Home / General / World’s Last True Leftist Becomes Central Cog of Neoliberal University

World’s Last True Leftist Becomes Central Cog of Neoliberal University

Comments
/
/
/
212 Views

nelson-muntz-image-nelson-muntz-36388753-1000-1000

Hey, what’s Freddie doing?

Hi, I’m Freddie. I’m an academic and a writer. I’m the Academic Assessment Manager at Brooklyn College in the City University of New York system. In that capacity, I work with faculty and administrators to better assess student learning and student outcomes, to make Brooklyn College work better and more equitably for students, instructors, and the entire college community. I’m also a writer who writes for newspapers, magazines, and websites. My first book is currently under contract with Harvard University Press.

LOL

No sorry, Fucking LOL. What a gigantic hypocrite. I guess we know why Freddie left Twitter recently.

I wonder how he will assess the work of his new colleague, “tenured radical” Karl Steel?

It should go without saying, but this is a lie. It’s an intentional and direct misrepresentation of what I wrote. It’s a lie. There is no way that any remotely honest human being could read my piece and believe that I said that race doesn’t matter. None. At all. It is flagrantly dishonest. Karl Steel: you are a liar and a coward. I know that being cool with the right people is all that people like you care about. I know this is all about teams, for you. I know that politics is, for people like Karl Steel, a game of popularity and digital strokes, where what matters is not that what you say is true or fair or generative or politically valuable or smart, but rather that it deliver the right kind of reciprocal regard for others so that you can get favorites and retweets in return. I get that all of these people are a few years away from NIMBY liberalism and, finally, affluent apathy. I still find it sort of shocking that some people can be so basically, directly dishonest.

I mean, it’s just possible that someone who has spent years telling liberals and the left that THEY ARE DOING IT WRONG LISTEN TO ME I AM VERY SERIOUS!!! might have some bridges to mend as he goes into the neoliberal academy.

And look, I don’t begrudge any PhD finding a job. The job market for professors is horrible. However, there are two caveats. The first is that taking a job as an assessment person is literally a deal with the devil. I would rather move to the private sector. At least you could have pride and, I don’t know, a secret hope that someday you could overthrow capitalism from the inside or something. But Freddie has been angling for an assessment job for some time.

Second, it’s that Freddie is a huge hypocrite. He built a whole and quite famous internet persona on the evils of everything he is now doing. I guess he took this job because:

I haven’t been an activist for over 10 years, but for a long time I still believed in political progress. And one day not too long ago I woke up and realized I just don’t. Not anymore. And every day, the conversation gets more safe, more corporate, more restricted, less interesting, less honest, and less free.

And now he will make academia more safe, more corporate, more restricted, less interesting, less honest, and less free.

I mean, Christ, if you are leaving the internet because you have accepted a job in the neoliberal university helping to destroy the academy, at least don’t pretend you are leaving the internet because of your principles.

But then again, #Freddie.

I just have one last very important question. Will Freddie be wearing pleated khakis in his new job? I would have linked to the original post where he accused me of this because I don’t know why but it’s a huge insult evidently. But Freddie is cleaning up his internet history as fast as he can.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+Share
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Linkedin
  • Pinterest
  • Captain Oblivious

    So basically, judgmental holier-than-thou prick gets a job where his judgmental holier-than-thou prickery pays better and is more likely to be taken seriously.

    • It will be perfect when he is a union-busting provost in 2035. Is there any way this doesn’t happen?

      • Captain Oblivious

        Global warming? Manhattan may be under water by then.

        • efgoldman

          I’m the Academic Assessment Manager at Brooklyn College in the City University of New York system.

          Brooklyn has some pretty high hills. I know where the college is, but I have no idea of its elevation.

          • skate

            Downtown Brooklyn, uphill from DUMBO and a block from Fort Greene Park. Around 50 to 70 feet above river level. Gonna take some ice melt before the river gets that high.

          • skate

            Oops, sorry. Location I just gave was for the downtown Brooklyn unit of the dreaded LIU.

            CUNY Brooklyn College is on Bedford in Midwood, south of Prospect Park. That’s only 30 or so feet above sea level. Area’s pretty flat so they could be canoeing to work there next century.

            • Gregor Sansa

              Meh. I expect 2-4 meters of sea level rise, the majority packed into one lucky decade in the latter half of this century. I’d give weak odds against it reaching 30 feet before 2200. I guess “could” is fair though.

          • Pseudonym

            I know where the college is, but I have no idea of its elevation.

            Not too high academically if they’re hiring Freddie. <rimshot>

        • cpinva

          “Manhattan may be under water by then.”

          and, if there is a god, someone will have chained a very heavy anchor to one of his legs.

          just looking at his picture, I can easily see him hitting on 18 year-old freshmen girls, who also want to major in English. he’ll be doing this, because no woman his own age will have anything to do with him.

          • DrDick

            I am pretty sure no woman with a modicum of sentience and any self respect will have anything to do with him. He may have better luck with the pros, but I would not bet on it.

            • cpinva

              ” He may have better luck with the pros, but I would not bet on it.”

              they’ll only have to tolerate him for 15 minutes at a time, and be getting paid to do so. small doses, and money, make many things more tolerable.

          • Brett

            Nah, he’ll marry a charter school consultant that he’ll meet at a corporate-sponsored luncheon, then send his kids to private school while living in a gentrifying neighborhood.

      • Barry_D

        “It will be perfect when he is a union-busting provost in 2035. Is there any way this doesn’t happen?”

        Yes – no unions left. He’ll probably be involved in hunting down and killing the last few remaining tenured faculty members.

        • He’ll probably be involved in hunting down and killing the last few remaining tenured faculty members.

          Worst Blade Runner reboot pitch EVER.

          • N__B

            Zoom. Enhance. Move left. Zoom. Enhance. Move left.

          • Reworked Voight-Kampff test:

            You see an adjunct crying because they have to drive 50 miles to cover a night class in another state and their car broke down again. What do you do?

            A graduate student comes to ask for your support in forming a union. You have had a good relationship with this student in classes. What do you tell them?

            The dean calls you into their office to ask your advice about curriculum reorganisation. What part of their anatomy do you lick and how vigorously?

            A male colleague who’s a lot of fun at post talk booze up is up for tenure. How do you vote?

            A female colleague who’s been doing all the committee work for the department while having had a child is up for tenure. How do you vote?

            • J. Otto Pohl

              This is easy.

              1. We have no adjuncts here.

              2. We have no graduate students other than an MBA program here.

              3. The only dean here is the Dean of Students.

              4. We have no tenure here.

              5. We have no tenure here.

              • skate

                6. You are eaten by a groo.

            • PohranicniStraze

              I think the answer to all of these questions is to flip them on their back and leave them to bake in the desert. How’d I do?

              • Snarki, child of Loki

                Needz moar ‘fence posts’

                • PohranicniStraze

                  Impalement seemed a bit harsh, even for adjuncts. I guess I’m not cut out to be in assessment.

    • daves09

      Would it not have been delicious if Herr Professor Loomis had arrived at his office one morning and found in his in box the announcement that Freddie had become AAM at his university.
      I tremble, but is it terror or joy?

      • I half expect this to happen at some point.

        • Brett

          Since he’s at Brooklyn College, we could ask Corey Robin what he thinks of Freddie now.

  • efgoldman

    I’m the Academic Assessment Manager at Brooklyn College in the City University of New York system.

    I’ve never been an academic, thank FSM. And I’m fifty years out of school. But I spent decades in jargon-rich environments avoiding MBAs whenever I can. This sure sounds to me like one of those jobs a VP creates to get more funding for things that nobody can actually describe or justify. Budget uber alles, a trick they learned from the Pentagon and defense contractors.

    • cpinva

      “I’ve never been an academic, thank FSM. And I’m fifty years out of school. But I spent decades in jargon-rich environments avoiding MBAs whenever I can.”

      I’ve never been an academic either. probably a good thing, as there is a very high probability I would have ended up killing an administrator. I have, like yourself, spent decades in jargon-rich environments. unfortunately, my job has pretty much required that I spend lots of time interacting with MBA’s, JD’s & CPA’s. what’s really even more frightening is that I’ve reached a point where I can, without much actual thought, reel off entire paragraphs of what sounds like intelligent narrative. in fact, it is just so much bullshit.

      that I am able to do this is kind of horrifying, in the same way a train wreck is: you want to look away, but you can’t. hopefully, after I retire, I can be rehabilitated back to a normal person.

      • Snarki, child of Loki

        cpinva: “I’ve never been an academic either. probably a good thing, as there is a very high probability I would have ended up killing an administrator.”

        So, would you LIKE an academic job? Maybe as a freelance contractor?

        • cpinva

          “Maybe as a freelance contractor?”

          oohhhhhh, I like that, sounds like a character in a James Bond movie. you know, the guy/gal MI6 brings in, to off the especially noxious foreign dictator, giving them plausible deniability.

          • Bruce B.

            Adjunct spying, leveraging the core competencies of marketplace efficiency to deliver just-in-time actionables and corpses.

    • Barry_D

      “I’m the Academic Assessment Manager at Brooklyn College in the City University of New York system.”

      That’s a pretty good deal, coming in as a ‘manager’.

      • That’s probably pretty low on the totem pole.

        It is directly related to his PhD, so.

        • Pseudonym

          I wonder if “manager” essentially equals “doesn’t qualify for hourly overtime pay”.

          • Probably not specifically. I mean, I’m sure all such roles are non-hourly, but we have a non-academic “research support manager” (with a PhD) who’s job is to help seek out research opportunities, assist us in getting research funding, formulate strategy etc. In our research support office we also have people who work on the more bureaucratic and nuts and boltsy stuff such as finance, etc.

            So if I had to guess, it’s basically indicating that he has special expertise comparable to a member of academic stuff but is not part of the academic staff (but instead part of the professional staff). There’s probably a dean he reports to who is the member of the administration with this in their remit and each department might have a member of academic staff looking out for that as part of their duties.

            • (((Hogan)))

              The head of the unit is an (acting) assistant provost.

      • efgoldman

        That’s a pretty good deal, coming in as a ‘manager’.

        Maybe it’s like an “assistant store manager” at CVS, which usually means the person who can open, lock up, work really dangerously long and unhealthy hours, for what looked like a good salary when s/he signed on.

    • DrDick

      Actually, it is just another hammer to beat on faculty and academic departments with. It also does what you suggest, which makes it even more attractive to administrators.

  • J. Otto Pohl

    I am still not sure what Dr. DeBoer does or why it is important. I would like to find an intellectual leftist thinker so they can parse the politics and ideology of the PYD and YPG for me. But, Dr. DeBoer doesn’t seem to have written anything on that subject.

    • Well, Dr. Pohl, I didn’t ever go to college and I don’t have a degree, but I think I have a vaguely functional lump of brain meat and I like to take it for a spin every now and again. So I’d be glad to talk to you at some point about PYD and YPG, whatever those are. I’m pretty sure I can provide as much useful input as our friend Freddie ever could.

      • DrDick

        Much more in all probability.

    • cpinva

      “I am still not sure what Dr. DeBoer does or why it is important.”

      you, and thousands of other people. his very existence remains a mystery, to anyone with at least two functional synapses.

      • efgoldman

        his very existence remains a mystery

        Not so much; he had to have a father and a mother. It’s in all the textbooks.

        • cpinva

          “he had to have a father and a mother.”

          what, you’ve never heard of spontaneous generation?

          • guthrie

            Maybe he’s a homunculus?

        • Mrs Tilton

          Zombie Dolly the Sheep is on line two for you. She’d like to say, “Baaaa” and then eat your delicious brains.

    • Pseudonym

      I wouldn’t mind hearing from even a self-described reactionary thinker dissecting the politics and ideology of the PYD and YPG, if they addressed it with expertise and intellectual integrity.

      On a completely unrelated note, is there a reason your username no longer links to your blog?

      • J. Otto Pohl

        I am finding dissecting the politics of Kurdistan difficult. The ideology of the PYD and its armed wing YPG appear very different than previous left wing organizations. In recent decades the left wing of Kurdish politics especially in Turkey and Syria has undergone a lot of fundamental changes and sifting them out is not easy. The old style Marxism-Leninism of the PKK has metamorphized into something that appears to be completely new.

        On the second one I couldn’t figure out how to link to it when LGM went to the new system of registered users with WP passwords to cut down on trolls.

        • I couldn’t figure out how to link to it when LGM went to the new system of registered users with WP passwords to cut down on trolls.

          When you are logged in to WordPress and go to the so-called “dashboard” for LGM, thus, you will see—if your experience is like mine—a major heading (about 1/3 of the way to the end) “CONTACT INFO” under which the second fillable blank has the minor heading “Website”.

        • efgoldman

          The old style Marxism-Leninism of the PKK has metamorphized into something that appears to be completely new.

          You learned everything yu know fro Andy Kaufman, right, Jotto?

          • daves09

            Kurdistan-it’s not just a movement-it’s a job.
            Which involves attending EU conferences and staying at 5 star hotels.
            Am willing to sacrifice anything for party.

  • Whidby

    Wallace Sayre had something to say about this sort of thing.

  • Warren Terra

    My first book is currently under contract with Harvard University Press.

    This is frankly shocking.

    • altofront

      Well, note the specific language, “currently under contract.” That suggests that this is a preliminary contract, signed in advance of a completed MS and dependent on positive reader reports and the final approval of the editorial board. Doesn’t mean they won’t publish it, of course, but (assuming I’m correct) the contract may not mean all that much at this point.

      • djw

        Could be very different in different fields, but my understanding is at least in the kind of areas I work in, HUP and comparable presses would not give a contract to a first-time author without a positive assessment of a draft of the entire manuscript.

        • I’m not surprised that his academic work is good. The problem with Freddie isn’t that he’s stupid. It’s that he’s a navel-gazing, holier than thou, hypocritical, poseur asshole.

          • tsam

            That sort of language is not liberal I’m voting for stein.

            • N__B

              A stein of beer or a stein of ale?

              • Pseudonym

                I wonder if it’s possibly relevant or even interesting that while stein, johnson, and trump are all English common nouns, there’s a notable exception among presidential candidates.

                • N__B

                  Bush

                  Gore

                  Ford – the river crossing version

                  Jumping back a bit, Smith

                • rea

                  Carter

                • (((Hogan)))

                  Sorry, my dukakis must be in my other suit.

                • tsam

                  Hogan;

                  I’m re-reading Catch-22 (I’d forgotten how darkly hilarious that book is–though the age at which I’d read it was pre-Army service, so now it’s beyond hilarious).

                  Anyway, I’ve finally found the voice I’ve assigned to you. The omniscient narrator of Catch-22.

                • (((Hogan)))

                  Thanks, probably.

                  (Now I have to read it again.)

              • tsam

                A stein of bier, saith Lt Sheisskopf

          • Warren Terra

            Given that his writing in other areas was infamous for its shallowness and self-satisfaction, not to mention its turgidity, I would not expect good academic writing from him.

          • cpinva

            “The problem with Freddie isn’t that he’s stupid.”

            assumes facts nowhere in evidence. the ability to blurt out lots of words, some of which actually make some kind of sense next to or in the same general vicinity of other words, is not, by itself, substantive evidence of not stupid.

