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Prof before the move
Mike at the board in the W bldg. before the move to the V Building in the Autumn of 2007.
Photo by Blake Westman, 8-16-07
These are here because there is no other place for them on this site.
They were first seen on the "News & Comment" page.

"... female teachers make 15.6% less than comparably educated women and that male teachers make 26.8% less than comparably educated men.  It is true that teachers in most places get better benefits than many other workers, but benefits make up a larger portion of their compensation than for other workers and are no longer enough to offset their lower wages."
             Why teacher strikes are touching every part of America
             Zachary B. Wolf, CNN Politics, Feb. 23, 2019

"When you focus on teacher salaries, which make up the lion's share of schools' spending, data published by the Education Department show that, after adjusting for inflation, U.S. teachers earned less last year, on average, than they did back in 1990."  ...   "In the median state, about half of all new teachers won't stick around long enough to qualify for any pension at all, ... As a result, only about 15 to 20 percent of teachers really benefit from the current system."
             Walkouts And Teacher Pay: How Did We Get Here?
             Cory Turner, NPR, April 11, 2018

"Adjunct professors, like many hard-working Americans, are the working poor.  They are one step away from "We don't need your services anymore" or one medical emergency away from being destitute."

"While a small percentage of part-time faculty are specialists or practitioners of a profession such as law or architecture, where teaching is ancillary to their primary occupation, this situation is the exception rather than the norm.  Often referred to as freeway flyers, part-time instructors are forced to travel between campuses to make ends meet.  Essentially flying without nets, they are earning less with no health insurance, retirement benefits.  The excessive use of and inadequate compensation and professional support for contingent faculty exploits these colleagues.  Reporter Gary Rhoades declared, “Adjunct professors are the new working poor.”

"Adjunct professors, as part of a growing army of working poor, are at the center of the academic labor movement, just as fast-food workers are now at the center of the larger labor movement.  We are in the midst of deciding the extent to which we are an inclusive society that will live up to our nation's promise that hard work pays off."
             Adjunct professors are the new working poor.
             Gary Rhoades,
             Special to CNN
             September, 2013

"Rhoades continues on to say,
The dirty little secret is that higher education is staffed with an insufficiently resourced, egregiously exploited, contingent “new faculty majority.”  In addition to the 49.3% of faculty in part-time positions (70% in community colleges), another 19% are full-time, nontenure-track."
             Addressing the Silent Majority:
             Part-time faculty issues Through the Lens of Equity,
             Engagement and Empowerment.

             Academic Senate for California Community Colleges,
             February, 2016

"Ellen Tara James-Penney, a lecturer at San Jose State University, has been sleeping out of a car for about a decade, ever since she lost her housing while an undergraduate at the school where she now teaches four English courses, a job that pays $28,000 a year.  Home is an old Volvo."

"I've basically been homeless since 2007, and I'm really tired," she said.  "Really tired."

She actually got her start in the high tech industry, before being laid off during the tech meltdown of the early 2000s.  Like many who couldn't find work, she went to college, accumulating tens of thousands of dollars in student debt along the way.

Now 54, she grades papers and prepares lesson plans in her car.  Among her few belongings is a pair of her grandmother's fancy stiletto pumps, a reminder to herself that "it's not going to be like this forever."
Gillian Flaccus and Geoff Mulvihill
           AP in Minnessota StarTribune, Nov. 6, 2017

"Many of you may confront hurdles and roadblocks and disappointments in the future.  And when that happens, that's the test.  The test is not how you feel when things are going good or when you are at a cool conference in New York ... .  The test is when you're in the field and you're on the ground and you are doing work and people are resisting or misunderstanding or purposely undermining efforts that you know can make a difference, and how you respond to that.  And what I'm suggesting here today is that your response has to be to reject cynicism and reject pessimism and push forward with a certain infectious and relentless optimism."
Barack H. Obama II (1961 -      )
           44th U.S. President
           Gates Foundation Gatekeepers Conference
           NY City, 9-20-17

"Americans are becoming more skeptical that a four-year college education is worth the cost," one of us writes about another result from the latest NBC/WSJ social-trends poll.  The national survey "found that 49 percent of Americans agreed with the statement that a four-year degree 'is worth the cost because people have a better chance to get a good job and earn more money over their lifetime.'  But about the same share, 47 percent, said that a degree is not worth the cost 'because people often graduate without specific job skills and with a large amount of debt to pay off.'"

