A Forum for Vigorous Debate, Cornerstone of Democracy

[For the journal--guidelines, focus, etc.--go to www.theamericandissident.org. If you have questions, please contact me at todslone@hotmail.com. Comments are NOT moderated (i.e., CENSORED)!]
Encouraged censorship and self-censorship seem to have become popular in America today. Those who censor others, not just self, tend to favor the term "moderate," as opposed to "censor" and "moderation" to "censorship." But that doesn't change what they do. They still act as Little Caesars or Big Brother protectors of the thin-skinned. Democracy, however, demands a tough populace, not so easily offended. On this blog, and to buck the trend of censorship, banning, and ostracizing, comments are NEVER "moderated." Rarely (almost NEVER) do the targets of these blog entries respond in an effort to defend themselves with cogent counter-argumentation. This blog is testimony to how little academics, poets, critics, newspaper editors, cartoonists, political hacks, cultural council apparatchiks, librarians et al appreciate VIGOROUS DEBATE, cornerstone of democracy. Clearly, far too many of them could likely prosper just fine in places like communist China and Cuba or Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Russia, not to mention Sweden, England, and Austria.

More P. Maudit cartoons (and essays) at Global Free Press: http://www.globalfreepress.org

Monday, January 30, 2017

American Public University System


 Open Letter to American Public University System
(A Dirge for Freedom of Expression)
In Particular to  Dr. Gregory Stratman, Dr. Lorna Wheeler, and Dr. Grace Glass

SYNOPSIS:  I was fired for expressing my opinions... because I was ordered to cease expressing those opinions... and disobeyed.

I am ashamed to think how easily we capitulate to badges and names, to large societies and dead institutions. Every decent and well-spoken individual affects and sways me more than is right. I ought to go upright and vital, and speak the rude truth in all ways.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Now, it is highly unlikely that you will find any of this interesting, especially if you are fundamentally afflicted with academic careerism.  So be it.  

As you might agree, however, students have been reduced administratively to a dollar sign.  For me, a low-level adjunct instructor, one student was worth $130, but only if I managed to keep the student reasonably happy and thus in the course.  For a professor, the student was worth more money; for an administrator, he or she was worth even more money.  Losing a student meant less money and therefore was an affront to the corporate, uh, university bottomline.  Student retention meant more money; student education was essentially irrelevant to the bottomline.   Regarding retention, note what Karan Powell, Senior Vice President and Academic Dean, had to say:

Faculty Colleagues
Two items are on the agenda for discussion today.  First, retention is the responsibility of academics.  Last week we heard about the university retention committee.  Attached this week is the first Student Success and Retention newsletter.  It contains a number of important ideas for faculty. […]

Now, why wasn’t instilling the principles of democracy (e.g., freedom of expression) the responsibility of academics?  And why wasn’t there a university committee and newsletter with that regard?  Well, in the current APUS climate of thou shalt not openly opine, unless with a smiley-face emoticon, who would even dare ask such a thing?  Besides, how could such a thing benefit the bottomline?  

In a nutshell, you compelled me to silence, that is, to cease responding to Dr. Dean M. Givens, who, as you well know, had contacted me out of the blue and kept on criticizing me in his email correspondence.  He professed to work for some unnamed organization that provided financing to APUS students.  Oddly, you never even tried to discover what the name of that organization was or whether or not it was even bona fide.  I tried and could not find it.  Or, if in fact you know its name, then you simply lied to me.  And why wouldn’t Givens himself tell me the name of his organization?  Why the secrecy?  In any case, he wrote: 

The few comments I received indicate: sarcasm, racism, bullying, and a “flaming” tone. I urge you to attend a netiquette course immediately. Please stop with the use of such comments in future feedback sessions, it is not appropriate and I hope frowned upon by the University. Such comments create an hostile environment which is not conducive to learning.

In the back and forth correspondence with Givens, I never criticized APUS, used prohibited vocabulary, or made threats.  Yet you eventually ordered me to cease writing to Givens and otherwise exercising my purported right to freedom of speech. 

Hi George,
I don’t believe we have had the chance to speak yet, and I regret that the chance to do so arises out of a recent difficult conversation with Dean Givens.
I’ve reviewed the communications, and the conversation is neither productive nor effective at this point. Please immediately desist responding to his communications, and please don’t initiate any.
Dr. Stratman and Dr. Wiegenstein also need to meet with you about this matter and the results of a recent course observation; Greg forwarded you a link which you can use to set up this conversation at a time convenient for you this week. 
Thanks for your attention to this matter and for working with us on these issues moving forward. 
Dr. Grace Glass
Dean, School of Arts and Humanities

Well, I responded, as I tended to do.  After all, we do live in a free country, don’t we?  

Hi Grace,
Is this not a First Amendment issue?  I sincerely would like to respond to Dr. Givens. Why do you wish me to remain unresponsive?  Again, I make no threats and use no prohibited vocabulary in my responses.  Thanks.

Unfortunately, you did not really respond at all to that pertinent issue.  In any case, I obeyed your order to shut up, though, as an ardent proponent of free speech, quite reluctantly and quite knowing that I would eventually have to disobey it.  Principles are important to me; likely not for you.  Academic freedom is supposed to be the freedom to respond to criticism and the First Amendment accords me the right to exercise free speech and free expression.  Although, APUS is a private institution, it exists thanks to lots and lots of public taxpayer money, thus should be and is supposed to be held to the First Amendment.  In essence, you have proven to be enemies of both academic freedom and the First Amendment.  In essence, I stand as a concrete example that freedom of speech and vigorous debate do not exist at American Public University System, which comprises American Military University and American Public University.   Is it not ironic that many soldiers, present or past, are enrolled at APUS and have supposedly fought for our basic freedoms, including those two key principles?  Perhaps they’d be surprised that APUS does not welcome those principles!  But I’m sure you will keep them in the dark with that regard.  

On January 19th I finally disobeyed your order to cease and desist and sent an email response to Givens and copied it to you.  Several days later you demanded a meeting but would not provide me with the reason for it.  In vain, I pressed for particulars.  Then on January 25th, we met via telephone and after brief “how are you” small talk, you said, “We have decided to separate you from the university.  So, what is your thought on that?”  I responded, “Does my thought matter at all?  Will you give me a reason for the decision?”  And you said, “This most recent email that you copied to me and Dr. Wheeler finalized that decision.  We had asked that you not contact Dr. Givens, and you did.”  And that was that.  FIRED for expressing myself at APUS.  

Now, be assured that I am not a disgruntled employee, a term which of course you can easily use to ignore every point made in this open letter.  I am not dangerous—at least not physically—and harbor no hatred whatsoever for you.  In a sense, I pity you for choosing career over freedom.  But that is always the choice.  Clearly, we can agree that I was not a “good fit” instructor for APUS, though you’d been employing me for six and a half years (April 2010 to January 2017), though at very paltry wages—$130/student.  Now, for that matter, I was not a good fit at Elmira College, Fitchburg State University, Central Texas College, Bennett College, Grambling State University, or Davenport University either.  Nevertheless, I do hold a doctoral degree.  But one can simply not climb the academic ladder, unless one plays the academic game, which is anything but rude-truth telling.  Now, perhaps Dr. Stratman would like to disseminate that Emerson quote, regarding the latter.  Hmm.

Now, because back in the 1980s when I hadn’t really given freedom of thought and freedom of speech much thought at all and was prior to the beginning of my conflict with academe, I was a good-fit instructor at the Université du Maine and École Nationale de Mécanique in France.    

Clearly, APUS is primarily a business like so many, if not all, American colleges and universities today, and secondarily an institution of purported higher education, whatever that might entail today,  especially in the humanities.  As a for-profit institution, APUS, at least, is honest about it, though it is hardly honest at all about the inevitable intrinsic corruption putting government funding at odds with student education.  Indeed, retention, retention, retention is your modus operandi.  You don’t really give a damn if APUS student graduates have poor writing ability.  Your livelihood depends on government funding.  You, like Obama, want more university graduates, and not necessarily better-educated graduates.  Quantity over quality.  That is the shame of APUS and many other institutions of purported higher learning today.  

Now, regarding the poor quality of APUS student writing, Dr. Stratman agreed with my assessment during his “Coaching Call” and even said that he refused to teach any more English 101 courses because of that and because many students do not heed the corrections made by their instructors.  And so, as a bottom-level plebe-instructor, those courses were dumped on me and others like me.  Here is an example, more typical than not, of APUS student writing ability.  I will not name the student, although I probably should for his own good and because he is an adult.  