          • mikeSchilling

            It’s that he’s a navel-gazing, holier than thou, hypocritical, poseur asshole.

            Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

          • LFC

            It’s worth pointing out the obvious: that Erik Loomis would not have been able to form an opinion of DeBoer if he hadn’t read DeBoer’s blog posts and the other stuff he wrote.

            Person X can be a poseur asshole blah blah blah but if no one, or very few people, read what X writes, no one will be able to form an opinion of X.

            There are lots of bloggers, current or former, and at some point DeBoer evidently crossed a threshold in terms of numbers of people who read him and he consequently became an internet ‘persona’. There could be and probably are hundreds of other putatively ‘serious’, putatively knowledgeable, hypocritical poseur assholes writing online, but Loomis chose to read this particular (alleged) poseur asshole (DeBoer) and evidently got into exchanges w him and (perhaps, I don’t know for sure) traded insults, etc.

            A main reason, though not of course the only reason, Loomis cares about DeBoer’s current employment is that, of all the bloggers Loomis might have read, Loomis chose to read that one (among others). Speaking as someone who read DeBoer only on rare occasion, I really don’t give a fuc*ing sh*t (1) where he’s employed or in what position, (2) how much of a hypocrite he is, or (3) what press his book is under contract with.

    • John Revolta

      Well I will bet anybody that if and when this book does come out, there will be a nice blurb from Jonah Goldberg on the dustjacket.

      • My first guess is that it’s related to his thesis, not his general political stuff. Jonah won’t blurb that.

        • (((Hogan)))

          Which is, in fact, an empirical study of a particular assessment system.

    • Richard Hershberger

      My area of expertise is early baseball history. The absolutely worst book in the field–I mean shockingly bad, and obviously so even from leafing through the footnotes–was published by Columbia University Press. This cured me of any lingering tendency to be impressed by an Ivy League imprint.

      • Pseudonym
        • cpinva

          I’m curious. in that picture of the sign, it indicates no fishing is allowed, because the area is a designated spotted owl (endangered species) habitat. I understand no hunting, you might accidentally shoot one of the owls. the no fishing has me a bit baffled, are they afraid you might accidentally hook one, underwater?

          • (((Hogan)))

            I’m not entirely convinced that that bit is true. It doesn’t look like any official government signage I’ve ever seen.

        • No Longer Middle Aged Man

          $99 is not a high price for a university press book.

      • mikeSchilling

        The Chicago University Press recently republished all of the Richard Stark books (many of which had been out of print for decades), so they’re doing good work. Though it’s a case of Donald Westlake reflecting well on them, not vice versa.

      • Origami Isopod

        One review, five-star. The author’s drinking buddy, perhaps.

        • cpinva

          I’m convinced this is an anagram for Erik Loomis:

          “Char Miller, Pomona College, California”

      • vic rattlehead

        I’ve been meaning to ask, how did you get into that? It sounds absolutely fascinating. And is there a book you can recommend? I’m familiar with the past 30 or so years of baseball but never got into the history.

        • Richard Hershberger

          History buff and baseball fan: this was a natural. The proximate event was the Brooklyn Public Library putting online the archives of the Brooklyn Eagle newspaper. I was puddling through it and came across box scores–perfectly comprehensible–from about 1880. I was enchanted.

          It helps a lot that there is a community of people interested in the topic. The Society for American Baseball Research has an active 19th century committee, including an annual conference at Cooperstown.

          This is a great field for the amateur historian. The primary sources are relatively accessible, and the history of sport is a very small field within the academy, so there is a lot of original research to be done. (Many academics who publish baseball history books are not in fact specialists in the history of sport, but baseball fans who think that an academic job makes them omni-competent, so they dabble in baseball history for fun. The results often are not pretty.) Amateur historians don’t often have this opportunity. If you are interested in the Civil War, you are unlikely to have anything new to say about Grant or Lee. This is why a lot of amateur work (some of it excellent) goes the hyper-local route instead. But with baseball history there are big questions, such as “Why was the National League founded?” where there are new and interesting things to say about it.

          The key point about studying the early game is that this is a different sort of study than of 20th century baseball. Baseball in the early 20th century attained general stability both in its rules and its organization. Change since then has been gradual, which is why people can pretend that they can compare Barry Bonds and Ty Cobb in some meaningful way. Studying the earlier game is something different: how we got here. This is to my mind far more interesting, but this is a matter of taste.

          FWIW, my shameless self-promotion bit is that I am currently writing a book on the evolution of the rules. It is due to the publisher in the spring of 2017. I also blog occasionally, some of it on baseball history, at Ordinary Times.

          As for a book recommendation, the classic general survey is, even a half century later, still Baseball: The Early Years by Harold Seymour and Dorothy Seymour Mills. It shows its age, but holds up remarkably well. If you want something more recent, go with Baseball in the Garden of Eden by John Thorn. Its strength is on origins and very early history of the game.

          • vic rattlehead

            Wow thanks!

          • Bruce B.

            Thanks! Making notes for my reading list. :)

  • delurking

    Sweet Jesus. Academic Assessment Manager.

    We all have to eat, but surely someone else was hiring?

    • cpinva

      “We all have to eat, but surely someone else was hiring?”

      McDonald’s, but their standards were higher.

  • Judas Peckerwood

    Wait, so Captain E. Loomis Ahab has finally harpooned the Great White Whale that is F. deBoer, is that correct?

    So we’ll never have to revisit this subject ever, ever, ever, ever again, right? RIGHT?!!!

    • Not until he is that union busting provost.

      • Judas Peckerwood

        Fair enough. But I’m going to hold you to that.

        • There won’t be any fresh material now that he’s a corporate man!

          • cpinva

            oh, you don’t give him near enough credit. I seriously doubt he’ll be able to stay away from the intartubes. he just has to have that shot of attention, the kind he knows he’s going to get by writing stupid things and putting them out in public, for all to see.

            • Snuff curry

              He’s still trolling Gawker media sites, serving people contrarian, luke-warm takes on why his enemies are out to get him by continuing to care, out loud, about sexism and racism. Why don’t they just take his word for it that there are more important things out there and that you are all just helplessly falling into Big Anti-Racism’s bear trap, which is why HRC is going to steal the election, or something. It’s definitely a Greatest Hits kind of meltdown, but not sad enough to be pleasurable to read.

              • kped

                Is he really? I thought he completely disappeared, shocked that he’s still being a loser on the Gawker sites.

              • (((Hogan)))

                His new employer might have some thoughts about the wisdom or otherwise of his continuing down that path.

              • tsam

                his enemies are out to get him by continuing to care, out loud, about sexism and racism.

                THE UNMITIGATED NERVE OF SOME PEOPLE. How dare they call ME out for my bigotry? I mean, I spend entire paragraphs explaining why it’s not bigotry.

  • FMguru

    Noted academic Dr. Joseph Strummer had the definitive explanation for this phenomenon:

    But I believe in this-and it’s been tested by research
    He who fucks nuns will later join the church

    QED

  • vic rattlehead

    He’s in New York? For fuck’s sake. I share this city with enough pricks as it is.

  • Thers

    Christ, Erik. “Assessment” isn’t a Bad Word.

    • Yes it is.

      • upstate_cyclist

        Basically customer satisfaction & employee performance supervisor. Or sell-out of the most slavish kind.

        • “Let’s create tons of meaningless paperwork for professors that takes them away from research, real service, or actual pedagogy. Instead, how about they conform to random standards that are completely meaningless in the classroom but make the assessment board, who are never assessed themselves, happy.”

          • Incontinentia Buttocks

            Though that’s far more plainspoken and clear than anything that emerges from an assessment office, the “work product” from which is inevitably overly long, full of jargon, and utterly lacking in concrete meaning.

            • See, this is why I will never be Freddie.

              • cpinva

                you’re smart enough to do this as a side job.

              • Pseudonym

                Well, the current dysfunctional state of the field of assessment is clearly a problem that needs addressing. Is Freddie the one to do it (or is anyone whose job is “assessment”)? I suppose we’ll see.

            • You should read Freddie’s white paper linked to below. It’s pretty clear. There’s a bit of jargon (eg various sorts of validity and reliability) but those are key to assessing the assessors.

            • mikeSchilling

              the “work product” from which is inevitably overly long, full of jargon, and utterly lacking in concrete meaning.

              So, write enough of that and you get tenure?

          • Joseph Slater

            What Erick said.

          • efgoldman

            but make the assessment board, who are never assessed themselves, happy.”

            So, just another corporate board, then.

          • The Lorax

            Omg, Loomis. This. I’ve waited for years for someone to point out this bullshit like this. This is exactly how I feel. I’m not alone!

      • DrDick

        Certainly when university officials use it.

  • Murc

    However, there are two caveats. The first is that taking a job as an assessment person is literally a deal with the devil. I would rather move to the private sector.

    Can you unpack this a little, Erik? I’m usually a fan of standards and accountability, but I get the impression here that this is one of those situations where its total bullshit?

    That article you think to upthread seems… dodgy. It was basically a surrender, wasn’t it? A decision on the part of a number of academics, including Freddie, that the corporate university is here to stay and so rather than fight a war against it, yield to it and try to do what you can within the system?

    Which does indeed seem very hypocritical for someone like Freddie.

    • Sure, let’s get a bit more concrete.

      My university decided to implement new general education standards, even though the old ones were totally fine. But the assessment boards, etc. So last year we create all these new categories to place our courses under. Then the professors had to apply for different categories. And while this is a bunch of stupid paperwork, it isn’t more than that, right?

      Well, I am a professor of U.S. history. And I talk a lot about politics. So one of the categories is “Civic Engagement.” Seems perfect for my classes, right? The guidelines say that classes should engage in this issue in the “past, present, or future.” OK, this seems reasonable.

      But the person in charge of the Civic Engagement panel is not from Political Science. Not from Economics. Not from History. Not from Business even. It’s someone from what is called Leadership. Which in my experience, including sitting on a cross-country flight with a Leadership person at my university and listening to her talk about it, is just jargon about nothing. And what I was told by said person who had never taught a real course and certainly not in anything that mattered to civic society was that my courses demanded massive revision for no good reason. I quickly realized that this panel saw this language and had no idea about what past engagement with the government. Basically, they want me to have my students write their legislators about some issue. That’s as deep as their thought process went. When I asked them what they meant by past civic engagement, it wasn’t crickets, it was Supermax solitary confinement levels of silence. Obviously I’m not going to make my students be “good citizens by the standards of random person” because it’s not my job to make them “civically engaged,” whatever that means.

      So I wrote a bunch of bullshit on my syllabus that I will completely ignore in my actual teaching in order to pass the panels and will never think of it again unless I am assessed, in which I case I will write a bunch of other bullshit, take a few shots of tequila, and forget about it.

      But hey, Thers and Freddie are all about assessment. It really works well.

      • Murc

        It’s someone from what is called Leadership. Which in my experience, including sitting on a cross-country flight with a Leadership person at my university and listening to her talk about it, is just jargon about nothing.

        This is disappointing. The nature of leadership is an important topic; the study of how people have effectively engaged with, influenced, and controlled organizations and social groups, especially the strongly-hierarchical ones us monkeys seem to love creating, would seem to be something of value. If they’re fucking it up that’s a loss for everyone.

        Although I will admit I am usually hesitant to dismiss things that are jargon-heavy as meaningless. I work in a jargon-heavy field. I love jargon. It makes interacting with other people in my field go way, way smoother. But to an outsider we look like we’re hugely obfuscatory.

        Basically, they want me to have my students write their legislators about some issue.

        … you teach college students, not middle schoolers. “Write your Congressman” was something they had me do in the eighth grade.

        I mean. I could see the pedagogical value in spending some time on how written communication with legislators was a big fucking deal back in the day, and why that was, and how even in the modern era a physical letter that arrives at their offices is treated with a lot more respect than an email or other electronic ephemera is. There’s historical engagement to be teased out of that.

        This sounds not only useless, but also infantilizing. I mean. Yeah, undergrads are sort of children, but they also got into college. You up the game a little.

        So I wrote a bunch of bullshit on my syllabus that I will completely ignore in my actual teaching in order to pass the panels and will never think of it again unless I am assessed, in which I case I will write a bunch of other bullshit, take a few shots of tequila, and forget about it

        … not for nothing, Erik, but can you get away with writing that so openly? You do have some crazy enemies. I mean. There’s not a vast anti-Loomis conspiracy, but they do exist. Your assessment board might get upset if they find you baldly stating your intention, under your own name, in a public forum, to undermine and ignore them. Petty bureaucrats hate that. They usually try and get revenge.

        • not for nothing, Erik, but can you get away with writing that so openly? You do have some crazy enemies. I mean. There’s not a vast anti-Loomis conspiracy, but they do exist. Your assessment board might get upset if they find you baldly stating your intention, under your own name, in a public forum, to undermine and ignore them. Petty bureaucrats hate that. They usually try and get revenge.

          Who can tell. But there’s a reason I publish at such a high rate with major presses and this is it. And said petty bureaucrats have no say over my tenure decision.

          • Absent someone with a serious grudge and the will to follow through and either direct power or influence with complaisant people in power, these statements are as harmless as no statements on Erik’s career.

            If someone is looking to can him, this is hardly the only bit one could mobilise. And you’d have to find it, which is, for most people, non trivial. Looking at Erik’s history, it seems clear that he can mobilise public support, so trying to nail him for exercising sensible academic freedom in teaching is super dumb. Not just “dumb wrt the mission of the university” but “dumb from a bureaucratic infighting perspective”.

            Given that, afaict, Erik is a notable plus (researcher award, books that hit the public and attract attention from congress critters, etc.) and I don’t see any indication that he has classroom problems (cf his ratemyprof page…it’s fine and the “complaints” are of the sort you don’t worry about).

            Again, it’s not impossible that someone would gin something up, but 1) it seems unlikely and 2) if they are, this is hardly a smoking gun or even a last straw.

            And, fwiw, nominal compliance without kicking up a fuss on campus is pretty much the safe way to go.

            • Pseudonym

              Looking at Erik’s history, it seems clear that he can mobilise public support…

              Though it’s since become clear that a certain amount of that public support was offered with unstated expectations of future unqualified reciprocal public support in unrelated matters. (Not to get too specific…)

              • Sure, but that’s not readily salient to administrators.

            • JonH

              Yeah, but, what if they find out he’s an incorrigible graveyard loiterer?

              • As long as he keeps his khaki’s pleated, it’s all good.

          • Joseph Slater

            One also wouldn’t want to underestimate how fundamentally lazy these bureaucrat types are. I mean, they’re happy to make a lot of meaningless, counterproductive busy work for *others*, but. . . .

        • cpinva

          “The nature of leadership is an important topic; the study of how people have effectively engaged with, influenced, and controlled organizations and social groups, especially the strongly-hierarchical ones us monkeys seem to love creating, would seem to be something of value.”

          you are correct sir! in fact, in some class I took in college, the subject of small & large group dynamics was a fairly important part of the course. the reason for this is obvious: we humans tend to organize ourselves into large and small groups, depending on the activity being engaged in. understanding how they work is kind of important, if you expect them to actually accomplish their goal. this most clearly includes leadership. it isn’t a frothy, airy nothingness.

