Currently wishing I didn't have to do any grading. Before that, graduate student and new mom. Now an actual Dr. of Something or Other and the Kid is two and some months. Before that, a Southern girl in the West. Now a Southern girl in the South, dreaming of being in the West. Before that, I can't remember. Still waiting for the flying car.


Editor’s Pick
FEBRUARY 10, 2012 3:58PM


Rate: 40 Flag

Every week, I pull up the listings on the Chronicle. The people on the Chronicle forum, who are sometimes a bit cheeky, have a saying: Apply for the Damned Job. I do.

In 2010, a few years after the economy crashed, I graduated with my PhD in English. I know. I know. For those in the know, it's a tough field. It is. Last year, for every applicant, in my particular field, I joined 600-700 other applicants applying for the same job. I agree. Crazy, baby. Why do it? Why try?

I got my PhD on a bit of a lark, really. I knew I wanted to do it, but mainly, I wanted to start a new life, away from a bad relationship and somewhat contentious family issues. I moved to warm climate. Lots of sun. I had a lovely time the first few years, going to class, something I'm very good at doing. I'm good at writing papers, meeting deadlines, thinking. I'm very good at thinking. ha ha. Yeah. I know the kind of rejoinder that will get. But, at any rate, I was a champ at being a student. If it were a career, I'd be a CEO. I really like research, and libraries kick butt.

Then, I stepped into a classroom. 

It was love at first sight. 

I love teaching. I'm incredibly good at it. Seriously. I like creating syllabi. I love the subject matter. Mainly though, I like working with the students. I like helping the students. I like hearing what the students have to say. Nothing is better than helping someone realize his or her dreams, and teaching does that. Nothing is more wonderful for me than the moment that a student turns to me, thrilled to have discovered something in the literature that is new for them and if I'm lucky, new for me, too. I love hearing students argue with each other (in a good, critical way, of course) over a point in an essay. I like that moment of discovery. Even more amazing, if I'm really doing my job well, it isn't even about me doing my job. It's about the student discovering his or her own strengths  and weaknesses. I become almost invisible, while the student excels. It's really a terrific job. 

But, getting a job teaching at college level is a tough experience. Or, rather, getting  a job that isn't an adjunct job, where you may or may not get an offer in the next semester, based on the money the department has or on the whimsy of the person in charge, that's the tough part. Last semester, to make ends meet, I worked nine adjunct jobs. Nine. To make everyone understand what this means, I worked about 70 hours a week, making about 5 dollars per hour and some cents. Right now, I have four adjunct jobs. I work about 40 hours a week, making 6 dollars an hour or so. I don't have any benefits. Medical bills for regular things completely crucify my life. 

 This year, the job situation is mildly better. I'm only competing against 400 to 500 people this year. It isn't possible to send out more than three to four applications per week, because most application processes for these jobs are very, very complicated. They want a CV, a cover letter, transcripts, a teaching statement, syllabi based on their criteria, statements about diversity, examples of classes, papers, and so on. They want the letter and all materials tailored to their school. The community colleges require at least two hours more, to transcribe your entire CV, which you will then send to them separately, into their online human resources system.

I've gotten nibbles both years, for full time positions, but nothing is set yet. And in this position, I have only one more year before I should probably give up, according to many at the Chronicle, where my peers discuss these matters. After three years, with graduation a memory, I'll probably have to start looking in other directions. I guess it's a little silly. It could be a lot, lot worse, but it breaks my heart all the same. 

I have an impressive CV, if I do say so myself. I've got great editing experience, good research experience, and nine years of adjunct experience, teaching at some very good schools. I'm prepared to work for the student, the school, and the community. I want to do it. I'm good at it. 

Recently, Dominos sent out hiring applications with a pizza I ordered. I kept the application. I started looking at administrative jobs more closely. I do have a plan. I plan to keep working. 

In class, my students say things like, "Oh, the unemployed are lazy. They don't want to work. They aren't smart enough to make enough money. I know someone who lives off of the system." So, I teach them ethos, logos, and pathos. I present them with statistics that directly contradict their assumptions. I challenge them to write papers based on fact and not talking points. I never, ever talk about my own political beliefs. It's their show. They have to decide these things for themselves. They have to make their own discoveries. As I said, it's best when I can get them to talk to each other, as well as with me. It's a weird feeling that I have, to have found a calling and a career, and not be able to follow it fully. I guess it's life. It may be that I'll have to go make a difference somewhere else, in some other way. In the meantime, I have papers to grade tonight and discussions on Blackboard to follow. And a class on Monday. That's something. I'm luckier than many. 

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"I'm only competing against 400 to 500 people this year."

