Monday, December 14, 2020

Epstein's poke at Dr. Jill Biden backfires.

The best honorific for Dr. Biden might be "Teacher". 

Whatever the purpose of Joseph Epstein's WSJ screed...
 it surely failed. I think his poke at Dr. Jill Biden for professionally using 'DR.' in front of her name had less to do with educational leadership titles and Dr. Biden's personal achievements (which are notable) and more with discrediting the Biden/Harris election victory. 

Whatever his intent, it most certainly backfired. The negative response on social media has been over the top. While the relatively-unknown Epstein may be the current hero in MAGAland's war on "identity politics",  in the education community he has become just another symbol of Trumpian anti-educator, misogyny. 

If anything, I'm sure he's driven even more white, educated, suburban women from DT's base. That being a demographic shift that helped put Biden over the top in several swing states. Thanks for that, Epstein.

Other reactions: 

Northwestern University said in a statement on Saturday that it disagrees with the "misogynistic views" of Joseph Epstein, an author and former professor at the Illinois school who wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published Friday that Biden should drop the "Dr." because it "sounds and feels fraudulent, not to say a touch comic."

He also compared Biden’s doctoral credentials to an honorary degree that requires no academic work and said her doctorate thesis had an “unpromising” title. 

Epstein, the university said, has not been a lecturer there since 2003 -- clarifying Epstein's statement in the piece that he had "taught at Northwestern University for 30 years without a doctorate or any advanced degree." Northwestern also removed Epstein's profile from its website.

 Diane Ravitch on the Dr. Biden dust-up

To be sure, there was a political edge to [Epstein's] critique: Soon after the election, he wrote an article for the WSJ praising Trump’s accomplishments and chastising his anti-Trump friends. Knocking Dr. Biden is just another way of lamenting Trump’s defeat.

The best comment I have seen on this flap appeared on Fred Klonsky’s blog, quoting Glen Brown. The gist: 70% of instructors in higher education are adjuncts, not paid a living wage. That’s a true scandal.

 Indeed. Take it from me.

In fact, all this begs the questions about the inequalities in academic certification, access to graduate schools of education, and teacher leadership. Some of my favorite topics. But I'll save those for another post once the cloud of Epstein's misogyny has been fully blown away.

Dr. Michael Klonsky

Melissa Korn is the higher education reporter for the Wall St. Journal 

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