Academic jobs are notorious for long, convoluted hiring processes, but becoming a school bus driver, at least in the county where I work, isn’t much easier.  For an academic position, applicants submit a dossier (often packed with repetitive material), survive a screening interview (with a committee larded by ulterior motives), and visit the prospective employer for at least a day, during which they’ll be tested and measured by dozens of gatekeepers, before negotiating a complex employment package and earning the governing board’s rubber stamp, all of which can take over a year.  Aspiring drivers attend an orientation, watch dozens of online videos, solicit moral references, pass a physical (including a drug screening), get a commercial learner’s permit (a laborious process that requires extensive testing and hours at the DMV), finish classroom and road training (at least 200 hours), sit for various written exams (failure of a single exam can mean removal from the program), complete a half-day CDL test (which includes a daunting pre-trip bus check), and undertake at least two weeks of on-the-job training before showing up at the intake office to request a route that probably isn’t available.  Trainees are paid once they reach the classroom.  I finished everything in about six months.

That is from Steve Salaita, who was forced to leave academia after several times making inappropriate remarks.  Here is another bit from the same essay:

You hear ex-professors say it all the time and I’ll add to the chorus:  despite nagging precariousness, there’s something profoundly liberating about leaving academe, whereupon you are no longer obliged to give a shit about fashionable thinkers, network at the planet’s most boring parties, or quantify self-worth for scurrilous committees (and whereupon you are free to ignore the latest same-old controversy), for even when you know at the time that the place is toxic, only after you exit (spiritually, not physically) and write an essay or read a novel or complete some other task without considering its relevance to the fascist gods of assessment, or its irrelevance to a gang of cynical senior colleagues, do you realize exactly how insidious and pervasive is the industry’s culture of social control.

Wordy at times, but mostly interesting throughout.


Steven Salaita is at least presumably technically qualified for his new position, something that was not apparent for his last one in American Indian Studies. However my experience with school busing included a bus driver fired for anti semitic comments directed at several of my seventh grade classmates, so the character references are possibly more important when it comes to driving a school bus.

might make we wonder about his bus driving career.

He includes all training in the bus driver hiring process, but not the years of training required for getting an academic job.

I'm rather pleased that the person who drives 40 kids to school every day goes through extensive testing and screening. The job involves quite a lot of responsibility and provides access to kids with no other adult present.

Right. Given the mayhem that an unskilled bus driver can wreak upon the roads, endangering both other vehicles and the dozens of children on the bus, that training and screening seems about appropriate to me. Same for truck drivers, who have to maneuver those huge semis safely. When they screw up, it's on the news because even if they haven't killed anybody they've probably caused a freeway to be shut down for a couple of hours.

Any equilibrium that purports to be even semi-optimal ought to have pretty stiff requirements for bus and truck drivers, regardless of whether it's a free market equilibrium or a government-regulated one.

Agreed. This essay seems to lack perspective.

Why just academia? Get a corporate job and watch HR toss you out for a myriad of thoughtcrimes. Get a public sector job, same thing. This is 2019, people.

In at will employment state, you can be tossed out for absolutely no reason at all.

Those are the states that are generally considered to be freer, at least by some. There, an employer can terminate employment without even bothering to care what an employee thinks - about anything.

Still upset over getting fired from GMU, eh.

Having never been fired from GMU, there was nothing to be get upset about.

Always interesting to see that canard trotted out on a regular basis, though. And just to expand on the subject a bit, the GMU Foundation did not fire me either.

If your unhealthy obsession is not explained by some form of perceived maltreatment, that doesn't make you look better! Quite the opposite!

Guilt - though long experience has taught that only a select few will read a comment explaining how much of the 'at' GMU public policy framework functions, the fact that I participated in that process remains something I feel guilty about.

Particularly as I live in a socialist hellhole that finds so much of what Prof. Cowen espouses to be worthless. At least if one is interested in living in an industrial society able to provide a decent living for basically everyone, that is.

Haha. Who do you really think you're convincing with that crap? Dude, you have some real issues with gauging how other people perceive you.

He spoke out against Zionism. The system made him pay for his right to free speech. His twitter feed is a fun one:

Yeah, I just looked at his twitter page. He appears to be a bit on the unhinged side.

A bus driver who dabbles in conspiracy theories. What a gem!

Does he use the term 'Zio-troll' on that twitter page?

Because it seems among a certain group of dedicated individuals enjoying their 1st Amendment rights, Zion seems to have lost its n.

None dare call it conspiracy.

