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The "Money Follows the Student" Plan

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty has proposed a plan to allot 2/3 of the state's budget for higher education to students rather than institutions, according to today's Daily (more here). The plan "would force the institutions to be more market-driven and accountable to the state and students."

Under Pawlenty’s plan, students’ decisions on where to attend college would drive reform and change the higher education marketplace, the governor said.

It would create a more dynamic marketplace in which institutions can respond to student needs better, he said. If the institutions have to compete more to attract students as a way to get funding, they’ll have to focus more on quality and keeping costs down, he said.

Institutions need to be more “customer-focused and customer-friendly,” Pawlenty said.

Yikes. My inner extreme cynic wonders if we'd have a situation in which the party schools would get more money and course easiness and teacher hotness would be taken more seriously as criteria. I'm not trying to advance that argument, don't get me wrong, but I do wonder. What do the rest of you think? If P.Z. Myers has blogged about the proposed plan, I'd appreciate a link. I haven't been able to locate a search box on his blog.

Conference on Women and the Media

Tired of what you hear on the nightly news -- and the absence of women sources, speakers, pundits, and subjects? Ready to see progressive women's ideas and lives treated as if we matter?

A reader at the Center for New Words told me about what I'm sure will be an exciting conference: Women and the Media: Taking Our Place in the Public Conversation, sponsored by the Center for New Words and MIT's Women's Studies department. As I perused the sessions and speakers, I became increasingly dismayed that I don't have the money to travel very often (if I did, I'd spend a lot more time in Atlanta). Some of the speakers are people I've been wanting to meet for a long time, like Christine Cupaiuolo and Lisa Jervis. If you're close by, I urge you to attend the conference, and blog it! If you're planning on going and blogging it, please let me know so I'll know to read your posts.

Good News for Academics?

Via Dennis Jerz, a report from the American Council on Education's Office of Women in Higher Education: An Agenda for Excellence: Creating Flexibility in Tenure-Track Faculty Careers. Recommmendations from the (PDF) executive summary include:

• Uncover and eliminate the preventable causes of talented PhDs [sic] opting out of tenure-track faculty positions.

• Create re-entry opportunities (e.g., postdoctoral fellowships) for PhDs who seek tenure-track faculty careers later in life after having decided to stop out of academia or work part time in order to manage career and family responsibilities.

• Abolish penalties in the hiring process for documented dependent care–related résumé gaps.

• Provide assistance to new faculty hires with spousal/partner employment needs and other family-related relocation issues.

• Create flexibility in the probationary period for tenure review without altering the standards or criteria. Longer probationary periods should not be required for all faculty, but flexible time frames of up to 10 years with reviews at set intervals should be offered. This option could benefit faculty who may need to be compensated for lost time or given additional time to prepare because of unanticipated professional or personal circumstances.

• Provide quality, affordable childcare to tenured and tenure-track faculty, particularly new hires (or information about available services); establish or provide information for childcare programs for emergency back up, evening and overnight care, and school and summer breaks.

I'm happy to see that these problems and possible reform measures, which have been discussed in a recent issue of Academe and on blogs like Invisible Adjunct and Crooked Timber, are being exposed and called for at this level.

Prolegomenon on Polarization

I Watched It

...the State of the Union address, I mean: and while I understand the reluctance and dread I've seen expressed on a good number of lefty blogs and cited as reasons they didn't watch the speech, I can't help but think it's important to watch it anyway. Confront it, study it -- not just "it" as in the content but the way the content is presented, explained, and delivered. As can be expected, having watched the speech I have a much more vivid understanding of the setting and the affect experienced by the audience, Bush, the other officials, and the "special guests." I absolutely do not, in any way, want to reprove anyone who chose not to watch the speech, but that's what I think.

Blog Post Online Readers, CC Licensed

There's a good discussion on Kairosnews about free, collaboratively authored, online, Creative Commons-licensed, open-access composition textbooks. As you might guess, I like the idea, but the planning and execution are going to be very tricky if a group actually gets together and does this thing. But as I was writing my comment, it occurred to me how easy it would be to assemble an online reader for a first-year composition course. There's so much writing talent in the blogosphere, and many bloggers have Creative Commons licenses. I might just do it: Find great, essay-style posts that model qualities of good writing style and argumentation, group them into themes, and copy them into my course site. I could use Drupal's collaborative book module. I'm excited! I'm already thinking of posts I might want to use, like for a unit on the war, I'm thinking of Mike's post titled The Photos and Jeanne's And in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink: A scattered and contradictory post on responsibility and Abu Ghraib (To be sure, Jeanne doesn't have a CC license, but maybe she'd give permission for her work to be reproduced for educational, noncommercial purposes.). I'm also thinking of Jeanne's recent post titled Democrats, Aristocrats, and the Torturer's Assistants.