ME TOO! The economy is improving dontcha know!! ~:D

For my freshman Intro to Lit, I was lucky to have a full prof teach the course (Why he did so, I don't know. Slumming it? Lost a bet?). He is the only teacher I've had who presented poetry in a manner that grabbed my interest. I don't remember what he said so many decades ago, but for a few weeks I glimpsed the beauty of a poem behind the pretty images.

Good luck, best wishes, a plague on those other 500 candidates.
Thanks, guys. :) Mostly, I'm doing what I should be doing. The tough thing is to get published and make time to write, when I have so much work to do. Really, it's the combination of applying for a job, working several jobs, and being a mother. It does take up time! But, I'm turning the dissertation into a book presently, and I found a cool, new author I love while doing that, so even though the pay to work ratio is sucky at present, there are benefits. I am trying to remain upbeat. Really, it would all be okay, if I had decent healthcare. That's the truth. If we had universal care, I could hold out a bit longer. The average for finding full time employment is about three years or so right now. I have two friends with whom I went to class. One got a job last year. One is probably getting her job this year. They were both on the market three years before they got their first full time work. I did graduate from a tier 1 school, so that helps. But, it's not a slamdunk.
It's a tough market out there! One of my best friends is having some of the same issues . . . but what else can a person do, except keep going, right?

Sending my highest hopes . . .
Unfortunately, the university system seems to have become a capitalist system. So, they hire adjuncts instead of offering full time positions because adjuncts don't deserve things like health care and contracts for more than one semester. Even though adjuncts are doing most of the work, they get the least . . .

I LOVE teaching college students too. There's no high like the high you get from a great class where the students are learning, and you're learning right along with them, but I'm getting burnt on academia.

If you don't mind that you can't see a doctor or you don't mind drowning under a sea of student load debt or if you like instability or low wages, a career in teaching at the college level is the right way to go.

Nothing will change until the business model of education changes.
I agree that the system is extremely problematic at present. It goes even deeper than that, I believe. It's crazy that anyone teaching literature, critical thinking, and writing would have to justify his or her profession, but it happens every day. People aren't taught the importance of these studies and how valuable that a well-rounded education can be. The same shortsighted sort of values (make that money now!) that have been so prevalent in business have taken over other spheres as well. It's not a good situation for the country at all. :/ Really, we must find a way to inject ethics back into business.
Rated in solidarity. Hey, from one lover of literature to another, what do you think of Octavia E. Butler's vision of the future? For those who aren't familiar, read her books Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents. It is scary because it could so easily happen in the very near future.
I think she's right. Or rather, her characters are right. In order for the human race to survive, we have to get off-planet. I have a dream course I want to teach on science fiction that includes her work. :)
You sound like an incredible teacher!
Your tale made me sad. You really loved to teach, want to do it - and lord knows the world needs it.

It's the same in my field, music. There's been a kind of cataclysm which has upset many professions and left many of us in the lurch.

Here's wishing your prospects improve.
Manifest destiny! I am also available for vanity license plates, tire pressure checking, quasi-humorous quotes between Zorro and whatshisname, and wearing full wrap-around sunglasses when grocery and/or sundry shopping. Congratulations on the struggle!

You make me happy!
Good for you! On all counts...Keep on keeping on!
I wish I'd had more teachers like you. The whole system needs more teachers like you. Sooner or later somebody will figure that out. You are a true hero.
I love the attitude that comes out in this post. A really fantastic attitude. And I love seeing someone that not only loves what they do but are also really good too. I sincerely hoping you find a permanent spot soon.
Dr. Odette, you certainly have the right work ethic and attitude to succeed, not to mention the credentials. I worked as a consultant at Atlanta Technical College in their HR department. Adjunct Professors were in the majority on the faculty. I had no idea they were paid so little, however. Hang in there, because your "can do" attitude is highly valued, if not well compensated.

Holy crap. Have you looked into blood donation? Donor eggs? I'd pay for 'em! Just to put them under glass, mind you, not actually gestate them, because I can't afford any more children. I hope things go your way soon -- and you're right, universal healthcare would go WAY FAR into creating a free economy.
I worked as an adjunct, freelance editor, writer, for years. Maybe 10 years. Publishing books didn't help me land a job. Just persistence. Now I have a full time teaching job with great benefits. It took a while, but it happened. It will happen for you too.
Do not be discouraged about leaving teaching because you don't have to. I am 62 and an ABD (all but dissertation) in English literature from the U of Chicago. I worked for 26 years as an editor in urban planning. It paid the bills and more. But I always wanted to be a teacher in a university. Fortunately for me, I think, it didn't happen. I have a wife who is an academic, and the politics of academia, especially in English departments, are abysmal. Instead, I have found teaching in continuing education programs to be remarkably rewarding. You have students who want to be there, who want to discuss those books they either never had the chance to read or that they now feel they "missed" in their earlier readings. I've taught the authors I love (Joyce, Cervantes, Delillo, Garcia-Marquez, Nabokov, Borges, Pynchon) rather than teach what someone else tells me I have to teach. My students have loved me (at least based on my evaluations), and I feel as if I've made a difference in their lives. For many, it has been their first encounter with postmodern theory, the history of the novel, and more. So, good luck. Don't starve. Liberal arts majors may often start at the bottom but a display of your intelligence can move you up quickly. But don't give up what you love. It took me a while to find this alternative, but it has been just fabulous. I thought I'd just let you know that as an alternative.
When I went to computer school all those years ago the dropout rate was about 80%. The reason for that was because most of the students had signed up because the computer field was the "smart" move to make, where all the good jobs were. The only educatioin those people got was in finding out you can't choose a career, it chooses you.

