The linked article on the destruction of the American university was mildly interesting, mostly for its complete wrongheadedness about what parties have been responsible for the drastic decline in higher education, but the discussion in the comments were considerably better, as one tenured PhD schooled an untenured one. In doing so, he illustrated that at least part of the problem is an intellectually-challenged higher education faculty that simply does not understand economics and supports the very immigration that has rendered them permanently poor.
The amazing thing is that these maleducated wretches are STILL spouting Marxist nonsense, blaming the conservatives they hate instead of the progressive elite responsible, and failing to realize that a modicum of basic Adam Smith is all that is necessary to understand why their expensive degrees are almost completely worthless and why their employment prospects are so dim:
There seems to be a highly questionable premise running throughout
the discussion on this blog — that people have ever been able to make a
decent liviing working as adjuncts, or that they will ever be able to do
so in the future. Given the economics of the situation, and the
enormous hurdles to unionizing or organizing in any meaningful way, the
primary goal should be to reestablish a greater number of full-time
positions. The harsh economic reality is that most community colleges
will probably never be able to pay adjuncts enough to make a living, and
most decent four-year colleges will not pay adjuncts a decent wage
because they don’t have to.
A fundamental problem for adjuncts, especially in professional fields
like law, business, engineering and communications (but also in many
other fields), is that decent colleges have an almost endless supply of
people willing to teach for non-economic reasons. My university
generally pays adjuncts $2,000-3,000 per course (depending on the field)
and basically hasn’t raised adjunct pay in at least 15 years. Some
other local colleges pay even less than we do. It’s embarrassing and
shameful. Yet we have a queue of people ready and willing to teach
courses for us. Many of them are retired and looking to stay active
intellectually; some are successful professionals wanting to “give back”
to their alma mater; still others are wanting to add a brownie point to
their resume by being associated with a university. Virtually no one
does it for the money. This is not a new phenomenon. Almost thirty
years ago, when I was a businessman and taught as an adjunct, I
considered my adjunct teaching at the University of Hawaii to be a
public service, and I donated the money (about $2,500 a course, even
then, as I recall) back to the university for student scholarships.
Somewhere along the line, some people got the idea that one could
make a living teaching as an adjunct. I don’t think that’s realistic.
In fact, it will probably become increasingly unrealistic, given the
education model that many universities are exploring (video and internet
lectures in which “master” professors will teach thousands of students
in basic courses, leaving more time for full-time faculty to teach
upper-division and graduate courses and to conduct research). So my
advice to people who can’t get a full-time teaching job is to get some
other full-time job, outside of academe. In the meantime, I would
highly encourage them to moonlight as adjuncts and continue their
efforts to organize or unionize if they feel that’s the best solution.
But I think a far smarter strategy would be to focus on restoring
full-time positions that would pay a living wage.
I believe your analysis of the situation has some validity. There
are many people who will adjunct for little or no remuneration. But
higher education institutions are not charity organizations.
Personally, I spent several years to get a Ph.D. and expected to find
full-time work, but it hasn’t happened, and I am indigent. For seven
years I worked as a prison guard and caseworker to make ends meet (and
actually attain a middle-class lifestyle). Why should I make 60K (with
benefits) as a prison worker but only expect 16K as a community college
teacher at three schools?
I know other administrators who feel the same as you do yet go along
with the exploitation of labor and the taking of surplus value. You
know in your heart that you are complicit in the slow unraveling of
higher education in the US.
Some questions for you:
* Why would anyone possibly think that getting a certain degree
automatically entitles them to a certain kind of job? (Tell that to the
hundreds of thousands of students who are have graduated in recent
years who are unemployed or underemployed. )
* How oblivious would one have to be to spend years working on a PhD
without understanding what the job prospects were for that degree?
* What kind of self-delusion and self-entitlement would it take for a
person to think that just because they spent years doing a certain thing
that the world somehow owes them a living wage for doing that thing?
(Every human being on earth would love to get paid well for doing
something they love. But not many of us are so naïve that we think we
are good enough to make a living wage playing basketball, playing golf
or taking travel photographs – my preferred occupations. )
* How could anyone who has spent time in the academy not understand
that good colleges and universities are, in numerous respects,
charitable organizations? (Benefactors give billions of dollars to
higher education, just like other kinds of charities. Hundreds of
thousands of people volunteer their time and money to colleges as guest
speakers, sponsors, advisors, fundraisers, etc., just like other kinds
of charities. And thousands of people like me give up lucrative
professional careers to teach – while most of our former colleagues are
getting rich and retiring early – because we believe that education is
something worth devoting/donating our time and energy to, even though we
receive pay that is far below what we could earn in our previous jobs.)
