Thursday, December 14, 2017

"H.R. 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, would make permits to carry a loaded concealed gun issued in one state valid in all other states"-Glenn Kessler

“…All states have statutes authorizing the carrying of handguns in public places for self-defense, but 38 states have various requirements for permits. Only one state, Vermont, does not issue a carry permit, while 11 other states — Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Dakota, West Virginia and Wyoming — make it optional to apply for a permit. (There are some advantages to getting a permit, such as being allowed to carry in some areas that are off-limits to people without permits.)

“The laws can vary among states. Federal law prohibits people with felony convictions from obtaining guns, as well as persons convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors, or by persons subject to a restraining order involving actual or threatened violence against an intimate partner. Federal domestic abuse law can prohibit current or former spouses, co-parents and current and former co-habitants from possessing guns. If a state makes a stalking crime a felony, that would also be prohibited under federal law. But some states have broader definitions of domestic violence dis-qualifiers, such as boyfriends or girlfriends…

“It’s worth noting that that the large majority of states which don’t issue nonresident permits already have reciprocity agreements to allow carry by visitors with a permit from their home state. A map on reciprocity agreements maintained by the USA Carry website indicates that only eight states — Hawaii, California, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts — and the District of Columbia do not allow reciprocity with any other states. (Kopel says the map also incorrectly lists Illinois but that it allows carry from four states.)

“Some states, such as Virginia, already honor permits from every state. Other states, such as Colorado, may mostly honor only residential permits (i.e., a Florida permit that has been issued to a Floridian, but not a Florida permit issued to Georgian)…

“[T]he reality is that most states already allow for reciprocity agreements with other states. Federal law also already prohibits violent criminals, abusers and stalkers from having guns; the issue is that some states already have tougher laws than at the federal level that could be overridden by permits from more lenient states. Still, the differences among most states may loom larger in the gun debate than in reality…”

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Why you should beware of “more than 240 colleges and universities, almost all in the U.S., got donations from Koch family foundations in 2016”—Alex Kotch, International Business Times

“The foundation of billionaire industrialist Charles Koch is ramping up its ideological higher education donations, smashing last year’s record amount given to colleges and universities. The foundation, along with smaller contributions from two other Koch family foundations, gave over $51 million to higher education institutions in 2016, according to tax records analyzed by International Business Times. Koch donations typically come in the form of multi-year gifts, which support free-market centers [*], courses, professorships, graduate scholarships and lecture series, all with the aim of producing bright, young conservatives to recruit into their political network and like-minded professors to create scholarship that dovetails with the Kochs’ ideology and business interests.

“Koch and his brother David are well known for running a giant oil, chemical and materials conglomerate, Koch Industries, and for leading a vast, conservative political network that rivals either of the two major political parties in size and funding. Lesser known, but crucial to their long-term strategy to bend America toward their small-government ideology, is their considerable funding of higher education.

“The political activities of the Koch brothers have led to increased scrutiny into the family’s university grants in recent years, and students and faculty at several academic institutions have protested proposed donation agreements. In many cases, despite the opposition, universities and their economics departments, eager for an influx of cash, approve the agreements and begin taking yearly installments of hundreds of thousands — and sometimes millions — of dollars… More than 240 colleges and universities, almost all in the U.S., got donations from Koch family foundations in 2016, up from 218 the previous year…

In her most recent book, Dark Money, New Yorker staff writer Jane Mayer describes a 1976 New York City conference that Charles Koch organized for wealthy libertarians to plot a strategy to take over American politics. In order to broaden their radical conservative movement, Charles Koch advocated a focus on ‘attracting youth’ because ‘this is the group that is open to a radically different social philosophy.’ Koch’s political lieutenant at the time, former John Birch Society member George Pearson, said at the gathering that traditional university gifts would not be sufficient, but funding private institutes on campuses would make it easier for donors to exert more control over hiring decisions and the ideological bent of these centers.

