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September 2010, Week 3


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Jeremy Butler <[log in to unmask]>
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Wed, 15 Sep 2010 08:33:32 -0500
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A very interesting issue of the American Association of University
Professors' publication, *Academe*, has just been published online. It
raises important questions about the "assessment" juggernaut.

-- more information --

Assessment. Accreditation. Accountability. Administrators, politicians, and,
yes, a few ideologues throw these higher education terms around with ease.

Most faculty members tend to flinch, or yawn in a way that suggests both
boredom and anxiety. But either shunning or trying to ignore these terms
isn’t working so well for us. Nor is holding up the sanctity of our research
and the academic freedom of our classrooms like crosses to ward off the
vampires of market ideology, conservative attacks, and encroaching federal
regulations. Indeed, Margaret Spellings’s Commission on the Future of Higher
Education feels remarkably undead, as more federal mandates loom under
Obama’s Department of Education than did under George W. Bush’s. And we’re
witnessing conservative ideology masquerading as transparency in Texas,
hailing the return of the repressive.

That’s why we first have to get a firm handle on the problems, so we can
then get a grip. Elucidating articles on assessment by president emeritus of
the American Council of Learned Societies Stanley Katz and on accreditation
by Council for Higher Education Accreditation president Judith S. Eaton, as
well as articles by faculty members Greg Gilbert and Debra Ellen Clark, lay
out the reality faculty need to face—and challenge. Lisa Colletta and Max
Page artistically and humorously test the prevailing winds of assessment
from the corners of two continents, while Academe intern Joel Morgan Kearney
gives a student’s perspective on learning outcomes.

Scott Jaschik, editor of Inside Higher Ed, suggests that if faculty learn
how to talk with reporters, it might be the beginning of a beautiful
relationship—or at least a much better one. And faculty member Timothy G.
Delaney shows how he made that relationship work for his own writing and

In a final, important article, two library scholars look at the unhealthy
state of scholarly publishing and suggest ways to take back the stacks.

Jeremy Butler

Professor - TCF Dept. - U Alabama

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