Superman never made any money for saving the world from Solomon Grundy

Thursday, September 11, 2008

[blockhead] Woe unto the adjunct

I was lucky enough last year to get a tenure-track position at my college after only three years of working as an adjunct faculty member - or as I like to call it, temporary part-time staff. It's a good feeling to have a home, but just because I'm out of the adjunct grind, doesn't mean it has gone away.

Take a look at this video from someone with a lot more impressive qualifications than I have.

What gets me more than this particular individual's story is the tone and tenor of the comments on this blog entry from Alas, a Blog, where I first encountered the piece. I was astonished at the lack of love in the room for adjuncts, and for the level of buy-in to the Invisible Hand determining everything for the best for everyone.

Not only am I not persuaded that "the Market" will make everything all better if we just leave it alone, but the reduction of education to merely commerce is specious, and short-sighted at best. The future of our country and the world rests in no small measure on the education we deliver today; college is not just another business, it is an investment in building tomorrow. And that so much of the work done to that end is the responsibility of underpaid, insecure, poorly respected but qualified and talented educators is a shame.

There were many benefits to my becoming a tenure-track faculty member, but one of the losses was my standing in the adjunct community. The divide between full-time and part-time staff is so great that it's hard for any full-timer to be taken seriously as an ally by the adjunct corps. When I was an adjunct, no amount of supportive language from a full-timer made any real difference; now that I am on the other side of the divide, how can I expect to be taken as genuinely in their corner?

Sometimes I wish I could just teach and ignore anything else, but as long as I am working alongside talented peers who are being treated worse than I am, I guess I can't. I'm just not sure what to do.

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