        • djw

          My sense is that “Leadership Studies” as an academic field (I’ve never taught at a University that had such a program, so I’m commenting from a distance here) was borne of a perceived necessity to claw back some majors and student-contact hours from the business school back into liberal arts.

          • Murc

            Which in itself is an interesting leadership decision from the liberal arts department, is it not?

            My gut feeling is that it should be a subdiscipline of cultural anthropology. Whereas since business schools are vocational schools, leadership courses there should be more… well, immediately practical.

        • Colin Day

          The nature of leadership is an important topic; the study of how people have effectively engaged with, influenced, and controlled organizations and social groups, especially the strongly-hierarchical ones us monkeys seem to love creating, would seem to be something of value.

          Yes, but what does it have to do with history?

        • delazeur

          I could see the pedagogical value in spending some time on how written communication with legislators was a big fucking deal back in the day, and why that was, and how even in the modern era a physical letter that arrives at their offices is treated with a lot more respect than an email or other electronic ephemera is.

          Anecdote: I used to live in Peter DeFazio’s district, and actually got to ask him about this once. He said that he preferred email because all the physical mail gets screened for biological/chemical threats, and the process can take multiple months. If you send a letter about a specific issue it might not reach your representative until after the issue is settles.

        • Snarki, child of Loki

          “This is disappointing. The nature of leadership is an important topic; the study of how people have effectively engaged with, influenced, and controlled organizations and social groups, especially the strongly-hierarchical ones us monkeys seem to love creating, would seem to be something of value.”

          It’s better studied in Anthropology. In particular, in troupes of non-human primates.

          As for the jargon-spouting admins? Fling poo at them.

      • gmack

        My experience with assessment is less unpleasant but perhaps even more useless. In the fall, one of my jobs is to teach the Freshman Writing Seminar (FWS), which is the only formal writing course our students get. A few years ago, we were told that we needed to start assessing stuff. What this meant in practice is that we had to develop a rubric; we then used this rubric to assess our students’ performance on one of their papers. We then sent the data from those rubrics to administrators who filed them away.

        What were we assessing? It’s pretty hard to tell. Broadly speaking, the rubrics tended to track the grades that the essays got (shocking!). And there was no longitudinal data (i.e., we weren’t asked to assess whether a student’s writing improved over time, mostly because there would be no way of measuring such a thing since there is only one writing class). Oh, and no one actually checked up on how the data were being gathered (it would have been entirely possible simply to make the numbers up). In short: a simple waste of time, but a broadly harmless one.

        Alas, this sort of bureaucratic time-wasting is not built to last. We are now hearing rumblings of new mandates coming down. Now the idea will be to do more of a “global” assessment. Instead of assessing particular classes/programs, we are now supposed to start developing measures of effective teaching and learning that will look at the educational experience as a whole. In my particular case, this is pretty much impossible. I’m in a humanities department at a music school; our students have to take humanities courses, but there is no requirement about what kind of courses they must take (they can be writing intensive, but they don’t have to be. They can basically be in any field of the liberal arts, including math, science, and so on. Indeed, the students don’t even have to take courses in our department. They can go to the main campus and take classes there. Given the nature of our department, then, it is pretty much impossible to come up with a unified statement about what students will know after they finish their humanities requirements, which means it’s pretty much impossible to assess whether they know it or not).

        • delurking

          This, coupled with Erik’s description above, has been my experience with assessment as well.

          Each year, we as a department get some sort of new description from the people in charge of assessment (the Assessment Manager sorts, like Freddie) — their new ideas of what “assessment” is this year.

          Each year it changes. Right now “global” is a big word. A few years ago “real world” was the big phrase.

          It doesn’t take much of this, though, before those of us who are actually in the classroom doing the work understand that the Assessment Managers have no idea how to assess teaching or learning or anything else that happens in the classroom.

          Right now, in my department, we’re “assessing” two “goals” in every major. Since what happens in the classroom is not something that can be assessed in the way the Assessment Managers want it to be assessed, what we end up “measuring” is meaningless.

          So, instead of measuring whether students learn critical thinking and to evaluate evidence and understand why good sources are better than crap sources, we “measure” how many students out of the entire department learned to use MLA format correctly.

          Or we measure whether students *overall* from their freshman year to their senior year learned to use signal phrases with their sources.

          That part, though useless, is relatively harmless. Useless, but it doesn’t *hurt* the students.

          The real waste is the (literally) hundreds of faculty hours that are spent in meetings where we talk about this, “measure” this, and write idiot reports about it. That’s time taken away from teaching and from writing and from research.

          Not to mention the salaries that are paid to administrators in the Assessment Department. I mean, Jesus. That’s money we could have spent hiring tenure-track professors. That’s a fucking crime.

          • gmack

            The real waste is the (literally) hundreds of faculty hours that are spent in meetings where we talk about this, “measure” this, and write idiot reports about it. That’s time taken away from teaching and from writing and from research.

            This, absolutely. The semester we came up with our “assessment tool” consisted of hours and hours of meetings. And for literally no benefit to anyone.

            My spouse always likes to mock moe for complaining about this stuff. In my job I actually have relatively few idiotic and time-wasting meetings and activities, at least in comparison to the corporate world (or my perception of it). But partly for that reason, my tolerance for such activities is extraordinarily low.

          • Origami Isopod

            This sounds like a lot of the “benchmarking” bullshit that’s been going on in the private sector for ages now. Especially the meetings to make sure “everyone is on the same page.” Fuck off, just give me work and tell me how to do it. You don’t give me enough money, perks, or job security for me to give a damn about the all-hallowed “process” or your navel-gazing about it.

          • The Lorax

            As I said above, holy fuck. I’m not alone. I’ve sat in so many of these meetings, wasted so much time, and I feel like I’m the only one who thinks this is a colossal waste of time and money. I’ve accepted if they weren’t hiring assessment people they’d be hiring other bullshit administratiors. But that leaves wasting of my time. I’ve never wanted to become a logical positivist about meaning so strongly as in those assessment meetings when people are bandying about contentless MBA speak very earnestly, as though the education of our students deoends on it. No, it depends on your getting out of our way so we can teach.

        • efgoldman

          Indeed, the students don’t even have to take courses in our department. They can go to the main campus and take classes there.

          BU? (my alma mater, probably before you were born.)

          • gmack

            Eastman School of Music, which is part of the University of Rochester.

      • junker

        This isn’t nearly as bad, but in my field our biggest professional organization put out a list of goals, complete with sunglass for each, that were supposed to outline what a class should accomplish, only they were actual just broad, jargon filled pablum. Our head of undergraduate studies started insisting this year that our syllabi include at least three of the listed goals, with at least 5-6 subgoals total and a brief description of how the class will accomplish each. Every professor I know just picked the goals that already fit the course, as opposed to radically changing the course. When I went over my syllabus on the first day of class I completely skipped discussing that section.

        • elm

          When getting a course approved, We have to list (though not necessarily include the syllabus itself) at least four “student learning outcomes” or things that we expect students to be learn during class, in these outcomes, we are not allowed to use the verb ‘learn’ (or ‘understand’). So one cannot write that the desired outcome for a course on, say, judicial politics is to “learn about how about the judiciary interacts with other branches of government” or “understand how the judiciary interacts…” They also raise eyebrows if your outcomes all use the same verb, so you have to reach for a thesaurus and come up with all sorts of arcane and obscure verbs.

          It only takes about an hour, but there are so many better things to do with that hour.

          • That sounds terrible. It sounds like something appropriate for grade school–“add and subtract with sums up to 20,” or “enumerate the reasons for WWI”–or like something intended to be an input to test-makers without subject-matter knowledge.

            • Thinking seriously about learning outcomes is probably a good thing. As with many good things, it gets mangled into a torture instrument quite easily. This happens a lot in the education field. My favourite example is “reflection” as described in The reflection game: enacting the penitent self:

              ‘Reality’ shows dominate our television screens. We see the personal ‘transformation’ of hapless novices into competent singers or dancers, rude and irritating ‘brats’ reinvented as loving teenagers or shopaholics converted into more financially savvy individuals. The attraction of these programmes is watching the ‘journey’ of personal transformation even though the real ‘reality’ may be somewhat less dramatic or possibly long lasting. The formal requirements of this ‘journey’ invariably consists first of blithe denial on the part of the miscreant, followed by a tearful admission of inadequacy extracted via ‘tough love’. Only then is absolution granted and a programme of self-improvement embarked upon in earnest which conventionally features a few initial wobbles before the joyous personal transformation is complete.

              The reflective assignment
              The educational equivalent of the reality show is the reflective assignment, often associated with the linked contents of a teaching ‘portfolio’. This form of assessment is now increasingly common in higher education and examples can be found in subjects such as nursing or teacher education. Students are asked to reflect on their workplace experiences and, in the process, link the theory of their subject with what they encounter in the hospital, school, university or other workplace setting. This often relies on a tedious, ‘court of law’ style process of documentary collation in which an assessor checks that certain pieces of ‘evidence’ have been presented. In the case of teaching portfolios, this invariably includes examples of peer observation. Portfolios also normally include some kind of ‘reflective commentary’ where the student is expected to link their experience of practice with the theoretical constructs of the subject.

              Tip 1: eat humble pie
              Reflective exercises impose certain expectations. Firstly, they require individuals to open themselves up to an admission of their insecurities and uncertainties paralleling the world of reality TV. In place of the sobbing of the wannabe pop star, reflective assignments encourage novice practitioners to unload painful admissions of personal mistakes and errors in the classroom. Their first lecture was a disaster, they talked too much ‘at’ students rather than trying to understand their individual learning needs or perhaps they were just too nervous to remember to breathe. Admitting the error or naivety of one’s ways is all part of the ‘journey’. This kind of confession is a means of getting the assessor on-side. It may not ‘prove’ that you can ‘reflect’ yet but shows that you are being ‘open’. Suitable penance has been done.

              I totally got bit by this. I failed my portfolio, in part, I feel, due to animus by the assessor (I was…ahem…not a complaint student in our New Academic Training programme) and partly because I didn’t toe the line. They asked for reflection so I gave them reflection. But my reflection was, basically, “I’ve tried changing lots of things in the past and often they didn’t work out, so I’m learned to accept the kind of academic and person I am and just enjoy the upsides and mitigate the downsides”. This was not the *right* kind of reflection! (There was some bullshit about my having done some retrospection but no “prospection”, i.e., I didn’t say how I’d change. In spite of my overall message, I had a *quite a lot* of things I said I was going to try to do differently.)

              But, I think reflection is good! I try to help newbies reflect on things and provide fora for discussion. Sitting down with someone to disucss classroom issues is often helpful. I try to teach my students to use various techniques (e.g., imagine you were talking to the you a year ago…would you be able to help them? how would your past year regard the current you?) to get over insecurities or other distortions in their self-assessment.

              • The Dark God of Time

                Dudley Moore: Yes, indeed. Do you feel you’ve learnt by your mistakes here?

                Peter Cook: I think I have, yes, and I think I can probably repeat them almost perfectly. I know my mistakes inside out.

                Dudley Moore: I’m sure you will repeat them. Well, thank you very much, Sir Arthur.

                Peter Cook: Thank you very much.

                Dudley Moore: And good night.

                Peter Cook: Would you like one for the toad?

                Dudley Moore: No, thank you.

              • gmack

                But, I think reflection is good! I try to help newbies reflect on things and provide fora for discussion. Sitting down with someone to disucss classroom issues is often helpful. I try to teach my students to use various techniques (e.g., imagine you were talking to the you a year ago…would you be able to help them? how would your past year regard the current you?) to get over insecurities or other distortions in their self-assessment.

                I just want to wholly endorse this. I complain about assessment practices, but my objection is more practical than theoretical (i.e., I’m irritated at how assessment regimes work; I’m less irritated at the idea that professors should be thinking about what we expect our students to learn and how we measure whether they’re learning it).

                I also think reflection is an important part of the learning process. So for instance, when I do reading quizzes or critical response papers, I ask my students how difficult they found the reading, why they thought it was hard (or easy), which parts were difficult, etc. Later in the semester we do things like the assignment you describe, and I think all of it is a valuable part of paying attention to how one learns and how one thinks.

                • The Lorax

                  Yes. Any instructor who doesn’t engage in this sort of reflection on courses regularly, with students and colleagues is derelict in her duty. So the problem isn’t with assessment. It’s with “assessment” with nebulously-worded SLOs and consequently with “data” which manage almost always to satisfy the terms of the LO and its contrary under plausible semantic assumptions.

                  So I sit in meetings like this: “Ok, we’ve graded our papers again. Do these ‘artifacts’ show we’ve met PLO 1?”

                  “I don’t know. I have no idea. Which answer is better for us with the bean counters? Let’s work backward from there.”

                  And we do.

                  The one upside of this is that occasionally we (as a sort of assessment spandrel) have conversations about our classes, and that can be useful.

                  I’d rather have that over a meal or a drink and not over this bullshit.

                  Remember when Bolton said you could lop off half the UN building and foreign affairs would be better for it? I feel that way about education colleges. If they vanished (and prospective teachers did apprenticeships in place of whatever the hell they do over there now), the world would be a better place.

          • It only takes about an hour, but there are so many better things to do with that hour.

            (1) Removing one’s fingerprints with sandpaper.

            (2) Chugging methyl alcohol Jell-O™ shots.

            (3) Watching a Jerry Lewis telethon while sitting in a bathtub full of ice cubes.

            And that just scratches the surface!!! (Well, (1) certainly does.)

            • N__B

              Watching a Jerry Lewis telethon while sitting in a bathtub full of ice cubes.

              Which leads to one of your kidneys spontaneously ejecting from your body.

              • efgoldman

                Which leads to one of your kidneys spontaneously ejecting from your body.

                But then you can sell it for enough to make a down payment on your student loans.

            • (((Hogan)))

              Or as Dave Noon recently suggested, gazing hopelessly into the middle distance, sipping Early Times from a half-pint mason jar, and weeping softly as I rank my faults.

        • Snarki, child of Loki

          “When I went over my syllabus on the first day of class I completely skipped discussing that section.”

          You need to change your “goals and objectives” to include a bullet point of “explaining why admin mandates should be viewed with deep, abiding contempt and derision”

          Well, you’re trying to EDUCATE them, aren’t you?1??

      • (((Hogan)))

        Basically, they want me to have my students write their legislators about some issue.

        How about to their deans? Or their provost? Or their university president?

