Excellent Read: “My Education in the Patriarchy”

Wrong time of day to run this, but there’s too damned much breaking news around. A reminder that Gary Wills remains an excellent political commentor as well as an astute writer… and that the New York Review of Books deserves to be more widely read:

In 1962, I began teaching ancient Greek in the graduate school of the Johns Hopkins University. I was twenty-seven and looked younger, and some of my graduate students were almost as old and looked older, so I tried to adopt the manner of a Hopkins “Herr Doktor Professor,” hoping that would give me some authority in the classroom. In my first course, which was on Homer’s Iliad, an argumentative student kept up a disagreement on one Homeric point. When I could not convince her of my position, I huffily quoted Dr. Johnson to her: “I have found you an argument; but I am not obliged to find you an understanding.”

When I told my wife, Natalie, about that day’s class, she was shocked. I had used my position to humiliate a student who was just trying to get to the truth. When I told her the student was a woman (the sole woman student I had amid that hostile university atmosphere of 1962—undergraduate “co-eds” would not be admitted to Hopkins for another eight years), Natalie was distressed. I was not only humiliating a student but bullying her. She asked how I would feel if that happened to our then one-year-old daughter, Lydia, when she went to college. After being put in my place by Natalie, I tried to stay there (it is very helpful to marry someone smarter than yourself).

Even after that correction, I was ill-equipped to cope with the presence of women in a university. There were none in my classes when I was a graduate student at Yale, where they would not be admitted as undergraduates until six years after I got my doctorate. The fact that there was a woman in my graduate class at Hopkins was an oddity, as it would have been at many of the major universities in America…

But our day at Hopkins was not much better than Gildersleeve’s. Though I kept the respect instilled by my wife for the one woman in my class, I did not appreciate the effort that student had had to make just to get there. I learned a little about that at my first faculty meeting to allot fellowship money to applicants for the department. When the résumé came up of a woman who clearly merited admission, our archaeologist, John Young, said that no fellowship money should be given to her. “That is just throwing away money that should be saved for those who will advance the profession. Why give money to a woman who, as soon as she becomes pregnant, will drop the profession and start taking care of her babies?” Young was no shining star of the classics world himself, and I would find over the years that some of the people most intent on showing that women could not meet high standards had barely met those standards themselves, if at all. Yet I did not argue with Young. Since I knew that the head of our small department was with him on this, I went along with the policy. No woman received any money over the six years I was in the department.

I knew that opposing the admission of women to protect the standards of the classics profession was a phony argument. I had come to Hopkins from the inaugural year of Harvard’s Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, where I was part of the first class of six junior fellows (young scholars of promise given time off from teaching to develop their research). There were three fellows from America and three from abroad—one from Germany, one from England, one from Italy. The Italian, and our lone woman, was Anna Morpurgo. She was the youngest and clearly the brightest of us. She knew more languages than we did and knew them better…

Monday Morning Open Thread: Striving to Be Better

It was a (small, but not to me) Pell grant that enabled me to attend an out-of-state college. I understand that Pell grants have changed, not for the better, in the almost 40 years since then, but this still seems like a worthy idea:

Judging from my experience (and that of some of my classmates), grants targeted this way would also be useful to graduates hoping to return to their ‘decaying’ rust-belt post-industrial hometowns, or those ‘forgotten’ ex-coal-mining or Midwestern family-farm hamlets. You know, the sacred haunts of the White Working Class!

Small Consolations Open Thread (Russia Edition)

At least Betsy deVos hasn’t been responsible for any Amway-branded outbreaks of dysentery in America’s charter schools… that we know of. Yet:

Yaroslav was one of 127 children aged 3 to 7 who were diagnosed with dysentery after eating food at seven state-run day care centers and kindergartens in Moscow in mid-December.

While reports of dysentery are not new in Russia, they mostly have struck provincial areas far from the capital and in much smaller outbreaks. Even more unusual is that the catering firm blamed by opposition activists for the outbreak at six of the seven Moscow sites is owned by businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close ally of President Vladimir Putin.

Prigozhin, who has won $2 billion in contracts for supplying food to Moscow schools since 2009, built an empire on catering and maintenance contracts for the army and has been nicknamed “Putin’s chef” for serving Kremlin functions. He also has been reported to run a private military company known as Wagner that sends Russian contractors to Syria and other countries.

