In her testimony, Maria Maisto correctly emphasizes that the ACA itself is not the problem but, instead, the efforts by colleges and universities to avoid providing to their part-time faculty the health insurance that the ACA makes available.
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Testimony for the Record
Submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce
for the November 14, 2013 Hearing on
“The Effects of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on Schools, Colleges, and Universities.”
Good morning, Chairman Kline, Ranking Member Miller, and members of the committee on Education and the Workforce. My name is Maria Maisto, and I am the president of New Faculty Majority and the Executive Director of its affiliated Foundation. We are the only national nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to improving the quality of higher education by improving the working conditions of the majority of faculty who work in temporary, precarious positions while teaching over half of all undergraduate courses in higher education. This majority is now 75% of the faculty, or over a million professors, often known as “adjuncts,” working on contingent appointments—that is, appointments that are contingent on budgets and enrollments and can be terminated with little or no notice. Continue reading
Not surprisingly, the following news release reflecting the ideological position of the GOP majority on the committee completely ignores Maria Maisto’s testimony and frames the hearings in which she participated as providing just further evidence of the supposedly devastating impact of the ACA. Notice that Maria’s testimony is not quoted even once in the excerpts from the hearings that constitute the second half of the news release, but the two administrators who clearly oppose the ACA are quoted repeatedly.
Hearing Exposes ObamaCare’s Painful Consequences for Students, Educators, and Schools
The House Education and the Workforce Committee, chaired by Rep. John Kline (R-MN), today held a hearing to discuss the challenges schools and postsecondary institutions now face as a result of President Obama’s government takeover of health care.
“Over the last several years we’ve talked a great deal about the budgetary challenges facing states, school districts, and institutions of higher education,” Chairman Kline said. “We’ve discussed how Washington can at times make these fiscal problems worse. Much of the debate has focused on the costs of federal rules, regulations, and mandates that directly intervene in classrooms.”
“However,” Chairman Kline added, “we must be mindful that federal policies unrelated to education can still burden classrooms. The health care law is a prime example. At a time when we need to recruit the best teachers, train today’s workers for the jobs of the future, and school leaders are trying to do more with less, imposing a fundamentally flawed and costly law on our schools is not in the best interests of teachers, parents, taxpayers, or students.” Continue reading
Nov 19, 2013 Issues: Education, Higher Education, Labor, Jobs and Job Training, Worker Rights,Wages and Benefits
WASHINGTON – Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), senior Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, today announced an eForum to investigate how an increased reliance on contingent faculty by colleges and universities nationwide has impacted the lives of faculty as well as students’ higher education.
“This eForum is an opportunity for adjuncts and other contingent faculty to inform the Congress about what’s happening on the ground with higher education. I think there is a huge lack of understanding of what it means to be in the adjunct world,” said Rep. Miller. Rep. Miller raised the idea of an internet forum for receiving adjuncts’ stories and comments at a committee hearing last week.
“We should all be alarmed about what’s been happening to higher education labor over the last couple decades,” Rep. Miller later elaborated. “Tuition keeps skyrocketing. Yet the people doing the bulk of the work educating college students are getting less and less compensation. There are adjuncts who make between $2000 and $3000 per course for a semester, with no benefits. There are adjuncts on food stamps. I think the Congress should be taking a serious look at this phenomenon.” Continue reading
Guest blogger Jeanne Zaino is professor of political science and international studies at Iona College.
In his provocative and deeply depressing The Last Professors Frank Donoghue warns that corporate logic has taken over the academy. His findings are confirmed by Andrew DeBlanco who, in his award winning College: What it Was, Is, and Should Be not only bemoans the demise of liberal arts education, but attributes it to several factors including the “commercialization of American higher education.”
Tellingly neither Donoghue nor DeBlanco call on humanists to rise up. Nor do they offer any real hope that the liberal arts generally, or the humanities in particular, can be resuscitated. Far from a call to arms, these books are elegies, laments, requiems. As Donoghue writes, “the conditions to which many seek a return – healthy humanities departments populated by tenure-track professors who discuss books with adoring students in a cloistered setting – have largely vanished.” Humanists, he goes on to predict, will in time “become an insignificant percentage of the country’s university instructional workforce.” In just a few generations they will have disappeared from all but the most affluent and vaunted of universities (where they will largely be seen more like relics and vestiges of a past life).
If we need any more proof that Donoghue and DeBlanco are right, just consider the news out of Elizabeth City State University. ECSU, a historically black college in North Carolina, recently announced that seven of its undergraduate majors may be abolished due to low enrollment. Among those designated as ‘low productive’ – history, physics, and political science. Three disciplines which have long been deemed essential to a well-rounded liberal arts education. Continue reading
The dogs started in on it. I clicked off the computer screen and walked upstairs to answer the door. My wife was already on the stoop, talking to an earnest-looking couple. She had given them a dollar for a copy of The Militant, the small ‘paper associated with the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and was trying to answer their questions about the neighborhood.
