’s only one problem: as we’ve already seen with charter schools, privatization doesn’t solve the problem that Brenner seems most to resent.  Brenner’s merely blaming one bogeyman–publicly-run anything–for another, unions.  Meanwhile, Ohio charter schools have a worse record than publics.

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More than neglect: an era of partisan attack on higher ed

A week later, some folks are still stunned by the Chronicle of Higher Ed’s “An Era of Neglect,” which offers a long-term view of states’ retreat from funding higher education.  Two thoughts come to mind.  The first is that anyone who really was shocked, or even surprised, probably hasn’t been paying attention much.  But what’s stunning to me, upon re-reading the article, is its failure to note that the erosion of funding for higher education involves more than neglect: rather, it’s been part-and-parcel of the all-out assault by conservatives on the public sector, one that’s become entirely partisan.  In the coming days, I’ll give some examples.  But if you have to guess which of the nation’s two political parties has been waging war against public education (at either the K-12 or the post-secondary level), I’ll give you a hint: it hasn’t been the Democrats.

Privatization: Not “cutting costs,” merely externalizing them

One of the continuing myths of the privatization craze in higher education is that outsourcing functions results in lower costs.  Here’s BGSU my august university’s president on the recent deal to privatize flight instruction, as reported in the Sentinel-Tribune:

President Mary Ellen Mazey told the trustees that this is the kind of collaboration with outside entities the university is pursuing to enhance programs while keeping costs down.  She cited the Falcon Health Center as another example.

But, short of magic, how can a corporation manage to make a profit, charge a university less money, and offer the same services as the university did?  Sure, there may be some efficiencies on the part of the company, but not much.  Usually, it happens through either cutting services or finding money elsewhere.  In BGSU’s my august university’s case, it’s by doing both.  And, come to think of it, the health center is a perfect example.

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One way to make privatization pay: cheat

In my previous post, I noted that my august university has decided to boondoggle outsource privatize another teaching function, in this case, aviation instruction, through the hiring of North Star Aviation and, presumably, moving university employees to North Star. Part of how outsourcing can be economically feasible is through paying employees less.  Of course, it could be that North Star makes money simply by cheating customers, as is alleged in a lawsuit based partly on information from North Star employees.  Did BGSU look into this before contracting with North Star?  Maybe.  Admittedly, it was really hard information to dig up: I had to open up a browser and type in “North Star aviation lawsuit” in the search box.  So much for due diligence.

Q: When is faculty not faculty? A. When universities privatize teaching

BGSU (my august employer) is once again privatizing teaching.  This time, it’s flight instruction for the College of Technology’s aviation program.  In this case, a company call North Star will be building and maintaining facilities and doing flight instruction; BGSU faculty will continue the classroom functions, credentialing, etc.  There are the usual quotes from bigwigs about “strategic collaboration” and “increase enrollment.”  But there’s something fishy, too: the claim that “there is no change in faculty lines with this system.”  How can it be that BGSU will no longer be providing instruction, but there will be the same number of faculty lines?  By not admitting who is faculty, and who isn’t.

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