Many people hold the economy up as God, the end all and be all. But it has that effect only because we choose for it to be that way, just silly rules we made up to ruin lives. The sooner this world dies, the better. Then we can start to build something realistic.
Thank you: your post is honest & poignant, with a definite ring of truth. I too earned a PhD in English: mine was at age 60. I have 21 years of teaching: in private schools six as a f/t Teacher, then in universities five as a Graduate Assistant/Associate, four as an Adjunct, three as a Visiting Instructor, two as Visiting Assistant Professor - plus some p/t Evening teaching in London in the 1980s. Not too bad for an old guy. I am now retired, but hope to teach again, or write, or something.

Yes, academe is tough, very political, "survival of the fittest," full of tender egos, and the administrative dice are usually loaded against you. But - like you - I love the teaching experience. Also like you, I'm damned good at it! Get your face out there: CVs are important but face-to-face is crucial. Be resilient and versatile.

We are surrounded by morons - in higher education but even more in the current Far Right GOP slugfest - but there are still good, intelligent people out there. The tide will turn, so make sure your boat is seaworthy and ready!
odetteroulette, I'm not going to repeat the contempt for which I hold classroom teachers, the people who've turned students against learning of all kinds. But perhaps your problem in getting a job is that you are trying to get employed in that field. You might do better if you went back to school to become an automobile mechanic or plumber. Those professions will always be viable; you can fix your own car if necessary. And those manual trades do genuine and direct good for people. You might wish to go back to listen to Avenue Q and realize how fatal it is to get a degree in English.
I like the fact that you make a clever distintinction between what a opinion is, versus what are the facts, something many school age children aren't quite sure of whos getting the facts, and where the facts are coming from. Stories are spread that way that is exactly how rumors are started as well, they are facts based loosely on peoples assumptions or reactions and can be mis-directed. Kids don't have the advantage of understanding how this is harmful, your students are lucky to have a teacher to help them devise in a more careful way how important it is to know what you are speaking about.
You may have better opportunities awaiting you with another profession. Have you considered starting your own business in a related field?

There're many private schools being built and these entrepreneurs earn more than those in the public schools system.
Crazier than a PhD in English? A MA in Creative Writing. Hang in there. It can only get better. At least that's what everyone tells me. ~R
I know you think the main reason you remain unemployed is because of the economy but let me suggest a different reason, the Teachers Union. Ask yourself this question: “What would the benefit package have to look like in order for you to accept a job teaching?” Before you answer this question don’t forget you are considering delivering pizzas for a living despite having a PhD. I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that you would work really cheap, you wouldn’t require a pension, and you would be willing to pay a good portion of your healthcare insurance out of pocket.

Now let’s take a look at the benefit package of a typical public school teacher. Assuming your resume is as good as you say it is any school system would be crazy not to hire you. With the money they save they could hire two teachers and cut classroom size in half. Or, if they didn’t want to cut classroom size, they could cut everyone’s property tax bill. Is it any wonder why our education system is a mess when people like you are delivering pizzas while existing teachers are just biding their time until the pension kicks in?
I would say don't give up trying, keep applying for those jobs.
Fascinating how some decide to twist this post into union-bashing, and snarky insults at intellectual learning over mechanical knowledge.

I earned a BA in Liberal Arts in 1988 and got jobs as word processor, desktop publisher, and web designer, which I loved.

When I went to grad school to earn a masters, I chose to earn a MS in Geographic Information Science, rather than the MA in Creative Writing or go for a MA/PhD in English, only because I love making maps and doing geospatial analysis.