“The ‘Structure of Social Change,’ a plan devised by Koch and one of his closest lifelong associates, Richard Fink, begins with funding higher education. Next, academic output — or ‘intellectual raw materials’ — moves on to right-wing think tanks funded by Koch and his network, which repackage the scholarship into more relatable policy proposals. Koch-funded political advocacy groups then rally people around these policies and pressure lawmakers to adopt them.

“The strategy appears to be working. Not only are libertarian-minded academics raising their profiles with the help of Koch grants and providing ‘raw materials’ for conservative think tanks to convert into policy proposals but some are rising directly into the halls of government. International Business Times recently identified a host of Koch-backed academics who have secured posts within the Donald Trump administration this year. Meanwhile, business is booming for the wealthy brothers. Charles and David Koch are currently worth a combined $99.2 billion.”

For the complete article, Charles Koch gave $50 million to higher ed in 2016. What did he buy? by Alex Kotch, click here.

*For a Commentary on Global Free Market: a Perspective and Admonition, click here.

Monday, December 11, 2017

“We are witnessing an extinction of fields of study once thought essential” by Nina Handler

“…I am a college English instructor. This is a bad time for my species — and a bad time for the study of English. In academe, we are witnessing an extinction of fields of study once thought essential. I teach at a private university that has just canceled majors in English, religious studies, philosophy, and music. The English major is becoming the useless gentleman [and gentlewoman]…

“In the academic struggle for existence, English has lost. This is not specific to my university; English has been weak for a while now. According to the Modern Language Association, in the late 1960s and early ’70s, English accounted for about 7.5 percent of all bachelor’s degrees granted in the United States. By 2004, the MLA reported, only 3.47 percent of college students earned bachelor’s degrees in English.
“The belletristic tradition is obsolete, and those who once imparted the art of rhetoric now strive to teach basic literacy. English, once a backbone of the university’s structure, has become a little-used organ with only vestigial value — the appendix of academia…
“Times change, and institutions of higher education must change along with them. If no one wants to study a particular field, if it’s not filling a niche, it will die a natural death. This is evolution in action. I have no choice but to accept that the vast majority of students at my university don’t want to major in English. They don’t want what I have to offer. Instead, they want degrees in the health sciences.
“Of course, my students and their worldviews don’t exist in a vacuum. They live in a culture that tells them in every way that STEM fields are where the money’s at and consequently are the only fields worth studying. They want to know — for the return on the gargantuan investment they and their families have made in a college education — that they will be able to get a well-paid job tied directly to their major.
“Once education is viewed as a hoop to be jumped through to get somewhere else, people start assigning value to it in a way that privileges direct connections to prosperity and jobs they can easily see. With no sense that being an English major leads to any job but being an English teacher, students are ‘voting with their feet,’ as my provost said when she canceled the major. Social Darwinism speaks of ‘survival of the fittest,’ a victim-blaming phrase that has been distorted to justify socially constructed imbalances of wealth and power. If you can’t make it, it’s your own fault — or it’s just nature taking its bloody course…
And not to diminish courses in health sciences, marketing, or communications, but I sometimes think that the most important thinking students do happens in their English classes. I’ve seen light bulbs go off over their heads. I’ve seen the moment when their brains seem to short-circuit — when the possibilities of interpretation, or the interplay of complexities and their implications in a text, are overwhelming. Then they go away and think some more and give me papers full of insight and analysis. I’ve seen English majors born in those classes… [Nevertheless], it’s hard to face one’s own extinction.”
From Facing My Own Extinction by Nina Handler

Saturday, December 9, 2017

How much is college adjunct labor worth? by Audrey Williams June

“The impending negotiations between the City University of New York’s faculty union and administration may come down to a fundamental question: How much is adjunct labor worth? The union’s answer is $7,000. That’s the minimum pay per three-credit course that it’s seeking for the roughly 14,000 adjuncts it represents — about double the minimum that adjuncts there now earn per course.