Indeed. Two very important lessons here:

1. Don't quit your current job until you're new job is in the bag, meaning all background checks and approvals are finally complete.

2. Don't talk shit about Israel.

The lesson is:
1) Be in the midst of a negotiation for a demanding job
2) Intentionally say things extremely controversial
3) Parlay this as an opportunity for an easy cool mil, all without the endless meetings, teaching responsibilities, publishing pressure, etc.

Not quite but close. Minor correction and one addition:

1. Be in the midst of a negotiation for a TENURED PUBLIC UNIVERSITY job.
2. (no change)
3. (no change)
4. Do it near the end of your career.

My father worked as a bus driver until 2 weeks ago, when he finally quit due to breathing problems. I forget how old he was when he began, but probably about 70, and he turned 82 last month. He had valve surgery in November 2017 and passed an extremely strenuous CDL in April of 2018.

He was in tremendous demand as a school bus driver; he quit for a bit because of an annoying supervisor and went to transporting cars until they fired that supervisor and begged him to come back.

For most of his time, he took the toughest routes in Kansas City, which is a tough crowd to start with. He was very effective at both winning the kids' affection and disciplining them effectively. When he came back after quitting, he refused that route and transported disabled and special ed kids.

The CDL is indeed extremely strenuous and not easy to get. But, perhaps because KC farmed out their school busing to a contractor, he didn't have to go through the weeks of training--at least not that I remember. Perhaps that's why the company hemorrhaged drivers--not the same pay and bennies as a district employee.

When he retired from his first job (airline ops), in his late 60s, he worked as a deli manager, advising people on catering decisions. Far more responsibility, far harder on his body, half the pay.

So I don't really recognize the job in the post. He doesn' t seem like the sort who could manage kids effectively, but maybe he has an easy route.

His wiki page says he got an $800,000+ settlement after a job offer was rescinded. Did he burn through all that money?

Legal fees maybe? Just speculating, I don't know how long and hard he fought, or if anyone helped him with those fees.

It doesn't sound like it was a protracted fight, so I don't see how legal fees could have been a drastic portion of the settlement.

$800K is a significant amount of money. That's $32K per year at a 4% withdrawal rate. Which is probably more than he gets paid as a school bus driver.

I see signs up in my neighborhood in Northern VA, that school bus drivers get $20 an hour or so to start. Granted the work isn't year round, but that isn't too bad.

"network at the planet’s most boring parties". There are much less recreational drugs and drinking in my present consulting job compared to the PhD time. Unhealthy yes, boring never.

"People drive for various reasons, but the profession is no stranger to hard luck. Everyone in my cohort was there either from boredom or subcontractors pursuing steadier employment". It's praiseworthy that he keeps telling the ugly and uncomfortable truths, no matter the consequences.

"Assist in maintaining order and enjoy the compensation; disrupt progress and suffer a cascade of indignity. Campus governance is a masterpiece of pusillanimity." I'd use other words but I understand his cynicism. Anyway, it's remarkable that Mr. Salaita singles out the Campus as a masterpiece of pusillanimity when all other organizations in the world are more or less the same.

"The worst elements of capitalism get crammed into pressurized fuselages: comfort is reserved for the high-end customer, who enjoys fast-track security screening, opulent lounges, and excessive legroom; everyone else is cargo." Opulent lounges.....Priority Pass lounges are more comfortable than waiting with the rest of the people, but flat Californian Chardonnay and big screens with sports/CNN are simply not opulent. The real improvement is that the children of more affluent families are less annoying.

"If anything, corporations surpass the brutality of cartels and black marketeers, or exist in league with them" This kind of hyperbole makes good lyrics for music and makes your blood boil when you're 16. Otherwise, stereotypical comment of middle-class people living in a peaceful place.

"We don’t aspire to the working class. Personal fulfillment occurs through economic uplift. We go from the outdoors to the office, from the ghetto to the high-rise, from the bar rail to the capital." I don't understand how a university professor is not part of the working class while a bus driver does. If the professor or the bus driver get most of their income from property rents, equities, trust fund; they're not working class. Every one whose main income source is a salary, it's part of the working class.

I arrived to end feeling I made a mistake. I was expecting a rational text, when in reality is a lyrical text full of emotions and impressions about life changing. I realized he uses and abuses hyperboles to convey feelings. Maybe next time I'm not that cold and calculating =)

"when in reality is a lyrical text full of emotions and impressions about life changing. "


I don’t know...just sounds like an angry communist to me.

