Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Capture and Job flexibility

The extent to which the privileged watch out for themselves is exemplified by a recent effort by the Sloan Foundation. As a general matter the Foundation sponsors a great number of worthwhile efforts. Now, however, one of those efforts focuses on academics and the question of how to increase their work schedule flexibility. Precisely why a prestigious and generally well-meaning foundation would concern itself with the flexibility afforded those who already enjoy the greatest flexibility is most likely explained by the self-interests of those intiating the study. Certainty, it is not the work of working class mothers and fathers who have no flexibility and who, by the way, pay the salaries of the academics.
Evidently the foundation makes awards to Schools based on a the survey. It is not clear whether the award is to be made to those schools with flexibility already or those who could actually use financial assistance to increase flexibility – that is, if the occupation could actually stand more flexibility. The questions on the survey are embarrassingly slanted to signal the “right” answers to privileged professors who want even more. For example, agree or agree:
1.My department chair is “mindful” of schedule courses and meeting to accommodate faculty with child care responsibilities.
2. My department chair supportive when I have a personal or family issue to take care of.

Do you think that most faculty members, with their powerful senses of entitlement, are likely to agree if they have heard “no” from an administrator no matter how reasonable?
Remember, this money is invested in a study of people with salaries high enough to hire childcare, who are in the classroom 5 to 10 hours a week, who can cancel and reschedule classes at any time, and who can do most of their research at home. I wonder what the car mechanics, convenience store workers, child care providers would think of the direction the Foundation has taken.

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