Bridge the gap between K-12 issues brought out by Davis Guggenheim's Waiting for "Superman" and what actually happens in Community Colleges. The students should be our key focus, and preparing future generations, but our personnel practices are undermining many of those efforts!
Speaking specifically for the college community of professors, please consider the facts and experience below:
The MLA has called for a change in labor practices since at least 1994. See http://www.mla.org/statement_faculty
The New Faculty Majority has tried to approach the issues via litigation and connecting adjuncts across the nation: www.newfacultymajority.info and folks at AAUP have raised adjunct issues, but both request paid memberships for representation which I refuse to pay and many adjuncts cannot afford to pay.
Another website has been running info for years: www.adjunctnation.com to inform, amuse (misery likes company) and to take informal polling.
Inside Higher Ed, Chronicles of Higher Ed (both respectable) and other publications have no doubt covered various facets of the adjunct conundrum.
Now, if you want specific stats on where I'm coming from:
1. I teach at the top (biggest) comm. college in Kansas
2. I've been teaching 12 years, I've got the M.A. but have no incentive for the PhD in my field ($30 difference in pay scale for Adjuncts)
3. I teach FL (Spanish): in our dept. we have 5 FT and roughly 27 adjuncts (many in lesser taught languages that develop and manage their own curriculum).
4. I maxed the pay scale at 11 semesters.
5. I didn't get the adjunct "professor" title until 21 semesters (no pay adjustment even then).
6. The only paid training was for our ACT (Adjunct Certification Training) which thankfully, we started in the 1990s and continues today.
7. We can apply for grants for conferences (it's always less than FT, yet we need the most $ assistance).
8. We can get tuition reimbursed for classes we take, if we get a C grade or better.
9. We can get a set dollar amount reimbursed for a non-credit course.
10. We do NOT get any health benefits, unless there is a free community health fair and they check your BP for free.
11. We do NOT get retirement benefits as a group. KPERS is designated for those that work 630+ hours annually. Some adjuncts that work FT elsewhere do qualify, but many of our adjuncts who put in this time have no way to show it.
12. We may or may not serve on certain committees, if we do it's unpaid time.
13. We used to have an adjunct committee which was disbanded in 2008 when we went through a re-org.
14. We may NOT vote in most critical cases, i.e. I could not vote on the divisional issue: teaching dean or administrative dean. I could vote at my departmental level for our new Chair (but my vote was equal 1/20th of 1 FT).
15. We get set number of absences, generally speaking, and if we go over the limit, we get docked pay.
Get the picture?
I have spent years trying to figure out what makes sense for our comm. college. I do not think unionization would work for us because we don't have the time commitment to pull it off, and not enough support. Most adjuncts seem to be retired from careers, FT elsewhere, or have spouses they can depend on for benefits like healthcare.
Here are more stats:
1. There are roughly 325 FT and 594 PT faculty, according to our "Fast Facts" publication from 2009 -2010. The new publication is not out yet.
2. We split the teaching load like this: 51% FT, 49% PT, so technically, FT still teach "more" credits than PT.
3. PT Regular STAFF have access to KPERS and PAL (paid annual leave), and they are shocked when I tell them that I, a PT Faculty member, do not.
New practices at our institution:
1. Fall, 2009, we started "hidding" courses online to ensure that we had full classes. Fine, but guess which courses were hidden? Mostly Adjuncts'.
2. Fall, 2010, we gave one week's notice (if that) to suddenly change the payscale for small, or specialty courses, thanks to the use of CBA (Course By Arrangement). This meant instructors were paid per student enrolled in courses less than 10 students.
Fiscally necessary, perhaps, but students can't figure out where their tuition dollar go when we have record enrollment (for us it's over 20,000 students this fall). Students do not pay our wages, since total revenues from students amount to less than 25%. Our local taxpayers support the college with 48% of total college revenue.
Where does the money go?
Our FT cannot support us via their union. However, what does it mean when they (FT) stipulate in their Master Agreement that only they can be awarded a "Distinguished Service Award" which carries a cash prize of $5,000 on top of their significantly higher "salaries"?
Again, I don't think unionization for PT Faculty would work for us. BUT, how about federal or state statutes honoring the work of contingent faculty? How about differentiating between our LONG TERM adjuncts vs. our transient ones? How about a simple distinction between PT Regular FACULTY and PT Temporary FACULTY? That distinction DOES apply to college staff. I'm not even asking for faculty salary parity (apples to apples).
I got involved in this research based on simple principles that we seem to overlook (IF faculty get to vote on issues at all, then we should ALL get to vote equally). Why is my vote worth 1/20th of someone else's just because I teach PT?
Do PT students get a full vote for their student senate? YES. Where did we go from teaching these values to students but changing them for our PT colleagues?
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