  • I am not a friend of the Freddie, but I will not that this is not a selling out per se on his part. According to the linked to about page:

    My dissertation attempts to weave these three related traditions together. This research concerns the Collegiate Learning Assessment+ standardized test of college learning, its implementation at Purdue University, and how the CLA+ reflects traditional conflicts between the educational testing community and writing instructors, researchers, and administrators. My research traces the history of the current assessment movement within the American college system, examining the political, economic, and institutional forces that have inspired it. I then detail the history and theory of the CLA+, examining its origins and its assessment mechanism, with particular focus on its claims to validity and reliability and how they interface with the definition of these concepts in practitioner writing assessment. Utilizing oral interviews conducted with campus administrators and other stakeholders in the test, and documents such as meeting minutes and emails from the administrative process of selecting an assessment mechanism, I build a local history of how the test was chosen, piloted, and implemented, to demonstrate how institutions enact major policy changes, and to show how local, administrative histories can interface with national movements and trends. Finally, this research analyzes the initial results from Purdue’s early piloting of the CLA+, comparing it to national averages and similar institutions, and reflects on the future of the university and the test. I argue that the historical, empirical, and theoretical evidence I have assembled demonstrates the way in which national political concerns influence institution-level policy in a way that benefits ideological commitments more than students, instructors, or institutions.

    So, “doing assessment right” (or maybe “how assessment gets diverted from helping students”) was his thesis topic. Becoming an assessment manager is one way to try to mitigate the harms of extent assessment practices. I applied to be assistant associate dean for research assessment because I wanted to try to keep it from getting worse. (I didn’t get the position of course. But that’s mostly on senority.)

    Now, maybe he’ll just go with the flow. But maybe he’ll be able to do some good. Or perhaps he end up clashing with the administration. (Brooklyn does not seem, in general,mot have a wise or decent administration.)

    Obviously, there’s good reason for skepticism. Goodness knows, there’s a ton of reason for skepticism. But we can hope that he’ll mature under these challenging conditions.

    • It’s worth looking at his most pertinent recent publication: Standardized Assessments of College Learning: Past and Future

      His recommendations:

      Standardized tests of collegiate learning must be subject to external validation. This would allow researchers to determine how well the tests work and what potential unforeseen consequences may arise.
      Faculty and local administration must be welcomed into the assessment process, with this they are far more likely to see themselves as partners rather than as targets. Control of disciplinary assessments is a place where faculty can be brought into the assessment picture.

      Assessment of college learning should take advantage of the power of representative sampling and inferential statistics. DeBoer states that there is no need to test all students, all of the time. Taking samples that adequately reflect the various forms of diversity on a campus can be responsibly used to draw inferences about the campus population as a whole.

      Standardized assessments and localized disciplinary assessments should be used in concert with student outcomes data to better understand both individual colleges and the system as a whole. This outcomes data would include financial and life-satisfaction figures from college graduates — to give a better understanding if college is actually improving long-term life outcomes for our graduates.
      Assessments cannot be no stakes, but neither should they be high stakes. It must be used to actually improve our institutions; it can be a guide for administrative practices and help identify strengths and weaknesses in regards to areas where students are seeing unequal outcomes.

      deBoer says we have evidence to believe that the current higher education system is succeeding in many of its core functions, any attempts to revamp assessment should seek to cause minimal harm. He points out that the conversation surrounding educational assessment is often political, with some concerned about the profit motive. He concludes, “With open dialogue and an attempt at mutual understanding, fair and effective assessment of college learning is possible.”

      These mostly seem right to me. The minimal harm point is key.

      • Ok, I’ve now read the whole thing.

        https://www.newamerica.org/documents/1383/standardized-assessments-of-college-learning.pdf

        The first thing I’ll note is that the writing is much better that Everything else I’ve read from Freddie. As a policy document it is commendably clear and terse. It has that policy document feel which isn’t my favourite but its quite reasonable.

        The second thing I’ll note is that there’s useful info about existing collegiate assessment efforts. So it was good to get some of that detail.

        Finally, it is appropriately skeptical. On the one hand, some form of increased measurement is coming whether we like it or not. It has to. There’s huge political pressure but it’s also evident that our current cross university metrics (eg rankings) suck yet have enormous distorting effects. On the other, we really don’t know how to do it. But he seems to be looking in the right places.

        • Pseudonym

          I have neither the expertise nor the patience to wade through any of Freddie’s “serious” work, but it might very well be valuable; the Problem with Freddie(™) was never with his academic work, such that it was, but his ridiculous public persona as the One True Leftist® who saw and presented himself as the kind of person who would, as a humble grad student (of rhetoric!), infamously hold fast to his mission in life of human liberation that involved prioritizing criticism of female feminist writers for doing feminism wrong by using humor. Or who would brag about the famous journals and newspapers and other journalistic outlets he has been published in, while at the same time claim to disown them because he was ashamed to be associated with any of them. His public persona was a fraud, and perhaps this next step in his professional life just further illuminates that fact. If his academic or new professional work is valuable, I’m happy that he’s found a better outlet for his talent and efforts, and bear no ill will. If I cared enough to pay attention, though, I’d wait until the evidence was in.

          • Sure. All his public intellectual work he’s done that I’ve seen has been rank garbage. Embarrassingly so. Esp in politics. He desnt seem to have quite the record in assessment.

            However, my point is that Erik’s response is probably off base in several ways. There’s no evidence that ranting in blog posts is somehow going to contaminate Freddie’s work (he doesn’t seem to be doing individual assessment per se nor does he have an interest in such). Academia is full of people who go wildly hyperbolic about other people then contribute to consequential judgements of them. Perhaps Freddie will be as bad at that as some people have been ie carrying out personal grudges inappropriately in professional contexts. Or maybe not.

            Erik has an animus against university assessment which is pretty well founded with regard to the worst of it. But the worst of it is not the whole of it. Looking at longer term outcomes is a key move in the effort to reign in law school scammery. Governmental pressure will come (cf the UK teaching assessment) and needs to be intelligently resisted. Freddie is making the right noises there.

            I won’t say that the stuff I read is brilliant or strikingly novel. It isn’t. But it’s sensible and that sorely lacking in this area. It’s even encouraging that Brooklyn would hire someone with a “don’t make it worse” and “there’s no underlying crises” and “local control is good and dis aggregation bad” and “we don’t have remotely good instruments now and not in the near future” attitude. Maybe he’ll be co-opted or maybe he’ll do some good.

            • Pseudonym

              Is it possible to separate Freddie [BONERS], the well-known internet asshole, from Dr. Fredrik deBoer, the possibly qualified and competent professional in a field that asshole Freddie would mock and disdain to score political points?

              I’m not sure.

              Is it possible to separate Pseudonym, slightly recognizable snarky/annoying/occasionally clever commenter who mocks brogrammer tech culture, from [real nym], onetime moderately successful and very very lucky tech worker still riding on past glory?

              • Pseudonym

                And I admit that given their past interactions, I’m quite (perhaps unreasonably) indulgent when it comes to tolerating or appreciating Erik’s reaction to this move by Freddie, whatever the objective merits might be. If Dr. Loomis were making these arguments as part of his role on Dr. deBoer’s tenure review committee I might be more critical. If Erik wants to mock Freddie for blog fodder I have no particular objection.

                • Oh, there’s nothing consequential about Erik’s post here. It just seems factual wrong in a number of ways both about Freddie and about assessment (though less wrong about the latter).

                  I’m also a big believer in giving people a fair bit of latitude to transcend their foibles and failings. Not to the point of allowing them to containing harming folks, but Freddie’s never been, to my knowledge, harmful per se. Just really annoying.

                • Pseudonym

                  Someone who publicly proclaims that he no longer believes in the idea of political progress is not to my mind showing a lot of potential for advancing the reform of academic assessment. I’m not really experienced at all in this area, however, so I really don’t have any particular basis from which to argue against your point.

                  The harm Freddie’s caused has mostly been very indirect in the way that he’s helped to unfairly discredit leftism either through inaccurately criticizing it or ineptly serving as an exemplar of it.

                • twbb

                  “Not to the point of allowing them to containing harming folks, but Freddie’s never been, to my knowledge, harmful per se. Just really annoying.”

                  That’s my view, also. Maybe I haven’t been reading LGM long enough, but considering I haven’t heard of deBoer outside it I’m not sure why it’s so important to pile on some random dude. At some point it seems somewhat mean-spirited.

                  I’d much rather see LGM go after people who actually are doing real harm and whose influence extends outside the liberal blogosphere. For example, I’d love a snarky post about this latest travesty from the New York Times’ public editor:

                  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/11/public-editor/the-truth-about-false-balance.html

                • Pseudonym

                  I like to think of the LGM Freddie pile-on as a sort of meta-commentary on Freddie’s inflated sense of self-importance in his internet-blogger-commenter-tweeter-asshole persona (in which he considered the primary thrust of his lifelong quest to advance the cause of human liberty by making obnoxious blog comments) in holding to strict quota of having Freddie be the subject of at least 30% of all posts on one of the most influential left-leaning Warren-Zevon-themed political blogs of all time.

                • in holding to strict quota of having Freddie be the subject of at least 30% of all posts on one of the most influential left-leaning Warren-Zevon-themed political blogs of all time

                  Liberty! Gynecology!! Modernity!!!

                • That’s my view, also. Maybe I haven’t been reading LGM long enough, but considering I haven’t heard of deBoer outside it I’m not sure why it’s so important to pile on some random dude. At some point it seems somewhat mean-spirited.

                  Eh. I don’t think the piles on are remotely unwarranted. It’s just blog stuff and some of it has been comedy gold. [BONERS}, “objectively despicable”, “I’m just a nobody grad student with a wordpress blog who HAS BIG IMPORTANT WRITING GIGs”, the 30%, etc.

                  All of Freddie’s sins has been venial. To my knowledge, he’s never sexually harassed anyone on or off line. He’s, to my knowledge, never (successfully) directed on line pile ons (cf Bruenig…a much better writer and thinker who had some worse online behaviour). The closest he came to anything as bad (again to my knowledge…I emphasis this because I’ve by no means done even a cursory survey of the Freddie collection…too many words arranged in ways that hurt my spirit for me to even attempt) as Glenn Greenwalds nativist xenophobic apologia we discussed a few days ago was his complaining that gays today were doing gayness wrong. And there’s a pretty big gap between “I miss flamers” and “it’s not irrational to fear the endless hordes of illegal immigrants who have no need to assimilate and thus threat our [white] culture”.

                  Did Greenwald transcend that early horribleness? Well, practically yes. Morally?

                  If Freddie continues saying dumb things or becomes the champion of Pointless Paperwork or uses his new position to pursue vendettas then he’s totally fair game. I’m not sure it’s fair to project all this horribleness on him now for this.

                • Origami Isopod

                  considering I haven’t heard of deBoer outside it I’m not sure why it’s so important to pile on some random dude. At some point it seems somewhat mean-spirited.

                  You could always just … not read the threads. Novel idea, I know.

                • twbb

                  “You could always just … not read the threads. Novel idea, I know.”

                  Not really responsive to my argument that it’s better to use LGM’s front page to go after people whose bad arguments have more real-world impact than deBoer, is it?

                • vic rattlehead

                  Oh stuff it with this concern trolling, twbb. We can walk and chew gum at the same time. Erik, to use just one example, does a shitton of work calling attention to labor issues on this blog. If he wants to take a post every now and then to mock BONERS, that’s just fine and dandy.

                  And if you insist on your political blogs being SUPER CEREAL all the time, feel free to start your own blog.

                • sharculese

                  All of Freddie’s sins has been venial. To my knowledge, he’s never sexually harassed anyone on or off line.

                  While maybe not technically sexual harassment, the “I’ll show you a feminist date” section of the BONERS debacle was uncomfortable.

                  Also, there’s his repeated habit of going after black writers in ways that don’t look good.

                  He’s still a fairly harmless asshole, but he’s definitely an asshole.

                • twbb

                  Ha, “concern trolling,” vic, right, that’s what it is.

                • While maybe not technically sexual harassment, the “I’ll show you a feminist date” section of the BONERS debacle was uncomfortable.

                  Yes, but it really wasn’t harassment (no pattern). It wasn’t even sexually tinged verbal abuse. It was extremely stupid and creepy and awkward.

                  Also, there’s his repeated habit of going after black writers in ways that don’t look good.

                  Indeed. But compare with Hugo Schwyzer. Schwyzer train wrecked so hard in so many ways so badly that it’s hard to see how he could come back, certainly for years and years and years. If Freddie were to turn over a new leaf and be sensible, we could still laugh at him for his past bullshit, but he could laugh along and it’d be fine. Bruenig, on the other time, has a harder road to climb because of his success at instigating pile ons.

                  Speaking of which, it may be the case that he did lose his dept of labor job:

                  I am looking for work in the DC area. My areas of expertise are labor and employment law and policy research. But I am open to stuff outside those areas.

                  Looking at his resume:

                  National Labor Relations Board (Sept 2014 ­-June 2016)

                  I don’t know if it was time limited or whether he was fired after the flap.

                  ETA: Ah, he was an Honors attorney which seems to be a 2 year gig. Which makes his fund raising a bit more excusable I think.

                • But he’s back on twitter?

                  https://twitter.com/MattBruenig

                • sharculese

                  Indeed. But compare with Hugo Schwyzer. Schwyzer train wrecked so hard in so many ways so badly that it’s hard to see how he could come back, certainly for years and years and years.

                  Schwyzer may have built up a shit ton of ill-will through his actions over the years, but the tipping point was still his admission that he almost killed someone. Intentionally. In a way that he though made him sound sympathetic.

                  In all fairness to Freddie, there is nothing in his backstory even close to that. Which, I think goes towards your point, but still, I think it’s an apples and oranges comparison. Freddie clocks in with Schwyzer on the smug, self-absorbed asshole scale, but there are distinct differences.

                • but the tipping point was still his admission that he almost killed someone. Intentionally. In a way that he though made him sound sympathetic.

                  He weathered that for quite a while. Sleeping with his students cost him his job and the downward spiral happened quickly.

                  But this is my point. Freddie, thus far, hasn’t done anything on the scale of Schwyzer or even Bruenig. So it’s easier to recover from.

                  But yes, Freddie has a lot of that same bullshit. No question. But being a sad ranter on the web should be recoverable from, IMHO. Or we’re all doomed!

                • (((Hogan)))

                  But he’s back on twitter?

                  I see one very odd retweet from March and a lot of “Matt Breunig followed . . . ” Is that what a dead account looks like?

                • I don’t think so. When he shut it down before, I think you got an empty page…but maybe it was just that he deleted all the tweets? There’s only 245 there now…So maybe this isn’t a change.

                • sharculese

                  But this is my point. Freddie, thus far, hasn’t done anything on the scale of Schwyzer or even Bruenig. So it’s easier to recover from.

                  You might have missed my edit, but I realized that was probably your point and updated to acknowledge that.

                • I think asking someone for sex over and over again (okay, it was a “date”) specifically as a response to their asking you to leave them alone, is very close to sexual harassment. Their getting raunchy or insulting in self-defense doesn’t change that.

                  Responding to women who disagreed with him by misunderstanding them and crowing “I’m the best feminist evah!” ensured that I, at least, never read his arguments about “I have the best race politics evah!” but I can believe it was bad.

                • I think asking someone for sex over and over again (okay, it was a “date”) specifically as a response to their asking you to leave them alone, is very close to sexual harassment.

                  Is that what happened? I didn’t think he ever asked them for a date, least in any direct way. He speculated about what they would experience if they went on a date with him, which was just, as far as I can recall, an overly cute dumb way of making a really dumb point.

