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The president of the American Federation of Teachers has asked that a higher education bill also include language to increase the number of full time, tenure track faculty at colleges and universities, or provide more job security and equal pay for equal work for their part time and "temporary" faculty (who nonetheless often serve at the same colleges for decades).

Democrats would be smart to do so.  In the darkest days of the Bush administration, when everyone else was saluting Bush and rubberstamping every destructive and unconstitutional thing he did, academia was an island of dissent, reason, and sane discourse.

equal pay for equal work, part time faculty, adjunct faculty, AFT

After the House of Representatives recently passed a bill shifting college financial aid away from private banks and more toward grants directly to students, the president of the American Federation of Teachers sent a letter to the House saying that the final version of the bill should inclusion language on the abuse of adjunct faculty:

  The lack of attention paid to the loss of full-time tenured faculty positions, and the overwhelming growth of poorly paid part-time faculty, has been taking a toll on higher education for many years. Today, almost three out of four undergraduate instructors are contingent rather than permanent full-time faculty members-contingent faculty members teach a majority of the nation's undergraduate courses. Unless we take steps to reverse course, this trend will greatly impair the ability of our colleges and universities to reach the national goals Congress has set for them.

   Specifically, we believe it is essential that programs designed to improve persistence and completion, especially those targeted at community colleges, should include provisions that encourage institutions to strengthen their instructional workforce by creating additional full-time faculty positions or providing more stability and equitable compensation for part-time faculty.


I was grateful to see this campaign, but concerned about the weak language, and added the following note to the post the on the AFT website, and to my letter to our senators:

You should  not just ask for language to "encourage" or "permit" this but REQUIRE it, and not just "reduce" unequal pay and compensation but END it.

Too many college administrators not only do not make ending these inequities a priority, but they actively fight against ending them.

We can not depend on them to act responsibly without forceful legislation requiring them to do so.

I also fail to see why the union can't say that schools are economically abusing people who have dedicated their lives to education, including, in many cases, not giving us health insurance, or not giving us enough to cover our families as well, as well as paying us far less than our full-time counterparts per class even though we are required to have the same qualifications.

If we are going to get on the radar, we aren't going to do it by soft-pedaling the problem.

Frankly, there is potentially a very brief window for progressive action in Washington. If Democrats do not pass a strong health insurance reform bill, that window will begin to close and might well be gone after the 2010 election. If they do pass good legislation, there will be momentum that we should ride to get major things done.

We must set our sights higher than glacial, incremental change or we won't get any change at all.

Democrats would be smart to do so.  In the darkest days of the Bush administration, when everyone else was saluting Bush and rubberstamping every destructive and unconstitutional thing he did, academia was an island of dissent, reason, and sane discourse. Even now, the right controls the terms of the for-profit media debate.  Academics who don't have to scramble just to survive or are constantly worried about losing their jobs at the end of the semester, can do an even better job of teaching our students the critical thinking skills that makes them less vulnerable to the propaganda wiles of the right.  As Karl Rove himself said:

"As people do better, they start voting like Republicans - unless they have too much education and vote Democratic, which proves there can be too much of a good thing"

AFT LINK to write letter to senators

Article on AFT president's letter

We should use the AFT link to write to show the AFT that we appreciate the effort, but I would also ask that you compose your own letter to our senators and congressman about H.R. 3221 with stronger language than the campaign.

MORE @ Equal Pay for Equal Work

Originally posted to Professor Smartass on Wed Oct 07, 2009 at 12:41 PM PDT.


Should colleges and universities be required to end the economic abuse of adjunct faculty?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Hear, hear! (4+ / 0-)

    Letter written. Thanks for the diary, Professor.

  •  I make more per quarter, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Norbrook, CMYK

    than an Adjunct professor, and I work part time. adjuncts make as little as $5K/semester. What's wrong with that picture?

    "My case is alter'd, I must work for my living." Moll Cut-Purse, The Roaring Girl - 1612, England's First Actress

    by theRoaringGirl on Wed Oct 07, 2009 at 01:06:51 PM PDT

  •  Just Like Healthcare the cost of College (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kurt, Downpuppy, Dar Nirron, Norbrook, CMYK

    has risen far faster than inflation for the past 30 years.  

    Other than a house, for most people the biggest item they have purchased is a college education.  

    We need to review how the cost of higher education can be brought under control to serve the need of working and middle class people.

    We also need to reform many university practices that exploit non-tenured staff and grad students.

    The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

    by nextstep on Wed Oct 07, 2009 at 01:08:17 PM PDT

    •  bureaucratic bloat and corruption at top (6+ / 0-)

      At one of my districts, in the last four years, they hired as many managers as full time faculty: eleven.

      Administrators like to think of themselves as corporate execs, but last time I checked, corporations have been CUTTING middle managers for a couple of decades, not adding them.

      Likewise, they are keenly interested in building and other contracts, but don't seem to mind cutting classes or firing faculty at all.  Maybe because faculty and students can't offer them raises like trustees with contractor ties can or kickbacks like the contractors themselves can.

  •  income taxes and adjunct faculty (5+ / 0-)

    I'm going to add this here, due to the likely audience.

