News and Links Roundup: 5 November 2013

“In the United States, nine percent of computer science majors are unemployed, and 14.7 percent of those who hold degrees in information systems have no job. Graduates with degrees in STEM – science, technology, engineering and medicine – are facing record joblessness, with unemployment at more than twice pre-recession levels. The job market for law degree holders continues to erode, with only 55 percent of 2011 law graduates in full-time jobs. Even in the military, that behemoth of the national budget, positions are being eliminated or becoming contingent due to the sequester.

It is not skills or majors that are being devalued. It is people.”

Recently released US Dept. of Education on homeless students in the US public school system estimates that ~1 million K-12 students are homeless.

Note that this is in the context of cuts to SNAP, unemployment, cuts to after-school programs, free lunch programs and general cuts to public education budgets. Low-income and homeless students have tremendous odds against them if they are to “excel” in school. Without stable housing or access to food, how can we expect students to do well- let alone graduate? Combined with the increased presence of police on public school campuses, this contributes to school push-out.

Lisa Otis, a single mother, asked “what’s going to happen?”

“Do I have to tell my 13-year-old ‘hold off on making that peanut butter and jelly sandwich, we’ve got to make that loaf of bread last.’ You don’t want to tell these kids that,” she said.

Paul Morello, spokesman for the Greater Chicago Food Depository, said the cuts to food stamps will mean more people needing to rely on food pantries and soup kitchens.

“The face of hunger is changing. We’re seeing people who have jobs, who maybe own their home, who maybe own a car, but who simply have lost their job, who’ve seen their hours cut back,” he said. “I’ve talked to a number of people who have said, ‘You know, I have two jobs.’ I’ve talked to some people who say they have three jobs, and they still can’t make ends meet.”

Morello said, even with the increased food stamp benefits since 2009, visits to Cook County food pantries had been up 70 percent over the past five years.

“Gender is not just a social construct, but it is an epistemology. What’s an epistemology? Simply put, it’s propositional knowledge. It means that, while in mathematics it is known that 2 + 2 = 4, the fact that:

  • we know how to add the numbers
  • we know what numbers are
  • we know what these figures represent
  • we have a process by which we’ve come to know how to add these numbers
  • we have created signs to represent them, and
  • we have created a process to represent everything

All of this is an epistemology. It is a process of knowing. Gender is no different.”

and

“In this situation, not only are we pushing a white epistemological concept of “gender” onto other cultures, but if we go forth with abolishing it, how can we expect people for whom their gender interacts so closely with their race, their religion, their cultural background, to divorce or even to recognise the bits and pieces of gender that are independent of their culture to destroy? Or, if gender is an epistemology, is race and other intersectional factors part and parcel of gender in such a way that one cannot simply abolish it alone? And if we attempt to do that, it leads to the next big problem I have: that the abolition of gender may be, especially stemming from a white feminist bases, a colonising force.”

“I have worked factory jobs, telemarketing, farm labor, and behind the counter at a convenience store. These jobs are not abstractions for me. (They also pay more per hour than what most adjuncts make.) As a child of the rising lower-middle class, there is nothing that tells people like me to shut up and do as your told than saying the equivalent of “you’re unhappy? Well, you could be digging a ditch or shoveling shit.”

Prestige without pay in academia means that non-tenure-track positions, contingent labor privilege those with wealth and access to institutions, while pricing out (or starving out) those without.

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