Sunday, October 26, 2014
The Bossypants Conundrum
Where I teach (in CA), I'm bombarded with emails begging faculty to sign up for additional committee work. But for committee work, the definition of "faculty" doesn't include the growing number of adjuncts. So a shrinking pool of tenure-track faculty is being asked to fill an expanding number of committees. The short term solution? A new contract that provides extra pay for faculty who take on additional service work.
Over the long run, I think this makes neither economic nor political sense. They are cutting out a growing group of potential stakeholders at the bottom while encountering more demands/oversight/meddling from above. Doing so while increasing the pay of those already at the top of the pay scale seems to add insult to injury (and diminishing the economic rationale behind the adjunctification).
All around, a poor set of responses and missed opportunities.
That single assumption, right there, tells me that this isn't what it looks like it is. If you wanted a workforce development system, you'd take the system that everyone's already in and that you have to fund anyway. If you want to fight the Class War, you destroy the universal system to the best of your ability and -- when enough people escape it to somewhere else -- set your sights on the escape valve.
Schools are prisons. Higher education isn't. Yet.
Try that with medicine.
2) There was a time when the persons in a K-12 classroom were experts. Unfortunately, they were mostly female and treated as an underclass so this was not recognized and the best left as soon as they got better opportunities. Unionization only helped with pay, not respect.
My campus is not unionized, and we have the same pay system you describe in your unionized system. Also no respect from leadership except when their irons are in the fire and they don't know about gloves.
3. There are vast opportunities here. The big money in K-12 is with consultants and content experts (the best teachers are removed from the classroom in the vain hope that they can "manage" less capable ones across the district) and other administrators. This shift away from faculty expertise in K-12 has made Baumol's cost disease worse, by the way! It is like an auto company where there are more managers than persons on the assembly line. You are wrong to think otherwise.
The future career in higher ed is to be a content (curriculum) expert at the university level and you work 8-5 with no grading, which is handled by adjuncts and computers.
All sorts of problems arise when one person thinks they run the entire university in the Stalinist mode by virtue of being the Board chair. You don't need a Board if you think the Governor's chosen leader should run the show.
Do you really believe that there are more 'content specialists' or 'curriculum specialists' in a large district than teachers? Or, was that hyperbole? If you said that there's a growing number, that's reasonable. Or, even "a lot" although that's not a well-defined term. I looked up the Montgomery County Public Schools Math team (I know that it's pretty large in comparison to surrounding districts) and found 13 people who could be so classified. I know there are another 10, or so, people in-schools that wouldn't turn up on the district office directory. So, maybe 23 total for math. This is a district that teaches about 140,000 students and has about 11,000 teachers. I don't know how you'd want to divide up elementary teachers (is 1/5 of an elem teacher a math teacher?), but, I'm confident in saying that any one of their high schools has more than 23 math teachers.
Also... as someone who's job is "content (curriculum) expert at the university level" I can assure you that I, in now way, work 8-5, have a lovely pile of grading to show you, and have never heard of staffing just the grading to an adjunct (student, yes, but adjunct, no). Now, I'm not asserting that somewhere there's a gig like that, but, none of my friends have one. Most of us have conversations like, "well, I try to only work one day on the weekend, but, usually I end up doing some work the other day too."
As for college, you describe the old system, with all of that grading by the professor. (Been there, do that.) The future may well be a system where all of the labor is done by computers and adjuncts, overseen by a handful of faculty who do not teach. Only that small group, and the consultants that run the grading systems, will be paid well.
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