Good afternoon I'm trying to understand what you was saying about "your" I looked at your 32 Error sheet didn't see anything about the word your. I don't think I have a grammar problem due to this being the first time this class you say anything about it. But I do understand how my paper have those essay and I will make sure they don't happen again. Thanks again for your help and I will make sure my next essay don't have those error.

Imagine, that student doesn’t think he has a “grammar problem”!  I possess many more such examples.  Now, writing is important.  But equally important is exposing students to their basic rights and encouraging instructors not to just fit in, but to actively participate in truly open discourse and I do not mean discourse around some idiocy like grading with rubrics.  Instructors ought also be encouraged to comment on the rather bland quotes Dr. Stratman periodically posts.  Well, I commented and he ignored my comments and refused to distribute them amongst our colleagues.  For example, he posted an MLK quote:  

The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically.  Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.

My response was “You might wish to pass this around in celebration of real critical thinking!”  

If we were to really think critically, then we would analyze that MLK statement, rather than simply open wide, say ahh, then swallow it.  If indeed we were to really think critically, then we would likely conclude that the function of education today is to teach one NOT to think critically because to do so would inevitably put one at odds with educators themselves.  It would put one in a quandary, forcing a choice between careerism—inevitable cowardice (see no-evil/speak no-evil) and PC-groupthink—or dump careerism (i.e., academe) and speak critically.  If intelligence plus character were really the goals of true education, then clearly colleges and universities, including APUS, are not in the business of true education. 
—George Slone

And of course that was not the kind of discussion desired.  Instead, we were encouraged to join in the mind-numbing jabber about rubrics.  And every week there was some mind-numbing crap on rubrics in the mail like the following.

Tips to “Up Our Game.” Using Rubrics: It is the desire and goal of the department that all faculty use rubrics in grading all assignments. However, a caveat to that is that I am not 100% certain that rubrics have been produced for every course. In addition, various rubrics exist for the same assignments, e.g. I have seen three rubrics for use in grading forums. Lorna is set to address these issues, and David Becker will be working on embedded rubrics, with the goal that all courses will eventually have embedded rubrics.

Rubrics was likely the invention of some Ed.D (doctor of education) in an effort to justify the degree.  Had it now become a money-making industry in higher education like the diversity and White Privilege lecture circuit/workshops/deanships and on and on?  Were rubric workshops and rubric specialists now proliferating along with the proliferation of more or less illiterate student graduates?  Were there now doctoral degrees in rubrics?  In brief, rubrics was an attempt to somehow objectify what was evidently subjective:  writing.  Shit grammar was shit grammar.  There was no need to give it a rubrics grade.  Now, here’s a fascinating message from Dr. Kimberly Jacobs:

I'm simply asking you to look at the rubric and try it out. Just spot check your grading, please.  FYI: this is one is for u-grad classes, only.  In addition, I know that there is plenty of research on rubrics and many different rubric designs. At this time I'm not looking for different designs. However, we may want to visit this topic in the wiki and discuss the merit and challenges of using a rubric in every classroom. What would students gain from being familiar with a single rubric in our department? A rubric could be modified a tad to suit the course content, rigor, and design. As an instructor what do you like or dislike about rubrics? Would you be totally against rubrics? Why? What research do you have to support your opinion?

In an effort to push for student retention—what else is new, eh?—APUS seems to be waging a war against grammar.  Associate Professor Jill Fiore sent out a group email regarding the subject.  In it she summarizes that war.  

We all need to approach the grading of student forum posts in a way that is more collegial and prioritizes the quality of the content of a post, as opposed to the grammar and documentation.

To deaf ears, I responded to her post.  

Hi Jill,
Very, very bad policy!  Write poorly for this, if students like, but not for that makes little sense.  Grammar should be key, not secondary, even for forum posts at the university level, especially with today’s students.  Many of my students have gone straight through high school with poor grammar skills.  Some will not even capitalize the letter “I”, despite my pushing them to do so.  Now they’re at a university with poor grammar skills, not to mention severe spelling problems, despite the existence of spell check.  Some posts I receive are nearly incomprehensible, and their poor grammar completely diverts my attention away from any purported “quality of content.”  Hmm.  Well, I’ll follow your instructions.  Thanks for your attention!  George

Educrats across the country were in-lock step with political correctness, which tended to blunt any critical thinking they might have possessed, although real critical thinking inevitably conflicted with academic careerism anyhow, which is why most tenured academics lack critical-thinking aptitude, including the ones teaching courses on critical thinking!  As for PC, Carol A Froisy, MA, Interim Program Director, English & Communication, wrote: 

Apparently, the video link I sent contains the word “spastic,” which may offend students, so do not share this video with our student body. If you, as a faculty member, are offended by ableist language, please do not view the video. This was meant to poke fun at our English department ways. We do have a tendency to be picky about grammar. I am a grammar snob myself. I enjoyed being “roasted,” but the faculty member who gratefully brought this up has a point if someone is potentially offended. This video is not meant to be an educational video. 

And so again to deaf ears or almost, I responded.

Hi Carol... and other adult APUS instructors and administrators,
Instead of worrying about adults being offended by a simple word like "spastic," why not teach them what my mother taught me years ago:  "sticks and stones will break my bones but names (WORDS!) will never harm me."  Fight PC-inanity, don't cave into it like everyone else!  Encourage backbone, not easily offended feelings.  Thanks.
Froisy’s sort-of response was the following:

Laugh. ☺

What to think?  Well, she was evidently laughing all the way to the bank.  I was not.  Did she think I didn’t have a sense of spastic humor?  Or did she think maybe I needed to take a workshop on the importance of using smiley-face emoticons in today’s academic world?  Well, I’d never know.  On a positive note, another colleague, out of the 50 or so contacted, responded intelligently.  

Thanks for having some common sense and not being afraid to speak up in its defense! If I worried about everyone's potential for taking offense at something I say or type, I'd never speak.
Heather Parks

Bravo to her!  And I thanked her and she wrote back.  Had we begun a little flame of real debate at APUS?  Well, no, it was but a spark.

I'm actually a bit surprised that my e-mail was the only one, but I think we're fast becoming a nation of sheeple (maybe it's not unique to this nation?).  I'm just a "lowly adjunct," too, and I've really had enough of keeping my mouth shut about things I'd never tolerate in the real world.  The push to wrap students in bubble wrap to keep from offending them (thereby continuing to reap the benefits also known as the almighty tuition dollars) annoys me more than a little. Alas, I digress!
Maybe if more of us have the courage to speak up in defense of common sense, it can return to actually being common.

Educrat’ism seemed like a grand cover-up scheme for graduating more and more students who shouldn’t be graduating at all… and in accord with Obama’s desire:  ”That's how we'll reach our goal of once again leading the world in college graduation rates by the end of this decade.”  Again and again, mind-numbing emails on rubrics arrived!  How had educators become so mind-dead to believe rubrics was somehow the solution to students who hadn’t learned to write grammatically-correct sentences in elementary school and high school? 

All essays should be graded using rubrics, which then should be provided to the students.
All forum grading should be done according to the appropriate rubric, but in the Forum Grader, it is fine to simply provide the points awarded for the post and points awarded for replies with either a brief explanation or a reference to the rubrics they should have in their possession.

Workshops were required.  Each year adjuncts had to take at least one unremunerated workshop.  Well, I’d reached the point where I couldn’t bear having to endure another one.  My thoughts on that were sent to the previous chairperson, Col. William Overton.

Hi Bill,
Well, I did run some of this through Rev. Nancy Wack, but she chose not to respond.  If I may be honest—and I know that’s usually a sign of heresy in academe (and the military)—, that workshop was onerous not only as to requirements, but also intellectually, which is why I dropped out of it.  It is tough for me to concentrate my mind on educationist jargon and things that will likely have no effect at all on student learning.  Academic workshops tend to exist, not for students, but for those who get paid creating and teaching them.  Low-paid adjuncts should be paid for taking them!  I was getting ready to create a video for the workshop, then read it would have to be transcribed in writing to fulfill some government regulation.  Transcribing would have been a lot of work.  That’s when I decided to stop.  BTW, several of my workshop colleagues agreed entirely with me.  I was considering giving the workshop a second effort soon, but then you wrote you couldn’t guarantee I’d get a course or two after taking it.  So, I’m going to really have to think hard about it now.  
Finally, higher education fails students, especially in English, when it places retention far above grammar.  I have had far too many students who seem to ignore my corrections (do they even read them?).  Do they ignore them because they know they’ll get at least an 80 for a grade?  Have we professors simply become perpetuators of a fundamentally and increasingly corrupt educational system?  How can we promote democracy in our classrooms when instructors are so fearful to exercise their First Amendment rights out of the classroom?  Why not an English course that fosters, instead of ignores, the principles of democracy, where readings would consist of pertinent selections from authors like Thoreau, Orwell, Solzhenitsyn, Emerson, Ibsen, Villon, Neruda, and others?  Heresy?  You bet!  Anyhow, thanks for your attention.  

