Excited to Be Joining Ed Policy at UKY

It is my great pleasure to announce that I’ll be joining the department of Educational Policy Studies and Evaluation at the University of Kentucky as associate professor in August of 2018.

The University of Kentucky.

Photo with students at the University of Mississippi.Over the years, I have had the immense honor to work with countless outstanding students in Public Policy Leadership at the University of Mississippi and in Philosophy at the University of Kentucky. I love to brag about all you’re doing, work in D.C., state government, schools, policy think tanks, and so many more amazing careers. A significant majority of my students appreciated that in places like Mississippi, Kentucky, and really everywhere, some of the deepest challenges we face are in education. To those of you who have not yet gone on to pursue graduate work or would like to study further, I want to strongly encourage you to come join me and my outstanding colleagues in Educational Policy Studies and Evaluation (EPE) at UKY.

The department is updating and redesigning an awesome Master’s program in Educational Policy Studies, for example. We also offer a Master’s in Higher Education with optional concentration in student affairs, a Master’s in Research Methods in Education, an Ed.D. in Ed Policy, Measurement, and Evaluation, a Ph.D. in Higher Education, and a Ph.D. in Education Sciences. More information is available on our Web site here.

The three things I’m proudest of in my life are my family, my students, and the work I get to do with you all on how we can make our world better. I hope that many of you will come join me and my colleagues in Kentucky. You know that when I say I’m excited, I am…

Logo of the University of Kentucky.I am excited.

Come get your next degree and wear blue with me. I can’t wait to see you again.

Want to learn more & come study in Kentucky? Email me.

Tehran Times Front Page on ‘Uniting MS’

Check out the front page of February 28th’s Tehran Times. I gave an interview on Uniting Mississippi and was honored with some pretty cool real estate in the paper. Here’s an image of the cover and below that I’ve got links for a clipped PDF of the interview and to the regular text version on their site:

Cover pic of the front page of the Tehran Times, featuring an interview on 'Uniting Mississippi.'

Click on the image above to read a PDF of the piece, or click here. You can also read it online here.

You can learn more about the book here and find it for sale online here.

Follow me on Twitter @EricTWeber and “like” my Facebook author page @EricThomasWeberAuthor.

Video: “Poverty, Culture, and Justice,” @ Purdue U

This is a screen capture from my talk at Purdue University in February of 2016.

I’ve posted a number of recordings of interviews and talks I’ve given on Uniting Mississippi. This talk is on my next project, which is still in progress. The book is titled A Culture of Justice. One of the chapters that is in progress is the subject of the talk I gave at Purdue University. Here’s the video, about 1hr 28 mins:

If you can’t see this video in your RSS reader or email, then click here.

If you’re looking for a speaker, visit my Speaking and Contact pages.

Making Networked Sharing Socially Beneficial, Not Just Predatory and Profitable

Every time Uber, the Web-based taxi intermediary, enters a new city, it provokes controversy about its race-to-the-bottom business practices and bullying of regulators and politicians.  The problem with Uber and other network-based intermediaries such as Lyft, Task Rabbit, Mechanical Turk and others, is that they are trying to introduce brave new market structures as a fait accompli. They have only secondary interest in acceptable pay rates, labor standards, consumer protections, civic and environmental impacts or democratic debate itself. 

Rather than cede these choices to self-selected venture capitalists and profit-focused entrepreneurs, some European cities and regional governments came up with a brilliant idea:  devise an upfront, before-the-fact policy framework for dealing with the disruptions of the “sharing economy.”

If we can agree in advance about what constitutes a socially respectful marketplace – and what constitutes a predatory free-riding on the commonweal – we’ll all be a lot better off.  Consumers, workers and a community will have certain basic protections. Investors and executives won’t be able to complain about “unlevel playing fields” or unfair regulation. And public debate won’t be a money-fueled free-for-all, but a more thoughtful, rational deliberation.

Now, if only the European Union will listen to the Committee of the Regions (CoR)!  The CoR is an official assembly of regional presidents, mayors and elected representatives from 28 EU countries. It routinely expresses its views on all sorts of major policy issues that may have local or regional impacts. In December, the CoR submitted a formal statement about the “sharing economy” to the EU in an opinion written by rapporteur Benedetta Brighenti, the deputy mayor of the municipality of Castelnuovo Rangone, in the province of Modena, Italy. 

read more

Book Talk on ‘Uniting Mississippi: Democracy and Leadership in the South’

At the Clinton School for Public Service, on Monday, October 19, 2015 at noon.