Also because after 25 years of writing poetry every day, I felt there was no reason to get a MA in Creative Writing when I have already mastered the techniques. I chose the far more difficult path and reap the reward with creative jobs making maps and 3D terrain.
You are a trooper! I have a friend and co-worker (we are legal secretaries) who has 2 PhDs and used to teach part-time at The College of Staten Island. She was very passionate about teaching, but unlike your case, her students were mostly disinterested in knowledge. Keep up the good work.
Oh! Front page. That's nice. :)

I did investigate the situation. It would have been idiotic not to do so, and I am far from an idiot, the majority of the time. When I started, the economy was in a different place. I graduated from a tier 1 and seven out of ten of my fellow students do find teaching employment. The odds were okay, if not completely fabulous. Now, of course, with the economic crash, and the adoption of really terrible business models by some of the colleges and universities in terms of full time faculty, things have gotten much worse. So, while it was never going to be easy, it's changed since I started. I can't tell the future, so I don't blame myself for that. It is what it is, as annoying as that statement is. I have heard those things before though, about the difficulty, so I get the logic. I did what I could to mitigate that trouble. Unfortunately, I didn't realize the economy was going to fall so far into the hole. It has gotten better. I don't like the idea of limiting myself because it would be hard. I'm not complaining in this essay. Again, it is what it is.

Teaching in high school is an option. However, it's a different animal in terms of employment. I'd have to teach at a private school, for one, as I can't afford to go back and get a teaching certificate. So, I wouldn't be working in the public system. It's on the table though, yes.

The argument about technical school ... hmm ... it's true that, had I decided to become a plumber, perhaps I would be employed. But, I would hate it desperately and be very bad at it. I'm not good at putting things together like that. I have strengths, but anything that even resembles crafts or mechanical ability, I suck. Really a lot.

The other part of the argument is that teaching should be a profession that makes money. Why it's not is beyond me. And finally, the idea that the liberal arts are somehow not useful ... that's utterly wrong. The mindset about education has taken a bad turn in this country. I blame the ultra-wealthy and their mouthpieces for this, frankly. Critical thinking skills and the ability to write are both really important. The study of ourselves through literature, really vital. The idea that it's all about the money and that we should concentrate ourselves on that is a bad idea. The adoration of money without the heart or the ethics ... that road goes to a very bad place. But then, nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition, do they?
Oh. And one can never write enough about Faulkner. ;)

Seriously, it's a limited viewpoint. I guess my memories from childhood and school had moments where books opened my mind to whole new vistas, new ideas, new ways of being. I can't imagine a successful society being nothing but a technical world, without dreams, observations about humanity, discussions about passion and love. Nor can I imagine a successful school system one where you learn to use a hammer and nail, but you neglect discussing history or ideals or governmental systems or studies of the world. That's just not much to live by. The study of literature is the study of human beings. Really. Think about it. :)
"I never, ever talk about my own political beliefs." That's the number one reason I couldn't be a teacher -- or maybe it's the principal of the thing
Well, the principle of the thing is why I don't ever talk to them about those things. A teacher is in a position of power. Students need to learn critical thinking. They walk into the classroom with a set of beliefs, usually instilled by parents, that they have believed, without any question, for some time. They already know how to think the way someone tells them to do. They need to learn, in my opinion, to think the way that THEY need to think, if you get my meaning. So, I give them all the facts I can, all the statistics, and all the information necessary to make up their own minds. People are funny. If you try to force them to believe a thing, they either will, without questioning it, or they will refuse to do it, no matter the facts. But, if you simply show them information and ask them what they think, in my experience, they open up like flowers (sorry for the corny prose). Also, they need to talk to each other. If I just drone on and on, like I'm doing now, ha ha, what's the point?

The factual information often upsets students in this part of the country, as you can well imagine. They meet me after class trying to argue around that information. They've been watching Fox news at home with the folks and they've heard so many incorrect things, it's stunning.
“They've been watching Fox news at home with the folks and they've heard so many incorrect things, it's stunning.”

Has it ever dawned on you that some people think Fox News is a credible news source? It looks to me like you just contradicted everything you wrote in the first paragraph. Let’s be honest, teachers represent a loyal bastion of the Democratic Party. They are one of the reasons America’s youth starts out heavily in favor of Democrats. So much for “simply showing them the information” eh?
With all due respect to how much you love teaching, and your students, I'd drop kick their snotty asses out the door...they assume all unemployed people are lazy? Who raised these people...wolves?
Caitlin Kelly makes me smile. I loved her meditation post @ Open

smile . . .

I wonder if Australian & Tasmania porcupines reared them in the behinds?
You must have read ~ Women Who Run With Wolves - (Archetype)
Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D. - Myths Stories of Woman Archetypes.
She's a Jungian Psychoanalyst - MANA is a DC social justice group.
Her stories are instructive great - She preserves oral folk wisdom.
You are employable, Odette. Have you ever thought to starting your own business? If not, I encourage you to discover ways in which you can work with others from the comfort of your own home. Think about making changes in everything you've learned about teaching. Being creative and innovative enhance your prospects and this includes your willingness to expand beyond your current scenario.