Now, Bill was a nice guy.  Hell, he didn’t fire me, uh, “separate me from the university” for that email!  He responded, giving me the choice, which was always nice.

Thanks for your response, George. To be honest, as you noted, this is the way this university is going. If you decide to drop out of the adjunct pool, just send me a note and I will understand completely.
Take care.

Bill liked to quote German writers and adages now and then.  I responded more honestly and harshly than normally permitted in the barbed-wire-surrounded ivory tower.  

Hi Bill,
Yes, I will let you know of my decision.  It is too bad, however, that you also choose to ignore (i.e., manifest zero interest in) the points made in my email.  Your response provoked me to create the following expression:   Das was Demokratie umbringt, macht Akademiker starker!  Far too many academics (and I don't necessarily mean you here) have somehow learned not to be interested in VIGOROUS DEBATE, one of democracy's  prime cornerstones.  Indeed, how many today are siding against the murdered Parisian cartoonists for their instigation of vigorous debate, arguing the cartoonists shouldn't have been so critical and thus got what they deserved.  I am in mourning for them and used to read their publication when I was living in France.  Anyhow, I digress... or perhaps not.

Well, compared to you guys, Bill evidently appreciated a little vigorous debate.  

I understand, George, and I comprehend the meaning, both direct and implied, in your German phrase. In a different life setting, I would be willing to consider the points you made. However, here they are largely moot.
I was thinking earlier today how things have changed here at APUS since I began. I have to admit that I have become a “Corporate Man” because this is a business enterprise and I am part of the administration. If that strikes you as an admission that I have “sold out,” you are likely correct. 
I have been reading Salman Rushdie’s memoire, Joseph Anton. If you have not read it, I’m certain you would find it interesting. Many of Rushdie’s critics sided with the radical elements who conspired to kill him under the fatwa
OK, this is between you and me, but because this is a business organization (we rely on “business reasons” for making decisions) you might want to consider looking elsewhere for a more comfortable home. I do not foresee any immediate future change here in the direction you are thinking. You are going to have to jump through several hoops to get back into the classroom at APUS. Your time could likely be spent more profitably (and more enjoyably) in another venue.
Let me know, OK?
Best wishes,

And so I responded.  How nice to engage with another academic… in a little vigorous debate.

Thanks for the response... and it was a good one.  Perhaps I will check out that Rushdie book.  I’ve only read some of his essays, which can be very good.  I have just started Stonewalled by Attkisson and am surprised how very nicely it flows… very interesting criticism of the press.  My favorite book, one that every English prof should read and probably few have, is The Oak and the Calf by Solzhenitsyn, who describes the literary scene under Stalin, which seems so similar to that in America today!  
Anyhow, at this point, if I were to leave APUS it would likely be my last job in higher education.  I will look into unemployment benefit possibilities since I have not been fired and do not have any more courses after the current one.  And I am getting a strong drift from you that I am essentially finito at APUS. 

Well, I was pushing, but Bill didn’t seem to want to fire me.  Instead, he wanted me to quit.  That was kind of interesting.  

Apparently your assumption is correct given what I am able to glean from the information I have. It sounds as though this is something you expected. Would you like to make a clean break of it at this point? If so, please just send me a brief email stating that you are resigning to pursue other opportunities and I will handle the paperwork. No need to go into detail, but this way it will just be a simple “separation” and will look OK on your record. This only a suggestion as a friend and is not a formal request, OK?
While I admire your scholarship and the work you have done, there is not much I can do at this point.
Best wishes for your decision.

And so I responded.

Hi Bill,
Well, I am definitely NOT quitting.  I certainly would be willing to take that workshop, BUT only if APUS guarantees that I will be given subsequent courses to teach.  I certainly would hate to take that workshop for nothing.  I'm not sure how long I've been with APUS.  Three, four years?  I have successfully managed to separate my dissident outlook and "scholarship" from APUS.   Perhaps you are unaware but I am the founding editor (1998) of The American Dissident, a 501c3 biannual, nonprofit journal of literature, democracy, and dissidence.  I kept it separate, never mentioned it to my students or APUS because I am all too aware of just how much academe tends to detest vigorous debate and freedom of speech, the very cornerstones of democracy.  Thanks for the email.

And so he responded, and that was that.  

Because I am not able to guarantee anything, I cannot tell you if you take the workshop that you will be promised classes.
I will keep you on the books at this point and wish you the best.

And so I thanked him and, somehow, managed to clench my teeth, completed the workshop requirement, jumped through those “several hoops,” and, thanks to Bill’s kindness and intrinsic honesty, eventually got more courses to teach, and that was several years ago.  Why were so very few academics willing to admit what BIll admitted regarding academe and especially himself.  How rare!    
Now, back to Dr. Givens and my “separation from the university.”  The dialogue de sourds engaged with him was fairly lengthy.  For me, it was sufficiently interesting to create several essays out of it.  For those afflicted with academic careerism like you, it was not at all interesting, but rather “neither productive nor effective,” even though, in reality, it was certainly “effective” in getting me “separated from the university.”  I include both essays below as a lesson in what creative writing can be… and likely never is within the ivory tower…  

