Hit ‘Em Where It Hurts

I think this piece written by Rebecca Schumann and reblogged from Slate gets a clear central point in the whole discussion of adjunctification:

Nice adjunct job you got there—it would be a shame if you didn’t exercise your right to self-determination, and something happened to it. But that’s just it: Adjunct jobs aren’t nice, and many of us feel, in all frankness, that we have little to lose. But sympathy for the adjunct’s plight is limited. (Read any comments section, ever, on any article with the word “adjunct” in it.) We chose, after all, to devote our lives to something so stupid and useless. Supply and demand. Find another job. Bootstraps. I get it.

But here’s what they don’t get: It’s not that adjuncts deserve better. It’s that students deserve better than adjuncts. And the people who decide which colleges are the “best” should be telling you this, but they’re not. That’s why I’m calling on U.S. News, the leading college ranking service in the country, to track the percentage of classes taught by adjuncts in their rankings—and penalize schools that use too many.

For more, go to this link:

http://www.slate.com/articles/life/education/2014/01/adjuncts_in_american_universities_u_s_news_should_penalize_colleges_for.html

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WHYY Public Radio: The Rise of Adjunct Faculty–A Radio Clip

Part-time professors or adjuncts now make up over 49% of the faculty on university campuses and 70% of community college faculties. But low pay and job insecurity have led many adjuncts around the country to try to unions to get better working conditions. .Today we’ll look at why adjuncts are on the rise, what it means for the part-time teachers, and the effect the trend is having in higher education. Marty talks with DEBRA LEIGH SCOTT, a writer and educator who has been an adjunct for over 15 years and is working on a documentary and book on the topic and ADRIANNA KEZAR, Professor of Higher Education at the University of Southern California. –

 

See more at: http://whyy.org/cms/radiotimes/#sthash.xVcSvZFq.dpuf

 

 

A Response to Piper

After posting a reblog concerning unemployment benefits for part-timers, we received the following entry from a “Piper”:

Oh, give me a break. Seasonal workers should NOT get unemployment insurance off-season. UI is for full-time workers who get laid off, not for seasonal/contingent/temp workers whose contracts expire in due course! Any contract adjunct who claims UI between terms is a fraudster.

I realize adjuncts don’t wish to give up their insane fantasies of tenured full-time academic employment, but it is time for each adjunct to get real, kiss off the college whose administration treats him/her so vilely, and GO GET A REAL JOB!

When I first saw this, I didn’t have time to reply.  I since have in the comments section, but I thought that some of you who don’t read the comments might appreciate it:

Piper:

Adjuncts are not considered contracted, but at will labor. In fact, the very reason that this is the case is that the the California Supreme Court has declared our (adjuncts) status as such. If you happen to be an adjunct that does well and is liked by the department head and/or your immediate administrator (usually the Dean), you are given a “tentative assignment offer” and tentative is the word. The paper is merely an offer and has “not an official contract” more or less stamped on it. They are subject to change and often get changed, either due to lack of enrollment (extremely rare), because a full-timer wants the class (more often), or because the state has done a budgetary revision and now the school doesn’t have the money to offer the class (often if not usual). I had one TAO change on me three times, and have, on occasion, lost classes at the last minute, but then again, they were never guaranteed mine to begin with.

By the way, I usually teach in Summer but didn’t for the last two years because guess what? My college had no money but to offer a few Summer classes that went to full-timers. I also used to teach intersession (one-month classes in January). Those went bye-bye too.

By the way, if you actually knew anything about college teaching, which I kinda doubt, you’d know that while adjuncts only get paid for the hours we teach, we not only work far more hours outside of the classroom, but after and during school breaks as well. Ever wonder how it is that adjuncts mange to stay up-to-date or expand their knowledge? Do you think we sit around drinking Malt Liquor and watching Jerry Springer? We prep, and will spend sometimes 100′s of outside and unpaid hours doing it. You’re welcome! We also have to grade large stacks of final essays and tests which may take up to 60+ hours of additional work after classes end.

You also fallaciously assume this is just whining about wanting a tenured position. Well, a tenured position might be nice, but the fact is that even if many full-time positions appeared, many people would still be adjuncts. If adjuncts were actually given yearly contracts that could be renewable, as is done for some full-time non-tenure faculty, then their ability to get unemployment would end? Do you want to know why this doesn’t happen? Because such contracts would more or less obligate the colleges and universities to give adjuncts serious health benefits that cost serious money that they don’t want to spend, or rather, would prefer to spend on administration, consultants, junkets with construction executives seeking contracts for campus buildings, etc.

Get a real job? I got one buddy, and I’m no fraudster. Perhaps you should get a real clue.

An Apology for Link Problems: Please Check Out Older Posts

Dear “Good Adjuncts”

A number of recent reblogs by me had link troubles, so that when you went to look at them, in the words of George Castanza, you “got nothing”.  Sorry.  I have since fixed the problem. I would encourage those of you who are new to the blog to check out the older reblogs, or if you’ve been here before, to go back and take a look.

Those of us who are running the blog are trying to put up stuff here daily.  As we (basically a trio of educated grade slaves) are like the rest of you, working roughly hours and seven days a week, we aren’t always able to generate our own original content, but we hope to be one of but many nexuses to put light on the issue and affect change.