You could always teach a creative writing course; I'm sure your PhD in English is an attractive incentive for many writers from every stripe. Advertisers and marketing firms are always on the look-out for people with these types of degrees.
Poor Johnny One-Note

"Has it ever dawned on you that some people think Fox News is a credible news source?"

Oh, I'm sure most of us here are all-too-aware some people think Fux News is credible -- that would be the people who vote like a school of fish and elect people to government office who don't believe in government -- except when it lines their pockets.

And speaking of credible, Johnny, you obviously don't realize your credibility goes in the shitter when you try to defend the indefensible Fux News.
Sorry if I left you with the wrong impression. I wasn't criticizing your stance, but mine. I simply couldn't remain neutral in the face of so much pathetic ignorance. Frankly, I think a substantial portion of America has suffered brain damage from over-exposure to disinformation broadcast by Fux News.

As for you, I admire your attempt to remain neutral, tho I question whether any of us in this Age of Division are -- or for that matter, can afford to be -- neutral. I would guess that the facts and figures you choose to present favor your point of view. That's just human nature.

On the other hand, I understand the dilemma you face. If you choose to stand on principle, the principal may choose to tell you to stand someplace else.
This makes me sad, because you're the type of teacher I hope my kids can have some day in college. Good luck.

“the people who vote like a school of fish and elect people to government office”

If you want to see people vote like a school of fish, simply follow any teacher on Election Day. Not to worry Tom, Odette (and most teachers for that matter) is anything but neutral, have you read her second paragraph? It actually sounds like she blames the parents for feeding the kids misinformation and thinks she is the provider of the right information. Perhaps it’s best she delivers pizzas after all.
Johnny, no, it's not a credible news source. Neither is MSNBC, actually. In fact, I make my students double check sources from CNN as well. Double checking sources is vital. I'm sorry you've had a knee jerk reaction to this, because I think that indicates poor critical thinking. Your visceral response means you may not be thinking with your head as much as your desire to be right. That's not a good practice. We can all be wrong about any number of things. It's important that all logos be verified in some way, and even then, well, you have to be careful about interpretations and statistics. Don't you agree? We should always double check our sources. But, in answer to your first thoughts, no, Fox News is simply not a credible source. They use pundits. They use talking points. They don't check facts clearly. It's not a matter of being one affiliation or another. Don't you want your facts to be accurate? Don't you want accuracy in your decisions?

More importantly, instead of throwing logical fallacies at me, we do live in the same country. Wouldn't it be nice if we could have a conversation, instead of you calling names and doing the equivalent of frothing at the mouth with your writing? However, I've recently snapped at people myself. I understand. Think about what I've said. If you want to discuss education, I'd love to do that. But, be sure about your facts, and stop name-calling. It's not useful. One of the worst things at this time is the way people come out slinging, without any aforethought or consideration. I guess it does depend on what you want. Do you want the truth? Or, do you want to be "right," whether you are correct or not?

Tom, oh don't worry. :) You are a very dear friend to me. And there's nothing wrong with your stance at all. I can't be an attorney for similar sorts of reasons. I don't always agree with the law.
As an English & history double major, I salute your dedication to a very unprofitable major. The best job I could get out of college was as an administrative assistant and even that wouldn't cover the monthly rent and other expenses of adult independant living. I was crushed.

Then I went to graduate school because I also like school and would be a professional student if I could. I also thought librarianship was a career I'd be good at and would have a huge Baby Boomer workforce that would need to retire soon. Little did I know at the time those positions aren't being re-staffed because of budget shortfalls. I thought, "Surely you can study what you love and the money thing will work itself out?" Alas...

In your case, I would be thankfull to know that I have a skill (teaching) that is important and needed. Now you just have to convince other people that it is needed enough to hire you for a permanent position. Fingers crossed for you.
Tom freely admits that he wouldn’t be a good educator because he’s too political. You are similarly liberal but don’t think there is anything wrong with using your position as an educator to peddle your point of view. Unlike Tom, who wears his political allegiance on his sleeve, you represent something far more sinister. In other words, I’m sorry if I didn’t join in the group hug, but I take offense to the arrogant hypocrisy of your comments.

Let’s not have some long-winded debate on whether or not Fox News or any other news source is biased or provides incorrect information. Your failure to recognize your beliefs about Fox News as a statement of opinion, and not a statement of fact, is what riles me. I mean, CNN uses pundits, talking points and occasionally makes a factual mistake. Again, let’s not go down this route.