I am so grateful for two lovely introductions, one from Dean Skip Rutherford of the Clinton School and a former student of mine studying there, Rob Pillow. This video includes only the talk and Q&A. If I can get their intros, I’ll post them too. The Clinton School folks are excellent at what they do and were wonderful hosts. Here’s the video of my book talk:

If you can’t see this video in your RSS reader or email, then click here.

You can find the video on the Clinton School’s speakers site here.

If you’re interested in inviting me to speak with your group, visit my Speaking and Contacts pages. 

“Violence Taught When Corporal Punishment Used”

Originally published in The Clarion Ledger, May 14, 2013, 9A.

The harsh treatment of prisoners in the U.S. causes much controversy, yet in our public schools, institutionalized
violence is commonplace.

This image is shows part of the scan of my 2013 Clarion Ledger article, 'Violence Taught When Corporal Punishment Used.' If you click on this image, you'll be taken to the full scan on my Academia.edu page.

In April, the Hattiesburg American reported that corporal punishment declined in Mississippi schools between 2007 and 2012 from more than 58,000 reported instances to around 39,000.

Photo of the map Southern Echo created of Mississippi counties and their use of corporal punishment in the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 school years.The use of corporal punishment varies greatly by school district. For the Lafayette County School District’s roughly 2,700 students, there were seven recorded cases of corporal punishment in the 2009-2010 school year and none the following year. By contrast, the Quitman County School District enrolls just under 1,300 students, yet recorded 1,594 instances of corporal punishment in the 2010-2011 academic year, which is only about 180 school days.

In the U.S., all 50 states permit corporal punishment in domestic settings. For public and private schools, however, only 19 states still practice it, while in Iowa and New Jersey it is illegal to perform in schools.

Iowa is a helpful state to use in comparison with Mississippi, since it is largely rural and has a comparable population size. Of course, Iowa has its problems, with seven schools districts named “dropout factories” in a 2007 Associated Press report. The same report called 44 of Mississippi’s schools “dropout factories.”

At best, corporal punishment in schools is not helping Mississippi. At worst, it is part of the problem.

A public domain photo of a courtroom.According to studies, most parents find spankings in the home to be acceptable. It is important to distinguish parenting from schooling, however, and to watch out for institutional excesses. The 1980 federal case Hall v. Tawney said that excess corporal punishment in schools could violate a student’s “right to ultimate bodily security, the most fundamental aspect of personal privacy, (which) is unmistakably established in our constitutional decisions as an attribute of the ordered liberty that is the concern of substantive due process.”

Not all spankings in schools might be called excessive, of course, yet cases reported on in the Hattiesburg American raise serious concern. In 2011, 14-year-old Trey Clayton of Independence High School was paddled so severely that he fainted, “fell face-first onto the concrete floor … (and) had five shattered teeth and a lacerated chin,” according to reporter Marquita Brown.

Beyond legal concerns and the tragically severe cases, there are strong reasons to end institutionalized corporal punishment.

Bust of Socrates.

Bust of Socrates, Plato’s teacher.

First, students are compelled to be in school, and with good reason. Democratic societies must educate citizens to be self-governing. Yet Plato and other philosophers believed correctly, I think, that learning cannot take hold by compulsion. Socrates argued that “nothing taught by force stays in the soul.”

Compulsory schooling can address Plato’s worry, however, by showing students the value of education. It is vital to create an environment in which education is welcoming and inviting. Corporal punishment has the reverse effect.

Second, corporal punishment teaches students that when confronted with a challenge, adults use violence rather than reason to achieve our ends. It solidifies “school-to-prison pipelines” that the Justice Department is combating.

In Mississippi, we know that culture matters and that many of our schools are struggling. Corporal punishment is only one element of a culture which discourages students. Ending the practice, however, would contribute meaningfully to the reconstruction of an encouraging and positive culture of achievement in education.

Eric Thomas Weber is assistant professor of public policy leadership at the University of Mississippi and author of three books, including Democracy and Leadership (2013). He is representing only his own views. Follow @EricTWeber on Twitter. Visit EricThomasWeber.org.