The Last Days of an Online University Instructor

The Unprofessional—Part I

It has come to my attention that your online behavior with AMU appears to display a level of inappropriate netiquette.” —Dr. Dean M. GivensThe professionals have accused me of being unprofessional.  But considering what professional has come to really mean, I take it as a compliment… —P. Maudit  A plethora of professional poets, professional artists, professional professors, professional administrators and, of course, professional politicians forms the corpus of the professional nation.  As higher education in America continues its downward spiral into PC-safe spaces, shrinking free-speech zones, trigger-warnings, speech codes, approved anti-white racism, disinvitations, and microaggressions, the great professional concern has become netiquette.  Indeed, the muzzle, more than anything else, defines higher education today.  In fact, the muzzle, more broadly, defines careerism and what it really means to be a professional.  Out of the blue, I received an email from an unknown entity, Dr. Dean M. Givens, who declared that his unnamed organization provided funding for students at the university, where I was employed as an online adjunct instructor—my last stand in the ivory tower… of academic professionals.  Givens had contacted me because of an unnamed student(s) who had complained about me.  “Thus far it has been a positive experience by prior and current students,” he noted. “However, It has come to my attention that your online behavior with AMU [American Military University] appears to display a level of inappropriate netiquette.” Over the years, I’d been accused of many things because I did have an unusual questioning and challenging mind and possessed the courage to stand up for freedom of speech, where most others preferred to sit down… quite professionally, of course.  However, I’d never been accused of “inappropriate netiquette,” whatever the hell that entailed.  “To protect student privacy I will not quote your exact verbiage,” wrote Givens.  And yet how could quoting my “exact verbiage” possibly disrupt “student privacy”?  After all, it was my “verbiage”!And if a student were so concerned about his or her privacy, why break that privacy bubble by lodging a complaint?  And without the precise alleged “verbiage,” how could I possibly defend or even explain it?  Were university students not adults?  If they were adults, they should not be encouraged to hide behind anonymity.  They should be encouraged to build spine and stand up on their hind legs when they criticize their instructors.  They should be encouraged to complain first to their instructor, then for wont of resolution, complain elsewhere.  Instead, we’ve entered the brave new world of coddled adults and spineless “netiquette.”  A review of your student feedback comments by the University or yourself will make it clear of what I am referencing. The few comments I received indicate: sarcasm, racism, bullying, and a “flaming tone.”   Contrary to most people, I actually enjoyed intellectual confrontation.  It was quite stimulating—got me to think, got me to write and create and cartoon.  In fact, such confrontation had become the prime impetus for my creativity.  Did they teach that in creative writing classes?  Likely not!  For how can an instructor who does not engage in confrontation teach the fine art of engaging in confrontation? So, now I was accused of being a racist by an anonymous student(s)!  And Givens seemed to oddly, if not mind-numbingly, agree with him or her.  How unoriginal could it get?   Besides, weren’t all whites like me racist and privileged in today’s brave new world?  When I taught at several HBCUs in the south, Bennett College and Grambling State University, I was also accused of being racist… because I dared criticize black administrators.  Well, there weren’t any white ones!  In any case, I was not afraid of being called names.  I had spine.  If truth-telling led someone to call me a racist, so be it.  Recipe for a failing nation (No eggs needed):  If an instructor focuses a student’s attention on horrendous grammar and absence of careful proofreading and/or faulty reasoning, then if the instructor is white and the student is black or latino, the student should be encouraged to ignore the instructor’s comments and instead proclaim and complain that the instructor is racist.  Fire the instructor and give the black or latino student a diploma.  Insanity has creeped into higher education!   So, I asked Givens what the name of his organization was.  He refused to say.  I asked him what his race was.  He also refused to say.  In fact, my assumption that he was a male could certainly be wrong.  So, now I was also a “bully” because I dared correct grammar, some of which was junior-high level, if that, because apparently previous instructors dared not correct grammar for fear of being accused of racism and bullying.  I challenged faulty assumptions, which also must have made me a bully.  The purpose of calling someone a racist or bully was usually to end the conversation.  It certainly did not further it.  Moreover, such kill the messenger/avoid the message demonization was intellectually puerile.  Sadly, Democrat operatives had excelled in the fine art of ad hominem and were teaching the populace, by example, to emulate that dubious, unintellectual behavior.  Indeed, Republicans were trying to emulate!   So, I also had a “flaming” tone?  Well, what tone should I have, an obsequious, nanny one?  Focus on “tone,” a highly subjective term, tended always to serve as a deflection away from focus on substance.  Rather than calling me a racist, perhaps the student(s) who decided to play the race/victim-card ought to work on his or her grammar and take the time (lord forbid!) to proofread carefully.  It was mind-boggling that some of my students actually had problems with verb forms, something that should have been resolved in grammar school.  Should I accept “he GO to school” or “i LIVES home” as some kind of correct ebonics grammar?  How did the student(s) get a high school diploma?  (Obama blathers about the need to increase the number of college graduates without any concern at all for the intellectual capacity of such graduates.)
I urge you to attend a netiquette course immediately. Please stop with the use of such comments in future feedback sessions, it is not appropriate and I hope frowned upon by the University. Such comments create an [sic] hostile environment which is not conducive to learning. Now, where might I find a “netiquette course”?  Givens did not say.  And precisely what hostile comments I made he did not and would not say.  So, how could I possibly know what comments should be made and what comments shouldn’t be made?  Ah, of course, a “netiquette” re-education course or workshop would instruct me with that regard.  The grave flaw in Givens’ argument was that clearly whatever “netiquette” comments the complaining student(s) had received in the past from other instructors certainly were NOT “conducive to learning” because clearly the student(s) hadn’t learned how to write!  So, where did Givens’ reasoning lead to?  Be nice, don’t worry about learning?  What Givens sought to do was transform me from a substantive truth-and-honesty instructor into a vacuous smiley-face one… either that or put me on the unemployment line.  Un-netiquettedly, I put it to him. Would you prefer that American Military University be a university or a junior high school disguised as a university?  Well, at least, I had not yet been accused of groping or sexism or islamophobia or homophobia or intention to vote for Donald Trump.  You fail to mention what precisely constitutes “appropriate.”  Should I place a smiley-face emoticon after every sentence I write to my university students?  Is that the new “appropriate”?  Or should I place an I AM NOT A RACIST/ BLACK LIVES MATTER/WHITE PRIVILEGE SUCKS phrase after each comment I make?  Is that the new “appropriate”?  If so, count me out!  I fight for the First Amendment, not for PC-indoctrination.  When the grammar is terrible—when a student cannot capitalize the letter “I,” for example,—then it was my responsibility to inform the student that such writing was not acceptable on the university level, be that “flaming tone,” absence of “netiquette,” or whatever.  I enjoyed questioning and challenging student assumptions.  If a student submitted an essay noting that whites were terrible because of slavery, for example, then I’d respond informing the student that slavery still existed in Africa today and not with white masters, that black Africans sold black slaves, that many freed slaves in America became slaveholders themselves (over 3000 in just New Orleans!), that the large majority of whites were certainly not slaveholders, and that many whites, who were indentured servants, were treated like slaves.  In fact, the very term slave comes from white Slavs who became slaves.  If helping to open up the closed PC-conversation on race automatically resulted in my being labeled racist, so be it.   The crux of the problem was likely MONEY, though professor and administrator apathy or outright scorn for America’s First Principles was also of prime concern.  MONEY constituted the evident, inherent conflict of interest in the channeling of taxpayer funds to students and, of course, organizations like the one Givens allegedly worked for.  Because of MONEY, Givens wanted students to be happy and get good grades, no matter what they did or didn’t do.  Education was secondary.  Primary was student retention at all costs, including student learning.  Each student represented a dollar amount for his organization’s bottomline.  Lose a student and the bottomline decreases.  For him, it was better to lose an instructor, than a student.  That fundamental quandary was a metastasizing cancer in the gut of purported higher education today.  Freedom of expression was no longer important.  Retention was of utmost importance.  Givens’ very job depended on the latter!  Clearly, instructors like me were becoming a rarity, thanks in part to Givens and student-financing organizations like his.  