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  • Confessions of a Community College Dean

    In which a veteran of cultural studies seminars in the 1990s moves into academic administration and finds himself a married suburban father of two. Foucault, plus lawn care.

Friday Fragments
August 7, 2014 - 10:17pm

As regular readers know, I’m no fan of the “undermatching” thesis. That’s the theory that says that students who were capable of admission to selective institutions, but who choose instead less selective or unselective ones, are harming their own chances for graduation. In practice, it serves as a way to legitimize a stigma against open-admission colleges.

That’s why I was heartened to see “undermatching” subjected to empirical scrutiny, and failing. In a study published the American Educational Research Journal, Scott Heil, Lisa Reisel, and Paul Attewell found that “selectivity...does not have an independent effect on graduation.” 

The study only looked at four-year schools, and it did find a mildly positive effect of high tuition on graduation rates.  But it’s a start, and I welcome further debunking of a pernicious theory.

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If you haven’t seen Rebecca Traister’s story on fathers this week, check it out.  It’s one of those pieces that should be so painfully obvious that it wouldn’t need to be written, but it does. 

Men need to own our share of parenting, both privately and publicly.  If we’re going to create a more child-friendly society -- which we desperately need to do -- we’re going to need to remake work so that it doesn’t rule out engaged parenthood.  Parenthood isn’t the only reason to remake work, but it’s a really basic one. 

Note to my fellow guys: “work” and “life” are too important to relegate entirely to women.  If we want work and lives too -- which we absolutely should -- then we need to step up.

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Here’s hoping that the successful theft of over a billion passwords will finally push us towards something else.  Passwords are too hard to generate, too easy to forget, and too easy to hack.  Password managers swap dozens of little risks for one big one, and usually leave out at least one platform on which I work.  (I like to think of platform agnosticism as the 21st century nerd version of freethinking.  Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Chrome OS...I use ‘em all.)  There must be a better way.

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Data is not the plural of anecdote, but I’ve seen something this summer that I’ve never seen before, and I’m wondering if others are seeing it, too.

We’ve lost record numbers of English and math adjuncts to full-time jobs elsewhere. 

A couple of those jobs have been the classic tenure-track faculty positions. But most have been some variation of “alt-ac:” high school teacher, instructional designer, that sort of thing.  Nobody has left in a huff, so I don’t think it’s a sign of discontent.  It just seems like other things are finally starting to open up.

Although it’s a short-term pain from a staffing perspective, it’s a long-term good for everyone involved.  I just hope it isn’t a brief and local fluke.

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At home, earlier this week:

The Boy: President Obama turned 53 today.

The Girl: That’s the same age as Weird Al!

And yes, we’re big supporters of the movement to recruit Weird Al to perform at the Super Bowl halftime show. You can find the petition here. Get Weird, America!

 

 

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