Petitions, Adjuncts and Supporting Higher Education

Someone posted on facebook the other day about the load of emails s/he is receiving from helpful and loving souls about pursuing academic degrees and work. Why, they ask, especially since the field is so difficult to break into? I’m not sure about that argument. I am sure, however, that we are living in an increasing anti-intellectual society that is turning on professional teachers as if they were the¬†superstition¬†peddlers of the last century.

That may have no bearing, but I wanted to draw attention to the fact that while work in the intellectual field is difficult to come by, adjuncts are growing in numbers, which is a segway into the meat of this post.

In the last decade or so, we’ve seen the rise of adjuncts as colleges and other institutions of higher learning attempt to divest themselves of those who are tenured or who struggle to keep up with the rising demand of higher education. Given that tenure seems to mean little anymore, whether you are adjunct or not may be a moot point. What is not a moot point, however, is the need for qualified instructors. The qualifications for such an instructor does in fact include education, but so too a full belly, just like a student needs a full belly to learn. Therefore, to provide for the influx of new students and other reasons, colleges have turned to adjuncts.

And the number of adjuncts are growing.

Across the nation, colleges have undergone similar shifts in whom they employ to teach students. About 70 percent of the instructional faculty at all colleges is off the tenure track, whether as part-timers or full-timers, a proportion that has crept higher over the past decade.

Change has occurred more rapidly on some campuses, particularly at regionally oriented public institutions and mid-tier private universities like Saint Joseph’s.

Community colleges have traditionally relied heavily on nontenure-track faculty, with 85 percent of their instructors in 2010 not eligible for tenure, according to the most recent federal data available. But the trend has been increasingly evident at four-year institutions, where nearly 64 percent of the instructional faculty isn’t eligible for tenure.

In the President’s education plan are points intended to help teachers, students, and focus on community colleges. What would be nice is if the President could also include something in the plan that will be delivered to Congress about adjuncts who are growing in numbers. If you want your children properly educated, you are going to have to support the educators.

Therefore, someone has put together a petition that, honestly, should be directed to asking the president instead to include these demands in his educational packages instead of just saying the demands will be delivered to the President. After all, the President ran on an educational platform somewhat.

Adjuncts teaching college students have more than doubled since 1970. Today, they teach well over 60% of classes nationwide, yet they are paid shamefully little in comparison to their tenure or tenure track counterparts. They have no chance for advancement, they have no continuity with their semester-to-semester schedule, and they have no say on anything pertaining to their university or college. Moreover, because they are compensated so unequally, they need to hold several teaching positions in order to support themselves, making their workload unfeasible. If you want a better education for your children, then you must demand better pay and status for the majority of the faculty teaching in today’s institutions of higher education across the country. Demand better salaries for the underpaid and undervalued adjuncts, the contingency labor force that teaches most of the imperative core classes your children need in order to succeed in today’s competitive academic climate.

Sign the petition here.

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