Adjunct professors are the new serfs

4 Feb

Moi has posted quite a bit about adjunct professors. In USC study: Adjunct faculty pay disparity can be fixed at reasonable cost, she wrote:
A good basic description of teacher tenure as found at teacher tenure. James gives the following definition:

Tenure is a form of job security for teachers who have successfully completed a probationary period. Its primary purpose is to protect competent teachers from arbitrary nonrenewal of contract for reasons unrelated to the educational process — personal beliefs, personality conflicts with administrators or school board members, and the like.
The type and amount of protection vary from state to state and — depending on agreements with teachers’ unions — may even vary from school district to school district. In general, a tenured teacher is entitled to due process when he or she is threatened with dismissal or nonrenewal of contract for cause: that is, for failure to maintain some clearly defined standard that serves an educational purpose.

Time has a good summary of the history of teacher tenure at A Brief History of Tenure,8599,1859505,00.html

Joanne Jacobs posted Adjuncts v. Fulltime Faculty at Community College Spotlight:

Retired State Sen. Ken Jacobsen once called Washington state’s community colleges “a chain of academic sweatshops,” Longmate writes.
At Olympic College, full-time faculty average $55,797 a year, while an adjunct who taught full-time would average $27,833.
“The same tension has arisen elsewhere — at Wisconsin’s Madison Area Technical College, for instance, adjuncts filed suit to stop overloads,” notes Inside Higher Ed.
In New Hampshire, community college adjuncts have joined a state employees union.
At Chicago’s Columbia College, experienced, top-scale adjuncts charge they’ve lost class assignments to newly hired part-timers who cost less.

The question is whether colleges can afford to fix the disparity.

Claudio Sanchez reported in the NPR story, Part-Time Professors Demand Higher Pay; Will Colleges Listen?

When you think about minimum-wage workers, college professors don’t readily come to mind. But many say that’s what they are these days.
Of all college instructors, 76 percent, or over 1 million, teach part time because institutions save a lot of money when they replace full-time, tenured faculty with itinerant teachers, better known as adjuncts.

Kathleen Gallagher, a published poet and writer with advanced studies and a master’s degree, spent 20 years as an adjunct English professor at several colleges in Akron, Ohio. The most she’s ever made in a year is $21,000; last year, she made $17,000.
After one college laid her off last summer, Gallagher was desperately short of money, so she sold her plasma.
“It is embarrassing to talk on the radio and say, ‘I think I’ll have to go give some blood,’ ” she says with a sigh. “But I needed gasoline….”
More than half the faculty at the University of Akron teaches part time. Ramsier says he’s sorry some adjuncts are struggling, but they know, or should know, what they’re getting into.
“Part-time work is truly part-time work,” he says. “We’re not expecting, or trying, to take advantage of people.”
Two-year and four-year colleges started replacing full-time faculty with part-time instructors in the mid-1970s. That shift has created lots of tension on college campuses where adjuncts are treated like cheap labor, according to a congressional report released last month.
Initially, part-time teachers were popular because they brought “real-world experience” to the classroom, according to Adrianna Kezar, an expert on workforce issues in higher education and a professor at the University of Southern California. She says things are different today.
“Higher education has begun to adopt corporate management practices,” Kezar says. “Corporations move to more contingent labor because it is a cheaper form of labor.”
It’s certainly cheaper, though the amount depends on the size of the institution and whether it’s public or private. A full-time professor’s salary can average from $72,000 a year up to $160,000; adjuncts average $25,000 to $27,000 a year, and often much less, regardless of where they teach.
‘We Have To Stop Hiding In The Shadows’
At Cuyahoga Community College, just outside Cleveland, 3 out of 4 faculty members are adjuncts, like David Wilder. Now in his late 50s, he has a degree in library sciences and has taught art history at Cuyahoga for 10 years, and 15 years at another school. Despite that, he lives paycheck to paycheck and moonlights in the deli of a nearby hotel. He says the professors are just minimum-wage workers.
“We’re just part of working people starting to step forward,” Wilder says. “We identify with the fast-food workers that are telling their stories, and we want to do the same.”
Some adjuncts here are on food stamps; others struggle to make their car or rent payments….