                  Their getting raunchy or insulting in self-defense doesn’t change that.

                  Definitely not. But I think he only had the one speculation and it wasn’t a date request but a “A date with me would be awesome and feminist” bit.

                  I agree that all that is strong grounds not to take what he writes on race or sex or orientation seriously (though what he wrote on each of those is also reason to not take him seriously).

                  Damnit! He shut down access to his old blog making it harder to check this.

                • sharculese

                  Is that what happened? I didn’t think he ever asked them for a date, least in any direct way. He speculated about what they would experience if they went on a date with him, which was just, as far as I can recall, an overly cute dumb way of making a really dumb point.

                  It was this. The initial thing he was het up over was them joking about dudes showing up at protests in “this is what a feminist looks like” t-shirts in order to get laid, and he ended up going into long, creepy detail of what a totally awesome feminist date with him would be like.

                • I’m not interested in debating on what Freddie said.

                  That was to Bijan.

                • Pseudonym

                  But compare with Hugo Schwyzer. Schwyzer train wrecked so hard in so many ways so badly that it’s hard to see how he could come back, certainly for years and years and years.

                  Then it’s probably time for DJW to do some pruning on his author-bar blogroll here…

              • Is it possible to separate Freddie [BONERS], the well-known internet asshole, from Dr. Fredrik deBoer, the possibly qualified and competent professional in a field that asshole Freddie would mock and disdain to score political points?

                I’m not sure.

                Entirely? No. Sufficiently? Sure, why not? Will people do it? Eh.

                Freddie’s not in a job with academic freedom protections, as far as I know. This is unfortunate.

                Can Freddie transcend his past? Maybe? He could try to give up and/or scrub and/or atone/coopt some of it. He could hope that he’s so other wisely awesome that it doesn’t matter.

                He won’t be the first person who’s competent in some areas and stone cold kooky in others.

                • CJColucci

                  If Freddie’s job is covered by the CUNY collective bargaining agreement — and I don’t have the time to check — then in about the time it would take a tenure-track academic to earn tenure, he would obtain a tenure-like status. It wouldn’t be as strong as academic tenure, but it would be pretty secure if he did his job tolerably well and didn’t misbehave.

              • cpinva

                “Is it possible to separate Freddie [BONERS], the well-known internet asshole, from Dr. Fredrik deBoer, the possibly qualified and competent professional in a field that asshole Freddie would mock and disdain to score political points?”

                it sounds to me as though (were I a psychological kind of guy, which I’m not) Dr. Herr D has what used to be known as a “Split Personality”:

                Dr. Herr D, the eminent, persuasive academic, seriously looking for ways to improve the cartel.

                vs

                Freddie D, the asshole, who considers anyone not fitting his image of the left/progressive as cave dwellers. he writes turgid internet prose, to show us baser elements how it should be done.

                so far, I think both of them are assholes.

          • J. Otto Pohl

            Lots of people have professional lives or as I call them jobs that are completely unrelated to their hobbies. As far as I can tell Dr. DeBoer’s professional work is as Dr. Parsia says. I don’t have any interest in evaluating it. I also don’t have any competence in the area. I don’t have much interest in his hobby of internet writing either except that it shows up here a lot and I am not really sure why. All I know that he has gotten an enormous amount of publicity and that seems to have been his goal. Some people are really good at performance art and others of us are not.

            • Pseudonym

              Freddie’s internet writing was in fact his professional work, or attempt at such, for a lengthy period of time. His failure in that endeavor is what led him to revert to his current line of work.

              • J. Otto Pohl

                How was it a failure? He got a huge amount of attention and I am pretty sure that was the goal. There are blogs that have been around for more than a decade that have never had more than a dozen readers. That is a failure even on the hobby level.

                • Pseudonym

                  You know who else got a huge amount of attention?

                • Trump?

                  No, wait, Greenwald?

                • kped

                  It was a failure in that he tried to leverage it to a job in the media world and could not do so, given his terrible personality and writing style. Attention is one thing, but he wanted a job at one of the big publications. He wanted to be Connor Fridersdorf, or . But he was so bad at it that even “The Intercept” wouldn’thire him, no matter how much he hated the same people (liberals not sufficiently left to him) that they did.

                  And after failing, he abandoned the public internet (as someone noted above, he’s still polluting the Gawker media comments sections. It’s not as visible as Twitter, but it scratches that itch for him of being able to tell other people that they are doing “it” wrong. “It” being whatever they are talking about at the moment), to try to get a safe corporate job, which is where we are now.

                  His public persona succeeded in getting some freelance gigs, but ultimately, it was a failure. And as Eric notes, he’s scrubbing away much of it now, so that he can better get along with his new corporate overlords.

                • It was a failure in that he tried to leverage it to a job in the media world and could not do so, given his terrible personality and writing style.

                  Well, to be fair, the Greenwald slot had been filled already!

                  (I mean, becoming a big media personality, esp. sufficient to make a living, is pretty rare. Freddie had a better run than a lot of people do.)

                • cpinva

                  “You know who else got a huge amount of attention?”

                  call on me, call on me! I know, I know! um, Hitler? Stalin? Mao? of course, you didn’t want to get their attention, as that could prove fatal.

                  In Dr. Herr D’s case, it would only be intellectually fatal, dropping your IQ by several points. mine is just only barely hanging on as it is………………….

              • Freddie put every career change, every soul-searching, and every embryonic attempt at working in a new field out on his blog. Along with proof after proof that he had ideas about how people should behave and wasn’t capable of changing in new situations, but would attack them if they disagreed with him. That might not have been the best choice. A less public career is probably in his best interest.

                • cpinva

                  “A less public career is probably in his best interest.”

                  I think you’ve probably nailed it. unfortunately, he thrives on attention, an attention whore as it were. I don’t think he has the brains or self-control to stay out of (the minimal) public spotlight the intertubes afford him.

                  totally off topic, but has anyone but me been paying any attention to the Cleveland-Philly game? it’s going to be difficult to tell which of these teams has proven more inept.

          • vic rattlehead

            Personally, I don’t think I’ll ever forgive him for using Obergefell to start ranting about how now we need to legally recognize polygamy or whatever. No, we can’t bask in a wonderful, long overdue Supreme Court decision, we need a privileged dudebro to use it as an excuse to start apoplectically sea-lioning and focus all the attention on how he was the true Leftist.

            • sharculese

              Let’s not forget that Politico paid him money for that trainwreck of an article.

        • Just for full disclosure: I do research in course level assessment (primarily on the automated generation of multiple choice questions with controlled difficulty from structured sources). I think having some ways to figure out whether what we’re doing in a class (or in an institution) is useful is really important, but very difficult. I think big, standardised test high stakes bullshit is really bad. And I think that there’s a challenging tension between “improving quality” and “academic freedom”. I’m both conservative and aggressive about classroom change, that is, i’m willing to experiment with new ways of doing things, but I’m very worried about the fact that it’s hard to know if our change is doing good or worth the effort.

          So, I start out much less hostile than Erik to the over all area (though I yield no hostility to bullshit crap that we are put through in the name of “assessment”).

          (None of this is new. I’ve mentioned my research interests before. But I thought it was worth mentioning again.)

          • cpinva

            “So, I start out much less hostile than Erik to the over all area (though I yield no hostility to bullshit crap that we are put through in the name of “assessment”).”

            I don’t get the impression that Prof. Loomis is hostile to the idea of assessment overall, just the way it seems to be practiced in academia. if you don’t assess things, how can you tell if they’re successful or not? the problem is the nature and construction of the assessment protocols. from his examples, it would appear that the sole purpose of the “assessment”, is to gin up a bunch of useless paperwork, that can be added to the assessor’s portfolio, not to ascertain whether or not a particular class/program is accomplishing its stated goal.

            I could be wrong.

            • I am strongly skeptical of academic assessment because I think it undermines professionalism and the independence of thought that makes the academy so great at its best. Moreover, I just don’t believe that any sort of assessment as practiced actually helps create better teaching. In theory, sure I could see it, but that’s strictly theoretical because as it is, academic assessment is a disaster. And while, sure, there are bad teachers in the academy, I don’t see any assessment as practiced making them better teachers.

            • MAJeff

              “Assessment” as it is practiced is an institutional imperative flowing from accreditors and their own mission creep. And that’s where the paperwork comes from. I just realized that I’m going to be late in submitting our “assessment plan” for this year because our entire four-campus community college only has two full-time faculty working in my discipline this year, and we’ve both agreed that the existing tool for this year’s rotation is shite, but we haven’t been able to get together to formulate new stuff. I’m going to get all kinds of emails about this fucking report that only really serves to assuage accreditors while I actually spend time grading assignments (doing a form of assessment) and all the other shit I gotta to do.

              It’s busy work to justify the existence of mid-level administrators and is driven by the mission creep of accreditors. It’s meaningless busy work and it’s treated as such by the overwhelming majority of us.

              • MAJeff

                And I should add, this is part of where my hostility to the academic management class arises. A bunch of folks who “study” assessment but have never spent a day in the classroom, create a bunch of organizational metrics and blah blah blah blah blah.

                All of us who take our teaching seriously are constantly “assessing.” What’s working, why didn’t this work, how can I make this more applicable, why didn’t this land, why are they struggling on this issue…this is shit we are CONSTANTLY engaged with. It’s utterly unrelated to anything that “assessment” deals with.

              • altofront

                “Assessment” as it is practiced is an institutional imperative flowing from accreditors and their own mission creep. And that’s where the paperwork comes from.

                Quoted for truth. Everyone complains about administrative bloat, but no one complains (enough) about the accreditation system.

  • Docrailgun

    Freddie had a crisis of (political) faith. This sometimes happens to well-off white men who start off liberal – either they weather their dark night of the soul (and redouble their efforts) or they lose their minds (and fall into the morass of conservatism). Sometimes the fall is quick (Dennis Miller or Scott Adams) and sometimes slow (Bill Maher or dear Freddie). Either way we should pity them… but we shouldn’the stop making fun of them.

  • MilitantlyAardvark

    So Freddie Bonerz is now Freddie Test Bonerz.

    If it keeps him buried in the bowels of academe and away from decent people, that seems like a price society can afford to pay.

    My bet is that in 3-4 years he’ll get a job with Kaplan and bore young women at conferences with tales from the war for true liberalism.

    • Pseudonym

      Merely boring young women would admittedly be an improvement.

      • Snuff curry

        Well, it did get help to get his foot in the door once upon a time.

        • Pseudonym

          Considering Freddie’s well-known nickname, I’d venture that wasn’t his foot.

          • Snuff curry

            Whatever it was was well in hand.

        • cpinva

          “Well, it did get help to get his foot in the door once upon a time.”

          I remain unconvinced anyone even noticed.

  • Manju

    I don’t see the hypocrisy. Freddie was getting his Ph.D in some indecipherable jargon-filled field. So he went ahead and got himself a job doing some indecipherable jargon-filled work.

    Either way, that was never the central problem this space had with Freddie, was it?

    • tlaura

      I would never begrudge anybody getting a job, especially after slogging through a PhD. (Freddie’s research does not sound fun to me.) It looks like a good fit.

      That said, I am (happily) shocked that Freddie got a job at all. I used to enjoy reading him way back when, and his “last true leftist / you’re doing it wrong” shtick never bothered me too much, it has a long venerable history. But visiting his “HR compliant Freddie” twitter feed over the past two years … holy hell. I think the low point for me was when I visited once and found him seriously arguing / lecturing that liberals shouldn’t bring up the history of US race relations for context when writing about current US race relations because nobody cares about history in assessing their personal lived experiences. That kind of “insight” (who needs information when feelings will do?) combined with the mix of venom and victimhood … the whole thing just screamed “I am never getting hired by anybody”.

      Now Freddie’s professional page looks very, for real, “HR compliant” and good for him. He didn’t ruin his life after all. I guess Fitzgerald was wrong.

      • cpinva

        “He didn’t ruin his life after all.”

        to ruin a life, one must have one to begin with. there’s no evidence to suggest he ever had one, so ruining it would be next to impossible.

  • lizzie

    My oldest daughter is a senior in high school and she’s currently drowning in the college-application process. She’s a little behind everyone else because she’s still trying to figure out where to apply.

    (By the way, she is stressed because she doesn’t really know how to figure out where she should apply, and I feel bad because I’m not sure how to help her. If anybody around here feels like sharing any advice, I’d love to hear it.)

    Anyway, the existence of people like Boners in academic institutions is really depressing, from the perspective of a parent of a daughter on the cusp of college. It’s just a reminder of all the dreary endless sexist bullshit that she’s about to encounter.

    Not that she hasn’t encountered plenty already, of course. Just the other day, the boys’ basketball coach kicked the cheer team (including my daughter) out of the weight room because four of the boys needed to use it and they couldn’t be expected to do so with all these girls around. It would be too distracting! The cheer coach protested but basketball is a Very Big Deal at that school so she gave in, I guess.

    • BigHank53

      Does she have a specific field of study in mind? If you know you want to do robotics, for example, that narrows the field considerably.

      The other question is how important the social surroundings are to her. Not the idiot “party school” thing, but: does she want to be living in/near a big city? Someplace rural? Close to skiing? Beaches? All the stuff that’s around a college/uni is going to be where she and her friends have their fun.

      If she’s not sure about her course of study, that’s a vote for Enormous State University. Many programs will only be adequate instead of outstanding. But they’ll all be there if she decides to change majors. And in-state tuition makes that more affordable.

      If the degree is less important than the adulting process, she should pick a city/town where she’d like being an adult.

    • This process is so stressful and there’s no reason for it. The reality is that it almost doesn’t matter where your children go to college. There are a few exceptions to this–the social capital one builds at Harvard for instance, or the desire for a specific degree that is fairly unusual for an 18 year old to have. But essentially, it makes almost no difference as far as quality of education goes. A good, committed student will do very well at both the University of Virginia and the Northwestern Backwoods State.

      So really then it comes down to a) how much money will schools give, b) amenities, and c) the big school/small school and public/liberal arts college questions. In any case, the constant stress that students and parents feel the last couple of years of high school over this decision is really unnecessary.

      • I wrote a long comment with the bog standard advice that got eated. But the real key is “de-escalate”. If you are unsure about goals or desires, you are unlikely to resolve them well by trying real hard now. And beyond some sensible checking, there’s no way to fully avoid some risk that the school will be a bad fit. So, don’t sweat it.

        The bog standard advice is to assemble your personal profile (grades, test scores, etc.) and at least a general profile of what you want (region, SLAC vs. R1, etc.). These don’t have to be perfect and they can evolve. Then use a standard book to match your profile to a list of schools. Read up on them and, if it’s easy, vista some representative ones. (Just to get a feel! If you have a SLAC nearby, go check it out even if you don’t want to go there.) Then iterate until you have your list that includes a few long shots, a few easy peasies, and the rest being “reasonably likely but a bit challenging”.

        Recall at all times that there are *many* random factors. You can’t *beat* them, you can only tilt the odds in your favour and there’s only so much you can do before the effort becomes unwarranted.

