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Another Reason I Hate Bill Bennett

I got really mad while watching the news this morning.  Bill Bennett was on -- conservative commentator and cultural critic, Secretary of Education under Ronald Reagan.  He was talking about Barack Obama's educational initiatives and the high cost of college education and saying that colleges had to find ways to tighten their belts.  And along this line he made some snide comment about how college professors have have only six hours of work a week -- "You hear them talk about six hours of teaching, and you think 'well that's a lot', but you have to remember that's six hours per week not per day."  That's a paraphrasing of his remarks, but it's certainly close to his exact words.

My wife is a college professor.  She teaches biology, and while she has nine contact hours per week rather than six, I'm sure Bennett would have said that was a paltry amount, too.  And maybe it sounds that way.  It's not.  Trust me on this.  Those nine contact hours -- meaning nine hours of actual teaching time -- are the tip of the iceberg.  They don't take into account all the other work my wife does each week to support those nine hours in the classroom.  Like what?  Well, here's an incomplete list:  writing lectures, preparing labs, grading papers, grading lab notebooks, writing exams, grading those exams, running an out-of-class research program so that aspiring scientists can get some hands-on training with real science experiments, keeping up with the scholarly literature in her field, writing papers on her research so that she can contribute to that scholarly dialogue, writing grants to fund her research, meeting with colleagues to plan team-taught elements of the curriculum, doing committee work to help keep the university functioning, holding office hours and running review sessions to help students who are having difficulty with material in her classes, meeting with her advisees to help them plot out their college careers, working with her freshman advisees to help them get oriented to their new academic surroundings.  There's more, but I'm blocking on it, and I think you get the idea.

My wife goes to work at 8:00 in the morning and gets home at around 5:30 every day.  Usually she has another hour or two of work to do in the evenings, just to keep up.  She works as hard as anyone I know.  She works harder than I do.  And I'd bet every cent I have that she works way harder than Bill "Head-Up-His-Ass" Bennett, and for a lot less money.

And you know what else?  She's not unique in that regard.  College professors make easy targets for social critics, particularly those on the right.  Because they're intellectuals and our culture doesn't value intelligence the way it does physical beauty or athletic prowess or any number of other attributes.  Because their jobs are misunderstood -- people hear "nine contact hours" and "tenure" and they think college professors have it made.  They don't.  They train for years and years, at great financial cost and at times under great emotional stress, to get their advanced degrees.  They spend 50 and 60 hours every week trying to give America's future leaders the best education possible, and they get paid a fraction of what they deserve.

But what pissed me off the most about Bill Bennett's ad hominem attack on professors is that he knows better.  The guy ran the Education Department.  He has colleagues who are academics.  He has a Ph.D. in political philosophy and spent time at an academic think tank.  He knows exactly how hard college professors work.  But he saw a way to score some cheap political points, and he exploited the opening.  It was cynical and self-serving, cowardly and disingenuous, and it denigrated people who have never done anything to him at all.  Including someone I love.

So if foul language disturbs you stop reading now.  If not.... 

Hey, Bill!  Fuck you!

Comments

( 27 comments — Leave a comment )
brent_kellmer
Feb. 27th, 2009 02:44 am (UTC)
I'm glad I didn't watch him -- I used to teach college level history, and I had it easier since I didn't do tenure track, so I wasn't concerned about publishing. And I still worked my ass off. I would have probably thrown something hard at the TV.
davidbcoe
Feb. 27th, 2009 04:14 am (UTC)
My Ph.D. is in history, and even the small amount of teaching I've done overwhelmed me. Educators should be paid like kings and queens.
skaldic
Feb. 27th, 2009 04:18 am (UTC)
Yeah, there's a reason why I don't teach anymore -- I decided I wanted to make enough that I didn't need to work at Costco over the holidays to support my family.
skaldic
Feb. 27th, 2009 04:19 am (UTC)
sorry -- I was using a different account -- that was brent_kellmer
brent_kellmer
Feb. 27th, 2009 04:58 am (UTC)
sorry -- I was using a different account -- that was me
brent_kellmer
Feb. 27th, 2009 05:03 am (UTC)
okay, so now I'm making it look like I was over paid... I thought it'd be clearer if I posted from my original account, and only realized I couldn't delete the first comment after the fact... I'm usually only that much of an idiot with my wife.
davidbcoe
Feb. 27th, 2009 04:04 pm (UTC)
LOL! That was a very, very funny sequence of comments....
coppervale
Feb. 27th, 2009 04:48 am (UTC)
Right there with you.

