Weekend Reading

Read these links before they disappear!

Both priests placed the blame for their kidnapping and subsequent torture on Jorge Bergoglio, who was then in charge of the Jesuit Order. It was, after all, Bergoglio who stripped them of their functions and, in doing so, removed the protections provided by the church. Shortly thereafter, a paramilitary group delivered the priests to the ESMA. Both had served impoverished communities. They were only freed after the Episcopate agreed to grant an audience to General Roberto Viola and Minister of Economy Jose Martinez de Hoz. A day before the audience, Yorio and Jalics were drugged and transported by helicopter to an open field in the outskirts of Buenos Aires.

Imagine if a democratically-elected mayor was suddenly neutered and replaced by an “emergency manager” with the power to steamroll City Council. Imagine if the manager had the authority to unilaterally modify or even eradicate collective bargaining agreements and used that authority to entirely wipe out public sector unions. For Detroit, and its staunch labor movement, that scenario is less far-fetched than it sounds. In fact, it’s already happening in the Michigan city of Pontiac.

Since Lou Schimmel became Pontiac’s emergency manager in 2011, he has privatized the Department of Public Worksoutsourced police services to the Oakland County sheriff’s office, and turned over the city’s fire department to nearby Waterford Township, killing the public sector unions which represented the city’s firefighters and cops. He’s put every city property, including City Hall, up for sale and cut the city’s public employee workforce by about 90%. And he’s done it all without the consent of the city council.

There is no reliable data to prove the assertion that MOOCs are revolutionizing anything; such rhetoric, moreover, gives a progressive and agreeable tinge to what may be a harmful, exploitative, and short-lived bubble of entrepreneurial capitalism. Something like 5-10% of the people who enroll in these so-called “classes” complete them, and almost none receive academic credit. And what does “primarily free” mean? MOOCs are only available to people with excellent broadband internet access and fast computers, which excludes about half the population and leans heavily towards the already privileged, and white, sectors—unless they live in rural areas, where such access is largely absent. Internet provider data caps and fee-based download plans are already raising questions about the cost or feasibility of taking such courses. As a so-called “access” campus, we have to be concerned about the effect of online instruction on success rates for underprepared students, especially students of color, whom studies have shown benefit the least from online instruction and flourish most when engaged on campus through residential housing, mentorships, and involvement in student organizations and community service.

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