"When pollsters posed a similar question in a June 2013 CNBC survey, 53 percent of Americans said that a four-year degree is worth the cost, while just 40 percent said that it is not."  "Part of the reason for the drop?  Young people have soured significantly on the idea, even as their parents' generation has remained comparatively bullish.  Among 18-34 year olds, just 39 percent now say that a four-year degree is worth the cost, while 57 percent disagree.  Just four years ago, those numbers were flipped."  "White working class Americans also appear to have lost confidence in the value of a college degree.  In 2013, about half - 49 percent - said that a college degree was not worth the cost.  That's up to 65 percent who say the same now."
           Carrie Dann
           Americans Split on Whether 4-Year College Degree Is Worth the Cost
           NBC News.com, 9-7-2017

“I would rather entertain and hope that people learned something than educate people and hope they were entertained.”
Walt Disney
(19401 - 1966 )
           Entrepreneur, cartoonist

"I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you."
           T-shirt imprint, author unknown

"The time to worry about an exam is before, not after."
           Mike Robinson to MECH student
after final exam, spring, 2014

"The 20-year career loss of earned and deserved pay and benefits for a PTF [part-time faculty] comes in at around $1,000,000, in straight parity loss in the worst paid districts, and for a 30-year career at around $1.6 million (using PTF pay rate for a FTE [full-time equivalent] load).  Since the average load for the 40,000 PTF is close to a .5 load, in the California community college system, that means the districts (and state) are saving a minimum of $20 billion every twenty-year cycle on the “negotiated” pay and benefit gap that has been put in place, and kept in place, by a set of interlocking forces that have perpetuated this situation ..."
           Margaret Hanzimanolis
           The Parity Fairytale
           CPFA Journal, fall 2015

Rising college costs, the greater numbers of students pursuing higher education, and the recent trends in income and wealth have led to a dramatic increase in student loan debt.  Outstanding student loan debt quadrupled from $260 billion in 2004 to $1.1 trillion this year.  . . .  ...from 1995 to 2013, outstanding education debt grew from 26 percent of average yearly income for the lower half of households to 58 percent of income.  The education debt burden  . . .  grew not at all for the top 5 percent.  Higher education has been and remains a potent source of economic opportunity in America, but I fear the large and growing burden of paying for it may make it harder for many young people to take advantage of the opportunity higher education offers.
           Janet L. Yellen (1946 -     )
           Federal Reserve Chairperson
           Oct., 2014

But these low incomes [for adjunct/part-time faculty] do pose taxpayer costs.  According to analysis by the Congressional Research Service, a family of three in California relying solely on the median adjunct salary would qualify for, among other things, Medicaid, an earned income tax credit, a child tax credit , and food stamps, costing taxpayers $13,645 per year.

In short, adjuncts and other contingent faculty likely make up the most highly educated and experienced workers on food stamps and other public assistance in the country.
           The Just-In-Time Professor
           House Committee on Education and the Workforce
           January, 2014

"The America we want for our kids – a rising America where honest work is plentiful and communities are strong; where prosperity is widely shared and opportunity for all lets us go as far as our dreams and toil will take us – none of it is easy.  But if we work together; if we summon what is best in us, with our feet planted firmly in today but our eyes cast towards tomorrow – I know it’s within our reach.  Believe it."
           Barack H. Obama II (1961 -      )
           44th President of the United States
           State of the Union Address, 1-28-14

The label "contingent academic labor" encompasses an array of arrangements, among them adjuncts paid on a per-course basis, one- or multi-year contract faculty, visiting professors, and post-docs.  In general, these positions are characterized by low pay, no-to-little job security, and, frequently, no health or retirement benefits.  According to the Adjunct Project, the national average remuneration for adjuncts is $2,987 for a 15-week, three-credit course, usually with a high student enrollment, and some teachers are paid as little as $1,000 per class.  Currently, nearly 34,000 Ph.D. recipients receive food stamps to supplement their earnings.  In an effort to cobble together a living, many adjuncts teach at multiple institutions, taking on a course load of six or more classes per semester and spending significant time traveling among campuses.  Most recently, numerous university systems have reduced the number of courses adjuncts can teach in a single year to avoid the thirty-hour per week threshold established by the 2010 Affordable Care Act that would trigger access to employer healthcare benefits.
           Claire Goldstene
           Dissent, A Quarterly of Politics and Culture
           August 14, 2013

Once again, we find ourselves in a moral predicament.  In educational institutions of every kind, adjunct faculty are being subjected to de facto discrimination and exploitation.  They know it, tenure-track faculty know it, administrators know it.  The awful secret is out, and we can no longer avert our eyes.  We'll have to deal with this injustice as we did with those that came to a head in the sixties, because if we do not close the gap between our principles and our practice, the profession will forfeit its honor.

I need not belabor the immorality of paying adjuncts a fraction of what other faculty earn, and of denying them benefits, office space, parking rights, and a voice in departmental and institutional policy.  These insults and humiliations are reminiscent of the degradation and injustice that roused academics to act against racial, gender, and other indignities.

