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Study hard and get a good job they say. The 'market' rewards only some though.

Quote:US colleges train students in drone warfare as job opportunities beckon

Published time: September 18, 2013 03:45
Edited time: September 19, 2013 11:01
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A Predator drone operated by U.S. Office of Air and Marine (OAM) (AFP Photo / John Moore)

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida became the first American university to offer postgraduate education in drone warfare this autumn, opening a program that promises students job security right after school - when many of their friends could be moving back in with their parents.A growing number of US universities now offer degree programs for students hoping to study the military technology of the future: drones. Flying an unmanned aerial device is now a viable career in a world of growing surveillance and fewer job options.

Drones are most often in the headlines for eliminating suspected terrorists in Yemen and regions between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and more controversially for inadvertently killing civilians in those countries. But the technology has also become increasingly popular with police patrolling international borders, environmentalists studying oceanic regions, and meteorologists observing hurricane patterns.
Students who complete the six-month training program at Embry-Riddle will graduate with a master's degree and job prospects offering a starting salary of US$150,000 a year.
"We're trying to prepare our students so they're ready to operate at the highest levels," Dan Maccharella, department chair of aeronautical sciences at Embry-Riddle, told AP. "It's going to take off like a rocket. We had students go through the program as fast as they could to get out there."
Other schools, while not offering a master's program, do offer drone training classes. Drone pilots can earn anywhere between $50,000 and $120,000 a year, said Jeb Bailey, who trained at Northwestern Michigan College. He told The Daily that for a student who is approaching graduation and swimming in college loans, the job often comes down to simple math.
"The idea of going to Afghanistan and paying off all my loans that's very attractive," Bailey said. "In an airlines career path you don't expect to make a whole lot until you've been in the industry 20 years."
A spokesman for Unmanned Applications Institute International, an aerial technology advocacy group, said the "pilotless aircraft industry" is expected to create more than 23,000 American jobs over the next 15 years.
Congress and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have yet to approve laws that would allow private drones to fly freely over American soil - but if and when they do, drones proponents say the job market will explode.
"I didn't get into flying airplanes to do this, but I fell into it because it was lucrative," John Bounds, a 2006 graduate of Embry-Riddle who now serves as a flight instructor, told AP. "The salary this experience offered was competitive with what I could make as a pilot with 15 years of experience."

Quote:Death of an adjunct

Margaret Mary Vojtko, an adjunct professor of French for 25 years, died underpaid and underappreciated at age 83
September 18, 2013 12:06 am

Daniel Kovalik is senior associate general counsel of the United Steelworkers union (

On Sept. 1, Margaret Mary Vojtko, an adjunct professor who had taught French at Duquesne University for 25 years, passed away at the age of 83. She died as the result of a massive heart attack she suffered two weeks before. As it turned out, I may have been the last person she talked to.