“The current pay rate is ‘insulting to adjunct faculty and not commensurate with their experience,’ said Barbara Bowen, president of the Professional Staff Congress, which represents 30,000 faculty and staff members at CUNY. Increasing the pay for adjuncts, who teach more than half of the courses in the nation’s largest urban university system, would, she said, send an important message to students and the part-time faculty…

“The union arrived at the $7,000 figure for adjuncts by reverse-engineering from the wage of a different group of contingent faculty — full-time lecturers. The salary of full-time lecturers at CUNY for a full teaching load of eight courses a year is about $60,000. A part-time adjunct teaching the same number of courses would earn only about $25,000 at the current minimum per-course rate of about $3,200…

“The union also took into consideration the minimum per-course compensation suggested by professional associations like the Modern Language Association — which in 2011-12 recommended $6,800, but is now calling for $10,700.

“Levels of per-course pay that are in line with what CUNY’s union is seeking have cropped up in recent years in cities with similar costs of living — but they have been at private institutions. Three years ago, Tufts University agreed to pay part-time faculty members at least $7,300 per course, and a new contract promises further pay raises.

“And in New York, newly unionized adjuncts at Barnard College can now count on making $7,000 per three-credit course — a 3-percent increase. By the fall of 2021 that figure will increase to $10,000. Barnard makes a point of touting the pay on its human-resource department’s web page, calling the wages ‘among the best in New York City, and among elite, urban colleges and universities nationally.’

“…Faculty and union leaders say the items on the union’s bargaining agenda, especially the per-course minimum, mean CUNY’s governing board, administrators, city and state leaders will need to make a commitment to deeply invest in public education — no matter what…”

from What’s a Fair Wage for Adjuncts? by Audrey Williams June

Audrey Williams June is a senior reporter at The Chronicle for Higher Education who writes about the academic workplace, faculty pay, and work-life balance in academe. Contact her at, or follow her on Twitter @chronaudrey.

For 60 articles on this crisis, click here.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Adjuncts and the hierarchy of labor in higher education by Katie Entigar

“…This is the way of higher education nowadays, the slow and steady fight to save budgets through the ‘adjunctification’ of colleges and universities across the country. As in other educational contexts, the rise of neoliberal thinking in higher ed – essentially the claim that market values like efficiency, accountability, and bottom-line thinking produce healthy businesses schools and satisfied customers students – justifies the trimming back of faculty and the use of contingent labor to pick up the slack. Read: adjuncts…

“Yes, it can be argued that all teaching is a labor of love, a point that I will be the first to make. I love this work, because it means I am doing something important, something that has, I hope, a significant impact on the world. Yet I also want to think of myself as more than a low-level laborer in the service of an erstwhile dream of what higher education should be.

“We can poke all the fun we want at people pursuing what seems like a wild dream of being a thinker, writer, and educator for a living. However, all individuals have a right to be compensated for their work. And saying that the budget won’t permit such a change, while an expression of the numbers on a page, also justifies the status quo arrangements that divide the haves from the have-nots on faculties across the country.

“All of us who work in higher ed need to work together to make changes toward a more just arrangement for adjuncts in higher education. It’s time for more love, and less labor, for conditions that are just and compensation that reflects the reality of the work being done. Hierarchies can change and move into new arrangements, so long as there is agreement that justice is a goal that all must share.

For the complete essay, click here.
For 59 articles on this crisis, click here.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Concerns Over Tax Legislation and Higher Education

“The U.S. Senate early Saturday morning narrowly approved major tax legislation roundly opposed by higher education leaders and student groups. The bill, like the House of Representatives' tax plan passed last month, got no public hearings and senators themselves complained they had no opportunity to read the legislation even as last-minute amendments were offered affecting issues like private college endowments and education savings plans.