So, would my “flaming tone” kill the rabbit?  Nope! Thanks for your passionate response.  I urge you to reread and internalize the original email.   Well, shit, maybe he needed to reread and internalize my “passionate response”!  The dude was stopped up like a toilet bowl.  In his case, the shit was professional, tonality, respectful, and all the other buffer crap those in power tended to employ in an effort to deflect from substance.   Surely, an Ivy League doctorate holder such as yourself can find a different tactical avenue to instruct in a respectful manner. Yet I’d never stated I was an ivy leaguer.  And what was “respectful manner”?  It was a highly subjective term, oddly used as if somehow highly objective.  How can an intelligent person not realize that?    Professors have performed such tactics for some time with a great deal of student success therefore I will spare you the examples. Did he even have any examples?  Besides, many of my students were hardly representative of “success.”  You explain only two races in your argument of racism, please note I did not reference the race of the student(s). Other forms of racism exist as well. I also did not call you a racist.  From your response you say this is not the first time you have been provided such feedback.  Maybe it is time to apply such feedback within your profession. I won’t waste your time with an elongated rant (I forgive you for wasting mine). I will simply end with a request please apply appropriate netiquette in your online classroom. Use appropriate language for it is a professional environment. Be respectful to students and yourself.  And so I sledged, as in sledgehammered, arguing that his dismissal of my response as "rant" and a waste of his time summed up the conversation about race, bullying, and netiquette.  Speak the party line or it was a waste of his time.  And just how respectful was calling my response a “rant”?  And how respectful was his refusal to put the holier-than-thou DR. in front of my name?  I’d put it in front of his.  Evidently, he’d made a conscious, snarky choice to be disrespectful.  I never made conscious choices like that.  And so high-and-mighty Givens advised me to be respectful, while he coyly manifested disrespect.  And what constituted appropriate language?   As noted, one of my key points was the intrinsic conflict of interest presented by the MONEY he sought to gain by backing ill-prepared and unmotivated students, who rather than address the issues of grammar and faulty reasoning, rather than take the time to proofread assignments they submitted, preferred to be offended, diverting attention away from their faults by arguing their instructor to be a racist and bully.  Givens, of course, chose to ignore that point.  I asked where he taught and what gave him the pedagogical wisdom to instruct me how to teach or treat my students?  And what "tactics" was he referring to?   I informed him that always I instructed my students to provide concrete examples to back their assertions, otherwise those assertions lacked backing.  So, I suggested that perhaps he ought to take one of my English 101 courses.   Sledgehammer away I did, asking, why the secrecy?  Why he wrote "student(s)"?  Why he refused to provide the name of his organization?  Was that not unprofessional?  In fact, without such precision, how could I possibly know if he was legitimate or junk mail?  Why the secrecy?  What was he afraid of?  MONEY?  Perhaps it was high time that he was respectful to students and inform them that on the college level, they—black, white, latino, or Asian—must concentrate on writing grammatically-correct sentences.  It was because of people like him that far too many students got university diplomas and could not even write a grammatically-correct sentence, let alone correct verb forms!  Again, he failed egregiously to present any examples of purported “racist,” “bullying,”                                          "sarcastic," "flaming tone," and “netiquette"-deficient comments that he accused me of making.  How not to think of Stalin and Mao’s infamous show trials?  How could I possibly defend myself in the absence of concrete examples?  Well, I already brought that up to his deaf ears in my previous response.  Moreover, he should note that the terms he and/or student(s) employed were highly subjective, even if he and the student(s) believed them to be somehow objective.   As for the term "netiquette," the first definition listed on Google was "the correct or acceptable way of communicating on the Internet."  Now, that in itself was quite interesting considering the army of new-age internet censors working at Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.  "Correct or acceptable" were two more highly subjective terms.  For Twitter et al, those terms had come to mean no hardcore questioning and challenging of PC-doctrine, including calling out Black Lives Matter for anti-white racism and Islam’s un-peaceful reality.  And so I hit back the ball.  Now, allow me to paraphrase your advice and address it to you.  Use appropriate language (avoid "rant"), employ concrete examples to back your assertions, and cherish the First Amendment for it provides a real professional environment. Be respectful to instructors, by placing DR. in front of their names, students, by questioning and challenging them, and yourself, by taking the time to respond to each and every point made by accused instructors.  Do not automatically assume the student is right and the latter, wrong. And I concluded by stressing that the total lack of clarity, specificity, and objectivity of his accusation(s) was not at all helpful and served, no doubt, to further muzzle the basic human right of freedom of expression that college instructors should possess and exercise.  “I shall NOT be muzzled by your ilk.  Period.”  His response was to cc an email to me that he’d sent to my employer.  AMU,I haven't received a response from your university regarding Mr. Slone. When possible please send contact information for whomever provides oversight of this professor. He has once again has [sic] sent another rambling email. I have posted it below in case AMU cares to respond to this passionate gentleman. Mr. Slone if you care to have a discussion face to face please let me know. I will make my schedule available to you.v/r Dean Givens, PhD, CPA And so I wrote back.   To Dr. Givens, Always, I tell my students to proofread, then proofread again!  Is that racist and bullying?  “He has once again has [sic] sent another rambling email,” you write.  Now, what might be wrong with that “rambling” sentence, to use your word?  Always, I tell my students to strive for accuracy!  Also, to dismiss everything I wrote to you as “rambling” is indicative of your inability to reason and present cogent counter-argumentation relative to that which you disagree.  Always, I tell my students to avoid ad-hominem and instead provide point-by-point counter-argumentation.  Is that racist and bullying?  Now, why would you be any different in a face-to-face discussion?  In fact, why haven’t you bothered to respond with anything but ad hominem in our email discussion?  Why would face-to-face discussion be any different?  You fail to stipulate.  Finally, why have you still refused to provide the name of your organization?  That is the crux and of course inevitably leads me to believe that you are possibly a fraud and perhaps even a friend of the student who cried racism.
Sincerely, Why did you tell me to cease responding to Dr. Givens, who decided to tell me how to teach my courses?  MONEY of course is the key in this entire discussion or bi-monologue.  You know it, but you will deny it, or cover it up in the name of professionalism.  Sadly, I do not expect the above questions to be answered.  I expect you to perceive my comments as tonal-deficient and otherwise unprofessional and thus to be entirely ignored.  Hopefully, you’ll prove me wrong.  As for my doctoral degree, which somehow you insinuate I do not possess, comes from the universite Dr. Slone And so Givens wrote back in his rather unique, mind-numb fashion and offering more higher-than-thou advice.  Mr. SloneYou have made a great effort to get me to reveal the identity of the concerned students. I have finally received a response from the University, therefore; this will be my last email response to you. However, if you would like to meet in person, I will make my schedule available. Ph.D. holders are not here merely to wave around a piece of paper or add some initials at the beginning/end of our name. Ph.D. holders must create a respectable platform for those who come after us. When you create an educational environment that intentionally breaks down the confidence of your students, how are you helping them?  As you inform your students to proofread may I invite you to perform the same action? Your response presented redundancy, misspelled words, missing articles, etc. Note, I critiqued your work without a “flaming” tone.  As a professor, offer your thoughts without sarcasm, bullying or a “flaming” tone, avoid the constant use of exclamation points. I also urge you to provide tools to assist students (i.e. refer them to the writing center).  Acting in a professional manner when communicating with your students is not an attempt to trample on free speech but simple netiquette and respect. Think and use caution before type. Your focus on me is not the issue, the behavior patterns you present in the online environment is the problem. I wish you the best of luck, remember to respect others and yourself.AMU: Thanks for your assistance in this matter.v/r Dean Givens, PhD, CPA And before I could finish writing my response, I received an email from the boss, Gregory J. Stratman, Ph.D., Faculty Director (English & Literature), American Public University System (American Military University + American Public University) ordering me to cease communicating with Givens and that I was to engage in a “coaching call.”  And so after contemplation, I decided to wait prior to responding to Givens and temporarily put the ole academic muzzle on, though only to experience the “coaching call.”  LOL!  