On Aug. 16, I received a call from a very upset Margaret Mary. She told me that she was under an incredible amount of stress. She was receiving radiation therapy for the cancer that had just returned to her, she was living nearly homeless because she could not afford the upkeep on her home, which was literally falling in on itself, and now, she explained, she had received another indignity -- a letter from Adult Protective Services telling her that someone had referred her case to them saying that she needed assistance in taking care of herself. The letter said that if she did not meet with the caseworker the following Monday, her case would be turned over to Orphans' Court.
For a proud professional like Margaret Mary, this was the last straw; she was mortified. She begged me to call Adult Protective Services and tell them to leave her alone, that she could take care of herself and did not need their help. I agreed to. Sadly, a couple of hours later, she was found on her front lawn, unconscious from a heart attack. She never regained consciousness.
Meanwhile, I called Adult Protective Services right after talking to Margaret Mary, and I explained the situation. I said that she had just been let go from her job as a professor at Duquesne, that she was given no severance or retirement benefits, and that the reason she was having trouble taking care of herself was because she was living in extreme poverty. The caseworker paused and asked with incredulity, "She was a professor?" I said yes. The caseworker was shocked; this was not the usual type of person for whom she was called in to help.
Of course, what the caseworker didn't understand was that Margaret Mary was an adjunct professor, meaning that, unlike a well-paid tenured professor, Margaret Mary worked on a contract basis from semester to semester, with no job security, no benefits and with a salary of between $3,000 and just over $3,500 per three-credit course. Adjuncts now make up well over 50 percent of the faculty at colleges and universities.
While adjuncts at Duquesne overwhelmingly voted to join the United Steelworkers union a year ago, Duquesne has fought unionization, claiming that it should have a religious exemption. Duquesne has claimed that the unionization of adjuncts like Margaret Mary would somehow interfere with its mission to inculcate Catholic values among its students.
This would be news to Georgetown University -- one of only two Catholic universities to make U.S. News & World Report's list of top 25 universities -- which just recognized its adjunct professors' union, citing the Catholic Church's social justice teachings, which favor labor unions.
As amazing as it sounds, Margaret Mary, a 25-year professor, was not making ends meet. Even during the best of times, when she was teaching three classes a semester and two during the summer, she was not even clearing $25,000 a year, and she received absolutely no health care benefits. Compare this with the salary of Duquesne's president, who makes more than $700,000 with full benefits.
Meanwhile, in the past year, her teaching load had been reduced by the university to one class a semester, which meant she was making well below $10,000 a year. With huge out-of-pocket bills from UPMC Mercy for her cancer treatment, Margaret Mary was left in abject penury. She could no longer keep her electricity on in her home, which became uninhabitable during the winter. She therefore took to working at an Eat'n Park at night and then trying to catch some sleep during the day at her office at Duquesne. When this was discovered by the university, the police were called in to eject her from her office. Still, despite her cancer and her poverty, she never missed a day of class.
Finally, in the spring, she was let go by the university, which told her she was no longer effective as an instructor -- despite many glowing evaluations from students. She came to me to seek legal help to try to save her job. She said that all she wanted was money to pay her medical bills because Duquesne, which never paid her much to begin with, gave her nothing on her way out the door.
Duquesne knew all about Margaret Mary's plight, for I apprised them of it in two letters. I never received a reply, and Margaret Mary was forced to die saddened, penniless and on the verge of being turned over to Orphan's Court.
The funeral Mass for Margaret Mary, a devout Catholic, was held at Epiphany Church, only a few blocks from Duquesne. The priest who said Mass was from the University of Dayton, another Catholic university and my alma mater. Margaret Mary was laid out in a simple, cardboard casket devoid of any handles for pallbearers -- a sad sight, but an honest symbol of what she had been reduced to by her ostensibly Catholic employer.
Her nephew, who had contacted me about her passing, implored me to make sure that she didn't die in vain. He said that while there was nothing that could be done for Margaret Mary, we had to help the other adjuncts at Duquesne and other universities who were being treated just as she was, and who could end up just like she did. I believe that writing this story is the first step in doing just that.

First Published September 18, 2013 12:00 am
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
What a world we live in.
The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge.
Carl Jung - Aion (1951). CW 9, Part II: P.14
When I woke up this morning, I found that a friend of the blog tweeted me a link to a new article discussing recently deceased Duquesne adjunct instructor Mary Margaret Vojtko. When I saw it was from Slate, I was excited to read it, for a good friend of mine had been interviewed for this article. The person who sent the link did so with no initial commentary, so as soon as I had a chance, I read. Actually, I was a little bit behind my travel schedule because I read the whole thing. I wish I had waited until after work to read it, for I've been raging about this read the entire day.

L. V. Anderson's "Death of a Professor" is a sad, sorry excuse to drag down a rally point for adjuncts nationwide. Blunt enough? Let me continue. This is not simply a rant by someone too close to the issue. I know what a rant is, by the way, I taught about them in one class this morning and was only prevented from making one about this very subject by the fact that I was getting observed. While the last paragraphs lament the plight of adjuncts and their treatment by universities even calling for change, I cannot forgive all that comes before those lines. First of all, Anderson misspells Mary Margaret's last name several times: it's Vojtko, not Vojkto. Basic reporting: get the names correct. Especially if one is attempting to tear down the martyr of the contingent working poor who also write.

The article begins with a recap of the main points regarding her death and the subsequent publication of Daniel Kovalik's article that brought intense scrutiny to not only this case, but the wider treatment of adjunct faculty nationwide, perhaps worldwide. Kovalik's position as senior associate general counsel of the United Steelworkers is mentioned, as it almost always is. I should have known which direction this was going from that moment on, but I kept reading.

Next, the viral history of Kovalik's article, the Twitter hashtag it inspired (#IAmMaryMargaret), and several related blogs and articles that took up the cause are mentioned. The article even tips its hat to the unfairness of the conditions under which she lived and died: the conditions of the working poor in America. Oh, but then Anderson writes "But was that true?' This seems to imply that we have all been--gasp--lied to about Mary Margaret VOJTKO. Still I read. What were these new truths?

