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

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Will Rudd Hold Open Meetings on Corporate Teacher Training Plans at UofM?

On January 14, University of Memphis president, David Rudd, attended a faculty meeting to provide some answers regarding the plan to create a teacher education caste system inside the College of Education.  (See previous stories here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.) The plan provides for $5 million per year of public money going to pay corporate know-nothings from Relay Graduate School of Education to provide temp professors and Doug Lemov's "pedagogical content" to train 3 year temps to become total compliance teacher-guards in the corporate charter chain gangs in Memphis.

I was at that meeting when Rudd noticed that the Commercial Appeal's education reporter, Jane Roberts, had entered the room.  He asked her to leave unless someone objected.  When I objected, he called for vote among education faculty to decide if "outsiders" should stay at the meeting.  The vote was conducted by a show of hands with Rudd peering from the front of the room.  The majority of  education faculty voted to have us ejected.

Last week one of the "outsider" professors at that meeting wrote to Rudd, asking if a promised public meeting would be held.  Below is that letter with Rudd's response and another letter responding to Rudd's dissembling.

Will there be a meeting to find out answers to some basic questions, such as
  • Why is a New York corporation being offered $5 million per year in University funds to provide third rate teacher "training" of University of Memphis undergraduates, who have no idea what they are getting into?
  • What are the elements of this bogus teacher education program for Memphis's poor children who are locked down in chain gang charters?
  • Why is a Research 1 public university offering the poorest children of Memphis temporary beginning teachers who are trained in grinding out test scores, when these children need the most experienced, caring, and professionally prepared teachers?  Where is the administrative and moral accountability?
  • Who will the professors be in this program if it materializes, and what kind of educational preparation must they have?
  • Why was this program developed in secret, without input from the public or the faculty of the University of Memphis?
  • Why must University of Memphis departments pay for space, while Relay is offered classrooms without charge?
  • Why does the University of Memphis collect hefty accounting fees for administering federal grants, when millions in private philanthropic money will pass through the university free of such charges?
  • How much of the $5 million (per year) handout to Relay will is go for administrative costs?
  • Why was Relay chosen for this mission to corporatize a public university?
  • What role did Governor Haslam's office play in this initiative?
No doubt there will be other questions.

Inquiry letter from art professor, Cedar Nordbye:
From: Cedar Lorca Nordbye (cnordbye)
Sent: Tuesday, January 27, 2015 2:26 PM
To: Michael David Rudd (mdrudd)
Cc: robertsj@commercialappeal.com; Wierdl (mwierdl)
Subject: Open meeting to discuss teachers certification program

Dear President Rudd, 
At the meeting in Ball Hall earlier this month, when, under your supervision, education faculty voted to have a closed meeting and to remove visitors (including faculty from directly impacted departments) you promised to me that we could have another meeting which would be open to the whole community. Would you be willing now to follow up on that and hold such a meeting? Thank you very much, Cedar
Rudd's reply:
On Tue, Jan 27, 2015 at 7:44 PM, Michael David Rudd (mdrudd) wrote:
Dear Cedar:

I appreciate the note.  We can certainly hold an open meeting, simply work with Stephanie to coordinate a date/time.  Additionally, I'm more than happy to meet with the Faculty Senate, something I've now offered several times but have yet to hear back. With respect to the COE, a few clarifications are important.  It's not a meeting I was "supervising".  It was a meeting in response to a letter received from ICL faculty,and one coordinated by the Dean.  The meeting addressed COE business, as do all of our college-specific meetings. College and department-specific meetings are not "open".  I've copied our general counsel if you have questions.  It should also be pointed out that I turned the meeting over to the faculty to address their wishes about making it a college-specific meeting.  If you recall, they publicly voted, 42-11 (80%-20%) by my memory, to make it a college-specific meeting.
. . . .I look forward to hearing your thoughts, along with additional faculty interested in participating.  Please coordinate with Stephanie in my office and Jan in our Provost's office to get something set up.

Regards, MDR

Reply to Rudd by math professor, Dr. Wierdl:
From: Wierdl Máté
Date: Wed, Jan 28, 2015 at 6:25 AM
Dear David,

My interpretation of the ICL meeting was different. 

You told the COE faculty you want to have an intimate conversation with them, and that's why outsiders like me should leave.  Then you called for an open  vote in this matter. 

If I was given three minutes  to explain why I should be present, then ask  COE faculty to vote secretly, the outcome of the vote could have been very different.

The meeting took place exactly because of the work of the journalist who exposed the secret planning of the relay program, and because I  communicated  the journalist's work to the senate.  And we are the ones who got kicked out.

There are fundamental problems with running the Relay program on campus, and the program has consequences to every department.   What message do you think you sent out when you recommended to kick  out those who could have helped  the COE to form a more educated opinion about the Relay program?

What were the new secrets that needed to be discussed only between COE and

My understanding is that Relay and UofM is about to sign an MOU and Relay will start advertising in classes starting February.  So we have yet another project where faculty is delegated just to stand by without given a role in the decision making. 

The only thing we can do is submit public records' requests to our own university to find out what happened.  Great way to run a public university, David.




  1. Anonymous5:22 PM

    Is University of Memphis a public university? Why doesn't the public have a right to inquire how its tax dollars are being spent?

  2. Yes, it is, and yes, they do.