A University of Southern California study argues colleges can afford to fix the disparity.

Colleen Flaherty reported in the Inside Higher Ed article, Not Too Expensive to Fix:

Or so argues a new paper from the Delphi Project on the Changing Faculty and Student Success, a partnership between the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education and the Association of American Colleges and Universities to examine and develop the role of adjunct faculty.
“[Although] leaders in higher education do face budgetary constraints and uncertainty over future funding sources, it is a myth that resources are the sole reason that prevents us from ensuring that all our faculty members are adequately supported so they can provide the highest quality of instruction to their students,” reads Delphi’s “Dispelling the Myths: Locating the Resources Needed to Support Non-Tenure-Track Faculty.”
The paper, written by Adrianna Kezar, director of the Delphi Project and professor of higher education at the University of Southern California, and Dan Maxey, Kezar’s research assistant, outlines a variety of practices institutions may adopt to better support all faculty – not just adjuncts – rated on a scale from “$” (free to marginal in cost) to “$$$$” (indicating a “more substantial” expense).
Some obvious means of supporting adjunct instructors, who make up nearly three-fourths of the higher education work force — better pay, benefits — are costly. But others — such as enhancing data collection efforts to better track adjunct employment on campus, ensuring protections for academic freedom in faculty handbooks, and inviting adjuncts to participate in curricular discussions and governance – aren’t.
That’s the paper’s biggest takeaway, Kezar said, given the many “myths and stereotypes,” coupled with the lack of national data, about the costs of rethinking adjunct employment conditions. It’s based on previous case studies of different campuses’ costs and strategies related to adjunct faculty members.
“This new resource on how to understand the actual costs to support [adjuncts] should be paradigm-shifting for campus leaders,” she said via e-mail. “So many changes cost little or marginal amounts of money. But they do require priority-setting and making this a goal for departments or institutions.”
Inexpensive Ways Institutions Can Support Adjunct Faculty
Cost Practice
$ (marginal) Enhance data collection efforts on adjunct employment on campus
$ Ensure or clarify protections for academic freedom
$ Provide access to instructional materials, resources and support services (library, photocopies, etc.)
$-$$ (some additional expense) Provide access to on-campus professional development opportunities
$-$$ Extend opportunity to participate in departmental meetings, curriculum design and campus life (inclusive in e-mail distribution lists, etc.)
$-$$ Participation in governance
$-$$ Facilitate opportunities for faculty mentoring
$-$$ Ensure access to orientation for new hires
$-$$ Access to administrative staff for support
Maxey said that once institutions begin to make meaningful but inexpensive changes to adjunct working conditions, they can become convinced of the value of such investments.
“Non-tenure-track faculty are committed educators and should be provided proper support and fair compensation,” he said via e-mail. “We see all of the recommendations as important, but by offering this range of choices, campuses can target a few to start with that are within reach. In our experience working with campuses, those that start out with just a few low-cost changes often quickly realize that these changes to better-support the faculty are worth any added expense….”

Adjuncts do not want to be overlooked in the discussion of income inequality.

The Chronicle of Higher Education has written several articles about the plight of adjunct teaching faculty:

o ‘Chronicle’ Survey Yields a Rare Look Into Adjuncts’ Work Lives

o Love of Teaching Draws Adjuncts to the Classroom Despite Low Pay

o Full-Time Instructors Shoulder the Same Burdens That Part-Timers Do

o At One 2-Year College, Adjuncts Feel Like Outsiders

o Video: Voices of Adjuncts


Report: Declining college teaching loads can raise the cost of college

USC study: Adjunct faculty pay disparity can be fixed at reasonable cost

Important statement from American Association of University Professors about cutting adjunct teaching hours in response Obamacare

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