Of course, there's a reason that things are as they are.  There is always a reason, one which seems cogent enough until suddenly it does not.  What began as part-time teaching to meet a temporary need or plug a gap in the curriculum has evolved into systemic institutional injustice.

No one takes exception to cost-cutting, but forcing one group to subsidize another that's doing comparable work, while maintaining working conditions that signal second-class status, is what the world now rejects as Apartheid.

That Academia has fallen into a practice that warrants the ignoble label "apartheid" is inconsistent with both academic and American values.  By working for a pittance, adjunct faculty are serving as involuntary benefactors of other faculty, administrators, and students.  That administrators and tenured faculty are themselves the beneficiaries of such victimization only strengthens the case for righting this wrong.

Honor requires that colleges and universities examine this practice and take steps to grant equal status and equitable compensation to those who, for whatever reason, are classified as adjunct faculty.
           Robert Fuller, Ph.D., Psychology Today,
           Somebodies and Nobodies
           Dec. 6th, 2013

"… our pedagogical model at the college was based around this same "fire hydrant" methodology: present an incredible amount of information in a short time, and hope that students retain at least some of it.  As bad as this philosophy is, it makes perfect sense why it is this way.  One reason is that vocational instructors are typically ex-industry professionals, indoctrinated in this method by years of short-term training.  They teach as they have been taught.  Secondly, knowledge-specific learning outcomes - written as long lists of specific subject areas and skills - are most efficiently dispatched in this rapid-fire format.  Not that students will actually retain all these things as they are presented, mind you, but an instructor faced with a long list of topics to cover is tempted to present them as quickly as possible due to time constraints."      ...

"Recalling classes from years past, I could see the results of "fire hydrant" education in the poor retention of knowledge throughout a student's tenure at our college.  I knew that many students never bothered to read their assigned texts because they knew I would tell them what they needed to know during lecture.  I also knew that some students feigned ignorance during their lab time in order to obtain help from me, because they didn't want to do the hard work of learning themselves."
           Tony R. Kuphaldt
           If I'd wanted to study, I would have gone to a real college
           April 21, 2003

"If the kids don't have to come to the campus quite as often, that would be good, but then what's the element that technology can't deliver?  And it's through that that I really have developed a lot of optimism that we can build a hybrid.  Something that's not purely digital but also that the efficiency of the face-to-face time is much greater.

"Right now, a lot of the institutions that are all-access are essentially overloaded.  That is, if you're trying to get through in the appropriate amount of time you'll find yourself constantly not able to get into various required courses.  And so if you're taking more years and more courses simply because you're being held out of the ones that are required for your degree, that's a real problem."

"Other countries are sending more kids to college.  They're getting higher completion rates.  They've moved ahead of us.  The cost of an education just keeps going up.  So you've got to see if you can change the way the system works.  Having a lot of kids sit in the lecture class will be viewed at some point as an antiquated thing.  On the other hand, having a bunch of kids come into a small study group where peers help each other, where you can explain why you're learning these various topics, that will be even more important.  And so the skill sets that you want on the university campus and that you're really valuing and measuring and giving feedback to, I think those are shifting somewhat because we can take the lecture piece versus that study-group piece and make the lecture piece more of a shared element, and not have to have that duplicated again and again."

"Just giving people devices has a really horrible track record.  You really have to change the curriculum and the teacher.  And it's never going to work on a device where you don't have a keyboard-type input.  Students aren't there just to read things.  They're actually supposed to be able to write and communicate."
           Bill Gates Interview
           Chronicle of Higher Education, June 25, 2012

“When I hired engineers for my company, I found that those who were excellent students (4.0 GPAs and top test scores) could not innovate like our employees who were in the 3.2-3.5 range.  Those who achieve top honors academically excel in rules-based environments, but they typically have a hard time questioning, bending, and breaking those rules (i.e., thinking outside predefined constraints).  These academic "geniuses" will tell you "it can't be done" while the person they share an office with invents a novel way to solve the problem."
           Wayne Green (1922 - 2013)
           Magazine founder & editor, pundit

“I am, and ever will be, a white-socks, pocket-protector, nerdy engineer, born under the second law of thermodynamics, steeped in steam tables, in love with free-body diagrams, transformed by Laplace and propelled by compressible flow.”
           Neil Armstrong (1930 - 2012)
           National Press Club speech, 2000
           Engineer, professor, astronaut, American hero
           First human on the moon

One discovery that seems pretty concrete: The student makes a big difference.  "A good student did well regardless of what type of test they were given," Gharib says. "A poor student did poorly regardless of what type of test they were given.  "And that, I think, was a really interesting finding — that, in a way, the type of exam really makes very little difference."
           Staff, National Public Radio                                           
           Cheat Sheet Or Open Book: Putting Tests To The Test

"But something really interesting is happening in the world of higher education.

