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Intro: "The following is a partial transcript of a recent speech delivered by Noam Chomsky at the University of Toronto at Scarborough on the rapid privatization process of public higher education in the United States."

Portrait, Noam Chomsky, 06/15/09. (photo: Sam Lahoz)
Portrait, Noam Chomsky, 06/15/09. (photo: Sam Lahoz)

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+22 # fredboy 2011-08-09 10:25
Just escaped a higher education career after being ordered to use the "forced curve" grading system. It is based on the false assumption that all groups will perform in a similar fashion with a uniform spread of grades. I'd spent three decades developing and sharing a precise, accurate, provable, and fair grading approach that--due to its clarity--proved highly motivational, thus enhancing student performance. When asked to explain why the "forced curve" was essential, the only response was "because Harvard does it." So I pulled the rip cord.
-4 # rf 2011-08-10 05:51
Yeah...We've got a Harvard man at the top...see what that got us...screwed!
0 # USofU 2011-08-14 12:53
The United States of USURY?

A few centuries ago folks used to take such matters seriously...

Now our generations have to learn (what was common sense) again- the sooner the better.

The USofU is a thoroughly UNconstitutiona l entity.
+17 # Interested Observer 2011-08-09 11:16
It's Sixteen Tons for everyone in the new great corporate company store that was once America.
+18 # angelfish 2011-08-09 11:55
Welcome to our Brave New World where Ignorance is rewarded and Intelligence is a thing to be shunned! The Fascists in Washington, particularly the K.N.F.P. (Koch/Norquist Fascist Party are beating the drum for this lunacy! Instead of "No child left behind" it's now, "Throw EVERYBODY off the bus that can READ"! Madness!
0 # CommonSense 2011-08-14 12:55
So in other words, They are making an opportuntiy for US to change it.
+19 # artful 2011-08-09 12:06
Just one more step in the great dumbing down of America, and the perhaps inevitable destruction of this once proud and fine Nation. And the winner is the Kochs and their teabagger serfs . . . They need to be aware of that old saw . . . be careful what you wish for . . .
+5 # Carolyn 2011-08-09 12:23
We need a president who upholds the Constitution.
+5 # John Talbutt 2011-08-09 12:48
I was involved in union organizing drives in the 1960s and the 21st century. New hires in the 1960s, whether they wanted to join or not, had some concept of what a union was. In the 21st century, whether college educated or not, many had not a clue.
+12 # Gene 2011-08-09 12:58
Noam Chomsky is an international treasure!
0 # CommonSense 2011-08-14 13:20
Yea maybe so, but he still doesn't seem to put all the pieces together.

For example, he mentions "Adam Smith's Principal Architects of Policy in the State Corporate Complex"... who are indeed mostly villains, but would it not be helful to pontificate as to WHY They are villians?

A. Smith's work was first & foremost obscurantist propaganda seeking to justify the control of national currencies (and thus economies, and- increasingly- politics) by private cartels [Some straight-out call this state of affairs "state capture"]. The chief strategy to accomplish this was (in the 1300s and 1700s) and, incredulously, still IS mis-defining "real" money as a commodity, as opposed to simply a matter of public agreement (fairness) and public LAW.