Anyway, enjoy (..er, maybe not the right word…)

Geoff Johnson

The “Good” Adjunct

Adjuncts and Unemployment Blues

The following is a email I received from Anna M Flores Tamayo, a Texas adjunct. While the situation regarding getting unemployment pay is better here in California (we are entitled to it during Winter break and the Summer), the situation is a bit more sketchy in other states. At the same time, she also points that students need to be made aware that the large sums they’re doling out for tuition are not going to pay for high or in most cases, even adequate salaries for adjuncts.

My Dear Friends,

Many adjuncts cannot get unemployment benefits, not because we should not —as we have no reasonable assurance of work from semester to semester— but because universities arbitrarily decide it is not in their best interest to let us get such. But as an unemployed adjunct, I thought I was lucky for once. I receive a bit of pay every couple of weeks from Unemployment Insurance, even though that’s been cut now with this insane sequester. I still had to file for that little amount every two weeks, and I had to look for jobs constantly, even when there are no jobs to be had. It ran out too, so even though they make me —and every one of us— grovel each time to get a few more dollars, they tell us in the end there is no money to be had. I now have to wait until September 2014 to reapply, unless I get a job, of course. Can you see my future as an adjunct?

A few days before the end of the year, to boot, I got the shocking news that I would not collect the measly amount of unemployment for November I usually do get. So I called the folks at the unemployment office, and after waiting for what seemed an eternity, someone came on and told me I had lost that entire month because I had missed sending my claim in on time, due to the Thanksgiving holiday.

Now mind you, they never told me this on the phone; they thought it best to inform me that I would not be getting any money right before Christmas through a form letter (work for their government buddies). I called back when I received it, and of course I left a message once I finally got through to the other side. At first I sounded matter of fact, but as I went along my voice began to tremble and my anger at the injustice of a system that lets us absorb all the abuse began to crack and break, until I could hardly get my phone number out. At last I hung up, crying tears of frustration, realizing I would never be called before the New Year.

But for once I was actually surprised by one individual’s kindness. On December 31st, 2013, a compassionate man returned my call, most likely his last phone call of the day before calling it a year, probably after hearing an adjunct’s cry for help. He decided to show some mercy.

With that phone call, and with this New Year, 2014, things are beginning to change. I received November’s back pay. I have published a couple of articles in January concerning adjuncts, but more importantly, others are also publishing, getting their voices heard. My colleague Keith Hoeller from the west coast just published an important book, Equality for Contingent Faculty: Overcoming the Two-Tier System (http://www.vanderbilt.edu/university-press/book/9780826519504), while Jack Longmate & Frank Cosco’s excellent Program for Change is finally receiving the attention it deserves: http://vccfa.ca/newsite/?page_id=587. Another colleague in the east is uniting people together at universities in New York State through SEIU’s Adjunct Action. Colorado adjuncts have a good chance to pass the Equity Pay Bill 2014, HB 14-1154: https://sites.google.com/site/coloradoadjunctswiki/home/equal-pay-bill-2014. I wish all much success. In the south, I keep doing what I can to raise our voices high. Please check out all these links!

But this is what we must do, all of us: become aware, talk, write, expose Higher Ed, tell our students —whoever pays their education— that the money they are so dearly paying is not going to faculty; it is not going to teach students well. We must come out from the shadows, write our editorials, speak to our legislators, tell everyone and anyone who will listen. We must come together and fight back.

And in the meantime, sign and share my petition: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/better-pay-for-adjuncts?mailing_id=18942&source=s.icn.em.cr&r_by=6358896. Keep making it grow. Tell everyone that our education is worth it, our future as knowledge seekers is worth it: we need everyone to stand with us. The dominoes are falling… let’s make them topple fast.

In sol(idarity),

Ana M. Fores Tamayo
Adjunct Justice
Petition: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/better-pay-for-adjuncts?mailing_id=18942&source=s.icn.em.cr&r_by=6358896
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/AdjunctJustice

Think Being an Adjunct Professor is Hard? Try Being a Black Adjunct Professor.

This article adds another pertinent layer to understanding the adjunct condition. I would be willing to bet that women and other minorities in general comprise a disproportionate share of college adjuncts as well. More marginalization for the most marginalized.

 

http://www.slate.com/articles/life/counter_narrative/2014/01/adjunct_crisis_in_higher_ed_an_all_too_familiar_story_for_black_faculty.html

2014 Inaugural Op-ed: Social Justice & The Plight of Adjuncts: A Call to Action

This essay, from the Catholic Higher Education Advocate, relates the exploitation of a currently unemployed Texas adjunct who draws clear parallels between her situation and Edward R. Murrow’s famous 1960 Teledocumentary “Harvest of Shame”. Harvest of Shame indeed.

P.S.: Please sign the Moveon.org petition Dr. Tamayo links to at the end of her essay.

 

http://cheausa.org/social-justice-plight-adjuncts-time-act-3/

The Adjunct’s Lament

While this article does rehash some of the events concerning the death of Mary Vojtko, its references to the Ehrenreich’s discussion of the creeping decline of the professional class and Gary Standings’ observation of the rise of the “Precariat”, or precarious workers is apt, and not only applicable to adjuncts, but to everyone who lives outside the capitalist class.

http://inthesetimes.com/article/15975/the_adjuncts_lament/