First, employers long ago figured out that just because you have a degree doesn’t mean that you know how to do useful work.

And second, in our quest to increase access to college to more and more people, simply possessing a degree isn’t really a key differentiator any more."
           Aaron Klein
           Three-term Sierra College Trustee and former board president.

"Never underestimate the will to fail if any effort to succeed is required."
           "Polly-mer," and "Dept-geek" bloggers

"The grade you earn is the only one I can give you."
           On-line blog

"Those who can, do; those who can't, come to me for lessons"
           "Troby" blogger

"Most technicians, however, are what could best be described as maintenance or service people.  What most technicians do is install, operate, troubleshoot, maintain, and service electronic equipment or systems.  This involves testing and measurements.  Such techs may work on a production line testing and fixing new products or work in a repair facility.  Some maintenance techs are field service people who go to a customer's site to repair the equipment."
           Louis Frenzel,
           Author, engineer and teacher

“True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.”
           Kurt Vonnegut (1922 - 2007)

"Engineers like to solve problems.  If there are no problems handily available, they will create their own problems."
           Scott Adams (1957 -       )

"Oh, well, things die.  I didn't have children, so why should I save someone else's?"
           Student, passing out environmental leaflets on campus

"Twenty percent of U.S. college students completing four-year degrees–and 30 percent of students earning two-year degrees–have only basic quantitative literacy skills, meaning they are unable to estimate if their car has enough gasoline to get to the next gas station or calculate the total cost of ordering office supplies, ..."
           New Study of the Literacy of College Students
           Finds Some Are Graduating With Only Basic Skills
           American Institute for Research, 2006

More recently, the numbers of part-time faculty have begun to expand further, especially in community colleges.  Accompanying this development has been the increasing use of adjunct non-tenure track faculty in full-time positions.  At this writing (Fall 2008), two thirds of the faculty in higher education are contingent part-time or full-time.  Only one third of the faculty is tenured or on the tenure track.  It is the purpose of this bibliography to facilitate understanding of the meaning and implications of this major change in the structure of higher education.
           Part-time Faculty in Higher Education:
           A Selected Annotated Bibliography
           Robert Pankin & Carla Weissy, 2008

"Nationally, adjuncts and contingent faculty — we call them ad-cons — include part-time/adjunct faculty; full-time, nontenure-track faculty; and graduate employees.  Together these employees now make up an amazing 73 percent of the nearly 1.6 million-employee instructional workforce in higher education and teach over half of all undergraduate classes at public institutions of higher education.  Their number has now swollen to more than a million teachers and growing.

As I got to know my adjunct colleagues better, I began to see these largely invisible, voiceless laborers as a hugely diverse group of amazing teachers.  Some are employed at full-time jobs in education or elsewhere, some are retired or supported by wealthier others, but far too many are just barely surviving.  While instances of dumpster diving are rare, adjunct shopping is typically limited to thrift stores, and decades-old cars sometimes serve as improvised offices when these "roads scholars" are not driving from campus to campus, all in a frantic attempt to cobble together a livable income.  Some adjuncts rely on food stamps or selling blood to supplement their poverty-level wages, which have been declining in real terms for decades."
           Peter D.G. Brown , Confessions of a Tenured Professor,
           Inside Higher Ed., May 14, 2010

“Our society has allowed us to become technically illiterate on the basic principles needed to design, install and repair systems necessary to support our infrastructure."
“People think technological literacy is being able to use an iPhone".
           Steve Hunter, technology consultant
           Career Tech Changing with Times, Cheri March, Colfax Record, 2-18-10

"Today a lot of people are using smart devices instead of doing the math in their own head.  These days, the thinking you need is how to use the device that does the thinking for you."
           Steve Wozniak (1950 -      )
           Apple co-founder
           Paul Smith, Financial Review, May 28, 2014

"On average you're going to be a part of the workforce for the next 40 years.  Remember how difficult it was to sit through a boring lecture for 40 minutes?"                                         
           Richard Kaplan (    -     )
           Newsman, speech U of Ill., 5-99

"While many adjuncts are talented teachers with the same degrees as tenured professors, they’re treated as second-class citizens on most campuses, and that affects students.

It’s sometimes harder to track down adjuncts outside of class, because they rarely have offices or even their own departmental mailboxes.

Many patch together jobs at different colleges to make ends meet, and with commuting, there’s less time to confer with students or prepare for class.  It’s not unusual for adjuncts to be hired at the last minute to teach courses they’ve never taught.  And with no job security, they may consider it advantageous to tailor classes for student approval."
           The Case of the Vanishing Full-Time Professor
           Samantha Stainburn, The New York Times,
           December 30, 2009

In college I read what they told me and was much the better for it."
           John Updike, author (1932 - 2009)
           Esquire, 2008



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