The Last Days of an Online University Instructor

The Unprofessional—Part II 

Interestingly, a day or so after Givens’ last email, I received a comment from one of my English 101 students… quite in line with Givens’ take!  I want to put a end to your disrespectful comments and the way you come off. I'm a student not a teacher or professional writer. I'm going to make mistakes with everything I do being in this class for three week's  isn’t going to erase common mistakes. I don't appreciate your comments and would like it if you keep them to yourself respect is a two way street. I'm in this class for a reason I have not been in a English class in over 12 year and this is my first class. I wouldn't think I would have to explain this to a teacher. Thanks Now, a low-pay adjunct “teaching job” like mine did not have any perks at all.  I responded, making an effort to be academically polite.First, thank you for your honest input.  Please be precise regarding what comments I made were “disrespectful.”  Only then can I consider what I might or might not have done correctly.  Is it “disrespectful” for me, your English professor, to correct your writing?  In fact, your first sentence has an error in it.  Should I not be correcting and encouraging you to be accurate?  Or do you think I should simply put a smiley-face emoticon after every comment I write?  The class is eight, not three, weeks long.  If you took the time to carefully study my 32-error sheet, you could indeed erase common mistakes.  But it is evidently far easier to proclaim disrespect than do that. So, you do not want any comments at all from your instructor.  I am not sure that I am permitted to even do that.  To paraphrase you, should I have to explain to a student that this is a college-level English course?  Thanks. Then I checked to see what my latest comment had been with his regard in an effort to determine why he was so pissed off.  Hi Anthony,This needs serious proofreading!  Learn when to use commas.What is this?  “the united stated army”You continue to ignore my comments.  Why?  Avoid YOU and YOUR.  Read my 32 on "I."  Make certain that you are not in the essay, which should be objective.  Thanks.   Oops, I forgot the smiley-face emoticon on that one!  The “disrespect” coppers were on my tail!  I’d best watch out!  Then I received a rather amusing comment from a different student. How you doing sir? Have a question about the word than or then. I was typing a memorandun [sic] for a field exercise and it was red inked for than to use then. For example, "I want you to be better than me in battle task and drills" or would it be "I want you to be better then me in battle task and drills”?  I feel like I was right to you [sic] than versus then. And so, I responded.  “Better than” is definitely correct!  THEN is used for time.  Then I will go home.  So, you were definitely right!  Now, how to deal with the guy/gal who corrected you? That's the tough one!  Good luck!  DrS “LOL!  Was I insane!” I hollered out to myself.  These were definitely the last days of an online university instructor.  I should do a minimal (less than usual) amount of work on my course until after the “coaching call” with the boss, in case he ousts me on the spot.  That could definitely happen. I decide to write a group email.  Hi Students,If I suddenly disappear in a week and never resurface, I'd like you to know why. Currently, I am engaged in a free speech vs. money (i.e., a student financial organization) issue with APUS.  Vive la liberté de parole!!!  DrS The Dean of the School of Arts and Humanities Dr. Grace Glass contacted me with an order to cease and desist.  Academics really did have a very low esteem for the First Amendment!  Hi George,I don’t believe we have had the chance to speak yet, and I regret that the chance to do so arises out of a recent difficult conversation with Dean Givens.I’ve reviewed the communications, and the conversation is neither productive nor effective at this point. Please immediately desist responding to his communications, and please don’t initiate any.Dr. Stratman and Dr. Wiegenstein also need to meet with you about this matter and the results of a recent course observation; Greg forwarded you a link which you can use to set up this conversation at a time convenient for you this week.Thanks for your attention to this matter and for working with us on these issues moving forward.Grace And thus to deaf ears I responded.  Hi Grace,Never did I initiate any conversations with Givens.  All I did was respond to his implicit accusations that I was somehow a racist and a bully.   Correct a student's poor grammar and be accused of racism and bullying!  To me that is mind-boggling.  But perhaps that is our brave new world.  Anyhow, per your request, I will not respond to any further initiations made by Givens.  Would you inform me what the name of his organization is, please?  He refused to inform me and wouldn't even tell me what precisely I'd written that provoked a student or students to call me a racist and bully. He wouldn't even tell me if it were one or more students.  Thank you.George The dean did not respond.  Then after waiting in vain by the telephone, I later received an email from the boss. I need to reschedule our phone conversation to next week. What is your availability on Tuesday, Nov. 1?Greg So, I responded.  Hi Greg,Well, I waited by the phone.  Quite frankly, I must ask you what gives you the right to stifle my purported right to exercise the First Amendment as a college instructor? After all, APUS is an institution supported by federal monies, thus held to the First Amendment.  Is it not?  Its instructors should therefore NOT be told NOT to express their opinions and otherwise be forced to remain silent.  I want to exercise my right to respond to the latest email sent to me by Dr. Givens.  I shall await your response.  You will note that my responses contain no prohibited vocabulary and no threats.  When I am attacked as Dr. Givens has attacked me, I do respond.  Thank you.  George Now, I suspect I’ll be fired before the course is over.  And what better reason to be fired than for exercise of the First Amendment in higher education?  As the heat gets hotter, I decide to send out another farewell-kind of message to my students.In the name of the First Amendment, I have decided to disobey my bosses at APUS and respond to an anonymous student-financial organization that backed one or several of my past students, who complained to it that I was racist.  Making such an outrageous, though nowadays a seemingly commonplace complaint, is of course far easier than careful proofreading of assignments and otherwise heeding an instructor’s comments.  Alas, the brave new world of higher education (safe spaces, speech codes, dis-invitations, diversity and inclusion groupthink, and I’M WITH HER) is here.  Off with his head!   I’d forwarded the above student comment to a friend because of its mind-numb nature.  The friend’s response hit the bull’s eye!   Anthony is telling you not to teach him. What can u do about mental illness? It's pandemic. And then the student wrote back.I find it disrespectful that you would put someone mistakes out in front of the whole class. I feel like any mistakes or corrections should be between a student and a teacher not the whole class. The last assignment I had my wife look over my work if you go back in look at week one until now I have got better and will continue to. I can't say I'm not going to make a mistake I'm not perfect. I never say this was a three week class. If you took the time to carefully read what I wrote. I have a question why do you automatically assume someone isn't doing what you ask can you say common mistake or imperfection. The way you come off is disrespectful read some of your comments and see how you will feel if someone was to say them to you. To answer you last question yes you should I'm am a student I'm hear to learn not to feel criticized for my work there is always a positive approach to everything.   And so I responded, trying not to be too disrespectful.  Fuckin’ A!  Anthony,If you like, I'd be willing NOT to expose my comments to the class.  Keep in mind, however, that I was/am only following APUS forum rules.  But for one person, that would probably not be a problem.  Also, keep in mind that "disrespectful" is a subjective term.  In essence, you found it “disrespectful” that I was following APUS rules. Yet, would it not be “disrespectful” for me not to follow them?  Can you see the quandary you've put me into?  Your point is a good one on confidentiality.  Why APUS does not take that into account is your guess.  On another note, what is the point in my correcting your writing, if you simply ignore my comments, as you seem to be doing? For example, you ignore my comments on "I" and careful proofreading.  I did re-read the last comment I'd made on your forum post and did not find it at all "disrespectful." Is not ignoring my comments "disrespectful"?  Rather than focusing on vague disrespect, why not focus on studying my 32-common-error sheet?  DrS Then the jefe wrote without of course responding to my free-speech concerns.  George,Please pick a time on Tuesday between 2:00-4:00 pm Eastern or Wednesday between noon-4:00 pm Eastern for us to talk. Once we set a date/time, I will then send the form to you the preceding day.Greg So, I responded and LOL at my response.  Hi Greg,What form is that?  Will I need a lawyer?  Thanks.George Then I decided to research my past course to see if I could come up with the student(s) who wrote on black issues.  I find one, who was really bad in English.  Her last paper, submitted a week after the course had finished, was plagiarized and yet I gave her a 65 because I didn’t want to have to deal with that shit.  Hell, I wouldn’t get paid for dealing with it.  And so, she passed the course with a D+.  My gift to her!  Here’s the crap I found on her.—[Week 7 forum] Hi Annisha,Capitalize "I".  You are still not proofreading!  So, Irish immigrants, for example, did NOT provide any labor?  Why is architect capitalized?  You need to rethink this because blacks were NOT the only laborers in America as you imply.  Thanks.—Her final essay had 99% for Turnitin.  I gave her a 65.  She wrote submitting her final essay:  “My apologies i just figured out how to download my document and upload them another way. I am just getting familiar with the new cromebook as i expressed before but thanks for being a patient and understanding teacher.  —Messages:  Does “effort” include learning from the instructor's comments?  You are still not capitalizing "I" after an eight-week university basic English course.  Is that “effort”?  And what is the point in my commenting on those two assignments, one week after the end of the course?  Well, I will look at them.  DrS—If there is anything i can do to make my grade better please let me know. I dont think its fair i go from a B to a F and i gave it my best effort despite all the technical difficulties ive had. Again thankyou for working with me and im sorry to be one of the worst students this quarter.MY after action essay and my second essay are attached also since I just figured out how to download my documents and Im sure I didnt attach them properly. Thanks Then I found another student who wrote on police brutality—100% PC-Black-Lives-Matter. —[Week 3] Hi Matthew,Why the comma in the second sentence?  Learn when to use commas... or do not use them.  You will need to back your accusations with concrete statistics.  How do you know what is going on ALL OVER THE NATION?  Are cops mistreating people in Saco, Maine?  Have you read my 32 yet?  Thanks.—[Week 4 forum post] Hi Matthew,Make sure you do not simply rehash the hands-up/don't shoot lie.  Objectivity!  Well, make sure to include shooting cops as one of the solutions.  Again, my concern is that you will be only presenting one point of view, the PC-narrative.  Thanks.