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April 12, 2013

Maybe next time don't tell your students to write pro-Nazi essays blaming the Jews for everything?

NY school district mulls action for Nazi assignment
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A high school English teacher could face disciplinary action for giving a writing assignment that asked students to make a persuasive argument blaming Jews for the problems of Nazi Germany, Albany school district officials said Friday. School district spokesman Ron Lesko said administrators were discussing what official action the 10th-grade teacher at Albany High School could face for the assignment given to students on Monday. The assignment, first reported Friday by the Albany Times Union, asked students to research Nazi propaganda, then assume their teacher was a Nazi government official who had to be convinced of their loyalty. The assignment told students they “must argue that Jews are evil.” A third of the students refused to complete the assignment. Superintendent Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard said she doesn’t believe the teacher who handed out the assignment had malicious intent. The purpose of the assignment was to have students make an argument based on limited information, but it should have been worded differently, she said. “I don’t believe there was malice or intent to cause any insensitivities to our families of Jewish faith,” the superintendent told the newspaper. Vanden Wyngaard scheduled a news conference Friday afternoon at the United Jewish Federation to discuss the controversy. The school district has not named the teacher. . . .

When to suspect you’re getting taken for a ride by your publisher

Another argument for self-publishing. Amy Chavez - Next Time I'll Self Publish - IndieReader
1. They won’t negotiate any points in your contract. (All book contracts are designed to be advantageous to the publisher and disadvantageous to the author. It’s up to you to negotiate. I tried to negotiate the major points, they refused to budge. I signed anyway). 2. They send you the second half of your advance 6 months late because they “forgot.” 3. They don’t answer emails asking basic questions you need to know so you can plan a marketing strategy (ie: Will the book be available in bookstores? Overseas? In e-book form?). 4. When they send you the edited version of your manuscript, the editing job is so bad, you have to hire your own editor to fix the mistakes (at your own expense, of course!). 5. They won’t commit to a publishing date. 6. When you ask when you should start marketing your book, they say, “It’s never too early to start promoting your book.” If they were doing the marketing themselves, they wouldn’t say this. They’d pick the BEST time to start promoting the book (taking into consideration the publishing date) to get the best exposure and to impact pre-sales of the book. A year before publication is definitely too early, as I found out. But without a publication date, I didn’t realize it was still a year out. 7. They don’t engage in attempts at pre-sales of your book. Nor can you pre-sell the book without a publishing date (see No.s 5 and 6). . . .

April 11, 2013

Colleges are charging record amounts, where is the money going?

Hint: Not to teachers. Administrator hiring spree: Colleges are hiring new staff but not new teachers.
With college "costs" (i.e. prices) skyrocketing, the natural question people should be asking is "where does all the money go?" Some of it has gone to offset reduced levels of state funding for public universities. But aggregate per student spending is up over the past ten years. So where's it going? Are professors much better paid than they used to be? Not really, although rising spending on health care benefits does explain part of it. Has there been a radical expansion in the number of faculty? No way, full-time tenure track positions have become scarce in the face of competitiion from lower-paid adjuncts. An awful lot of money is going to administrative positions: The number of Purdue administrators has jumped 54 percent in the past decade—almost eight times the growth rate of tenured and tenure-track faculty. “We’re here to deliver a high-quality education at as low a price as possible,” says Robinson. “Why is it that we can’t find any money for more faculty, but there seems to be an almost unlimited budget for administrators?” Purdue is among the U.S. colleges layering up at the top at a time when budgets are tight, students are amassing record debt, and tuition is skyrocketing. U.S. Department of Education data show that Purdue is typical: At universities nationwide, employment of administrators jumped 60 percent from 1993 to 2009, 10 times the growth rate for tenured faculty. “Administrative bloat is clearly contributing to the overall cost of higher education,” says Jay Greene, an education professor at the University of Arkansas. In a 2010 study, Greene found that from 1993 to 2007, spending on administration rose almost twice as fast as funding for research and teaching at 198 leading U.S. universities. My only problem with this analysis is that I think it's misleading to say that administrative spending is "contributing to" rising costs. That's not how things work. The issue is that schools are finding that they can get away with charging high prices. Since colleges are non-profits, ability to charge high prices doesn't lead to dividend payouts or the acquisition of big cash stockpiles. The money gets spent. And the trend lately has been to spend it on administrators.