But you’re right, before one reacts so viscerally, a little forethought and consideration is good advice. Yep, you deserved a little foaming at the mouth. BTW, if you wanted to discuss education and the likely reason you don’t have a job; my initial comment would have been a good place to start.
Johnny--Ah, I see. ::wiggling eyebrows:: So, you're too afraid to debate the situation. Never mind then. I don't 'peddle' my views to any of my students. But, you have a vested interest in that being true, clearly. You started off believing it without a shred of evidence, and you refuse to hear anything to the contrary. You can't engage in 'long winded debate' because you'd lose. Let me repeat that: You. Would. Lose. That. Debate. There's too much evidence to the contrary.

It's simply pointless to talk to you about it. No amount of proof would do it. You simply want to cast yourself in the role of 'righteous McRightster.' That's ... interesting, but I don't have time to make your problems my problems. I am sorry you don't want to have a discussion with reasonable terms and proof.

Actually, I think you know you'd lose. So, you go ahead and do what you need to do. It's a shame that you can't think critically, but if you won't come to the table as an equal adult and attempt to communicate, I can't make you do that. Your opinion matters very little to me because I'm confident in my own behavior. So, this will be the last time I will address you. Unless you can bring me proof that Fox and MSNBC and the like are reliable sources. Which you won't be able to do.

aqualibrarian: I thought about library science! But, I do love the classroom. :)
Have you thought about teaching abroad? I have a friend who's a gifted teacher and was unable to find work in the states. He teaches in Saudi now, using his English PhD and loving it.
Sorry - posted before I was done!

Of course, taking a lot of these overseas jobs with a child would not be an option. This was eloquently written and captures the joy of learning in a very immediate way.
Odette, please don't make the mistake of false equivalency, especially with a clown like Johnny -- it only encourages him in his ignorance an prejudice. The facts are plain -- which is why he doesn't want to debate them. The facts are these:

(1) CNN panders to both sides, and still manages to throw up on any semblance of journalistic integrity.

(2) MSNBC panders to the Left and slants the news by favoring one side of the story. However, MSNBC doesn't pretend to be fair and balanced. And when a broadcaster steps over the line, like Olbermann or Ed Schultz, they get called out very publicly. Rachel Maddow regularly admits to error and apologizes very publicly on her program.

(3) Fux News does claim to be fair and balanced while lying its corporate ass off. To cite one small example, witness the number of times Fux posts a D next to the name of some Republican miscreant caught with his finger in the till, or some other body part caught in the wrong orifice. Fux newsreaders never admit to error or apologize, and the only time they get in trouble is when they don't follow to the absolute lying letter the dictates handed down from on high by Roger the Worm Ailes.

Critiques of teaching used to use the phrase "Why Johnny can't read". Since he finds Fux News credible, it's clear why Johnny can't see either.
Tom, you are right that Fox News appears to be the worst in terms of accuracy. The polls that show Fox News watchers are less or inaccurately informed are pretty telling. However, for my students, however, I tell them that no news outlet has the weight of accuracy without additional very reliable sources. Peer-reviewed is best, although even that has weaknesses. :) Basically, they need to question it all. That helps them figure out what the best sources are.

Also, you have to watch the way data is processed. For example, I heard Joan Walsh on NPR today very correctly calling out Charles Murray (calling her 'Joan' indeed--how amateur a tactic that was) about some statistics that were selectively mined to create certain kinds of data. That's something to always consider.
"Also, you have to watch the way data is processed. For example, I heard Joan Walsh on NPR today very correctly calling out Charles Murray (calling her 'Joan' indeed--how amateur a tactic that was) about some statistics that were selectively mined to create certain kinds of data. That's something to always consider."

Charles Murray would know all about manipulating data. I say that as someone who slogged through "The Bell Curve" and still believe I deserve some sort of recognition for actually doing so.

But I digress. I wanted to comment to say that it is heartbreaking that someone who loves teaching and is good at it may have to leave the profession (and it IS a profession) to survive. What a sad commentary for this country, and scary too.

Here's hoping you break the adjunct barrier and find a tenure-track position.
Tom and Odette:

Let’s assume you’re right and Fox News lies. Does that mean The Weekly Standard, The WSJ, The Cato Institute, etc. also lie? All these sources say pretty much the same thing as Fox News. My synopsis of this entire debate is one of fear. Is it possible that America’s children are being taught by educators that don’t know the difference between fact and opinion or (hope, hope) is Odette the exception?


“Here's hoping you break the adjunct barrier and find a tenure-track position.”

That, in a nutshell, is the reason someone with a resume like Odette, is considering delivering pizzas.
They only lie when they have to, or when they know it fits an ideological conclusion and they can make it sound plausible enough to fool morons, Fever.

Now, speaking of the education market, here you are, a fairly common consumer of twaddle that can't tell the difference, can't think critically or argue logically, insults poorly, isn't witty and you suffer from the worst ignorance of all -- the ignorance of ignorance. Like any simplistic ideologue, you think your ridiculous assertions are the equal of anyone's, and ass/u/me they are also ideologues. You believe anything tagged conservative, so come across the same as somebody who reads the National Enquirer and is certain the aliens ate some lady's refrigerator.
You disparage odett, suggesting she's at fault for considering delivering pizzas.