—[Week 5 forum post] Hi Matthew,Read my comments on your previous posts.  Read my 32 on WE, YOU, etc.  Am I not repeating myself here?  “I am free and not killed by government.”  How did you come up with that statement?  It is absurd.  This is supposed to be objective.  Keep your assurances out of it.  How do you know cops are now quicker to pull out their guns than 10 years ago?  Do not make statements that you cannot back with fact and statistics.  Thanks. Then I shot out another comment to my students.  Hi Students,Some themes do not exactly interest me, including breast feeding.  BUT do not take that as disapproval for the theme.  I cannot, as a human, be interested in every theme. Also, we must make an effort not to get easily upset by comments.  Internet communications can result in anger that might not be warranted.  If you think I am a racist or bully, please send me a message and state precisely what comment(s) I made that gave you that impression.  Then I shall attempt to defend myself.  Thank you! DrS Then I received a comment from another student.Dr Slone,I am aware my tone and words were influenced in some way by my anger. I do apologizes for that and my rudeness. Knowing you nor anyone else here is aware. I have a problem expressing emotions except for anger do to a head injury. I did find out what my problem was in this class. It was myself and a lack of knowledge. I had not received my textbook. I now own it and am able to fully do the work. I am a bit of a procrastinator and tend to do my work near the end of the week. Sorry for the misunderstandings and my lack of work. Best of luck with your speech and hopefully you don't face corrective action.Andrew I respond.  Hi Andrew,No problem at all.  I too am human and can actually get angry!  :)  Anyhow, what I mentioned in my message has nothing to do with this class, but a previous one.  DrS Finally, I received the APUS complaint form, signed by three people who would also partake in the “coaching call”:  Dr. Grace Glass, Dr. Greg Stratman and Dr. Steve Wiegenstein.  It thus began with their criticism, then with a requisite for future employment.Current incident or violation; provide details including course number: ENGL 101 Fall B002:  In general, the tone in comments to students is terse, abrupt, and condescending.  Forum replies are brief and mostly corrective.  The iRubric is not being used.  Summatives on the essays are very brief and less than helpful. Written response to representative of external funding agency:  The content and tone of a response to an inquiry from a funding agency was unprofessional in multiple ways, primarily and most significantly in content and tone. Immediate Action Needed: 1. Adopt a more professional and appropriate tone in course comments. 2. Make forum replies more instructive and less corrective. Provide students with substantive feedback. 3. Use iRubrics in grading the written assignments. 4. Provide more substantive and constructive summatives on the essays. 5. Avoid making comments that may be received as overtly offensive, argumentative, or condescending. 6. Represent APUS in a professional manner when dealing with any external entities. 7. Act as a role model to students in basic academic rules of good behavior and proper "Netiquette." 8. Refer to your Task Orders, the Employee Handbook 2016 and the Faculty Handbook 2016/17 for current expectations regarding conduct, feedback and grading of student work. The expectation of immediate and sustained improvement in your performance is required, whether or not you choose to review the Task Order or Handbooks. Additional Actions Needed:  Complete the CTL workshop “Designing and Delivering Effective Feedback”  Employee file shows no indication of a terminal degree. If, indeed, a terminal degree has been awarded, the employee file should be updated immediately. American Public University System Immediate and sustained improvement in your performance is required. Failure to immediately improve and sustain improvement in performance may result in additional disciplinary action up to and including separation of employment.  And so I wrote a rather lengthy riposte to the brick-wall ivory tower.  Well, this I suspect shall be my death knell in academe, which has come to detest free speech and vigorous debate, cornerstones of democracy, preferring instead professionalism (i.e., correct tone, groupthink, unquestioning and unchallenging obedience, blind praise, self-aggrandizement, etc.).  It seems you’ve judged me guilty prior to my even having had the opportunity to defend myself.  Is that professionalism at work?  No matter.  I shall defend myself here, even if to deaf ears, and if that costs me my job at APUS, so be it.  As a man, I choose to stand.  And if standing means being “unprofessional” to those in academe who prefer sitting, so be it… As far as the funding agency is concerned, what precisely did I write to Dr. Givens that you judged to be so "unprofessional"?  You do not stipulate.  Why not?  What precisely did I write to Dr. Givens that was tonal deficient?  “Unprofessional tone" is a highly subjective term and often used to dismiss counter-arguments and uncomfortable truths.
In fact, is it not unprofessional of Dr. Givens to refuse to address me as Dr. Slone and inform me of the very name of his agency?   Is it not unprofessional of that agency to imply that I am a racist and a bully and refuse to provide me with any of the alleged racist and bullying comments I made to the complaining student or students? Why do you encourage student anonymity?  Should you not instead be encouraging students to build backbone?  Should you not be encouraging students to try to work out differences with their instructors first before going elsewhere?  In fact, much of what I wrote in my counter-responses to Dr. Givens probably applies to you.  MONEY is the core problem with academe today.   Contrary to your assertion, I have NEVER been absent from a course for six days, let alone three days.  The problem with the SPAN course alleged absence was that I had not been forwarding my forum replies made to individual students during those six days of alleged absence to the general student populace in the class.  That problem was rectified long ago when it was brought to my attention.  Why is there no mention at all of its rectification?   Regarding the ENGL course, you conclude my comments to be "terse, abrupt, and condescending."  Without examples, I am left wondering what "terse, abrupt, and condescending" might comprise.  Is it condescending for me to insist that a university student, for example, capitalize the letter “I,” use spell and grammar check, and proofread?   "Brief and corrective" are not necessarily bad, whereas lengthy and not corrective can be bad.  Indeed, praising a student who has difficulty writing grammatically-correct sentences is likely bad.  In fact, how might you possibly justify giving such a student a diploma?  MONEY can be the only justification.  Education is certainly not a justification!   What is the difference between corrective and instructive?  After all, by correcting, am I not also instructing?  BTW, I have been making a conscious effort, in the current ENGL course that I am teaching, to mollify my "tone" and have even begun using smiley-face emoticons.  What I do is question and challenge my students.  Apparently, you choose to call that "offensive, argumentative and condescending."  Yet not to question and challenge them is to be condescending, isn’t it?  But again, you could easily play the tone-card with that regard.  To provide positivity where none is warranted is truly condescending.   The term "professional" is quite vague and highly subjective.  Is it, for example, really professional to give a student, who presents sloppy, un-proofread work, praise?  Indeed, in some instances I cannot find anything at all to praise.  And yet you seek to make me praise that which is not praiseworthy.  How to explain that, if not via the MONEY card?   Why do you refuse to provide me with the name of the funding agency that instigated this very review?   Why the secrecy?  Why do I NOT have a right to RESPOND to my accuser's accusations?  That absence of right is not democratic, but rather authoritarian!  Why did you not evoke the racism and bullying accusations on this form?  Why did you not present me with the damning comments that I purportedly made to a student or students that resulted in those accusations?  Why are low-paid adjunct instructors like me not paid a supplement for forced workshop attendance?   Finally, you will note that I have become very flexible regarding late student assignments.  Also, you will note that I have joined the grade-inflation herd.  In fact, the prior chairperson had informed me in writing last year that if a student simply handed in an assignment, no matter how botched, he or she should receive a grade of 78 or higher.  Sadly, professionalism seems to have replaced vigorous debate and freedom of speech in academe.  Today, a professor or instructor who seeks to “succeed” must be a robotically-professional careerist.  He or she cannot possibly follow in the footsteps of a Ralph Waldo Emerson, for example, who stated:  “I shall go upright and vital, and speak the rude truth in all ways.”  Indeed, imagine a professor or instructor or college dean doing that in today’s academic climate!  Imagine if Greg had posted that quote instead of the self-congratulatory one he just posted on Fernando Flores, “Great work is done by people who are not afraid of being great.”  Actually, the reality is more like great work cannot be done by people who are afraid of speaking truth to power.  Proclaiming mediocrity as great has become another widespread modus operandi of so-called professionals.  Hyperbole over truth has become the professional’s true credo today.
de Nantes in France and is quite authentic.  My thesis was 330 pages, written in French entirely by me.  French is not my native language.  I await your determination and do hope that you will not terminate me or at least will allow me to complete my current ENGL course.  Thank you for your attention.  As Trump said, “it’s three against one!”  :) And then finally the ring, ring, ring of the “Coaching Call.”  Whoopee!  I picked up the phone.  And we talked.  The dean said nothing at all during the 40 minutes or so.  The tone of my comments was again evoked.  “In general, the tone in comments to students is terse, abrupt, and condescending.”  And then I discover the racist incident likely stemmed from a Latinita.  My comment was in brackets.The first example of pride would be the heightened amount of pride felt by Latino people. They take pride in their work [You mean like the latino druglords chopping off heads?] My comment was not racist at all, but rather highlighted that one should not make over-generalizations about entire groups of people.  Ah, but they weren’t teaching that in academe, as in all whites are privileged, etc.  A handful of other examples regarding the alleged tonal-deficient manner of my teaching were evoked on the pre-coaching call form. —Pride in the military is everywhere; [Well, how do you know?  You do not!]Clearly death threats were not an easy road and were hard for him and his family, but he marched on with his family in hand and made a necessary change [What change?  Politics as usual is not a change!  And please don’t conclude that I must be a racist!]Did you bother to study my 32 common errors?  It looks like you didn’t.—U.S [Why only one period?  Do you not believe in proofreading?]—This essay is MUCH TOO late!  How can you learn from the corrections one week after the course is over?  It has no turnitin score and was NOT uploaded according to regulation.  After eight weeks, you still have not learned how to do that.  This only has one source, which is incorrectly listed.  You need to learn, by opening a book, on how to list sources… if you really want to get a degree.  