If you don’t go along with the belief that 80 percent of our nations gdp and budget should be spent on health care, education and housing for all then you’re pretty much to the right of Adolf hitler in this guys eyes....maybe he’s got a point or two on Palestine and Academia. But listening to him talk about western civilization and capitalism seems dreadful....

Professor, school bus driver, same occupation: delivering students to the promised land. Native Americans, Palestinians, same predicament: colonial oppression. The NYT article identifies him as "Palestinian-American". His Wiki page indicates he was born in West Virginian, his mother is from Nicaragua of Palestinian descent, and his father is from Jordan. How that makes him "Palestinian-American" is a stretch, it's purpose likely to show his bias against Israelis. As for his strategy (demonizing Israelis), it might make him feel better but it won't work to reduce discrimination against Palestinians (and Arabs); indeed it will have the opposite effect. As yesterday's blog post by Cowen indicates, discrimination is reduced by providing more positive information not vitriol. As for his new occupation, school bus driver, he can do far more harm to the youngsters on his bus than to the college students on campus. Or maybe not: maybe college students are more sensitive than children on the bus.

Meanwhile, back in America and its long-running feud between the North and the South, a small town in Maryland wants to build a Civil War memorial: equally dedicated to each side of the conflict, to the Confederate Battle Flag and the American flag, to John Wilkes Booth and Abraham Lincoln. As for the small town, Taneytown, it's named after Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney, the author of the Dred Scott decision.

Regarding Civil War memorials: There I was. For much of 1983 I worked in Knoxville, TN. One night I walked about the city outside UT. Interestingly, I came upon a number of Civil War Union regiments' memorials. None was defaced. That "struck" me as, at the time in NYC, everything that could be was covered with spray can graffiti.

East Tennessee was largely pro-Union during the Civil War.

That's true. But it doesn't change the fact that there are Civil War memorials in Knoxville. Indeed, there was at least one battle at Fort Sanders inside the city.

A monument to an assassin- and one who, if his plan had succeeded fully would have decapitated the US government? No, just no!

Sounds like the alleged political culture of a certain country that was the subject of a recent post?

I never rode a school bus. Back in *my* day we are expected to walk a mile each way to school. Or break out the Schwinn Varsity.

Heck! When I was a kid (Custer was a corporal) we trekked five miles, uphill, both ways. Six-foot snow drifts . . .

We used to dream of only having to walk five miles uphill through snow drifts to get to school.

One mile was the distance at which bus service began. My middle school was a half mile so we walked. High school was four miles away so we had a bus

I drove a school bus in the ‘70s. Getting a license was a piece of cake then. No wonder there are unfilled positions today.

"Inappropriate" is a vague and mild way to put it. His case is one of the few where virulent America-hating and anti-Semitism was punished. Academia has become a haven for the types of people who hijacked an Air France flight and flew it to Entebbe: Marxists, Palestinian terrorists, radical Muslims, and violent Africans. Why murder when you can indoctrinate and get paid for it? Apparently the House of Representatives is becoming another haven.

And now he's responsible for children. Unreal.

This post is not about bus driving, but academia. So naturally the academics here focus solely on bus driving, as if to nail the point home.

"Academic jobs are notorious for long, convoluted hiring processes": not in my day, thank God.

Late in my academic career I noticed that the newly appointed tended to boast more credentials than in my day but to seem less bright - that is to say, less intelligent, less intellectually high-spirited. I suppose the job had become dull enough, and the preceding grind had become odious enough, to repel the sort of people who might have been attracted to it a generation-and-a-half earlier. I wonder where those people went instead.

hmm. Corporate jobs don't include multi-step vetting processes, pre-screening, panel and competitive interviews, a thorough inspection of your social media presence and criminal/credit records search, not to mention stupid brain twister questions?

Only then, if selected, to be cast into a system where stupid meetings, boring networking opportunities, management and cultural fads, and arbitrary assessment processes are the norm..

It must be hard to be Steve. He's got a lumpy psychological soup. He says some wonderfully level-headed things:

Plenty of Muslims support Trump; plenty of dreamers want strong borders.

But the penchant for name-calling that got him in trouble in the first place, is - unfortunately for his desire to be taken seriously - on ample display - (though I had to laugh at the "tall, lanky" provost "with the gravitas of a pogo stick").

>after several times making inappropriate remarks.

No, you ass-clown, he was fired for what his own employer called "hate speech and incitement to violence."

Anyone want to make a wild guess at this?

Q: Inciting people to violence against which group will get Tyler to cover for you by calling it "inappropriate"?

Two impressive sentences quoted there. I almost passed out reading them.

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