        These days, people apply to a lot of schools (partly because it got a lot easier). It’s wise to follow this trend to a *certain* extent. You don’t have to go extreme, but I’d stay away from too much below the median. (I under applied my first round and suffered a lot for that. Adding a cushion is really wise.) Your school guidance staff should have a sense of this.

        One quibble I’ll put on Erik’s point about where you go not mattering. For some post graduate moves, it matters a lot. Philosophy grad school (and philosophy in general) is fairly pedigree oriented. But for most people, for most of their life, it doesn’t matter that much if at all.

        • tsam

          But the real key is “de-escalate”. If you are unsure about goals or desires, you are unlikely to resolve them well by trying real hard now. And beyond some sensible checking, there’s no way to fully avoid some risk that the school will be a bad fit. So, don’t sweat it.

          This is great. That was a huge thing for my daughters–spending all their time worrying about what they “want to do when they grow up”–I just told them to start with the basics, and along the way they’ll meet hundreds of students, take lots of classes exposing them to different fields of study, and they have time to figure that out. My oldest got a degree in public health, and is now a teacher :-P in a pre-school. Nobody has to use their degree, but whatever field the degree says, the degree itself says an awful lot about one’s ability to learn and commit to a big task and see it through. That’s more or less what makes someone successful in any endeavor.

      • the social capital one builds at Harvard for instance

        I (somewhat) question that. People (like me) who arrive at Harvard (or Princeton) from entirely elite-free backgrounds (as in, having hardly any family or family friends with college degrees and/or professional jobs and/or fistfuls of money) can (like me) get a hell of a good academic education, if they are lucky, but they may (if—like me—they pass through Harvard, or Princeton, without having much or anything to do with those of their fellow students who are from elite backgrounds) come out of the experience without much “social capital” in the sense of “connections with the elite from which they will later derive advantage”. Depending on the courses they take, they may of course (like me) build some (comparatively small) academic social capital (but that isn’t, certainly in my case and I suspect generally, particularly fungible with general “social capital”); and depending on what becomes of those of their non-elite fellow students to whom they become close (e.g., one of my roommates, whose father was a letter carrier in Bricktown, N.J., is now an eminent computer science professor at the very elite institution we both attended as graduate students; another, also from a working class New Jersey family, has recently become head of a Silicon Valley foundation) they may find that the non-elite social capital gathered from them as undergraduates may eventually earn a lot of interest (not that I’ve ever drawn, or even attempted to draw, on either of those accounts).

        At my mother’s suggestion, in fact, when I was applying to colleges and had to write the (then brief, and single) essay on “why I want to go to [College]”, I included a paragraph about the importance of making connections. I don’t know where she had gotten the idea: she was the first person in her family to go to college, where she met my father’s sister (the first in hers), but I never saw any evidence that either of them ever got any “social capital” out of the experience (for instance, as suggested above, I know that my parents—and suspect that my aunt and her husband—had no friends in any “profession” except schoolteaching; and none of them ever got a job through “connections”, except indeed that my aunt’s husband, a high-school graduate like my father, did eventually succeed my grandfather, an 8th-grade graduate, as purchasing agent for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, which was a pretty good job at that).

        • Srsly Dad Y

          Sure, but trace that line of thinking backward. You and your friend would be far less likely to have gotten into the grad program if you’d gone to say, UNM. And at Harvard you learned how to navigate a large elite institution, and you found prestigious profs to recommend you for grad school I imagine. Those are all coins of social capital even if you didn’t “socialize. “

          • You and your friend would be far less likely to have gotten into the grad program if you’d gone to say, UNM.

            Certainly, but the fact is that we actually learned a lot more at Princeton (not Harvard!) than we could possibly have learned at UNM: not only was (and is) the Princeton mathematics department much better, our classes were all small and taught by professors (from assistant to full; no TAs in courses for majors, then, anyway), and (because we had been admitted in a program since discontinued, alas) he and I and most of our circle were allowed to (1) ignore distribution requirements, (2) take as many courses a semester as we liked, (3) take graduate courses with the instructor’s permission (never denied us).

            And at Harvard you learned how to navigate a large elite institution,

            I certainly didn’t (maybe my roommates did, imperceptibly to me): our admission into the aforementioned program (as incoming freshmen [word used advisedly]) meant that we automatically avoided a lot of the formal aspects of such navigation, for better (e.g., I was able to blithely ignore some real bad advice from my official freshman advisor [whom I later learned was a Bircher!]) and for worse (if I’d used either his services or those of his replacement, I’d have found that the Anglo-Saxon course I really wanted to take freshman year was available, but up the hill at the theological seminary; by the time I found that out, I was a senior and the urge had passed).

            and you found prestigious profs to recommend you for grad school I imagine.

            That’s certainly true. Above, I was accounting that as “academic social capital”. And, at least in mathematics, that doesn’t buy a lot after a few years, unlike the kind of social capital that I imagine (and occasionally get to view from a distance) that (other) elites acquire and trade in. Of course, I think of the mathematical community as an elite in itself! Auden missed the mark, slightly, when he wrote “When I find myself in the company of scientists, I feel like a shabby curate who has strayed by mistake into a drawing room full of dukes.”

            • Srsly Dad Y

              Sorry, tiger :-)

        • NewishLawyer

          Maybe. I thought the research showed that a big reason that many first-generation students drop out of college is that they decide to stay local and eventually family issues and obligations overwhelm them. Or they don’t go far enough and end up getting lonely for their hometown boyfriend or girlfriend (usually boyfriend) and then someone gets pregnant and….

          One benefit to going far is that family stress might just be far enough away that a student can concentrate on studies.

        • NewishLawyer

          Social capital is an interesting thing. I went to school with two brothers whose parents were the first in their families to attend college. The parents became big City public school teachers/admins. The brothers home was in a not great city neighborhood. For whatever reason, the parents decided to send their kids to fancy boarding schools no matter the cost.

          I also knew a lot of people who grew up poor but spent their entire education careers in fancy private schools because of scholarships, determined parents, and maybe a guardian angel of sorts.

          I grew up an upper-middle class kid whose parents decided to move the suburbs for excellent public schools. My college was 60 percent public school kids and 40 percent private school kids. Most of the public school kids were from the upper-middle class suburbs of New York and Boston. Meaning they were like me. Yet the private school kids (including the ones who were from economically so-so to poor families) always awed me with their “sophistication*” and “too cool for school” attitudes.

          *It took me until I was 26 to realize that this was a bluff that I fell for.

      • NewishLawyer

        Yes and no.

        I knew when I was a high school senior that I wanted to attend a small liberal arts college. I probably knew this when I was a high school junior on some level. When I went on a tour of Vassar, I fell in love. I can’t really explain why but I had a feeling that when I went through the gates, “this is where I want to go.” Luckily I got in.

        Now I suspect on some level any liberal-arts college would have done fine but I also suspect attending a typical university with large lectures would have left me feeling lost and miserable.

        • Srsly Dad Y

          In hindsight I seem to have believed that lost and miserable was a necessary phase of early adulthood.

    • Downpuppy

      If she has a Naviance account, they have a fun screener that will let her put in as many criteria as she wants. Most likely she’ll end up with the schools she’s already thinking about, but with more confidence. If not Naviance, the DoE has something similar that Pat linked to on Friday.

      • lizzie

        She does have a naviance account. We must be the slow kids because we find it really hard to use. We log in and the home page is just this bewildering array of links and tabs and stuff. Also nobody ever really explained to me what it’s actually for–primarily searching for colleges? Or actually applying? I gather it’s sort of both but I don’t really get how it works. I thought the school at least explained it more to the kids but both my girls tell me they basically were handed logins and that’s it. It’s actually kind of holding up the process right now because she needs to use it to request teacher recommendations and she’s confused about how to do that, and she keeps forgetting or being too busy/stressed to track down her eternally unavailable college counselor to ask how, and there do not seem to be instructions in naviance itself. Ugh! Sorry to use your comment to vent, I do appreciate your suggestion.

    • lizzie

      Thanks for the responses! Especially the ones reminding us to relax and that it’ll be okay. I know that’s true, but it’s hard to keep it in perspective when everyone around you is freaking out.

      She does actually have a pretty specific plan and preferences: she wants to go to a diverse school in an urban area somewhere out of state, major in Spanish but take enough prerequisites to qualify for med school, and then apply to med school back home at the University of Minnesota. Of course all may not go according to plan, but I figure going to a school with a lot of program options is good enough as a plan B.

      The one thing that makes me feel really uptight is just what a huge financial decision it is. So that makes it feel a lot more fraught. I should note that, as far as I can tell, we are unlikely to get much if any financial aid.

      With that I mind, I’ve tried to steer her toward more cost-effective options, the most obvious of which would be for her to go to the U of MN or Madison (because of reciprocity), but she’s not that excited about Madison and would like the experience of being on her own away from home in a new place. We did visit UT Austin and she really liked it. But it just seems kind of nuts to pay twice as much for basically the same thing, especially because she wants to go on to med school after that.

      • Maybe offer to put some of the savings from going to a cheaper school into a gap year trip e.g., to Spain?

        Even then, if she does the year abroad thing, it’s down to 3 years…

        ETA: The point being is that there are lots of ways to live someone neat and different from where you’ve already lived. Where you go to Uni can be only a small part of that if you plan for it. OTOH, many people find that their university experience is one of their few “living somewhere different” experiences in their life. So it could be worth it.

        • lizzie

          Thanks Bijan! Some good food for thought. I have suggested a gap year after high school just to clear her head from the high pressure environment she’s in right now, breathe a little, and see what it feels like to do stuff other than school (she has a job and I’m thinking she could do some volunteer work in health care in some capacity). But that idea makes her very nervous. We’ll see.

      • She does actually have a pretty specific plan and preferences: she wants to go to a diverse school in an urban area somewhere out of state, major in Spanish but take enough prerequisites to qualify for med school, and then apply to med school back home at the University of Minnesota. Of course all may not go according to plan, but I figure going to a school with a lot of program options is good enough as a plan B.

        There is nothing here that she or you has any reason to stress about. Any number of schools would easily fulfill these requirements.

        On the other hand, I would pretty much tell her that if she wants to leave the state, she can pay for it herself.

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          the hell of it is, if she wants to be in a diverse urban area instate the Twin Cities are it

      • NewishLawyer

        How about Carleton or Macalester?

        University of Minnesota is the cost-effective option but I get not wanting to be in what feels like your backyard. There is also Michigan.

        • Carleton grad here. Love the school, would absolutely recommend but “diverse” and “urban” are not the first two words that come to mind if those are big priorities. Though Northfield is very easy trip to MSP and the student body is a decent mix regionally if not always ethnically and socio-economically.

        • lizzie

          I did kinda rule out Carleton because of the urban/diverse thing. At my suggestion, she’s looking at Macalaster, although she had originally also said she wanted to go to a big school. I think her preferences are a little in flux as the concept of college becomes more real, so I’m not sure how she feels about the size of the school. Macalaster is also very pricey. I’ve also suggested McGill, which she’s interested in, but it might be a little silly to go to Montreal to study spanish, I don’t know.

          • Given the proximity, no reason not to visit!

          • Scott Lemieux

            McGill is my alma mater, and it’s a fantastic option (including for Spanish.) She should consider it.

      • berlihe

        I understand your daughter’s desire to be on her own, but FWIW, UMN has a really great Spanish department, one of the best.

        (N.B. I’m not a member of it.)

        • lizzie

          Hey thanks for mentioning this, that’s good to know.

    • tsam

      Lizzie;

      If you don’t mind me asking–what state do you reside in?

      • lizzie

        Not at all–Minnesota.

        • tsam

          I just spent a week in your OMFG THIS PLACE IS AWESOME state.

          I fell in love with Minneapolis. What a gorgeous city. The food, beers, architecture, attitude–was just fucking AWESOME.

          I loved it.

          • lizzie

            :-) :-) good to hear! We live in Minneapolis and love it too. Of course it helps that the weather was mostly gorgeous while you were here.

            • tsam

              It was great weather. The only complaint I have is the 500 or so mosquito bites that are torturing me. But I got to go fishing in the northern lakes (Near Grand Rapids), explore the Mississippi River…just all a great experience.

              • nemdam

                Minneapolis in the summer is arguably one of the 5 best cities in the country. The problem is that summer ends. And the fact that summer ends and brutal winters begin ensures that it doesn’t get overcrowded and cause all the problems that would make the city in the summer not great.

                • lizzie

                  Hey that 5 minutes of spring is pretty nice too.

                  But fall through Christmas is my favorite. January is ok. February, getting a little sick of this shit. March sucks ass.

        • vic rattlehead

          I second tsam-great state, great city you live in. I would love to drop NYC for there. I love the midwest, it’s been a while since I’ve experienced a brutal winter but I’m no novice when it comes to a harsh winter. Alas, my career and family are here.

      • tsam

        Oh–just saw this comment:

        She does actually have a pretty specific plan and preferences: she wants to go to a diverse school in an urban area somewhere out of state, major in Spanish but take enough prerequisites to qualify for med school, and then apply to med school back home at the University of Minnesota. Of course all may not go according to plan, but I figure going to a school with a lot of program options is good enough as a plan B.

        I just got back from a few days in Minneapolis, and that city fits the diverse urban setting pretty well. I fell in love with that city almost immediately. Anyway, my oldest daughter ended up going from Spokane, WA to Seattle, WA, to the University of Washington, and she couldn’t have been happier. Diverse, urban, lots of foreign and immigrant students and faculty, and some fantastic support/hangout/free-to-be-me groups for LGBTQ students–who I met at their own little Lavender Graduation they had in advance of the official graduation. This part may not apply to your daughter, but I can tell you that state schools in large metro areas, especially ones known for their progressive/liberal attitudes are most likely all winners.

        Also, as others have said, try not to stress about it. I did stress about it, of course, my daughter going away in a big city, etc–but her mother and I gave her an independent, feminist spirit, and she absolutely thrived there. She had homesick and stressed out moments, where just needed to cry on the phone and empty out the bad juju, but on balance, she loved the whole experience to death.

        • lizzie

          Thanks tsam. It’s really helpful to hear from parents who’ve recently gone through this.

    • efgoldman

      the boys’ basketball coach kicked the cheer team (including my daughter) out of the weight room because four of the boys needed to use it

      Too late for your daughter, but this shit needs to stop. See if you can get any of the other parents to complain to the principal, then to the superintendent’s office, then to the s school board, and sometime in the sequence, to the local paper.
      Our daughter and her friends ran into similar crap in grade school, in the early 90s, and we put a stop to it right quick.

    • BiloSagdiyev

      The cheerleaders are using the weight room?! That sounds like some progress right there. (50 years ago, even football players were discouraged from using weights. It’s been a long slow battle to get people to realize what weight training can do for them or their sport.)

      As which college, (shrug), I dunno. I might have chosen wrong, but much more important than that, I didn’t work hard enough at it when I got there.

    • cpinva

      if she’s not sure what she wants to major in, a good, local community college might be the place to get her feet wet. she could take required courses, on the cheap, and get them out of the way. meanwhile, she could take first semester courses in areas that look interesting to her, as she seeks to narrow her focus.

      they’ll be tickled to have her, and the instructor:student ratio won’t be 1:500, giving her more opportunities to meet with the instructors one-on-one. who knows, she may even stumble into an area she didn’t even know existed, and discover her true passion. from there, she’s (almost) guaranteed entre’ into the state 4 year school of her choosing, to continue pursuing her interest at a higher level. just a thought.

