Paul L. Caron

Monday, July 6, 2020

NY Times: Colleges Face Rising Revolt By Professors Over Teaching On Campus In The Fall

New York Times, Colleges Face Rising Revolt by Professors:

College students across the country have been warned that campus life will look drastically different in the fall, with temperature checks at academic buildings, masks in half-empty lecture halls and maybe no football games.

What they might not expect: a lack of professors in the classroom.

Thousands of instructors at American colleges and universities have told administrators in recent days that they are unwilling to resume in-person classes because of the pandemic. ...

Faculty members at institutions including Penn State, the University of Illinois, Notre Dame and the State University of New York have signed petitions complaining that they are not being consulted and are being pushed back into classrooms too fast. ...

Many professors are calling for a sweeping no-questions-asked policy for those who want to teach remotely, saying that anything less is a violation of their privacy and their family’s privacy. But many universities are turning to their human resources departments to make decisions case by case.

New York Times Economic View:  College Is Worth It, but Campus Isn’t, by Susan Dynarski (Michigan):

Each fall, millions of students head to college campuses. Most stay close to home, but many crisscross the country to study in a different state.

Students typically move into crowded housing and reconnect with friends at parties, mixers and bars. When classes start, they customarily file into large lecture halls and small seminar rooms, sitting close together, heads bent over books and laptops.

This is a joyful scene in most years. In a pandemic it would be an epidemiological nightmare. ...

As an economist, I’m frequently asked, “Is college still worth it?” My answer is almost invariably yes: The lifetime payoff to earning a college degree is so very large, in health and wealth, that it dwarfs even high tuition costs. College is an especially smart choice during a terrible job market.

But in this pandemic, the college experience has to change. Gathering students on campus is a gamble that could generate outsize risks for society and only modest benefits for students.

Paul Kellermann (Penn State), I Love Teaching at Penn State, But Going Back This Fall Is a Mistake. 1,000 of My Colleagues Agree.:

Some people, I suspect, were unaware that Penn State had a university attached to its football team. Their knowledge of Penn State begins with Joe Paterno and ends with Jerry Sandusky. But that’s not my Penn State. At my Penn State, I get to work with some of the world’s most brilliant scholars and researchers. At my Penn State, I get to teach some of the country’s most insightful and enthusiastic students. My Penn State rewards creative thinking and teaching. My colleagues and I are simply asking for the freedom to deliver our lessons the most effective way possible—and to do so safely.

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Those of you who say profs choose to teach online because it's easier don't know what you're talking about. When we needed to switch to online teaching suddenly back in March, do you know how much training and workshop were conducted? Teaching online takes so much extra planning and presents more technical challenges. We need to plan how to show slides AND write on the screen -- have you ever written lots of equations on the screen? -- it's much harder than writing on the board. We also can't see your face so we need to try some other way to engage you and get your feedback. So don't be presumptuous about things you know nothing about.

Posted by: Bec | Jul 17, 2020 10:04:38 PM

This is showing how we professors generally don't care much about education but do care an inordinate amount about our own health. Plus, it's easier teaching online. Maybe it's even true that it's so much easier for both students and professors that it's worth the reduction in quality.

Posted by: Eric B Rasmusen | Jul 7, 2020 9:32:17 PM

I wish we could just go back and teach without the hysterics.

Posted by: Paul | Jul 7, 2020 11:33:58 AM

Any that refuse to teach should be permanently replaced. Lots of demand for those jobs......and most of those professors need to be replaced anyway.

Posted by: Tim McDonald | Jul 7, 2020 9:38:39 AM

They should all quit and just be professional protesters

Posted by: Bandit | Jul 7, 2020 7:04:12 AM

Look at the Covid-19 death rates by age. Professors over the age of about 55 have ample reason to worry about catching and dying from a virus from their young students that will hardly cause the sniffles in those students.

I know. I live in a college community whose covid-19 infection rate is far higher than other counties in the state with comparable populations and more like those of major cities. One reason in the influx of 25,000 students from all over.

Posted by: Mike Perry | Jul 7, 2020 6:01:36 AM

It’s interesting that it’s the professors, not the students, that people seem concerned about.

Posted by: Michael Livingston | Jul 7, 2020 2:55:13 AM