Thursday, September 20, 2007

Lyrics of the Day: Two Professors Describe Their Work Weeks

Last night, I was co-emcee with Blanche Weisen Cook at the Professional Staff Congress event "Our CUNY vs. Their CUNY." The event featured satirical pieces by union members who teach at Brooklyn College, The CUNY Grad Center, Hunter, Laguardia Community College, BMCC, and John Jay. Since I also wrote and directed a short musical theater piece for the event (in which I also performed)), today's lyrics are by me. They are two songs about the work-load at the CUNY's community colleges.

The first is a duet between a professor Shifrin, who teaches writing-intensive courses, and Professor Stone, the department "suck-up" It's called "the 27 hour blues" with music by Joyce Moorman, of CUNY's music department. The 27 hours in the title refers to 27 credit hours, which means five classes one semester and four classes in the next. Or a "fifteen hour week" in one semester and a "twelve hour week" in the next. As the song explains, teaching involves more work than what's done in the classroom.

The 27 Hour Blues

I teach 27 hours a year,
It makes me crazy
Oh, 27 hours a year
It makes me crazy

You mean that's all you do?
I think you're lazy
We get the summers off too
You and your whining really amaze me

If you knew how hard I work
You wouldn't be so scornful
When you hear my 27-hours-a-year blues
you'll know why I'm so mournful

STONE: If you think you can explain
I'll try not to interrupt
Maybe I'll feel your pain

We call forty hours a regular week
So how can 27 be so bad?
I'll break it down for you piece by piece

STONE: It can't be really bad just take it from me

According to a study by a Texas professor
It takes twenty minutes to grade a student's paper
With twenty-five students that 's 500 minutes
Or more than eight hours before your work is finished
And if you teach four classes the hours are 33
But if you're teaching five classes, it's 42 you see

And if you add prep time the total comes 57
Do you believe me yet when I say this job isn't heaven?

If you add the hours spent in class the total hits 72
Now do you see why I've got the blues?

SULLIVAN: You forgot the office hours - aren't three required?

SHIFRIN: That makes it 75 !

STONE: Now I think I see your point

That leaves me with 93 hours a week.

SULLIVAN: You have to sleep!

Subtracting sleep leaves 37
subtracting three for meetings
and another two for email reading
leaves thirty two!

SHIFRIN AND SULLIVAN: which divided by seven leaves four hours a day

Time off we need it
We need it all
If we remembered the work-load
we wouldn't come back in the fall
Don't make us come back early
Vacation is short
Time off we need it!
We need it all!

I see why some run from a job at CUNY,
It's not just the lousy pay

Time off we need it
We need it all
If we remembered the work-load
we wouldn't come back in the fall
Don't make us come back early
Vacation is short
Time off we need it!
We need it all!

The second song was sung by "professor Sullivan" who responded to Shifrin's song with the comment that her work-week wasn't as bad because she didn't teach writing-intensive classes. However, as we see in this song, sung to the tune of Gilbert and Sullivan's "I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General,"
perhaps she spoke too soon....

I am a very conscientious history professor
I spend ten hours reading books before I give each lecture
From Spartacus to Reconstruction, Manitou to mass production
I answer student’s questions with the facts and not conjecture
I’m very well acquainted too with matters technological
I use computers in my class because it’s pedagogical
I spend seven hours weekly on those methods Paolo-Freirean (hmm, Paolo Freireran...)
And if I have two preps it’s twenty-seven hours I’m carryin’

I’m fifteen hours in the classroom and five more in the office clime
I do more than I’m asked because it seems to me I’ve got the time
The students really need me see, they visit on the regular -
I am a very conscientious history professor

It’s 47 hours and we haven’t got to grading yet
I write my own exams and quizzes, that’s at least two hours I bet
Add another five for grading - piles which are so very thick
The total's now at 54 - I think I might be getting sick
Administrative meetings are another duty of my week
The emails that I must respond to are another hour at least
Let’s round it off at sixty hours, I thought I had it easier…
But when I think of finals week it makes me even queasier.

It's blue books by the pound and their handwriting is so hard to read
And multiplied by 35 it’s really quite a task indeed.
With twenty minutes for each one, it’s 12 more hours before I’m done
And multiplied by five it means I hardly see my kids at home.

Gosh I didn't know that I worked 120 hours a week
That leaves just 48 for me, I see that I am up shit’s creek.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Anti-War Demonstration News Round Up and comments

I'm so out of the loop that I completely forgot about ANSWER's demonstration in Washington today, because I'm planning to go to one of UFPJ's marches next month and I'm now in the rare position of trying to figure out what the demonstration was like based only on news coverage. First, take a look at these photos posted at the DC indymedia site. The presence of uniformed veterans and their participation in civil disobedience is striking. Sycamore's Diary at Dailykos also has pictures, interesting comments and thoughts from "Kossacks" who were also a presence at the march. What it may have lacked in numbers, it seems to have made up for in spirit. UFPJ's strategy has clearly been to stop doing major DC mobilizations, partly because they don't want to deal with ANSWER. There are a number of local and regional actions planned for the entire month. I would say that the most effective way to get these going among a larger percentage of the population would be to do them through schools and workplaces, neighborhood clubs, etc., which is probably the idea. My question to readers is, do these need to happen on a national basis to be effective? Or is the activism at the regional and local level more meaningful?

* * *
Both the NY Times and the Washington Post had stories comparing the demonstration to the spirit of Anti-Vietnam protests because it became "rowdy" and involved 189 arrests. The Post story reported on the major presence of uniformed Iraq war veterans from IVAW; the Times ignored their presence, and both papers gave substantial coverage to pro-war counter-demonstraters. While one paper referred to "dozens of arrests," the number was close to 200, which I think may be the highest of any mass national anti-Iraq war protest.
More so than usual, the papers suggest that the pro-war demonstrators were equal to the anti-war activists. However, this reportgives the number of 1,000 for the pro-war protesters and the organizers' estimate of 100,000 anti-war protesters. (closer numbers were reported on Indymedia as 50,000 anti-war demonstrators and 500 pro-war demonstrators)
For thoughts on the relatively small size of yesterday's posters, the comments section of Marc Fisher's Washington Post column yields an interesting "view from the American street" on the war, the media, and anti-war activism. Common Dreams, which has the AP story and another set of commentsgives a view from the left.
And now it's time for me to head out. Sorry I've been off the blog so much. I haven't felt motivated by ongoing events and news coverage. Jon Stewart had the best comment on the Petraeus report that I've seen.