They had been told that Marine Park, Brooklyn is a working-class neighborhood of people primarily of Irish and Italian descent (and I suspect they thought they would find Archie Bunker and Ralph Kramden here). It has changed, though, and they were clearly a little confused. Yes, there are plenty of Italians and Irish still here… along with the Orthodox Jews (probably the fastest growing group), the African-Americans, the Asians, the Russians and who knows who else. Yes, there are plenty of bus drivers, cops, firefighters, garbage collectors, roofers, plumbers… but I am not the only college professor in the neighborhood. I live here also along with teachers of all other stripes, and psychiatrists, physicians, librarians, veterinarians, retired folk, people on permanent disability, musicians and who knows what else. In fact, it is now a fair sampling of Americans–all except the 1% that constitutes the rich and the 15% called poor.
In a way, we now are the American working class, here, but we are a class nothing like the SWP probably imagines. We are a class defined not by the work we do or by our level of education–but (as my wife pointed out after the SWP people had left) by our income and, today, by our precarious perch on the edge of financial insolvency. Continue reading
Guest Blogger Dr. Elizabeth Keenan teaches music history at Fordham University and Columbia University. With the exception of a one-year VAP, she has been adjuncting since 2007.
I’m an adjunct at two different private universities.* In those positions, I’ve encountered numerous tenured and tenure-track faculty who were allies to adjuncts, and numerous faculty who were not. After Monday’s post critiquing ineffective tenured allies, I want to be a bit more productive than deconstructive. One of the things that I’ve learned from my long years studying feminist activism is that critique has its place, but positive actions should emerge from it.
Here are some handy tips, if you have tenure (or are close to getting it), and you’d like to be an ally: Continue reading
His Holiness, Pope Francis
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Citta del Vaticano
Dear Pope Francis:
I do not know how to begin this letter, so I will just let you know what is happening, in general, with the faculty in Higher Education here in the United States, as in the rest of the world; I will then comment on the particular case that has brought me to ask you for your much needed intervention.
As a person raised in the Catholic tradition, but lately as someone who has been losing faith, I ask you to help me restore it, especially after the disillusion I feel. I have witnessed outright inaction and at times even harmful interventions from entities associated with the Catholic Church here in the United States, purporting against its social doctrine.
My name is Ana Maria Fores Tamayo, and I have been working part-time for a Catholic newspaper in North Texas since 2007, the North Texas Catholic, helping them with their translations and Spanish language section. At the same time, I am a university instructor, but I have no regular employment so I work anywhere that will hire me. I was dismissed from my last teaching job —which paid a pittance, by the way: $1800 per course, or $14,400 a year without benefits such as health insurance— even though I was starting my fourth year. I taught, however, because I loved my students, and I liked to encourage them to explore, to expand their intellect, to discover, to learn new things. My dismissal had nothing to do with my pedagogy; as a teacher, the administration was pleased with me. Continue reading
I initially was going to post this as a comment to Aaron’s post, but it became too lengthy to seem a reasonable “comment.”
Like Aaron, I myself and many others among us who now hold tenure-track positions have had some experience as adjunct faculty. I taught at four institutions for six years while finishing my dissertation–or, more precisely, while eventually trying to time my application for the degree to any sign of even a modest improvement in what was then a terrible job market. (I wonder how old one has to be to remember the last time that the higher-ed job market was actually “good.” In 1978, when I started my graduate studies, the bottom must have fallen out, for there were 29 new Ph.D’s for every tenure-track opening.) I calculated that being slow to finish the degree would be less a liability than having an “old” degree. As it turned out, I was very, very lucky to be offered a position just before the 1990 recession caused yet another round of hiring freezes.
I recount my own background, here, because I think that many tenured faculty have some firsthand experience with the impossibility of trying to make a living in any professionally satisfying way as an adjunct faculty member, and some of us are actually taking concrete (if sometimes maddeningly incremental) steps to try to change things for the adjuncts at our own institutions and even beyond. Continue reading
Why is it that we, the lucky ones, try so hard to divorce ourselves from those who have not had the same breaks? Why do we, the tenured ones, look away when we see adjuncts grading papers while sitting in a stairwell? Why do we, the lordly observers, think of ourselves as the master teachers when sitting in on the class of a part-timer who may be teaching at two other schools—and whose sense of our students is probably better than our own? Why do we, with our lovely PhDs, think of ourselves as having “earned” something those poor contingent hires could not—forgetting that our degrees are also a gift from those who financed our schooling and that quite a few of these others also have doctorates? Why do we forget what Phil Ochs tried to teach us so many years ago: “There but for fortune/Go you or I.” Continue reading
The president of AAUP is also a very fine contract negotiator.
This is the article on the new contract written by Meagan Pant that appeared in the Dayton Daily News:
Nearly a year after voting to join a union, Wright State University full-time faculty not eligible for tenure have their first contract, which offers them raises, creates job security and sets typical workloads.
The American Association of University Professors announced Monday that the union and university had an agreement for the 180 faculty. Continue reading