This essay has numerous basic grammar errors.  You have ignored all of my previous comments, including the 32 basic errors.  Why?  Well, I’ll never know.  Thanks. Now, oddly the boss actually seemed to agree with many of the points I made in my riposte… or so he’d said, even noting that “the code word for money in education is retention” and “the company line shares some of your bemoanings.”  Now, wasn’t that a rather pejorative, tone-deficient term?  His conclusion of course was quite simple:  soften the tone and thus increase retention (i.e., money).   And of course softened tone implied lowering standards… even more!  And of course he’d never tell me to lower standards.   “Your style intimidates and is at times abrupt.”   “Well, how does one question and challenge without intimidating and being corrupt?” “Questioning and challenging is okay, but you have to do it without disrespect.” Well, that seems to revert back to my question.”“The problem is that your tone is a potential hazard for creating upset students.” Well, evidently there was no way for me to get around the wrong-tone witch hunt.  I was a wrong-tone instructor.  Period.  In fact, I was a wrong-tone person in general.  And so, the boss seemed to agree with me on the crux of corruption in higher education… just like the previous boss, and just like the previous boss, he’d chosen to accept it for MONEY!  Oddly, regarding Givens, he’d said he knew nothing more than I did and thus didn’t know what the hell Givens’ organization was called.  Mind-boggling!  Or a simple lie?  I’d never know.  Oddly, he argued that Givens should not have discussed students because of a federal privacy law.  “I know nothing more about him than you.”   And so it was concluded that I needed to tone down, use the rubrics insanity, and take an unremunerated re-education workshop in that effort.  As for rubrics, since when did that help teach a student to capitalize the letter “I” or anything else for that matter?  Rubrics was created to give the impression of objective grading on what cannot really be objectified, including poems and essays.  It was also created for MONEY.  Mo’ money for rubrics workshop instructors and rubrics I.T. creators of rubrics methodology inanity.  Well, I was kaput because I could not bare taking another insane useless workshop… without MONEY remuneration.  And then a note from a student arrived.Dr. Slone,I just wanted to message you and tell you that I did have your 32 opened up as I was proofreading my essay. Towards the end I noticed my "you's" and put "one" instead because I remembered your previous comments from prior writings. I went over it multiple of times so that I was sure I didn't have careless errors. It seems like again I had made more mistakes. It frustrates me because I do care a lot about what I am writing and try to fix anything that I remember you telling me needed to be done.The careless errors make for a crap essay, and I understand that completely. Is there a way that as I am writing I can message you for proofreading or anything? I really want to knock my last one out of the park, or at least attempt to. I am highly disappointed in myself with this English class.Thank you for your constructive feedback, I like how you are extremely straight forward about everything.-Soraja And thus I responded.Hi Soraja,Well, I suppose I need a gentler touch.  Yes, I tend to be too straightforward in our brave new world of the smiley-face emoticon.  You are making a bona fide attempt. That is key. Keep doing that and you'll write better without a doubt!  I cannot be your proofreader.  What you ought to do is proofread, then wait a day and do it a second time.  Then, if you have a friend, have that person proofread it the third time. Thanks!  DrS I now had another load of essays to correct.  Hi Tawny,Overall, this seems to present a good synopsis of breastfeeding.  Perhaps you ought to have gotten into public breastfeeding and possible negative aspects of it.  After all, if it is such a wonderful thing, why do many mothers NOT breastfeed?  You seem to have a problem with basic verb forms, something that certainly should have been resolved in high school.  See my comments or highlights.  Thanks.  DrS And then another group email from the jefe, marking MLK group-praise day.  I responded to it.  Few likely ever did.  Greg,You might wish to pass this email around to the others in celebration of real critical thinking!  In huge letters, you quoted MLK:  “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically.  Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.” Now, if we were to really think critically, then we would analyze that MLK statement, rather than simply open wide, say ahh, then swallow it.  If indeed we were to really think critically, then we would likely conclude that the function of education today is to teach one NOT to think critically because to do so would inevitably put one at odds with educators themselves.  It would put one in a quandary, forcing a choice between careerism—inevitable cowardice (see no-evil/speak no-evil) and PC-groupthink—or dump careerism (i.e., academe) and speak critically.  If intelligence plus character were really the goals of true education, then clearly colleges and universities, including APUS, are not in the business of true education. —George And of course the boss did not pass the email around or respond.  Finally, I decide to send a hari-kari email to Givens and cc it to the bosses.  Fuckem all!  To Dr. Givens,It is sad that my bosses at APUS prohibited me from contacting you.  Clearly, they, like you, do not hold free speech and vigorous debate, cornerstones of democracy, in the same high regard that I do.  Again, you manifest disrespect by refusing to place DR. in front of my name.  Evidently, that disrespect is purposeful.  So, please do not lecture me on being respectful!  You are a hypocrite.  What teaching experience have you even had?  None!  And yet you lecture me on how to teach!  Rather than trying to get you to reveal student names, as you accuse, I questioned your coddling of adult students, who did not have the courage to come out from behind the safe-space of anonymity.  Also, I wanted you to reveal the alleged incriminating statements that I made.  You also refused to do that.  Likely, if I really wanted to, I could locate the student in question, for I do clearly recall one student praising Black Lives Matter and my responding with a comment on the inherent racism of that group.  So, I would not be surprised if the student calling me a racist was in fact a racist himself.  But again this whole racist thing tends to serve to divert attention away from serious issues, including what to do with a university student who has a junior-high-school-level writing ability.  [Well, I wrote this response several months ago and held it.  It now seems that the complaining student was a latina, who boasted how great latino culture was.  My comment was a simple, how about the latino cartel beheading part of that great culture?  Oh, she got upset, could not understand the point I was making, as in avoid all-inclusive statements like all latinos are wonderful.]You seem to bolster yourself with vagueness, as in “respectable platform.”  Now, what that encompasses, you fail to say.  After all, “respectable” for you might not be “respectable” for me and vice versa.  For me, “respectable” implies having the courage to speak truth, as opposed to wearing a PC-muzzle.  For you, it is evidently the opposite.  You seem comfortably unaware that academe is in a mess of speech codes, safe-spaces, dis-invitations, diversity and inclusion hypocrisy, trigger-warnings, and over-concentration on correct tone, as opposed to truth telling.  You accuse me of providing an environment that intentionally breaks down student confidence.  Well, that is an interesting perspective regarding my insistence on correct grammar, spelling, and proofreading.  My question to you is how do I help them by praising them when they, that is, some of them, don’t even take the time to proofread?  Actually, I proofread my lengthy responses to your accusations several times.  Did you proofread yours to me?  You accuse me of making numerous errors, yet fail to illustrate that accusation with one example.  As for using too many exclamation points, please tell that one to the great writer Louis-Ferdinand Celine!  Never heard of him, eh?  Well, to me, your tone was definitely “flaming”!  After all, tone is always a subjective interpretation.  Uncomfortable truth will always be interpreted (i.e., dismissed) as “flaming” tone.  By the way, I took the time to compile 32 common student errors over the years and use that in an effort, often futile, to help students improve.  Do you really think that a student who does not wish to pay attention to those 32 common errors and who does not want to proofread (use spell and grammar check) is going to “go” to the writing center?  Methinks not!The vague terms you rely on are not objective, despite your implication that somehow they are.  I suspect that is a problem in your leadership profession, whatever that might be.  Again, you do not wish to divulge that.  You state, “Acting in a professional manner when communicating with your students is not an attempt to trample on free speech but simple netiquette and respect.”  For you, in reality (i.e., in the world of professionals), free speech is inevitably muzzled speech, which of course is anything but FREE!   And that is the crux of the problem.  And indeed, contrary to your assertion, in that respect, you are part of the problem. Again, you have put forth no concrete evidence against me whatsoever.  Sarcasm?  Satire?  Are those things so horrendous?  Juvenal, Twain, and Mencken are probably rolling in their graves, thanks to your ilk.   And in the twisted world of higher education, correcting student sloppiness is now considered unprofessional, unless of course punctuated with a smiley-face emoticon.  What has professionalism become, if not groupthink, group-behave, turn a blind eye, spew platitudes, climb the careerist ladder, and avoid uncomfortable truths at all cost—courageous whistleblowers beware!  Does the nation need higher-education professionals or rather higher-education truthtellers?  It is sad that you cannot—that professionalism does not permit you—to perceive and comprehend any of the uncomfortable truths evoked in my unprofessional correspondence, including the most obvious one, the inherent subjectivity of tone.  All you will be able to do is dismiss it all as “rant.”  How pitiful!  Finally, thanks to you, I am working on a long essay regarding all of the professional crap you elicit.  You shall be featured in it!  Your wishing me “the best of luck” is the kind of insincerity one might expect from a Hillary or other purported professional.  You conclude with a professionally denigrating “remember to respect others and yourself.”  Well, you evidently need to look in the mirror with that regard.  Moreover, respect is not telling a student how great he or she writes and giving him or her a diploma when he or she has trouble writing a simple, grammatically correct sentence and capitalizing the letter “I.”  Respect is not coddling students and encouraging them to hide behind anonymity and call their instructors racists and bullies.  Respect is rude truth telling.  And for you, I cite another great writer, Ralph Waldo Emerson:  “I am ashamed to think how easily we capitulate to badges and names, to large societies and dead institutions. Every decent and well-spoken individual affects and sways me more than is right. I ought to go upright and vital, and speak the rude truth in all ways.”
And so I was cast into the gulag archipelago, that is, the unemployment office, otherwise known as Career Opportunities—Cape Cod’s One Stop Career Centers, where I learned how to set up a request for unemployment benefits… 

—The End—