    When doing your taxes, if you are an adjunct faculty member, do not listen to the IRS' bullshit about not being able to deduct your commuting expenses. You can deduct commuting expenses, including auto mileage, parking and the like, because you are not given a proper office at your university. Your office is your home, which you can also deduct, despite the IRS' lies. I've actually worked this thru with the IRS, and won, for my wife. Note, giving you a days' use of a cubicle does not constitute a proper office- the office must be able to support all of your activities related to teaching, including record-keeping, conferences with students, and your research that keeps you qualified for your appointments.

  •  My kid has a class (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Norbrook, CMYK

    taught by two adjunct who subcontracted the class out to 5 guest lecturers each.

  •  It's a real problem. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Norbrook, CMYK

    The bigger issue is that universities are underfunded and tenure-track positions are much more expensive than temporary positions, therefor the abused temps. There's also a problem with temp positions being filled with unqualified people because the budgets wouldn't approve funding to hire tenure-track in time so begins the mad dash to cover classes.

  •  Sorry, I disagree with some of this. (0+ / 0-)

    Abusive employer practices across professions obviously should be put to an end. However, I have to disagree sharply with the idea that adjunct, part-time instructors should be paid equally to tenure-track/tenured faculty.

    You might have a case with respect to institutions that primarily are teaching colleges - where even the tenure-line faculty are expected to dedicate most of their effort to teaching.

    But, at research universities, where tenure-line faculty have significant and substantial research expectations, this simply could not work.

    Anyone in academics knows that once you prep a course, the course is prepped - very minimal effort is then needed to deliver the material and evaluate student performance. Research, on the other hand, is a time-consuming, draining endeavor that requires almost constant effort to be done well and productively.

    I realize this comment is going to provoke ire, and at some point I might have time to prep a diary unpacking my views in more detail. So I apologize for my brevity on this complicated, hot-button issue.

    "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." -- Mahatma Gandhi

    by pablito on Wed Oct 07, 2009 at 02:28:14 PM PDT

    •  I don't think they should be paid the same either (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sayitaintso, Norbrook, CMYK

      But they don't get paid enough. I see the problem as being not enough tenure-track positions/too many adjunct.

      I disagree with you on prepping happens once and then it's easy-going. You obviously don't teach much. It's constant work throughout the semester, not including research and student research and public outreach and committee work.

      •  You're right- (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Norbrook, CMYK

        There absolutely are not enough tenure line positions.
        And I teach very little. But do a ton of research.

        "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." -- Mahatma Gandhi

        by pablito on Wed Oct 07, 2009 at 02:34:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think that (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Norbrook, CMYK

          because you don't teach much you may underestimate the time it takes. Good teaching take A LOT of time, as does good research. I can argue that although I don't do research anymore, I pour as much effort into my teaching as I did into my research.

          "We understand the RNC is frustrated with their lack of coherent message, but going negative on Bo isn't going to help." DNC

          by zaynabou on Wed Oct 07, 2009 at 02:39:41 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  My husband does both teach and (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          undergraduate research and runs the student research office, runs the university telescope and of course committee work.

          It all takes a lot of time.

    •  Sorry (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      esquimaux, Norbrook, beaky, CMYK

      You can say that "once a course is prepped, minimal effort is needed" but that certainly isn't true for what I do. I spend hours during the week grading and meeting with students, and I redo my course every time I teach, because I think it's intellectually lazy to keep giving the same lectures over and over again. At a research I institution, I knew professors who put old editions on reserve at the library because they didn't want to change their syllabi. Some of them were over 20 years old! And their research, after being tenured was certainly NOT taking up any of their time.

      I parsed out the time I spend on my course in hours against what I make--it comes out to about $6/hr. I have two master's degrees. And this is a "decent" adjunct salary of about $3000 for a semester course. Should I be paid the same as a tenured faculty member? Most probably not--but I should certainly be paid more than I am, especially because they can't FIND a tenured faculty person to teach what I teach. I teach because I like to teach and feel responsible for contributing to my field. It sure ain't for the money. I have a full time job for that.

      "We understand the RNC is frustrated with their lack of coherent message, but going negative on Bo isn't going to help." DNC

      by zaynabou on Wed Oct 07, 2009 at 02:37:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  no, I agree about research vs. teaching (0+ / 0-)

      that said, teaching faculty at research universities should have access to tenure, whether or not they are on the same pay scale as research faculty.

      I disagree about prep though.  I'm an English composition instructor and spend more time grading than I do in class or prepping.

      Those instructors who prep once then go on autopilot and pass out scan trons generally suck, students often figure it out, and avoid their classes if possible.

    •  I'm glad never took your class. (0+ / 0-)

      and I'm glad I'l never teach the way you do.

      and I can't imagine being so satisfied with a lesson plan that I just pull it out and re-use it.

      Tho it does bring to mind the story of a professor lecturing in the 1960's who read verbatim from his notes:

      "should the project of an organization of United Nations prove successful".

      It's not a fake orgasm; it's a real yawn.

      by sayitaintso on Wed Oct 07, 2009 at 03:17:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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