In the last couple of days, 344 people came to this blog searching for information about Cornell's Professor Talbert who berated his students in class for acting disrespectfully. While this entire hullabaloo around Talbert's remarks has been occupying everybody's attentions, the very real assault on the system of higher education continued. To give an example, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale decided to send its teaching faculty on a 4-day furlough:
CARBONDALE, Ill. (AP) - Southern Illinois University Carbondale Chancellor Rita Cheng has told university employees four unpaid furlough days will be instituted in coming months. The furloughs are part of an effort to close a $2.5 million budget shortfall. It is being imposed on non-unionized staff and members of unions that agreed to the unpaid leave.
But does anybody care that people are deprived of remuneration for the work they do educating the younger generations of this country? Is anybody interested in the tenured faculty members scheduled to lose their jobs in Mississippi, Florida, Albany, and several other places? Are people in a rush to join the discussion about why the standards of higher education in this country are dropping so fast that soon we will be even more of a laughing stock than we already are in the world?
No, not really. Instead, a lot more people are eager to dump on a professor who had the gall to demand that the students respect him. How dare he complain? they ask. He is getting a good salary, and for now, no furloughs have been scheduled at Cornell. He should just count his blessings and shut up. If the students choose to walk all over him and disrespect him in every way, he should just put up with it because nowadays having any kind of a job - let alone a well-paying one - is a boon not to be sneezed at.
As understandable as this attitude is, it is likely to lead us to a complete destruction of our system of higher education while we keep ridiculing academics and dumping on hard-working educators.