Saturday, May 17, 2008
I’ve been teaching at a for-profit educational institution on and off for a couple years. A corporation. I'm pretty stunned at how different it is compared to public ed. Everything from facilities (better) to students (different in many ways) to dress code (we dress to teach art) to management (I have about six bosses above me, just at my location). The hierarchy is incredible in corporations. The pay is not, nor is there tenure. The paperwork is daunting. And change comes like a flash from above (as opposed to teaching in the public system where there is almost never change).
The question is, should education be money-based? (This school is Majorly Expensive, like 100 G = degree, non-accredited.) I think it can work, but it’s easy to get off track. What if higher-ups make decisions not based on what is best for learning, but based on what gets more students to enroll? I’m not saying this happens where I work, but I do know the people who run things are not artists, designers or art educators. They are business people, who are responsible to share-holders. Dealing with these people leaves me mute with wonder. Not to mention envious of their fabulous suits.
Then there is the sales staff, although they're not called sales people. There are lots of them. At public institutions the State of CA doesn’t give a damn if you attend or not, there are too many students wanting in. But at the for-profit we are keenly aware of our numbers. It’s sort of … different.
In class recently I was shocked to hear students discussing suing a teacher who they considered was grading unfairly. SUING. I supposed it’s better than shooting a teacher, but it makes me realize I have to be careful. Very careful.