Sounds pretty simple, but the society-fulfill ing prophecies from going with one of these cardinal concepts as opposed to the other (commodity-cart el or legal-fiat) are radically divergent... like the tune they played in 1781 at Yorktown: "The World Turned Upside Down."
+1 # Cynthia 2011-08-09 15:02
Sad but true. Of course, we knew it already. All about taxes, isn't it, and what they mean? Which comes down to, do we want a government or not? The question is coming to a head, and perhaps then we will see a change for the better. Never can tell.
+5 # rf 2011-08-10 05:49
It is more about how taxes are given away to the military and industry...or more accurately we should say stolen by them.
+3 # reiverpacific 2011-08-09 15:30
Agreed: Chomsky is a good progressive voice but -OK, look, I'm not attacking anybody really but who funds M.I,T? I really don't know but isn't that an Ivy League school of advanced studies where the writer is a long-establishe d prof' there?
His point is a good one but I am quite honestly a bit jaded about academia and it's default elitism, self-regard of professors and the internal political soap-operas which can match any the tabloid media comes up with. How do I know that? because I turned my back on the opportunity to join a couple of faculties many times in favor of being in the real world.
In one of my fields (Architecture and planning -fine arts is the other) highly-graded graduate students are immediately recycled through the system into adjunct then full professor status without ever having any office, field nor engineering/con struction liaison experience, so what the Hell, pray, do they have to teach?
So what happened to APPRENTICESHIPS , including in the arts and sciences?
This could be one of the answers to the continued privatization and elitism of the halls of learning.
Let 'em have their marble Halls; we still need to design, build, create, invent and manufacture things and learning a trade or profession first hand seems to me to be an admirable and proven method of not only restoring real learning but creating worthwhile jobs.
+1 # rf 2011-08-10 05:47
I've had two apprentices and I can tell you that it takes a tremendous investment of time to teach someone a fine skill. So much of the pie has been taken away from me that I no longer can afford that time and my skill set will die from now on. Tough shit america.
0 # reiverpacific 2011-08-10 09:34
Y'know in former times apprentices actually sometimes paid to learn a skill or trade, or worked for next to nothing until they eventually knew enough to be paid from the profits they helped to generate.
I apprenticed myself to an old Chealsea potter for more than a year after graduating with distinction from one of the top Art Colleges on the planet. Happy was the day when he told me that I was now going to be "paid by the piece" as my work had progressed to the point where it was actually contributing to his client base. I have never regretted the time invested in an apprentice which is just another term for "Working student". I don't know what your trade or skill-set is but I can certainly understand your frustration in this soulless, corporate world and I'm sorry that you regret the investment. "O Tempora, O' Morés" as Cicero once remarked.
I actually was originally an apprentice in a Scottish Architectural practice -again, paid next to nothing at first -and went to College part time, which saved me a "Year out" in practice required before finals in the UK. I was always grateful for the variety of work I was exposed to and the personal interaction with some real Scottish craftsmen/ tradesmen in the field -and often real no-bullshit, hilarious characters in their own right.
Seems that "Character" counts for very little any more!
0 # Glen 2011-08-10 07:16
Your experience, reiverpacific, is much as mine, but also includes elementary school, high school, and seeing the changes, not only in the schools, but the influence of corporate culture and the military on young students. Even now, with jobs disappearing daily, students continue to think of themselves as highly educated and worthy of jobs in spite of little experience and few skills with people.

Students, should they be unable to attend an increasingly expensive college, are now more than willing to join the military, with few exceptions.

Perhaps we had better adjust to the changes.
+3 # Ralph Averill 2011-08-10 02:45
o more free/cheap higher education means that those whose families can't afford to pay up front graduate as indentured corporate servants. Tack on the mortgage, car payments, credit card, and you have millions of hamsters running on their little wheels. In front of each is a big screen hi-def TV telling the little rodents how lucky they are, what a good life they're living, keep on spinning that wheel!
+8 # rf 2011-08-10 05:44
My nephew didn't even apply to universities. I asked why and he said he wasn't sure what he wanted to do so he would not go to school and have a huge debt hanging over his head. I just heard of another kid saying it is not worth the money to go to college. This country is playing with fire here. We came to be what we are by having the GI bill after WWII which educated a huge group of America's poor that had more ambition and intelligence. If those people are not given a possibility for advancement, they become working class, disappointed, and then dangerous. There is only so far people can be pushed down before they push back. We are one police shooting from an armed version of English riots...cuz our kidz got gunz!
+2 # Pat Luppens 2011-08-10 17:02
Here's a chilling thought. A free education is still available.... military acadamies and ROTC. Brilliant young people who lack the means to get a decent education will submit to military indoctrination to get an education. Get ready for President Petraeus and all that entails.
0 # Lucius 2011-08-13 07:57
It has been well documented that higher education in the US is shifting away from the old-school 'traditional' liberal arts education toward a more market oriented, trade-school like system. Knowledge and inquiry for its own sake is quickly being replaced with practical skills applicable in a corporatized economy.

Chomsky is correct to bemoan this sorry state of intellectual affairs, but this country has never had much love of 'egg-head' ivory tower types and always idolized the cowboy and the soldier. The marginalization of the academic has always been a fact of life, and gun-totin' he-men have always trumped the scholar. "Those who can, do..." etc.

So, it should be no wonder that public universities would be converted from sanctuaries of free inquiry into factories that issue a product able to fit into a corporate economy. Perhaps such a transformation might be resisted, but if one believes that survival depends upon acquiring the tools and skills to adapt and succeed in
‘business’ then what choice is there?

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