Sunday, April 19, 2015

"Will Teach for Food" (article on the Walmartization of higher education)

"The Walmartization of higher education is a better analogy: Hire cheap labor to cut costs. Colleges are modeling corporate America’s behavior and for identical bottom line reasons."

Fascinating article on adjuncts in higher education today.  A short read, well worth it, HERE.

I was talking about this to students the other day, actually - as it had come up at a recent conference I attended.  During the conference we were sitting at lunch, and I was with some close friends so I could say this in discretion, but I explained how having been on both sides of the isle I understood that adjuncts are exactly as capable as tenure track folks.  I was tenure track afterall, then had health issues take over my life (TIA and partial spinal stroke, central stroke pain in addition to a bad surgery, .i.e. lifelong chronic pain), and then left.  I have worked part-time teaching philosophy before and after that (and during, actually, which is ironic given the situation) and know that adjuncts are just as good as, if not better than, some or many tenure stream faculty.

Alas, if the money and security weren't an issue then mere status would be in the eye of the beholder.  But that's the whole point, isn't it?  Cheap labor, get the most out the most talented who happen to be the most hopeless.  VAP's are a step above, or faculty yearlong positions (and I've actually held both of those, too) really it appears that tenure stream positions will be phased out in our lifetime.  In the future instead of the median 70% adjunct rate going now (so seven out of ten professors teaching students are adjuncts) we'll soon see the full 100%.

Is higher education doomed?