* Why should adjunct college professors be exempt from the laws of
supply and demand, while almost everyone else in the country is bound by
them? (If you are so unhappy with the laws of supply and demand in
the U.S., why don’t you just move to a communist country where such laws
don’t apply so much?)
* Where were you (or others like you) 30 years ago, when I was raising
hell about the inappropriate formation of an adjunct/non-tenure-track
underclass? (There was a real opportunity to address the problem then,
before it became the intractable problem that it is today.)
* Where were you (and others like you) when I stood up in an
all-faculty meeting, with virtually no support from my faculty
colleagues, and told the president of my university that he needed to
resign because the central administration’s incompetence and greed were
destroying the finances and educational integrity of my university?
* Where were you (and others like you) when I was giving speeches and
writing academic articles and a book on the dangers of treating
universities like businesses instead of like educational organizations?
* What are you doing now (besides whining), while I am engaging the
trustees and central administration of my university in an attempt to
pressure them into getting rid of the silly business model that they are
using to run the university, which treats adjuncts as nothing more than
a cheap source of labor?
* Why should I continue to care about the plight of adjuncts like you,
when you blame innocent people for your own problems, when you refuse to
listen to basic facts and logic, and when you insult the very people
who are probably the best hope for solving the problem?
In no way, shape or form am I complicit in unraveling higher
education, as you so incorrectly suggested. Nor do I know in my heart
that I am guilty of any such thing, as you so dishonestly stated in your
posting. My job is not to ensure that you have a job. And I cannot
help you at all, if you are too thick-headed to act in your own best
interest by first understanding the problem and accepting responsibility
for your role in helping to create the problem in the first place.
One doesn’t have to be in denial about the dire state of American higher education to fail to feel any sympathy for the entitled, badly educated, would-be education professionals who have not only helped sow the seeds of their own indebted servitude, but still actively serve as intellectual shock troops and recruiters for the very system that oppresses them.
They also don’t seem to understand that all the social spending on the elderly, the vibrant, and the foreign they support means that there is little remaining for the liberal arts that the aspirational middle class used to proudly fund. The same people that previously had no objection to paying for government-funded orchestras and theatres now resist being taxed to pay for the diversification of their schools and neighborhoods.
Furthermore, a graduate student with inside access notes that the tenured faculty absolutely bears considerable responsibility for the academic decline:
I’m currently a graduate student and a staff person at a major
college. I have the dubious honor of sitting in and taking notes during
the faculty meetings of one department. Our faculty have, at every
budget crunch opportunity, cut the funding for graduate students,
student activities, and part-time instructors. Our faculty bemoan their
salaries to any and every ear, but given a single whisper of power
behave as cruelly as any member of the relative 1% and abuse, exploit,
and exhaust the students.
College has been destroyed by the abuse of tenure. The faculty are
the 1%, the students and part-timers are the 99%. The Administration ARE
Our faculty are the -sole- source of the corruption, laziness, and
weakness of the department. They are each required to teach 2 courses a
semester and each of them asks for a ‘course buy out’ on the
justification their research is more important than students. Of 24
Professors, 11 are currently teaching. While our university has courses
with 500 students, our part-time instructors, the abused 3rd class, or
our graduate students teach those sections. Our professors select
’boutique’ courses, some of which enroll 5 students (undergraduate
courses with course caps of 55, but only 5 interested students because
the class is irrelevant to the major but interesting to the professor).
When professors buyout courses they ‘pay’ from their salary or a grant
approximately $4000. It costs our department over $11000 to reassign the
course (I do the budget). Our faculty declare tenure is end-all-be-all.
Tenure committees value research and publication, not teaching,
therefore so do our professors. They publish drek that goes straight to
archive, get tenure, and sit on their title for another 30 years. They
are not assets and are barely intellectuals. When we recently had a vote
in my department on whether to fund graduate student scholarships or
faculty travel, travel won in a vote of 2:22.
The administration, which is so denigrated, and rightfully so, in
this article is in fact made of up of former professors. My Dean is an
English PhD. He has pulled half of our TA and GA positions, leaving our
students without funding and forcing those who want to continue their
education into massive debt. He simply increased the minimum number of
students the other TAs had to teach (for the same amount of money). He
hired over 70 new faculty with the money ‘saved.’
Our Associate Dean in charge of curriculum is a Chemistry PhD who
taught for 20 years. He personally made the announcement, taking public
credit for the idea, to no longer require fine arts or foreign language
credits for undergraduates. This decision resulted in a huge reduction
of registrations and effectively killed our German, Russian, French,
Italian, Mandarin, and foreign literature programs. Without
undergraduate classes to teach, the graduate program is disappearing
Of course, it hardly comes as a surprise to anyone with a university degree to be informed that most tenured academics are narrow-minded, self-centered bastards.