The magnate was among the Russians indicted last year by a U.S. grand jury in the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, alleging he funded the internet trolls involved in interfering with the U.S. presidential election in 2016. The U.S. also imposed sanctions on Prigozhin and two of his companies, Concord Catering and Concord Management and Consulting. Prigozhin has denied any involvement, and Putin said last year that while he knew the businessman, he “doesn’t count him” among his friends.[*]

Prigozhin’s company has denied it is to blame for the dysentery outbreak. The cases have caused an outcry, thanks to a lawyer who has turned a spotlight on the caterers and has mounted a campaign to help the parents whose children fell ill…

The Federal Consumer Oversight Agency confirmed 127 cases of dysentery. At public hearings in March, the capital’s chief sanitary official, Yelena Andreyeva, denied early reports that blamed it on cottage cheese supplied by a company from southern Russia. Health and education officials would not say whether the outbreak would make them reconsider signing new contracts with Concord.

Six companies that are either directly owned by Prigozhin or affiliated with him have controlled almost all school and kindergarten catering in Moscow since 2011, providing prepared meals that can be reheated at school kitchens, according to public filings and the Spark-Interfax database…

Or, y’know, we could treat this as a warning of what happens when the Dear Leader’s cronies are allowed to turn government agencies into for-profit opportunities. Even if “science is a Democrat thing“.

[*] Seems like Prigozhin may have to be sacrificed for the good of the Russian-American Oligarchs Friendship Pact, but I’m no for-pol expert…

TechBro’s Do Education

And they do it poorly:

The seed of rebellion was planted in classrooms. It grew in kitchens and living rooms, in conversations between students and their parents.

It culminated when Collin Winter, 14, an eighth grader in McPherson, Kan., joined a classroom walkout in January. In the nearby town of Wellington, high schoolers staged a sit-in. Their parents organized in living rooms, at churches and in the back of machine repair shops. They showed up en masse to school board meetings. In neighborhoods with no political yard signs, homemade signs with dark red slash marks suddenly popped up.

Silicon Valley had come to small-town Kansas schools — and it was not going well.

“I want to just take my Chromebook back and tell them I’m not doing it anymore,” said Kallee Forslund, 16, a 10th grader in Wellington.

Eight months earlier, public schools near Wichita had rolled out a web-based platform and curriculum from Summit Learning. The Silicon Valley-based program promotes an educational approach called “personalized learning,” which uses online tools to customize education. The platform that Summit provides was developed by Facebook engineers. It is funded by Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, and his wife, Priscilla Chan, a pediatrician.

It’s almost like teachers have something to offer students beyond just wikipedia searches and that hundreds of years of pedagogical research actually has been important. If there is a group of people who work harder with less respect yet contribute more that is unappreciated than public school teachers, I have no idea who it is. Not to mention, they put up with your annoying fucking kids every day, something you breeders can’t even stand.

This is not about education, btw. It’s about money. It’s always about fucking money with these guys. Oh, and ALEC is involved, because of course they are.

Title inflation and male privilege

This tweet below is a fairly common experience:

I have seen this behavior a lot. Right now, most of the work groups I’m on have a female Ph.D or MD as the primary investigator and team lead. It is not uncommon for them to be referred to as Ms. Doe while all the guys are referred to as Dr. Smith.

I get a massive amount of title inflation. My highest degree of training is a master’s degree and then an ungodly amount of on the job training and exploration. At this point in my life, going back for a doctorate does not make a ton of sense at this time. A doctorate might be something I do once the kids are in college but the current opportunity cost is higher than the benefit.

I talk with the press a lot. I talk with policy analysts frequently. I am a resource for Duke students, staff and faculty to talk about the arcane and obscure aspects of the Affordable Care Act (Silver Loading and Medical Loss Ratios for the win!) and more broadly insurance questions. I get a reasonable number of cold requests depending on the news, policy and semester cycles. /

If I am getting a cold e-mail from someone who is trying to set up a conversation about something I know something about, there is an even chance the greeting is Mr. Anderson. Most of the inaccuracies are for Dr. Anderson or Professor Anderson.

I get a massive amount of title inflation for something that I have not earned. I get that because I’m a white guy who writes with big words and arcane subjects. I benefit from this credential inflation. I always correct as Mr. Anderson whenever I’m referred to as Doctor or Professor as I have not earned those titles, but I don’t know how to change this situation so the table is not as inordinately tilted my way.