"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Friday, January 23, 2015

Document Dump on Rudd's Privatization Effort at University of Memphis

Last updated January 25

Since being promoted from Provost to President of the University of Memphis, at the behest of Governor Haslam, the Hydes, and and their plutocrat club, the corporate insider, David Rudd, has been fixated on austerity measures and privatization of the university.

His favorite crackpot scheme of the moment involves bringing in a New York corporation to offer minimal "broken windows" temp teacher preparation to serve the children in Memphis who need the most experienced and professionally prepared teachers.

This would represent an experimental step toward a charter university model.

University faculty members have not been enthused.

Below is a summary of finding from public records documents.  Prepared by University of Memphis associate professor, Mate Wierdl, I have edited parts of the summary.

by Mate Wierdl

The main source of the findings below is a PDF file, which is a scanned compendium of public record documents that were obtained via a FOIA request in November. They cover the period June-November, 2014.  The contained documents are arranged in chronological order except the last document which is dated June 3.


(I refer to this source as S, and will make references as "S, page 22.")


The plan is that students, from all departments, will be recruited, via a professional ad campaign, to take part in the Relay program after their sophomore year.  After a student leaves her home department, she will take part in a one year teacher "internship" (as it's nowadays called), and will end up graduating from University College.  In other words, the teacher training program will try to cannibalize (not my word, as you will see) our majors.  One problem with this is that under the new budget model SRI, departments will get their $ based on the number of graduates they produce.  Every student, then, going to Relay will represent a loss of funding for other departments.

The program will cost $5 million per year to the University.  Relay will have full autonomy over the program, and they will  handle this taxpayers' $5 million without apparent accountability.  This the very essence of what they call privatization: public money goes into corporate hands without public scrutiny about its spending and without added benefit to the public.

The University will provide space and maintenance of facilities without charge.  Meanwhile, a professor in the math department is on the verge of giving back his half a million NSF grant, since the University couldn't find a space for him). 

The millions (about $20 million) to be provided by donors to the program during the first two years will pass through the university without any overhead, even though the University demands hefty accounting fees for other grant money coming through the university.

Here are some of the highlights from the source.

Professional marketing will take place to recruit majors from other departments (students personal data will be made available for this purpose)

S, page 40, Section titled "Structured campus engagement"

In addition to the upfront professional campaign, ongoing cultivation and recruitment strategies will be conducted on the University of Memphis campus. Ongoing campus-based outreach will include multiple forms of communication and informational sessions encouraging students to explore this pathway into teaching.

Targeted marketing and outreach, particularly to the sophomore class and with a focus on specific candidate pools (e.g., STEM, Honors students), will be conducted through similar on-campus channels as those for the campus-based-ontreach.

S, page 41, last paragraph

In addition, a one-time investment of up to $2M over the first two years of the program is envisioned to support the professional marketing campaign and candidate cultivation activities to encourage service through this innovative program. This funding would cover the development of the content and messaging for all marketing and communications related to this program, website development, professional agency fees, and media campaigns (e.g., social media, viral video, etc.) that aim to effectively reach high school students and first- and second-year students at the University of Memphis (and other colleges) and attract them to this new teacher preparation program at the University of Memphis.

Students will not graduate from home departments but from University College.

S, Page 44, Secion a.

Students who successfully complete the core program will be eligible to receive 30 credits (or the equivalent credits for one-quarter of the required courses for graduation from the University of Memphis). These credits will count towards graduation from the University of Memphis with a Bachelor in Liberal Studies awarded by University College.

The program will compete with the existing teacher training program, and the president knows this well.

S, Page 80

What happens to the current teacher education program? Are the current players on campus ready for a pretty radical new entity that will be “competing” and possibly cannibalizing their students/revenue?

S, Page 47

The success of the new teacher preparation program likely will lead to a material decline in demand for the current teacher preparation program and the University is prepared to manage this transition.

Relay program's planning was done in secret (reminder: we found out about the program from the Commercial Appeal)

S, Page 21, Email from Ed Dean Rakow to Legal Counsel Murry

When can we meet to discuss the status of this and what I am allowed to tell concerned faculty?

The president is asking ex-president Martin [Governor Haslam's mentor] how to "convince" faculty that the relay program is not competing with theirs [knowing full well, it will compete and may cannibalize it, as we saw above. Faculty trying to find out about the secretly planned relay program are called "loud voices."]

S, Page 61, president's email quoted in an email by ex-president Martin

2) needing to coordinate in some fashion with the College of Education faculty that this is a complimentary program (i.e. an urban teacher prep program to pair with the suburban work they're currently doing) not a competing one with the College, otherwise they'll likely see it as an "outside" program in direct competition. We'd need to coordinate with them a bit so a few loud voices don't drown out the good work and overshadow the effort.

No overhead fees for the donors' millions of dollars

S, Page 66, email from the President

2. The pass through on philanthropy dollars, with no recovery or over-head charges by the U of M ..

The above references are just samples.  Further documentation is required to determine the details of the proposed budget, salaries, university support, and other departmental sacrifices.

Investigators are combing records to figure out the exact responsible parties for this apparent intentional violation of shared governance at the University and to uncover the motivation and driving forces behind the Relay program.  

A wider issue than having a private company running a "department" on campus at our expense is the recent outsourcing of university functions to private companies: recruiting, web design, temp workers, etc.  In other words, the apparent privatization of higher education---arriving at the University of Memphis at the same President Rudd moves in.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous7:55 PM

    Children living in poverty are as deserving of highly qualified teachers as are children living in affluence. The narrowing of curriculum for poor children and the lowering of standards for their teachers are the New Jim Crow. Stay strong in your opposition to this insanity. I applaud you.

    Abigail Shure