Teacher fired from Art Institute (of California–OC) for not requiring an e-textbook…

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/14/mike-tracy-art-institute-textbook_n_1776544.html

http://www.takepart.com/article/2012/08/18/teacher-fired-refusing-make-students-buy-pricey-textbooks

According to the articles above, at this school, owned by a for-profit company, the policy is that each teacher is supposed to assign students to “rent” an e-textbook for each course. Students are required to pay a specific e-book distributor (with ties to the school) in order to access their e-books.

The teacher apparently hadn’t required any textbook when he had previously taught the course (neither a physical book nor an e-book). He decided the e-book wasn’t necessary, and continued to not require a book for the course since he didn’t think a book was necessary and to save his students some money.

The president of the school threatened to fire him for insubordination if he didn’t require his students to rent an e-textbook with the particular company. The teacher still refused, and was forced to resign.

I am definitely curious to hear the school’s side of the story. It is hard to believe that this really happened as it was described in these articles. However, assuming we do have all of the facts, this is a pretty obnoxious example of a for-profit college making decisions that are not in the best interest of student learning.

I don’t have any inherent objection to a for-profit company owning/running a college . I (maybe naively) assume that in most cases, companies with a profit motive still have an incentive to do what is best for their students since this should directly translate into a greater number of happy students and faculty, which seems like it would lead to financial benefit for the company in the long run.

It is possible that this is one (egregious) counter-example to that principle. There are probably other counter-examples that I’m not aware of.

The other possibility is that the principle (making decisions to promote student learning has a long-term positive effect on profits) actually still applies, but the school just did a poor job of recognizing that this particular e-book policy raises profits in the short term (a favored corporate partner sells more e-books), but only at the expense of a long-term loss in profits due to bad PR and pissed off students.

Either way, props to this teacher for standing his ground. I hope it will be pretty easy for him to find a new job…

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2 Responses to Teacher fired from Art Institute (of California–OC) for not requiring an e-textbook…

  1. Mark Thomas says:

    It does sound a bit strange though unless you know the full story it s difficult to make a judgment.

    Like

  2. xiousgeonz says:

    While I share your sense that Huff Post is sensationalizing, I’m in Illinois and find that level of corruption completely plausible. I’d hire him… hey, I could use an artist for my math stuff…

    Like

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