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We know that students owe. And owe. And then off to work they go. That’s if they’re lucky. Nearly 17 percent of college-educated young adults are either unemployed or not seeking work, a record level. The Project on Student Debt estimates that average debt levels for graduating seniors with student loans rose to more than $23,200 in 2008—a 24 percent increase in just four years.
With this grim reality, what do faculty owe students, besides an education?
Academe decided to ask contributors that question for its July–August 2010 issue.
Peter Sacks, the award-winning author of Tearing Down the Gates: Confronting the Class Divide in American Education, thinks faculty have abdicated on undergraduate admissions, passively allowing only the privileged to enter our universities’ gates.
Two Rutgers business professors believe faculty owe students more rigor—in assignments, in feedback, in grading. Other authors urge universities and faculty to spend more time on teaching teachers and understanding working students, and on being flexible—especially when this rough economy creates new real crises in students’ lives.
But that’s not all we owe students. We also need to be aware of exactly what we are teaching and why. Two faculty, Gary Jones and Richie Zweigenhaft, detail the troubling trends in curriculum sponsored by funders: where required readings come, not from the faculty’s sense of a discipline, but from a foundation.
Starting this year, most official AAUP reports will be published annually in a separate volume (to be mailed with the September–October issue of Academe) and on the Web as they are released. They will be both more timely and more accessible.
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