Blog, 289 words

A Poor Educational System

A majority of U.S. professors are now adjuncts working on a contingent basis.

Jim Hightower

There’s a growing army of the working poor in our nation, and big contingents of these folks are now on the march. They’re strategizing, organizing, and mobilizing against the immoral economics of inequality being hung around America’s neck by the likes of Walmart, McDonald’s, and colleges.

Wait a minute. Colleges? You get advanced degrees to get ahead in life. More education makes you better off, right? Well, ask a college professor about that — you know, the ones who earned PhDs and are now teaching America’s next generation.

The sorry secret of higher education — from community colleges to brand-name universities — is that they’ve embraced the corporate culture of a contingent workforce. They’re turning lots of professors into part-time, low-paid, no-benefit, no-tenure, temporary teachers.

hightower-adjuncts-NewFacultyMajority

NewFacultyMajority.info

Overall, three-quarters of America’s higher-ed faculty members today are adjunct professors or off the tenure track. That means they’re attached to a particular school, but not essentially a part of it.

It also means that these highly educated, fully credentialed professors have become part of America’s army of the working poor. They never know until a semester starts whether they’ll teach one class, three, or none — typically, this leaves them with take-home pay somewhere between zero and maybe $1,000 a month. Poverty.

Adjuncts usually get no benefits, no real chance of earning fulltime positions, no due process or severance pay if dismissed, no say in curriculum or school policies…sometimes not even office space. Like their counterparts at Walmart and McDonald’s, adjunct college professors aren’t treated as valuable resources to be nurtured, but as cheap, exploitable, and disposable labor.

Unsurprisingly, this contingent of the low-wage army is organizing, too. For information, check out the New Faculty Majority: NewFacultyMajority.info.

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OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s also editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown. OtherWords.org