Reflections on Writing for the Public – Stephen Dine

When I signed up for the class Writing for the Public I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I was thinking it would be a class based on writing briefs, articles and small essays centered around expressing an idea to a general mass of people.  Although this has been a small part of the class it hasn’t been centered around this original thought.  I definitely was not under the impression that a topic would be presented and it would open my mind towards a subject I truthfully hadn’t spent much time pondering.

The topic of class and labor in the university has been extremely interesting.  Points such as adjunct pay, rise in the hiring of administration and the salaries that accompany administration had never really been a thought of mine.  I think I have developed a much better understanding of how my money is or isn’t spent.  I also have developed an opinion that higher learning has become more of a business and is operated as such.  Higher learning is a great path, but should have more thought into which university or college to attend dependent upon the major of choice.  I also think that these businesses have a great model that will most likely go unchanged or challenged for a unknown amount of time.  I believe this will happen because their business model is an expensive cost for most students and is obtained over a short amount of time.  Because of the four year time span to obtain a bachelors degree, universities don’t have to worry about repercussions from students over an extended time period.

As for my topic of class and labor in universities, it gave me a better understanding of options or lack of options available.  Finding alternate paths to fund child care is difficult.  Through my research I may have found additional place to look and that some schools embrace nontraditional students more than others.  The University of Pittsburgh I feel could do a better job.  My tuition funds activities that I wouldn’t be able to participate with fellow students.  Mainly because my distinction as an adult learner with a family.  It would be nice to see Pitt take similar paths to other schools on the subject of child care within the student population.  Government aid is available to  universities and colleges to develop and maintain child care facilities.

The assignments I thought were extremely interesting.  I really enjoyed the “workshop” classes prior to assignments being due.  This created a sense of others having similar problems and how my classmates handled the problems.  All the assignments were given with a decent amount of time with respect to the extremely short length of the term.

I would definitely recommend this class to my peers.  Especially people  need a “W” course and are interested in learning the material.  The environment was extremely conducive for a class of this style.  The circles we formed made it great to be able to put ideas out and listen to other.

I would be curious to see how different the class is conducted over a lengthy semester as opposed to the six week super speedy course.  Overall I thought this class was great and was a great tool.

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Indentured servants? -Steve

“Student Debt and the Spirit of Indenture,” by Williams I found to be extremely interesting.  I have understood that early America was founded on slavery and indentured servants.  I had not realized the extent of the indentured servant population though.  I have also not made a correlation between student loans and indentured servitude. This is a very different and interesting analogy.

Student loan increases and the the length of the terms increases with more debt.  Most students first starting in college doesn’t understand the extend of debt and the burden of payback.  Colleges and universities sell a dream and possibilities.  These businesses do a great job of selling the product, but don’t explain the extend of the cost.  A person can’t hod this against them because it is the responsibility of the prospective student to research the cost and outcome.  This is harder for most people than it seems.  I thought of this when I read “Can people make a rational choice for a term they might not realistically imagine?”  Financial awareness should start in high school or perhaps earlier.  Most prospective student rely on parents to teach them financial awareness.  A class should be provided to teach how to understand length of loan terms with respect to amount of loan,  money management, investing and realistic opportunities to develop financial awareness.

I thought it was interesting how Australia and England deal with student loan debt.  “Income contingent loans” seem like a logical process of dealing with the burden of student loans.  A percentage of an income after attending higher education seems like it would make payback much easier.  I would also assume that if a graduate has more time to look for higher paying jobs and building on the experience of their education that more loans would get paid back.  With a percentage based payback system the more a borrower makes the more that will get paid back with each payment.  Thus eliminating debt quicker and more efficiently.  It would also help people who cannot afford to pay such an enormous sum, slowly eliminate the debt incurred. I would also be curious to see if more available money from the borrows has some positive effect on the economy.  Increasing the extra money available might increase the spending of “expendable income.”  A cap on the percentage is also an important part of the system.  A extremely high cap could lead this system into a payback system of the US.  Leaving a large portion of the income of low earners to payback the loans.  I wonder why our government and institutions have not adopted a system similar to the playback systems of these two countries.

In conclusion, it is a great parallel to link indentured servitude and student loans.  Both are choices of the servant and the student, both have long lengths of terms and both are sold on the idea of a better opportunity.  Our society needs to educate our prospective students and teach them how to deal with and understand the repercussions of their choices.

Infographic of child care

Childcareinfographic

I chose this infographic because it pertains to the angle of my memo and paper. I displays the cost of day care.  Combining this inforgraphic with the basis of my white paper it is easy to see that a nontraditional student needs to think about the cost of day care while incurring the additional rising debt of higher education.  It is simplistic, yet displays all the needed information.  I like the color arrangement and the breakdown of the country.  I feel the breakdown allows the viewer to become emotional charged with image.  It lets you see how much it would be where you live.  Overall I think it covers the basis of an infographic.

Stephen Dine, Blog post for 5/18

The story of Mary Margaret Vojtko is a sad story and illustrates how colleges and universities throughout our country are also ran as a business in addition to an institution of advanced knowledge. From my perspective universities hire adjuncts for multiple reasons. Adjuncts might be professionals that have full time jobs and the universities need to hire them to fulfill criteria in obtaining accreditation. An adjunct might also be hired to keep costs down and make the school more profitable, which I assume is the case of Mary.

 

There is a large disparity between the pay of an adjunct and that of the university president. This large gap is illustrated in Daniel Kovalik, “Death of an Adjunct.” Adjuncts such as Mary making at her best $3,500 per credit class with out benefits make significantly less than the president at $700,000 with full benefits. It is arguable to decide which person has more importance to the university. The adjunct fulfills a vital role in continuing education, while the president determines policy, structure and helps secure funding. The question then needs asked, does an adjunct deserve to be compensated at 3.5% of the president. I would assume from a business view this is a great model. Labor can count as a significant amount of any businesses costs. So to reduce the cost to profit ratio, hiring adjuncts makes sense. A business model that pays an employee in her best year $25,000 will be more profitable than a business that pays an employee $50,000 plus benefits to the same work. The adjunct/professor or the subject the adjunct teaches is one reason why students attend universities.

 

A student at Duquense pays yearly tuition and fees of $32,636. With a 2014-2015 enrollment of 5,970 that provides Duquense with an income of $194,836,920 from tuition and fees. I’m assuming universities across the country have similar statistics with varying orders of magnitude. With an income of that amount I would assume universities have the ability to pay adjuncts significantly more or hire less adjuncts and more full time professors. Would Mary have been better off with more significant pay? From her situation described in the articles and I’m sure she is not the only one, benefits would have helped her immensely. With the addition of benefits would her pay have been more palatable? Without having to devote a substantial amount of her income to her rising medical costs it seems as though she wouldn’t have been living in such poverty.  In my opinion securing benefits as part of someone’s pay is a large factor in the ability to sustain a comfortable living as a person ages.

 

Does higher pay coincide with higher quality of work and better teaching? From “The Teaching Class” by Rachel Riederer she states “But being adjuncts makes teachers do a worse job than otherwise.” What she means is that adjuncts don’t want to do more work then they are compensated to complete. They might devote more time and resources to make sure students are learning and understanding what is taught. This is clearly a direct correlation to educating and adjunct pay.

 

From these articles and in my personal opinion adjuncts need their pay to be increased along with providing benefits. Adjusting the compensation would display the importance of an adjunct, provide better education and help to avoid situations where Mary found herself.