“The 51-to-49 Senate vote sets up negotiations with House leaders over substantial differences between the two bills. Most in higher education view the House version as substantially more harmful for students and colleges than the Senate bill, but many also have major concerns about the Senate legislation. Both bills would create significant potential new tax burdens for higher education institutions and would, college leaders predict, adversely affect charitable giving and state budgets that support public colleges and universities.

“Senate lawmakers approved multiple amendments Friday to provisions that would affect higher education. One allows taxpayers to deduct only up to $10,000 for state and local property taxes. Previous language eliminated state and local deductions entirely. Even with that change, however, higher education leaders say the cap could put strains on state budgets. The fear is that wealthy taxpayers in states that invest substantially in public colleges and other services will push to cut spending generally, since they will no longer receive a tax break on their state and local payments…” 

Saturday, December 2, 2017

“Let us do the work we know how to do, even better and with more determination and community than we have"-Kipp Dawson

“A message -- an appeal -- to members of my generation. On the morning just after the U.S. Senate passed what's being called the ‘tax bill.’ (Those under 60 who are reading this are welcome here, but this is a matter among us elders.)

“We are needed now. And we are being watched. This particular blow from the U.S. rulers hits more of our children/grandchildren more directly here on U.S. soil -- and more immediately -- than most of the others. Which is saying a lot.
“So this morning more of us (look around, look around) are waking up to a more personalized/immediate kind of shock than we have collectively felt since that morning a year ago when the U.S. presidential election results were certain. And right now, more of our -- and our children's -- and our neighbors --households are on the brink of immediate injury. We are being pushed together, all of the victims who might not have recognized any relationship/similarity/even humanity between/among ourselves -- pushed down by the same scoundrels. It's us now, too.
“We are being watched this morning, and today and tomorrow. Just as we watched our elders when tough things happened to our people, our peoples, our planet, in our youth.
“And because some of them did not give in to despair -- did not turn to us and say ‘we're sorry we're giving you such a messed up world’ -- we had beacons, did we not? Because some of them had a sense of history and knew their/our ancestors had stood up to similar/worse/horrendous attacks and had looked them in the face and kept fighting -- because of this, among our elders were people who gave us hope in their continued hope. Models in their resilience. A push away from despair in the resonance of their song. A hand up back to the work that has inspired the lives of those of us lucky enough to have found the battles that have energized and bound us.
“It's our turn now. It's our turn to look into the bewildered/frightened/questioning faces of our younger co-inhabitants of this planet. Not to deny the depths of fear and certainly to join in the anger. But not to apologize. Oh no, not to give any credence to the idea that all we have done to teach/heal/paint/sing/protest/organize/rejoice/create/build/join hands -- that this has been in vain. Because that is just what the ugly powers want us to do.
“Despair and guilt are understandable BUT DANGEROUS. And we know better, do we not.
“Our history -- the struggles of our ancestors and yes, of our generation also -- tell us a story of human beauty and resilience. And never has that story been more important. And who is to tell it best, if not us. We have a big, big job to do. As did those now gone from this planet who did it for us.
“So please. Get up from wherever you landed when you read the news this morning. Pick yourselves/ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and start -- not all over -- but start, again.
“Let us do the work we know how to do, even better and with more determination and community than we have.
“Let us be in the places and meetings where our younger sisters/brothers/children are working/studying/organizing and bring this gray hair of ours, these ears, and these memories of our own good work and ups and downs among those who will carry this forward. We will not lead them. But my, oh my, we can give them our support, and my, oh my, can THAT not be a salve now?
“As was the support of our elders when we got knocked down along the way. Right there with you, my beloved older sisters and brothers. Sending you love.
“PS: While we're at it, dear old ones, please, please tell your/our stories. Tell them to younger people who need to know/deserve to know, and who will know better than we how to record them. And tell them before our fading/aging memories lock tight the file cabinets in our brains in which we've stored them, and the locks rust. This is our children's heritage, and, by golly, we have no right to keep it from them (and no reason). We have so much to tell! (And the memories will help us keep going, too, won't they?!).”
-Kipp Dawson