It seems that the TRUTH about Mary Margaret Vojtko is that she grew up in the Pittsburgh area in a staunchly union family. She considered becoming a nun but after taking a job at her father's suggestion so that she could make a more informed decision, she did not join a convent. Cousin Gerald Chinchar is quoted as saying she "had too much of an independent streak." Now, here's where my alarm bells started to ring, not because of her cousin's words, but the way in which they were likely to be used. An independent woman?! In the 1940s?! This is followed by her romantic history that includes at least two men who she fell for but never married. Then we learn that after her father's death she pursued more degrees: French, Latin, medieval studies and even an RN were all areas of expertise. Ah, I see it now: independent, educated, unmarried woman who also decided against taking religious vows that could have provided for her. Well, well.

Finally, Vojtko arrives at Duquesne, fluent in five languages and able to play violin, among other things. She teaches "French for Research" and language classes for undergrads. Though Anderson admits Vojtko took her teaching seriously and that some students doted on her, keeping in touch after leaving her courses, it must be pointed out that she does not use the computer well and eschews technological course instructional programs. How dare she reject corporate course management systems universities have plunked down big bucks for?! What kind of Luddite are we dealing with here? How in the world did any of us ever get by without them? (I must admit I only learned to use BlackBoard this year because my new school relies on it. Many of my students express frustration levels with it as well, and they're not a quarter her age.) The digs keep piling up.

Then we learn that Mary Margaret Vojtko even had a passion for history, particularly union history relating to her background and volunteered with the Homestead Historical Society. Yet this, too, is not left unproblematized: we are told she was a hoarder and obsessive over artifacts. Yes, her house and the one next door that her deceased brother purchased are full of items. Has this author met any academics? I don't know any without some oddities, myself included. Personally, I find hoarding to be one of those things I can easily forgive, unless it involves animals. I come from a family who couldn't throw out something unless it was absolutely broken or completely wrecked without a struggle or at least a long conversation. We're from the country. We have sheds and barns full of stuff because... Well, because someone might need it and then we wouldn't have to buy it, just dig it out. We weren't raised to be throwaway people, as I'm sure the Vojtko children weren't. Can this be taken too far? Yes. Is it a mental condition? I think so, but it doesn't make her less human or less deserving of her place in this story of the adjunct uprising. However, Anderson still isn't finished airing 83 years of dirty laundry.

Apparently, another great secret that we have all been snowed about is that Mary Margaret Vojtko never ever finished her dissertation! What?! Maybe she had more sense than some of us, would be my initial response to that. Is this lack of a terminal degree supposed to make her LESS in my eyes, or make her unfit to serve as a rallying cry for the cause of contingent faculty? Maybe to people who think that a PhD makes them better than everyone else. I have one and I'm still an adjunct. Lots of people are. Lots of people have MAs or MFAs. So what? The adjunct life is rarely any kinder to the doctoral degree holder than those without. In fact, at a beginning of the year meeting at one of my schools, a colleague joked with me that he never had managed to get his PhD, so he couldn't really expect more than bouncing between schools. I told him the degree was no guarantee anyway, since I had one. He was surprised. Do I feel less inclined to care about Mary Margaret's life and death because of any of this? No, because none of it matters one damn bit in the end.

At the end of her life, as family members died and others disappointed her, she because more reclusive. Then Anderson claims that the Duquesne community did not abandon her. What they did do was offer her charity. Charity in a country that despises the poor. Charity to a woman from a strong union background who had worked all her adult life, who was intelligent, and independent. I know these women. I come from a family like that. Having to sign my children up for state medical insurance is humiliating to me. I'm not a freeloader. Mary Margaret Vojtko was NOT a freeloader. If this article's purpose was to tear a woman down from a pedestal, it has not fulfilled its purpose. For me it has placed her further ahead of us. Mary Margaret is up there in the distance beckoning. She waves a union sign. She carries a beloved book. She demands that we keep fighting for the living wage that ALL workers deserve, inside higher education and out. The truth of her life is no less than, no greater than, no more valuable than any of our own. Anyone who thinks that casting aspersions on the character of a deceased woman expiates even some of the guilt of the contemporary corporate university does not truly understand what we are fighting against because they are only standing in our way providing excuses for those in positions of power. This is what we are up against.

For those whose lives challenge the status quo there is no resting in peace.
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.

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