James
Eldest of four kids raised by a first grade teacher
davidbcoe
Feb. 27th, 2009 04:06 pm (UTC)
My Mom taught. My brother used to teach. If it wasn't for teachers, I probably wouldn't be a writer today. Fortunately, my kids seem to understand all this intuitively. My nine year-old's favorite play-by-herself game these days is to gather her stuffed animals and dolls and pretend she's their teacher. Too cute.
(Deleted comment)
davidbcoe
Feb. 27th, 2009 04:08 pm (UTC)
I'm speechless. But at least it's good to know that his idiocy is deeply rooted, something he's perfected over the years. Nothing worse than a neophyte idiot....
sleigh
Feb. 27th, 2009 12:31 pm (UTC)
Another teacher here: NKU has a 4/4 load for teachers, so I'm teaching 12 credit hours each semester. For every hour in class, I spend somewhere between 3 and 4 hours doing the other stuff that needs to be done, not counting the 'service' work that the university expects of a teacher.

Bill, you have no idea what you're talking about.
davidbcoe
Feb. 27th, 2009 04:09 pm (UTC)
12 hours! You deserve a medal, my friend.

Happy Birthday, by the way. Twenty-one yet again, eh....?
scbutler
Feb. 27th, 2009 01:17 pm (UTC)
Not to defend Bill Bennett, but I think he was targeting Ivy type colleges. Because he wouldn't know about anything else, would he?
davidbcoe
Feb. 27th, 2009 04:14 pm (UTC)
His pedigree: Williams College undergrad, UTexas, Austin for his Ph.D., Harvard Law for his JD. I'm sure he was targeting Ivy League types. Again, that's the easy mark. I know you were joking, and that you WEREN'T defending him. But for the record let me say that I got an Ivy League education, and every one of my professors worked his or her tail off.
scbutler
Feb. 27th, 2009 05:14 pm (UTC)
For the record, I got an Ivy league education also. My experience was, though the professors might have worked their tails off, it certainly wasn't for the benefit of the undergrads, or even the grad students.

From what I've heard of Williams, however, that isn't true at all. They work their tails off for their students.

And I agree with you 100% about Bill Bennett.
crazywritergirl
Feb. 27th, 2009 02:19 pm (UTC)
I have a close friend who is a college professor. She's always running around trying to stay ahead of the curve. I've taught a few of her classes over the years when she needed input on how an author markets their work. Even teaching was a lot of prep time, let alone all the exams, essays, etc. she has to grade. Made me glad I write for a living. Those people earn their keep. Mr. Bennett has screwed his head up his ass yet again.

davidbcoe
Feb. 27th, 2009 04:16 pm (UTC)
I don't know about you, but the small amount of lecturing I still do is not easy for me at all. Professors stand up in front of students every day, doing one person shows that would give even the most seasoned stand-up comic the heebie-jeebies. It's a tough, tough job. I'm just as glad that I got out of it years ago.
markwise
Feb. 27th, 2009 02:39 pm (UTC)
You are right about this one. He was being very cheap.

I hope he enjoys his political points because he lost some moral ones in my book.
davidbcoe
Feb. 27th, 2009 04:18 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the comment, Mark. He sometimes has interesting insights on the political stuff. I don't agree with him most of the time, but I have been impressed by some things he's said. But boy, this one pushed my buttons. Or could you tell....? ;)
kmarkhoover
Feb. 27th, 2009 03:09 pm (UTC)
For a degenerate gambler with a heavy drinking problem and multiple self-loathing issues I'm surprised Bennett was this coherent so early in the morning.

