Saturday, May 30, 2015

Eugenics rears its ugly head in DJUSD


Eugenics rears its ugly head in DJUSD

My son is in 6th grade at Birch Lane Elementary and right now they are doing a “parenting” unit. Part of this unit consists of the cutesy activity of carrying around a sack of flour for a week, as if it was a baby they had to take care of. Another part of this unit was for the students to figure out a budget, with the stated intention of showing them the cost of having a baby. However, the implicit lessons being taught were not about being a responsible parent, but rather were subtle ideological messages about the “undeserving” poor, about who should and should not be reproducing, and about the value of life. This is a lesson that seems to be taught across DJUSD for years now and not something isolated to my son’s class or school.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Subverting professionalism to challenge the neoliberalization of higher education

Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting the renowned labor sociologist Ruth Milkman at a luncheon in in my department. I got to speak about my research and was told I could ask Professor Milkman a question - it could be about anything I was told, public sociology, her research, whatever.

I thought about what I would ask her for quite some time and kept coming back to one conclusion: I had to ask about the neoliberalization of higher education and the fight to defend public education, and how we could best do that.

The idea of asking some clever question about methodology, or some feel good public sociology question felt like a betrayal of everything I stand for. Doing so would be a capitulation to the theater of academic culture - you know, when we pretend that we aren't on a sinking ship, and we talk about the possible futures of graduate students, as if the very future itself isn't sinking to the bottom of the ocean.