Yet here you are, sticking out like a bum in the wrong educational level neighborhood, knocking on the wrong door, holding something that isn't a pizza, isn't even half-baked, smells like cat scat and is entirely inedible. Of course, you think you've descended from the clouds to enlighten the masses, certain you're delivering a profound pizza because it's something in a flat box.

As you cannot see the difference between intelligent people and yourself, we can start looking at aberrant psychology to explain your need to act out.
I think you resent being cheated out of a proper portion of pepperoni.
Johnny, Johnny, Johnny, there really is no hope for you. Your attempts at argument aren't up to fifth-grade level. You can't win on the merits, so you change the subject. Let me remind you, the subject at hand is whether Fux News lies habitually. There really is no debate about that; it's demonstrable that Fux does.

Apparently you don't realize your argument leaves only two possible conclusions: Either you're agreeing that Fux News lies (as if that's a revelation) or you've reduced The Weekly Standard, The WSJ, The Cato Institute to the same level as Fux News. I'm sure Mr Kristol would vehemently disagree with your suggestion that his newspaper is equivalent to the National Enquirer, a rag that is the print equivalent of Fux News.

I'm adult enough to admit that MSNBC has a Liberal bias? Are you adult enough to admit that The Weekly Standard, The WSJ and The Cato Institute all have a Conservative bias? Furthermore, however much I might disagree with the viewpoints expressed by those entities, I certainly wouldn't put them in same sewer with Fux News, which is the propaganda arm of the Rabid Rightwingnut base of the Republican Party.

That you can't discern the difference between say -- Rachel Maddow and Gretchen Carlson -- or between Keith Olbermann and Glenn Beck -- as commentators or journalists is a sad commentary on you, and more than reason enough to question your judgment about any other matter.
"It's a weird feeling that I have, to have found a calling and a career, and not be able to follow it fully." Ironic, huh? And it's clear you're a great teacher--you know that it's their show.

What can I say? Great, poignant essay, and I sure hope things improve!
Paul: Now, who wouldn't be angry if they didn't get enough pepperoni? ;) Your point about education is well-taken. Good education keeps these kinds of mistakes about generalizations from being made, if the student and the teacher both do their homework. Logical fallacies are rampant in the national conversation, and it's hard to get people to recognize them. Johnny engages in several fallacies, including an attempt to change the subject, massive generalizations, and his rejection of evidence or the potential to research to the topic.

One thing does need to be made clear, that Johnny keeps discussing and misinterpreting, attempting to turn it into a personal attack (another logical fallacy). There is no shame in delivering pizzas. The only problem is that it doesn't pay enough. But, it is as noble a profession as any. My point was that it was some other part-time work I would consider. I would never disparage anyone who did that work. That would be ridiculous.
You’re accusing me of changing the subject?

Let’s recap. Odette wrote a post about the fact can’t find a job teaching despite having a PhD and blamed her situation on the economy. I’m not an English teacher but it sounds to me like a discussion of Fox News is off subject. In fact, I have made a repeated effort to go back to the subject at hand, whereas the group seems to have a collective hard-on to discuss Fox News.

Fox News

Tom – To be sure, Fox News has a conservative bend despite the fact they like to use the tag line, “fair and balanced”. Is this your case for yelling “liar, liar pants on fire”? BTW, guess what news station Bill Kristol is a frequent guest of?

Odette – “They've been watching Fox News at home with the folks and they've heard so many incorrect things, it's stunning.” The more I think about that line the more disgusted I get. Do the fathers of your students know about what you think of the environment in which their kids grow up?

O’Rourke – I disparaged Odette for using her position of authority to peddle her political beliefs and informed Odette that the reason she’s considering delivering pizzas is because of the teachers union. But there I go again, straying from a discussion of Fox News.
Odette, adjunct=hell is all. I did it for 11 years before finding a FT tenured position. Jumping through flaming hoops until you're burned and exhausted is part of the game. Don't give up!

There is so much inequity with terminal degrees. My former hubby did his doctorate in Art History at Harvard in nine years, and shockingly, was the first of those accepted into his program the same year to finish. At the same time, my former bro-in-law earned a doctorate in the sciences in under three years, and was immediately employed in research at a good salary. The humanities are deemed an indulgence in our culture, yet a Ph.D in one of these areas takes longer than medical school.

