This Really Doesn’t Sound Like Teaching: The Petraeus Seminar

I’ve stayed away from the Petraeus CUNY scandal, since I haven’t had much to add. Just more of the same: the connected milk their connections for all they’re worth. For those who haven’t followed this, former general and CIA director David Petraeus was going to teach a course at CUNY (City University of New York) as an adjunct–for the princely sum of $200,000. If that seems high, you would be correct, as most adjuncts at CUNY are paid $3,000 per course. Ultimately, public pressure convinced Petraeus to agree to a nominal salary of $1. While most were (rightfully) angry at the rent seeking aspect of this (CUNY’s focus is on providing an affordable education to New Yorkers, not being an ‘elite’ institution), what gets me is Petraeus’ concept of what teaching entails (boldface mine):

Petraeus will teach a class that meets once a week, with enrollment limited to 16 Honors College students, and assisted by two graduate students, with three Harvard graduate students to aid him in “assembling” the class syllabus. A reasonable inference to draw is that the general will have his lecture notes and slides prepared—and his students assignments graded—for him. Showing up once a week to read bullet points off a screen should not be too hard. The general might have left the Army, but he seems to have taken his headquarters staff with him, complete with orderlies, adjutants and batmen.

For this, he originally was to receive $200,000. From a school that scrapes by in order to provide education to all. At what point does shame kick in? $500,000? One million dollars? What sort of disconnection or entitlement (or both) lets you believe that $100,000, never mind larger amounts, is appropriate for this version of ‘teaching’?

And the congregation responds: this is yet another reason why we can’t have nice things.

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3 Responses to This Really Doesn’t Sound Like Teaching: The Petraeus Seminar

  1. Bardiac says:

    I wonder what the teaching assistants will be making.

  2. anthrosciguy says:

    For people like him shame never kicks in.

  3. CC says:

    As a teacher, I look at it the other way. I am very good at my job, I’ll have what he’s having–people to grade my papers and prep my materials, and then I can go and “just” teach. Also, I can do it for $200,000 per semester.

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