Part-Time Professors Protest Full-Time Screw Job

by on February 26, 2015 · 3 comments

in California, Civil Rights, Culture, Economy, Education, Labor, Ocean Beach, Organizing, Politics, San Diego

Ocean Beach Professor and Reader Writer at Protest at Grossmont College

Part-time professors and lecturers at college campuses get screwed full time. That’s the  message of protests held across San Diego and the rest of the nation on Wednesday, February 25 that were called to raise local and national consciousness to the plight of these part-time teachers who do a lot of the teaching at centers of higher learning.

And local writer, Dave Rice, was there and reported on an event held at Grossmont College in El Cajon for the San Diego Reader.   Rice wrote how these adjunct professors and part-timers “often find themselves shuttling between two or three campuses in order to pick up enough classes to eke out a living.”

Dave quoted Ian Duckles, a part-time instructor, who spoke to a gathering of  more than a 100 people assembled in front of the student services building at Grossmont College.

“The position that I have is defined as a ‘temporary, part-time instructor. A full-time professor is teaching about five classes a semester. I teach seven or eight, and yet somehow I’m classified as a part-time instructor. I don’t think that accurately reflects the amount of time I spend in the classroom.”

Duckles has 4 part-time positions and it takes quite a lot of time driving back and forth between those jobs at Cuyamaca, Mesa, and Miramar Colleges, and USD.

Also local Gregg Robinson spoke and was quoted by Rice – Robinson is a full-time faculty member at Grossmont.

“There is no statistically significant difference in how students evaluate part-time versus full-time professors. There is one significant difference, however. I looked at average income — let’s assume they teach an average load of five classes, not considering [the effort of commuting between multiple campuses]. Their average income is about $30,000–$35,000 per year for that effort.

“That’s less than a third of what I get paid for the exact same work. Meanwhile, the chancellor of this institution [Grossmont], gets paid about $285,000 per year.”

Rice also quoted a student from Mesa who is also a union intern for the American Federation of Teachers union, Laura Baeza, who said:

“I’ve been a community college student since the fall of 2011. I’m about to transfer to a four-year university, and more than half of my teachers have been adjuncts. You can tell the difference between faculty teachers and adjuncts — their stress levels are higher, and visiting during office hours is difficult because they’re running from one campus to another.”

Rice continues his report:

In recent decades, campuses across the country have been moving away from hiring full-time faculty, opting instead to fill openings with adjuncts who are not subject to the same rules concerning pay, benefits, or tenured employment. The number of classes taught by adjuncts, … has risen from 3 percent in the early 1970s to nearly 70 percent today.

Still, students don’t report a drop-off in the overall quality of their classroom experience when dealing with adjuncts, a fact advocates say justifies their calls for pay and benefits commensurate with their full-time peers.

The day of action was originally established by a pair of anonymous adjunct employees at San Jose State, who advocated a mass walkout by part-time teachers. Activities varied by region, with San Diego playing host to a series of rallies attended by as many as a thousand teachers and students, some of whom were enticed by the offer of extra credit for completing an assignment related to the events. Attendees were encouraged to sign letters to governor Jerry Brown asking for additional state funding to boost adjunct pay — around 500 were reported to have been collected.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Scott February 26, 2015 at 11:43 am

Adjuncts do get screwed and forcing the majority of college class workload on adjuncts definitely does negatively impact students and campuses. In most cases adjuncts are not paid to do anything on campus other than teach, that means they are not available to help students during office hours or participate in campus activities that create a well rounded vibrant learning environment for students.

If anyone really cared about “student success” at the administrative or state levels they would put their efforts towards funding the hiring of more full time instructors instead of coming up with meaningless ideas like “student learning outcomes” that ultimately distract teachers from their real goals inside of the classroom.

In addition to fighting for higher pay for adjuncts the real fight should be to make the state allocate funds only available to hire full time instructors to the 75/25 level that is already mandated (75% full time, 25% part time).

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Rufus February 27, 2015 at 5:12 am

End tenure, support merit based promotions, get rid of the dead wood, then the good adjuncts will be promoted to full time positions.

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Geoff Page Geoff Page February 27, 2015 at 8:38 am

What they are doing with the adjuncts is just a reflection of the rest of the world today. Companies have done to independent contractors and consultants all over the country for the same reasons, it is cheaper and easier to use these vehicles than it is to hire someone full time. Look at Walmart and Target. I worked on a large project for a large public agency that has its own workforce but they used 80% consultants on this project so they would not have to add permanent people to the existing workforce.

One of the reasons for this development is that the market is now flooded with educated people who have advanced degrees, many more than there were when I was a young man. When I was college aged, people with advanced degrees got them for a specific purpose, such as becoming a college or university professor, but today there are thousands of people who got them simply to enhance their resumes. The pool of available talent looking for work is large, which is a boon for the colleges and universities.

The problem is much large than just adjunct professors, and while I sympathize, we all sat back and allowed Walmart and Target to do this to uneducated people, never imagining this employment model might one day reach educated folks. Surprise, surprise.

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