As for the multiple intelligent attempts to argue with the tree, precious life energy can be more productively spent on stepping into the kitchen and making yourselves a sandwich ;-)
Why Johnny can't read -- and it's obvious he can't -- or else didn't pay attention when he read Odette's post, a post in which she raised concerns about her students exposure to rightwing propaganda passing itself off as news, propaganda she tried to counter with the facts as she saw them to be. So the subject WAS very much about Fux News, as well as other things including pizza delivery. So once again, the cheese is on you.

Fux News became central to the discussion only because you tried to defend the indefensible. I repeat -- MSNBC slants the news, just as does The Weekly Standard. But neither makes it a practice to lie consistently and repeatedly even after their errors have been pointed out.

As for facts or examples, I cited the example of Fux repeatedly putting a D next to the name of Republican miscreants. I call that lying, what do you call it?

Again, that you can't tell the difference between slanting the news and making shit up for propaganda purposes calls into question not only your political views but your intelligence.
A good illustration of what you think as opposed to reality. As an ideologue, your first level of political thought is identity. You have decided to be on Team Conservative, so you constantly engage in confirmation bias -- if some conservative says it, it becomes authoritative.
This leads you to defend Fox News, absent any knowledge of the evidence they do engage in deceit, or concern that they do. In typical True Believer form, you would likely accept the lies anyway, as a means to an end.

There is no evidence Odett is peddling political beliefs. What is being taught is critical thinking, something alien to you, though you probably imagine you practice it. Your assertion that odette is indoctrinating students is merely a reflection of your limited intelligence and your indoctrination.

The difference, most likely, between what the students are being taught and you is they have the capacity to learn. If the lessons take, those students will avoid being reduced to clownish status by engaging in laughable attempts at criticism and disputation. They will develop an inner sense of intellectual integrity, refusing and fearing committing blatant errors of fact or logic. They will be immunized against the Johnny Fever, not that they'd consider drinking from a porta-potty anyway.

At this point in your OS career, it's safe to say, after repeated example, that you're not a very intelligent person. It was funny, for a while, to watch somebody so disengaged from intellect performing a sort of Limbaugh-ish act of "conservative" smash-and-grab blathering. Your problem is nobody's screening your calls and your toddler-level argument skills can't match those found outside of your lil' closed loop of loopiness.

Like I have told you, you need to find an Argument League that matches your skill level. Generally speaking, this website isn't that league.
And so a right-winger gets into a war with odetteroulette because he wants to pump the right-wing agenda. Did you people forget the whole purpose of this thread? odetteroulette can't get a job with her liberal arts Ph.D!

Guess what: the need for humanities degrees has been dying for decades. Getting such degrees makes you feel smart and privileged and superior to the herds of cattle beneath you. Unfortunately it's only appreciated by others with those degrees, none of whom have any more influence or power than you do (none).

In your earlier reply, odetteroulette, you said you don't have the physical expertise to be a plumber or car mechanic. Big deal. I worked for over two years in a field for which I have little expertise. While that job is now over, it helped me survive while trying to find work closer to my field. Hell, if other things don't pick up I'll work for McDonald's or Jiffy Lube if I have to.

Listen to me, for I am wise in the ways of the world, whereas university professors know absolutely nothing. Humanity degrees are crap in the real world. Come with me if you want to live.
neutron: Dun!DUNDUN!!!!! "Come with me and live!!!!!" ha! I'm so glad you aren't hyperbolic or anything. Also, when people start talking about things "dying," it cracks me up. If you are still talking about something, it's not dead.

I got a PhD because I love literature, and I'm a good teacher. It's pretty simple. I didn't get one to 'feel superior' to anyone. That's a silly premise. Stop with the 'educational elite' meme. It's a made-up thing. We should each do what we're best at doing, if we can. I'm best at teaching. Good grief. The amount of extrapolation of motives and massive generalizations here are crazy. Here's what really happened: I got a PhD. The economy tanked. I can't get a job. I'm moving forward and trying my best. That's all there is to it.
I guess the only way to get my point across is to show you some data from the BLS:

Sector date number of jobs (000)
education 11/2007 3,228
education 11/2011 3,460
banking 11/2007 1,338
banking 11/2011 1,316

As you can plainly see, teaching (if anything) is recession proof. However, if you had your heart set on being an investment analyst, I could understand blaming the fact you are delivering pizzas on the economy.

In a moment, Tom will discuss the letter “d” / Fox News and Paul will entertain us with more comedy, but prior to this occurring, I beg you to read my original post.
I think I might have to close comments to get rid of the trolls.



This is a very enlightening ACTUAL statistical analysis as opposed to projections. My guess is that any increase reflects part-time positions. You know, ADJUNCT jobs. It actually discusses this, in any case, on the BLS. As well, that data takes all parts of the profession into account and not individual specialties.

Anyway, in the words of the indomitable and evil Willow from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Bored now." You've got an ax to grind. I am not the place where you will grind it. Thanks for playing!
Comments are now closed.