  • Pingback: Where does the phrase "basket of deplorables" come from? - Lawyers, Guns & Money : Lawyers, Guns & Money()

  • Oh, it was Freddie who said “objectively despicable”? That thread made me aware I hadn’t been paying attention to men’s clothes for a while.

    • The Dark God of Time
      • Am I the only one who clicks these links mostly just to see what I wrote on them? That was probably around the time I started commenting here, I think.

        • Am I the only one who clicks these links mostly just to see what I wrote on them?

          Well…not that what you may have written on them isn’t interesting to me, but I’m more inclined to click them to see just what I wrote on them.

          • sharculese

            I forgot how great my response to the “objectively” despicable line was.

        • A bit, I think. I’m generally curious about what was going on so click, but maybe 40% is about me? Hard to say.

          It seems a reasonable impulse. I’m sometimes curious to see if my reactions have evolved or if I need to apologise for something :)

          • sibusisodan

            I do the same. Add in the fascination with reading an old comment that I have no memory of writing, and which seems altogether too coherent to be my words. Who is this guy?

          • sharculese

            Isn’t that the thread where you and Dana got into it with Dilan because he claimed Dana’s criticisms of GG were homophobic for some weird reason?

            • Apparently yes!

              This was back when Dilan though it was ok to bring up old stuff or just when he does it or something.

              • sharculese

                Dilan, If you’re reading this, that’s a claaaassic thread and also happened at a time when I had a 2.5 hour commute each way. Of course I remember it.

        • N__B

          Am I the only one who clicks these links mostly just to see what I wrote on them?

          I just want to see how many times I’m repeating various jokes.

          • I have many many times deleted a comment because I thought I might have said it before (worse, under my real name).

        • Pseudonym

          If I clicked on those (or any) links here and read what I wrote on them I would no longer have a functioning liver.

          • Wait…you’re Deverite?!

            • Pseudonym

              Nah, despite being a Broncos fan myself on the occasions when I pay attention to professional handegg, I actually sorta called him out for some sexist ranting in one of his comment threads. I felt a little weird doing it because I don’t personally care at all, I know Denverite is a good guy and great fun, and I really hate callout culture, but sexism in a sports thread on LGM (which seems a bit male-biased in commentariat and at the time was I think all male front-pagers, as much as it pains me to acknowledge GG’s point) just irked me for some reason. Plus I haven’t lived in Denver for 29 years and have no clue about any matters legal. Plus I don’t have Denverite’s charisma. But other than that, yup, you nailed it.

              • So with certain notable exceptions, I nailed?! Maybe I’m Denverite! I almost went to grad school in Denver after all.

                • efgoldman

                  Maybe I’m Denverite!

                  We are all Denverite! It’s yoooogely historic.
                  .
                  .
                  .
                  .
                  Well, maybe not me.
                  (I doubt he even looks at this thread, this being a drinking football day and all.)

        • (((Hogan)))

          No, you’re not.

        • IM

          I actually wrote the first response – but I had totally forgotten about the actual incident that coined “objectively descipable””.

    • Chuchundra

      Loomis just wrote a rambling blog post about Deboer’s new job. Seriously.

      Objectively despicable? Res ipsa loquitur.

    • tsam

      Sometimes I do, but then I see my comments and wonder what the hell I was smoking that day.

  • Matt_L

    dude, I get your animus towards Freddie, but you really are tilting at Windmills when you talk about assessment. The assessment pony is coming down the pike and there is not a lot we can do to stop it. The question is, do you want to shape the ways our discipline evaluates and measures itself, or do you want some Academic VP or Dean to impose a standardized test to evaluate the progress of our history majors?

    I am sorry your “colleague” from Leadership dicked you over about the Civic Engagement tag for your class. But I don’t see how it had anything to do with assessment. General Education committees are well known habitats for administration stooges. It sounds like this was part of a turf war for his own discipline or as a proxy for someone like poli sci. (We have gone through similar horseshit here over the same General Education restructuring and lost some students as a result)

    I’ve been working on assessment for my history department for the last eight years. I’ve learned a few things.

    When it comes to the university, the pressure for assessment comes from accreditation. The accreditation people get some pressure from the Department of Education, but mainly it comes from the accreditors themselves. They have to come up with novel measures and expectations for each new visit and round of fess paid out to the accreditation agency. That pressure won’t go away and is responsible for the make-work you describe and we all hate.

    Collegiate Learning Assessment is BS. Like all standardized tests it is an attempt to do a cheap end run around accreditation body.

    My institution has had three different Institutional Research coordinators (aka Assessment Managers) in the eight years I have been working on assessment. The very best ones had a PhD in a social science like Sociology, or Psych. They also had a strong quantitative background because Administration and the Accrediting Agency want Binders Full of Stats. Most importantly, the best assessment guru was humble. They told me, you and your colleagues know your discipline the best, so you are the ones who should devise the assessments.

    There are some disciplines that do an amazing job with assessment because they focus on two questions: what do we want our students to learn and how do we know if they have learned it? The Physics assessment literature is amazing. Their main goals are to help students master physics 101 and to assesses their learning so that future engineers actually retain the information and skills they need to do their jobs.

    The difference between assessment and grading is between evaluating individual students and groups of students. Grading measures the performance of one student. Assessment measures the progress of a class of students or a cohort of majors.

    There is a lot of crap work in Assessment, but there is some useful scholarship as well. History as a discipline is not as far along as Physics or some of the other disciplines. The best work is geared towards AP History and secondary education. The work by Sam Wineburg and Stanford History Education Group is excellent. The fact that assessment is so weak at the collegiate level is a testament to the dysfunction of the AHA. The AHA Tuning Project is a half-assed attempt to pull together some vague learning outcomes, but as a discipline we have no agreement on what we should be teaching in college or why we are teaching it. This problem is going to compound over time. The AHA and its members need to figure out what a history BA is supposed to do otherwise we are going to continue to have shrinking enrollments and turn into a boutique degree like Classics.

    • Based on what you and Erik say here–and it seems plausible to me–my question is why Freddie’s attitude to it was so uncritical.

      And secondarily, did he really think this uncritical attitude was a “left” thing to do? When he was about subject matter topics, I couldn’t tell whether his approach was any different from that of a typical Internet dude (and they are all dudes, and yes I am bitter) doing a little online research in something he hadn’t really studied, and then holding forth. And they are definitely not all even liberal.

    • J. Otto Pohl

      To be honest I think the lack of agreement on what should be taught by historians and why is not an actual problem. If Dr. Loomis wants to teach US labor history and I want to teach Central Asian political history letting us both teach what we want seems fine to me. Yes, lots of people will say both topics are worthless. But, they don’t have to take our classes.

      • Matt_L

        yes and no. There absolutely should be that freedom for us to teach a wide range of subjects and for students to pick the ones that float their boat and avoid most of the ones that don’t.

        But what does it mean to have a BA in history? What body of knowledge should we have expected the student to master? What skills should they pick up in the BA that will serve them well either in their chosen profession or as a potential grad student? There is no agreement on that. We can’t tell students what the discipline means. At least not at the level of a BA. to put it crudely, what do students get from the BA?

    • No Longer Middle Aged Man

      Hard to disagree with the notion of periodic assessment:
      1. what do we want our students to learn
      2. what methods do we use to help them learn about it
      3. how do we measure how well/much they have learned about it
      4. how well are they/we doing
      5. what corrections or improvements should we make

      On the other hand
      (A) Assessment as a more or less constant on-going critique brings us all the benefits of the permanent cultural revolution
      (B) Assessment as directed by our overlords, as opposed to from within the department or discipline, is more about control than it is about student learning.
      (C) When assessment becomes about “educational outcomes” you can be confident that it has turned into a routinized bureaucrat form-filling exercise.

      • Matt_L

        “(A) Assessment as a more or less constant on-going critique brings us all the benefits of the permanent cultural revolution (usw.)”

        Yes, this is exactly the problem. If its not something you control in the department and in the discipline, then assessment is bound to be a disaster.

        You can’t get and maintain control of assessment by sticking your head in the sand and saying “no, no, no” because then the bureaucrats will take over.

  • I’m honestly surprised Freddie wasn’t able to get a job at Fox. He certainly did seem to be angling for an “Even the Liberal” position as Hannity’s latest hapless foil…

    • delazeur

      Wait until he has a bit of gray hair.

  • junker

    For a brief second I thought this post was going to be about Jill Stein calling for new investigations of 9/11 to find “the real story”

  • rea

    Everybody’s misused him; ripped him off and abused him.
    Another administrator playin’; assessing academics for the man.
    A terrible blow, but that’s how it go…
    Freddie’s in the corner office now… if you wanna be an academic assessor, wow…
    Remember, Freddie’s dead..

  • For the record, I’m in the union.

    There’s a few things I could say here. The idea that I changed research interests to pursue a job is just not accurate – I’ve been arguing, to faculty and others, that more assessment is inevitable and necessary for years. I believe that for a variety of reasons. One reason is that assessment helps to fight against incorrect conventional wisdom about the humanities. Liberal arts majors actually do pretty well, and in some majors very well, compared to national averages. But you actually have to gather evidence to make that case and defend that position. And I would argue that, in a country where getting a college education is so monstrously expensive, it’s a social justice issue to find out how well that education works.

    I don’t expect everyone to agree! I welcome the argument. The white paper I wrote – which was solicited from me because I’ve engaged in this discussion publicly in a valuable way for years – is an argument for my position. But the fact is, Erik, that it doesn’t matter what I do or what my values are. If I had taken a faculty job, do you honestly think you wouldn’t write some angry post about that, too? Of course you would.

    Because the reality is that, while I’ve always had critic’s, I’ve never been in someone’s head the way I’ve beg in yours. Never. I’ve never seen someone more Mad on the Internet then you are about me. It’s breathtaking, the impotent rage I inspire in you. And unhealthy.

    Which I think is mostly about the fact that in a few short years I’ve objectively eclipsed your audience and your influence. I think that’s why you get so upset in such an unhealthy way. That, for example, I have triple your Twitter followers despite using the service far less than you. Or that I have another piece in one of the world’s biggest magazines coming soon. That stuff just eats you up. I mean this is yet another in the long series of posts about me on this blog, and yet no one’s mentioned it to me. Because nobody notices. It’s just not relevant. I’m just being real with you. In the last year I’ve been in the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post…. And I think that contributes to this unhealthy fixation.

    Well, look: I can’t fixate in that same way. I know you’re going to delete this comment, as you’ve repeatedly done in the past. But between us: I’m going to go live my life and do my work. And I will continue to not spend any of my mental energy thinking about you.

    You should try it sometime.

    • The anointed one has graced us with his presence.

      Hallelujah.

    • Murc

      Jesus god.

      The idea that I changed research interests to pursue a job is just not accurate

      Erik neither said nor implied any such thing, and you can’t produce evidence that he did. Starting with a lie is a bad idea.

      Which I think is mostly about the fact that in a few short years I’ve objectively eclipsed your audience and your influence. I think that’s why you get so upset in such an unhealthy way. That, for example, I have triple your Twitter followers despite using the service far less than you. Or that I have another piece in one of the world’s biggest magazines coming soon. That stuff just eats you up. I mean this is yet another in the long series of posts about me on this blog, and yet no one’s mentioned it to me. Because nobody notices. It’s just not relevant. I’m just being real with you. In the last year I’ve been in the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post…. And I think that contributes to this unhealthy fixation.

      Don’t try and psychoanalyze Erik. You’re not equipped to. I mean, my god man. I’m inherently sympathetic to your case but you undercut yourself completely when half your response is “you’re just jealous” and a lot of self-fellatio.

      I know you’re going to delete this comment, as you’ve repeatedly done in the past.

      And here’s the second lie. Erik’s never deleted a single one of your comments. Indeed, I’m not sure he has the power to do so; for a long time only Robert had that sort of control over the blog and I’m not sure that’s changed.

      This statement is narrowly true in the sense that comments on this blog have been deleted. But it is written in a way that can only be deliberately disingenuous, implying that your comments have been deleted out of petty spite. That’s a lie. You know it is lie. It’s an easily called-out lie.

      • Why do people come into these threads and make me a bit sad that I’ve defended them? Murc, any thoughts?

        • Murc

          You still have a little bit of faith in humanity. Only after constant betrayal will you be a fit member of society.

          • Alas, I don’t see much of that faith. The betrayal is pretty constant already!

            • Murc

              The betrayal is pretty constant already!

              And the Labour election isn’t even over for another week and a half!

              • Oh man. Between antivaxxers, Berniebusters, and Corbynapologists (not to mention Smith’s little failings, PLUS Trump closing in on HRC…it’s a bit tiring.

          • efgoldman

            You still have a little bit of faith in humanity. Only after constant betrayal will you be a fit member of society.

            I got there about forty years ago. I’m cynical by nature, but Tricksie Dicksie Nixie watered a gate or something.

        • It’s a curse similar in kind to that which afflicted Cassandra: you are doomed to defend people who will then show up to show themselves unworthy of your defense.

          So what did you do to piss off Apollo?

          • Refuted him in comments on a blog. The usual.

        • a_paul_in_mtl

          I think trying to be fair to people is a good thing, Bijan! Don’t give up on that- it is an all too rare quality.

          • tlaura

            Also Bijan’s comments on Freddie de Boer’s assessment work remain valid even if Freddie de Boer is not a nice person. Being an unsympathetic person does not make any and all criticism of you inherently correct.

            • Thanks folks. I do stand by my comments. It just is irritating that Freddie would swoop in a post something this stupid.

              Really Freddie, it’s true that “number of Twitter followers” is an objective metric, but it still needs analysis and interpretation. People might be following you to watch the train wreck. It could reflect any number of things. You’re an expert on assessment and you blew in here validating to some degree the concern you would be vindictive.

              Granted, Erik’s post wasn’t nice and you have a history, but did you read the comments? Did you see the misery assessment mongering inflicts? You could have engaged that. Instead you devote but one paragraph to some reasonable generalities then run amok.

              Obviously, you don’t need to care about your image here, but why not just try to be sensible and persuasive? Why not engage positively about something you’ve spent a good chunk of your life working on?

              • Scott Lemieux

                Yup, Bijan, no regrets necessary. It’s good that Freddie has gotten a job, and if there must be an assessment admin better someone who seems knowledgeable than a random corporate hack. That Freddie chooses to swoop in with his patented “I am but a humble low-profile worker it would be irrational to bother engaging with who is also a massively influential public intellectual and aren’t you jealous” routine is a little sad but don’t make your comments less valid.

              • a_paul_in_mtl

                “it’s true that “number of Twitter followers” is an objective metric, but it still needs analysis and interpretation.”

                Yes. As with any metric, the significance depends on what “value” we are trying to measure. If “people paying attention to me” is the value being prized, then the size of one’s Twitter following is certainly one way of measuring success. It gets more complicated if we want to analyse the impact people have on the public discussion of various topics, let alone whether that impact is, on balance, positive or negative.

