Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Another report from one of our higher reeducation camps (a. k. a. our colleges and universities)

Mary Grabar describes her experience as an adjunct English professor trying to teach, like, English--which is now apparently declasse in our higher re-education camps:
I’m an adjunct English professor. When the subject of adjunct faculty comes up, the predictable calls for unionization and “social justice” are often voiced by my tenured colleagues enjoying light teaching loads and by administrators enjoying comfortable salaries overseeing “multicultural” programs. But I know that I would not be among their intended beneficiaries were they made aware of my political views.

It’s not that I sought to be political when I returned to school in the 1990s to earn my Ph.D. I soon discovered, however, that political neutrality—even in literary studies—is suspect. In the academic world, the belief that great literature conveys universal, timeless themes is generally taken as evidence of an imperialistic outlook. The same holds for history, where the reliance on factual evidence and focus on major events are deemed offensive to women and those from non-Western cultures.

My fellow graduate students tailored their programs for the job market: studying African-American and gay writers, and applying the trendy postmodern, deconstructivist literary theories. Since 2002, when I earned my Ph.D. in English, the field has gotten even stranger, with such additions to the ideological postcolonial, African-American, and critical theory courses as “fat studies” and “trauma studies.” An upperclassman can enroll in “Introduction to Visual Rhetoric”—and then presumably in “Advanced Visual Rhetoric.” But how does my study of Plato and Cicero prepare me to teach these classes? ...
Read the rest here.

Monday, August 24, 2009

University of Kentucky scores a "C" on its core curriculum in national report

For Immediate Release
August 24, 2009

The University of Kentucky received a grade of "C" from a national organization that monitors what colleges and universities teach. In its report, "What Will They Learn?" the American Council of Trustees and Alumni gave it a mediocre rating on its general education requirements, and specifically criticized its natural science requirement because it could be met my taking courses which didn't teach natural or physical sciences.

"That a school attempting to be a 'Top Twenty Research School' would have a weak general education requirement in science is pretty pitiful," said Martin Cothran, senior policy analyst with The Family Foundation of Kentucky.

"No credit given for Natural or Physical Science," said the report of UK, "because the Natural Sciences requirement may be satisfied by courses from anthropology, political science, and psychology; and the College Laboratory or Field Work Experience requirement includes courses from the social sciences."

While crediting UK for its requirements in composition, language, and math, the report docked the state's flagship educational institution for week requirements in literature, U. S. government/history, economics, and science.

The report evaluated whether 100 major institutions require seven key subjects. "What we found is alarming," said the report's authors. "Even as our students need broad-based skills and knowledge to succeed in the global marketplace, our colleges and universities are failing to deliver."

The report comes during the same month that UK earned a lower ranking in the U. S. News and World Report national university rankings for the third straight year, falling from 112 in 2007, to 122nd in 2008, to 128th in 2009.


Friday, August 21, 2009

UK drops for 3rd straight year in national rankings

For Immediate Release
August 21, 2009

Contact: Martin Cothran
Phone: 859-329-1919

The University of Kentucky dropped in the U. S. News and World Report ranking for the third time in three years according to the magazine's newly released national rankings. "The three-year slide is bad enough," said Martin Cothran, senior policy analyst for the Family Foundation of Kentucky. "This report points out some problems the University of Kentucky needs to address."

The university went from 112th in the nation in 2007 to 122nd in 2008. This year it dropped further to 128th in the nation. Cothran pointed to a simple comparison with other SEC schools (excluding Vanderbilt), a comparison many Kentuckians would find familiar, that showed where the university needed to put its attention:
  • Diversity Index Rank: Worst
  • Average Freshman Retention Rate Rank: Lowest
  • Average Alumni Giving: 2nd lowest
  • Fall 2008 Acceptance Rate: 2nd highest
  • Average high school GPA: 2nd worst
  • Cost of room & board: Worst
  • Classes with fewer than 20 students: 2nd lowest
  • Classes with 50 students or more: 3rd highest
  • 6-year graduation rate: 2nd lowest
"Two years ago, the university argued that implementing domestic partner benefits would help it become a top 20 research school," said Cothran. "We argued then that the university needed to drop the political correctness and get its priorities straight. This report is further evidence that it hasn't done that."