Such a reader could be assembled for any class; I'm thinking too of an intro to Gender Studies class. I might use something along the lines of Dr. Crazy's "Why Women's Studies Sucks" series (Part I and Part II, and hat tip to Jonathan for those), and the responses from The Little Professor and others. Ummmm, yeah, my argument would be stronger if these blogs actually had CC licenses, I know (heh), but again, they might allow their work to be used for this purpose. If not, there are many with CC licenses who have excellent work on their blogs, like Rad Geek, Lauren, and many more. The more I think about this idea, the more I like it. Reduced cost to students, more freedom for the instructor to design the course around themes, and more opportunity for the students to be an active audience, conversing with the authors of the work if the students also blog, or even if they don't, as most bloggers have an email address displayed.

The Children of Iraq

I have nothing to add...just doing what I can in the hope that a few more people will see these photographs because I posted this link. Via Prof. B..

Response to "Mommy (and Me)"

Via Prof. B., I see that the New York Times story on parents' weblogs has been published. I'm dismayed but not all that surprised with what's in there, and I'll tell you why.

I was interviewed for this story because part of my dissertation research focuses on women's weblogs, many of whom are mothers. When David Hochman was talking to me about the story, he used the words "narcissistic" and "confessional" to describe parents' weblogs, albeit in a questioning way ("Aren't they just kind of narcissistic and confessional?" that kind of thing). As I told him about my dissertation, I tried so hard to explain to and persuade him that "baby blogs" are often -- almost always -- so much more than "the new baby book," that they're a way for parents to express what's on their minds, but children figure in prominently, obviously. By the way, I'm still working on communicating my dissertation topic in a sound bite, but here's my attempt: I'm doing a feminist rhetorical analysis of political discourse on weblogs, particularly an exploration of what gets interpreted as a political weblog and what perhaps doesn't, and how this difference is gendered (a personal-reflective approach to political writing as opposed to punditry). For an illustration, see the difference between this Eschaton post and these posts by Prof. B.* Different in terms of style and topic, but both political, to be sure. I actually emailed Hochman the links to those posts, as well as links to 11D and Laura's excellent Family Politics category of posts. Laura was also interviewed, and her comments -- again, not surprisingly -- aren't mentioned.

It's nothing personal against Hochman. He was friendly and great to talk to, but comparing my initial conversation with him to the finished product I just read, it's clear to me that he'd already made up his mind about "baby blogs," "mommy blogs," "daddy blogs," what have you: "The baby blog in many cases is an online shrine to parental self-absorption." Parents are "insecure," and they crave "attention and validation." And the thing is, I'm sure a lot of people agree with this attitude, as though there's some sense of undue entitlement about wanting to blog about one's experience as a parent. I wonder if those who espouse this view would say the same about political bloggers "proper," who have the apparent decency not to bother us with their personal lives, or if so, very seldom.

* I'm looking at differences, and I realize that what I'm doing may sound very Chodorow/Gilligan/Belenky et al., but I'm not interested in saying "men write this way; women write that way." If you can think of a good way for me to show that I'm distancing myself from theories criticized for essentialism, I'd appreciate hearing it. I'm more interested in the gendering of the discourse itself as well as the Where are all the women political bloggers? question. There's such a pronounced disconnect for so many people in what counts as political writing, from the issues discussed to the writing style/rhetorical approach, and the disconnect is brought up over and over again, to the point that many have likened the debate to a dead horse or poked fun at it, though none as well as flea:

Popular, Liberal Male Blogger: Why don't women blog? I've looked on my blogroll and I don't see any women bloggers. Therefore, they must not exist. Women must not be interested in thinky stuff like politics or computers.

45 Women Bloggers respond in the comments section: WTF? We all have blogs!

Liberal, Male Blogger: I don't mean blogs about tampons**. All women do is talk about feminine hygiene products. I mean, Where are all the women who blog about important stuff; the stuff *I'm* interested in.

45 Women Bloggers: You're right. We only talk about feminine hygiene products. Here's more talk about feminine hygiene products: You are a douche.

Liberal Male Blogger: Wahhhh! You're oppressing me! Censorship! My civil rights are being violated!

One Asshole Woman: I am so embarrassed to be a woman right now! Don't you listen to those hairy bitches, Liberal Male Blogger! *I* understand you!

Liberal Male Blogger: See there? One woman has validated me! That means you all are wrong and I am right!

45 Women Bloggers: douche.

Liberal Male Blogger: Wahhhh!

Repeat in three months with a different blogger. I'll point it out next time it happens.

** Link added to demonstrate the political bent of many women's weblogs.

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