                • MAJeff

                  Such a statement, however, doesn’t give one confidence that the person in charge of academic assessment is able to identify and operationalize meaningful variables.

                • Exactly. The ridiculous psychoanalysis is at least separable doe, his professional competence, but the “These particular metrics makes me BETTER THAN YOU YOURE SO JEALOUS OF ME” is just crap. He has to know better. He should want to seem better on this point.

        • sonamib

          FWIW, I also really appreciate your way of commenting, Bijan. The internet being the internet, people rarely apologize for being assholes or stop behaving badly on short notice. It may feel like your charitable comment was pointless, but it’s still useful!

          Let’s say there’s an asshole advancing argument A, and you argument B. You provide a charitable reading of argument A, and explain why you disagree with it (and you also tell the asshole to cut down on their bad behavior). Even if the asshole does not apologize or stop behaving badly (they probably won’t), some different, third commenter that also favors argument A can still use your comment as a jumping-off point for a productive discussion with you. See e.g. the discussion upthread about the merits of academic assessment.

          • Awww, thanks! It’s very sweet of you to say.

            Rest assured, I was only jesting. Greenwald did the same thing the other day (swooping in to undermine my limited defence of him with self-puffery). It’s kinda sad and kinda funny.

            • sonamib

              Yeah, I read some of that thread (not all of it because yikes, it was huge) and Greenwald was indeed terrible on it. And I haven’t even read all of his terrible comments, apparently he argued that we should understand xenophobes and reach out to them or something?

    • tsam

      Because the reality is that, while I’ve always had critic’s,

      Please don’t do that.

    • tsam

      Well, look: I can’t fixate in that same way. I know you’re going to delete this comment, as you’ve repeatedly done in the past. But between us: I’m going to go live my life and do my work. And I will continue to not spend any of my mental energy thinking about you.

      I don’t think anyone is asking you to spend energy thinking about them as much as asking you to think about some of the things you say, and give an objective look at the messages that conflict with feminism, equality for minorities, and liberalism in general. An open heart and some objective self examination goes millions of miles toward understanding and starts to make the world better for everyone.

    • tonycpsu

      Setting aside the dick-measuring contest about Twitter followers, the simple fact is that when it comes to politics, you have for years engaged in a holy war against anyone who dared to try to work within the political system by associating themselves with any entities that were less than 100% pure, but when it comes to your professional interests, you’ve chosen to set purity aside and join the very “University, Inc.” you said that we should live in fear of. When it’s your ass on the line, purity is negotiable.

      • No Longer Middle Aged Man

        Yes, exactly this. “Pragmatism in my professional life” is in the service of social justice. Other forms of pragmatism are sell outs.

        I don’t get why LGM gives any attention to Freddie either. Self-infatuated blowhard arbiters of all thought are a dime a dozen, so Freddie’s opinions don’t even meet the “just my two cents” threshhold.

    • For someone who’s no longer trying to get a job in media (apparently), the amount of energy he’s still putting into painting people as unworthy of attention so he’ll have more room is stunning.

      • Murc

        He’s also got a real nice catch-22 going on. In the past he’s played the “I’m just a nobody academic, why are these people going hard at me? They must hate me for other reasons.” Now that he does, in fact, get media exposure, that’s shifted seamlessly to “I’m this persons clear superior in the public square, so they must just be jealous.”

        I can proudly say I was hating on Freddie before it was cool, back when he was just some guy John Cole let onto his blog.

        • It is the best catch of them all!

          eta I did briefly feel sorry for him because it seemed the BONERZ thing was being overdone, but I really can’t express how infuriating his writing is.

    • Pseudonym

      You know, Erik, I think that you deserve a wide latitude in your choice of rhetorical strategies, but this kind of cruel microtargeted parody of everything Freddie, while an admittedly stunning work of aesthetic genius, really reveals the potency of your vindictive streak in a manner that can no longer be subject to any doubts.

      • Now you’re just rubbing ketchup in his wounds.

        • efgoldman

          Now you’re just rubbing ketchup in his wounds.

          Vodka. It hurts more.

    • a_paul_in_mtl

      Because the reality is that, while I’ve always had critic’s, I’ve never been in someone’s head the way I’ve beg in yours. Never. I’ve never seen someone more Mad on the Internet then you are about me. It’s breathtaking, the impotent rage I inspire in you. And unhealthy.

      Which I think is mostly about the fact that in a few short years I’ve objectively eclipsed your audience and your influence. I think that’s why you get so upset in such an unhealthy way. That, for example, I have triple your Twitter followers despite using the service far less than you. Or that I have another piece in one of the world’s biggest magazines coming soon. That stuff just eats you up.

      Who says the man can’t write? Note his masterful use of the adjective “objectively”, a reprise of the theme we first heard from the artist on an LGM comments section years ago. Also note the masterfully piquant tone of self-aggrandizement masquerading as concern, with a healthy dollop of self-promotion slipped in at the end of the passage.

      I mean this is yet another in the long series of posts about me on this blog, and yet no one’s mentioned it to me. Because nobody notices.

      Well, gee Freddie, I’m guessing somebody noticed, or else you wouldn’t be here.

      I know you’re going to delete this comment

      Why would he? That would deprive us “objectively despicable” folks of the opportunity to respond, wouldn’t it?

      I will continue to not spend any of my mental energy thinking about you.

      Considering that you never think about this blog or its bloggers, it is truly remarkable that you somehow got wind of this post even though absolutely no one told you about it because no one ever heard of it.

      • […] Which I think is mostly about the fact that in a few short years I’ve objectively eclipsed your audience and your influence.[…]

        Note his masterful use of the adjective “objectively”, a reprise of the theme we first heard from the artist on an LGM comments section years ago.

        Journeyman’s work. A master would have invented the phrase “objectively eclipsable”.

        Wait. I think one just did.

        P.S. Only a sadist, however, would try to infect someone else with an Objective Eclipse of the Heart earworm.

    • This comment is so perfect Freddie that I won’t comment on it except to note two things.

      First, no one has ever deleted your comments. I know saying that allows you to play the martyr, but it’s not true.

      Second, I love how closely Freddie’s style of argument mirrors that of Greenwald. Both respond to criticism by puffing themselves up and telling everyone that they are super jealous of how awesome they are while at the same time they are constantly searching for their own names on the internet to challenge anyone saying anything bad about them. That Freddie pivoted from his ridiculous “I’m just a poor graduate student who has blogged for Andrew Sullivan why are you so mean” to “I get published in all the awesome publications you are so jealous” is even more hilarious.

      • Scott Lemieux

        First, no one has ever deleted your comments. I know saying that allows you to play the martyr, but it’s not true.

        Yes, Freddie really needs to retract this. At a minimum, neither Erik nor I have ever deleted a single one of your comments.

        • MAJeff

          Unless, maybe, he’s JenBob.

        • Murc

          Like I said, Scott, he worded that very carefully. The statement was, narrowly and technically true. Other comments on the blog have been deleted in the past, possibly by Erik.

          It’s weaseling of the highest order. He had a retreat path already laid out.

          • We used to delete troll comments, yes, until we got the new system that allowed us to ban commenters and erase the comments without screwing up the comment threads. But Freddie’s claims that we delete his comments make no sense. I want him to comment so people can mock him. Why would I lose that opportunity by deleting them?

            • a_paul_in_mtl

              Because his comment was such a withering riposte that no one receiving it could possibly stand the humiliation of letting it seen publicly?

              Whereas in fact it was a risible response that did much to torpedo whatever sympathy people might have had for his position.

          • (((Hogan)))

            The statement was, narrowly and technically true.

            Not really:

            I know you’re going to delete this comment, as you’ve repeatedly done in the past.

            He knows no such thing.

          • You yourself said it: half the statement was technically true. The other half, the whining about “you power-misusing people always delete my comments!” was obviously the more important part of it.

      • Jewish Steel

        Second, I love how closely Freddie’s style of argument mirrors that of Greenwald.

        This leapt out at me too. It’s almost like they have the exact same internet narcissist/martyr personality disorder.

    • Downpuppy

      Congrats on getting a union job in your field!

      This morning I had no idea what Assessment meant in this context. Now I know more than I ever wanted to. So, you’ve already advanced education.

    • sharculese

      Freddie, I was totally willing to be on your side here, because I kind of think Loomis overshot the mark, but this rant is as deranged and petulant as anything you’ve ever written.

      You need to calm down and probably never be on the internet ever.

    • vic rattlehead

      in a few short years I’ve objectively eclipsed your audience and your influence.

      You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

      • Well, I think he’s using it in the way that multiple choice questions are “objective” where as essay questions are “subjective”: To get the grade/metric in the first case involves (typically) no human rater/evaluator. Thus, no inter-subject variability. Since, with MCQ, the answer is determined in advance and can be mechanically matched, you don’t need to worry about inter-rater reliability.

        The problem with this terminology is that, of course, MCQs involve a lot of judgment. It may be a judgement call which answer is correct (this is esp. true when people through in the weasel “pick the BEST answer” <– I do this!!). Which MCQs and which topics introduces a lot of judgment. MCQs are "objective" in a very narrow sense.

        Similarly, Twitter followers is "objective" in the same way. But you may want to weed out "non-active" followers and there are different techniques for that. Or you may want to weigh followers by their "influencer" status: A feed with 10 followers, but those followers each have 100k followers might be more influential than a feed with 5000 followers. Or you might want to add in retweeting. Etc. etc.

        We might prefer to measure "efficiency" in getting followers. We'd want to discount truly bought followers, but we know some moves increase the likely hood of getting followers. Following them, but also liking things they tweet.

        Freddie has 15,449 followers, but has liked 42,920 tweets (sheesh!).

        Erik, contrariwise, has only 4,066 followers, but has liked only 1,757 tweets. (he follows a lot more)

        They have similar number of tweets (23k Freddie vs. 29k Erik). This is the source of Freddie's claim that Erik is "more active". But Freddie has liked 2 orders of magnitude more tweets! That's a lot of activity.

        So, if we ask "How many likes does it take for Erik or Freddie to get a follower?" that is, *how productive* is their liking, we find that Freddie needs 2.78 likes to get one follower (42920/15449) where as Erik, being much more judicious with his likes, needs only 0.42 likes to get a follower (1757/4066). Now, obviously, many followers follow for other reasons (read them, was followed by them, etc.), but this isn't an entirely bonkers proxy. I've now "proved" that Erik is objectively more influential, since his "likes" are more powerful. And, indeed, I've "proved" that Freddie's greater following is due to him being more active on twitter (by liking the crap out of stuff).

        Now, clearly this is mostly silly if you take it too seriously. Your choice of metric and interpretation of it introduce a enormous amount of variability. But the metrics are still objective (in this narrow sense) in themselves.

        • elm

          In this case, it might be the correct word in some sense, but Freddie uses ‘objectively’ a lot, and not just in the ‘objectively despicable’ line. It seems to me that it’s his go to intensifier, like how some people use ‘literally.’

          • Oh he’s definitely very slimy about its use. Esp here.

            This is one thing that tends to stand out for me: he doesn’t seem very good at the research methods stuff. (I seem to recall a Crooked Timber thread that was particularly embarrassing.). At least in casual contexts.

        • alercher

          That’s good work, Bijan.

          It’s assess or be assessed in academia.

    • vic rattlehead

      Which I think is mostly about the fact that in a few short years I’ve objectively eclipsed your audience and your influence. I think that’s why you get so upset in such an unhealthy way. That, for example, I have triple your Twitter followers despite using the service far less than you. Or that I have another piece in one of the world’s biggest magazines coming soon. That stuff just eats you up. I mean this is yet another in the long series of posts about me on this blog, and yet no one’s mentioned it to me. Because nobody notices. It’s just not relevant. I’m just being real with you. In the last year I’ve been in the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post…. And I think that contributes to this unhealthy fixation.

      You really want to play the Twitter follower and I’ve been published in the NYT debate? Seems to me that Erik has focused on his scholarship, which appears to be far more important and hardhitting.

      • Right–I like writing books. Maybe I could get in those places. Maybe I couldn’t. Don’t know, never tried.

    • Snuff curry

      Well, look: I can’t fixate in that same way.

      The problem is, you accuse everyone of fixating on you.

      I know you’re going to delete this comment, as you’ve repeatedly done in the past

      Again, that’s precisely what you’re doing on social media this minute. Scrubbing, deleting, hiding, and flagging. Anybody who wants to can look and screenshot. None of this nonsense you’re pulling is going to go away, so stop asking Erik to delete things that embarrass you.

    • I mean this is yet another in the long series of posts about me on this blog, and yet no one’s mentioned it to me

      Poll: Google Alert, or does he just do it by hand?

      I’m just being real with you. In the last year I’ve been in the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post

      OK, definitely by hand. By which I mean Googling himself. Of course.

  • MAJeff

    You just know Bonerz would jump at the opportunity to scab, as at LIU-Brooklyn.

  • Off the topic of FdB, but on an academic that has appeared in other threads here, this showed up on my university of last employment’s faculty e-mail today, posted without further comment than the subject (“Interesting article”) by a decidedly left-of-center professor. I’m sure it’s shown up, or will show up soon, in the mail of most of the academics (and fellow travelers) who post here, but I’d like to bring it to everyone’s attention. Disclosure: I don’t think I ever said “fuck no”, or even “fuck yes”, in class. Maybe it should have been on my assessment!

    • tonycpsu

      It’s more than a year old.

      • Well I’ll be darned. Many of the cases did sound familiar.

        Maybe I should point that out on the listserv. Nah. I’ll leave that to someone who can read better than I.

  • Harkov311

    And every day, the conversation gets more safe, more corporate, more restricted, less interesting, less honest, and less free.

    So what would a daring, socialist, unrestricted, honest, free conversation look like, Mr. DeBoer? What would it be about? What conclusions would it come to that are so radically different than what prevails now?

    He doesn’t even know, does he?

    • (((Hogan)))

      So what would a daring, socialist, unrestricted, honest, free conversation look like, Mr. DeBoer?

      Imagine Freddie ranting unendingly at a human face–forever.

  • The Lorax

    Lemme try the right thread here.

    It is encouraging to see that others have the same take on assessment I do. I feel like that stupidity is everywhere. What a godawful waste of time. And if you complain, you’re made to feel like you don’t care about knowing if you’re teaching well. No, I do. What I don’t like is formulating nebulous goals that may be satisfied by everything or nothing and pretending like I’m getting “data” out of grading my papers a second time. Funny how the academics who work with data (as opposed to the proliferation of EdDs in the academy) think it’s bullshit, too.

  • CJColucci

    What’s so wrong about pleated khakis? I know enough about fashion to know they’re not the current fashion, but I don’t care much about fashion. Are they some sort of cultural signifier that I’m missing, like, perhaps, “I’m the sort of person who doesn’t care about fashion”?

  • 4jkb4ia

    I am really sorry to hear this. Erik probably knows why assessment people are evil besides that they interfere with faculty people teaching. Freddie has probably convinced himself that he will be some kind of student advocate.

It is main inner container footer text