I taught high school physics and chemistry for seven years in inner city schools. Anytime someone in my presence says "Teachers have it easy" I immediately tell them they don't know what the fuck they're talking about and if they don't like my attitude we can go outside and I can kick the shit out of them until they apologize.

A bit raw, perhaps, but there are some things I will NOT put up with under any circumstances, and denigrating teachers is one. I've been in those trenches, I know what it's like. I have nothing but respect for the men and women who teach our children everyday. I will always have their back.

davidbcoe
Feb. 27th, 2009 04:19 pm (UTC)
"I have nothing but respect for the men and women who teach our children everyday. I will always have their back."

Well said!! Thanks, Mark.
hedwig_snowy
Feb. 27th, 2009 10:41 pm (UTC)
The only time Bill's ever worked that many hours in a week was on his trips to Vegas.

I know the right supposedly claims moral superiority over us poor, deluded libruls, but why do ALL of their spokespeople have some serious moral flaws? Seriously.
davidbcoe
Feb. 28th, 2009 07:29 pm (UTC)
Can you say "Repression". They're anti-gay rights because they're deeply unsure of their own sexuality. They're anti-vice because they're terrified of their own demons. They try to force their religion down the throats of others because they question the sincerity of their own faith. I truly believe this.
hedwig_snowy
Feb. 28th, 2009 08:06 pm (UTC)
True. As I see it, they think of human beings as evil, as sinners. That we are incapable of overcoming those demons because we're weak. What they don't come out and say is that they are incapable of resisting what they see as 'evil' so they want it removed, to take away 'their' temptation. Weak. Their anti-woman stances are because they think women are even weaker. Not many that I've met in my life that couldn't whip Rush, O'Lielly, and Sean Mannity all at once...

It's much easier to take away people's rights and leave them with fewer choices right? Except, if there was no evil, no temptation, how would we know what good and bad were? How would they know they were 'worthy'?

On the sexuality: Maybe it's not that they're drug-adled, psychopaths that have them getting multiple divorces...

To be realistic, some do it as a show. Flipped by the Mannity last night and he had former Senator Bob Graham on his show. I'm guessing, because I only watched for about 60 seconds, that the segment was on bashing NBC/MSNBC. Graham commented that all the cross-network bashing was counter-productive when there were more important things to be talking about. Mannity commented that they do talk about those things on his radio show. So, he is admitting that his show is not a news program serving a public good, but a rant fest to keep up his TV ratings. Thanks for stating the obvious, S. Still, wish Olbermann would ignore them unless they do something really offensive. Waste of time to call idiots "stupid" constantly. They wouldn't get it anyway.

So, gonna watch Rush get his Lifetime Achievement Award from CPAC today? Saw MN Governor Tim Pawlenty there pushing the "Obama just put out a budget with a $1.7 trillion deficit". All I need to say about that - besides us being in a recession and a lot of that going to their bank buddies - is "At least he ain't Bush"
hedwig_snowy
Feb. 28th, 2009 08:27 pm (UTC)
Oh....and on that temptation thing...after I replied earlier I ran across this news item on Daily Kos...

Porn in the USA: Conservatives are biggest consumers

Sure, they might just be the libruls in those red states...but I doubt it. :-)

And...since today seems to be rant saturday...ever looked at the number of dollars to and from the states and the federal government and how most red states take more than they send to DC while blue states mostly send more? Kinda puts a new meaning on the word "welfare". Not sure that Alabamans would really do better if they just stopped all federal taxation and doling that out to states where each state had to rely only on itself.

davidbcoe
Mar. 1st, 2009 03:12 am (UTC)
Yeah, that's just part of the hypocrisy, too. They take more federal aid, they have more kids out of wedlock, they divorce more often. Reminds me of that old bumper sticker: "The Moral Majority is neither."
( 27 comments — Leave a comment )

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