Friday, December 9, 2011

Magical Thinking in Higher ED-NEVER STOPS

More Magical Thinking

You should all really have a look at this column in Inside Higher Ed: Castes and Higher Ed, Gloria Nemerowicz. It is just another in an apparently endless line of “reformist” essays featuring a tenderness of feeling for the poor and the downtrodden, conjoined to a faith in the power of higher education that is rendered ridiculous by some inability or unwillingness to look at the caste system in our colleges and universities. Look:
“Income and wealth inequality in the United States, which has become even more pronounced since 1967, continues to interfere with the national need for an increasingly sophisticated and skilled workforce and citizenry.”
Yikes! Does this author really not know that at least one very sophisticated and skilled workforce—the one doing all the higher ed teaching—is, well, you get the idea.
Furthermore, In regard to the author’s own institution, while the Pine Manor College website claims, no doubt truthfully, that "The College employs nearly 200 individuals, including full- and part-time faculty and staff, http://www.pmc. edu/fast-facts, the US Department of Education reports via IPEDS that PMC has 53 employees whose primary task is instruction, and almost half of these are part-time.
DO have a look and make polite comments in response.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Campus Equity Week is October 24-28, 2011

Ok-so that cool photo up at the right is from Well done guys.

And, in that spirit, what are you doing for Adjunct Equity week? I mean, insofar as you know that ejicashun and gud jobs don't go together like they shud? I suggest:
1) Making this known to you full-time faculty colleagues, who generally don't know about adjunct/contingent trends or conditions: if they knew, they would surely help out. 
2) Wearing a loudly informative hat and/or t-shirt, such as those available through the New Faculty Majority web store. You can get stuff printed with Higher Ed Hand, or Fair Trade in Education.  There's a nice bumper sticker too: ADJUNCTivitis is a social JUSTICE diseasethought I think maybe the printing on it should be clearer. BTW, have any catchy slogans? 
3) Organizing an informational meeting with your union, if you have one, or with your faculty senate or other faculty organization if possible, or just getting everybody to shut down the college or university for a couple of weeks until you get your point across.

And here are other places for other ideas-

(Events from 2009, plus many helpful sample documents)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

How Many Adjunct/Contingent Faculty?

I think it's about 16 million, and perhaps there are 1200 faculty teaching full-time, with multi-year contracts, or tenure, or on tenure track; with salaries, health and retirement benefits, and so-forth.

Maybe I am wrong. But I'm not sure.

Here's an example of my problem. If I look, say, at the page marked "Employees," which you can get from the "Facts and Figures" page helpfully published by the Office of Institutional Research and Planning for Westchester Community College, which is one of the places where I ply my trade (teaching anthropology and related subjects), you will see that, under "faculty," are the numbers 164, for Full-time, and 2 for Half-time. Insofar as I teach at this same college—as an adjunct, and therefore part-time (there is a cap on adjuncts that prohibits us from working full-me)...and I know, well, more than two other people who do the same...that's already more than the 2 mysterious "Half-time" employees, so that can't be us, can it? And, insofar as there is, in "Facts and Figures," no report on adjunct faculty, well, that's a problem.

At the analogous page for LaGuardia Community College, where I also teach, I can see that 64% of faculty are accounted for as "part-time," which is the standard, and belittling, code for adcon faculty who, of course, are usually employed full-time—they'd better be, at 1/3 or less the payrate of "traditional" faculty—but not at one institution. But at least the reporting is fairly open.

And, let's see-at Fordham University, where I also teach, as a "part-time" adjunct (what else?), on the "Fordham Facts" page I read that there are 703 full-time instructors (41% are women, and 16% are minorities, in case you're interested—they do collect some info). 391 of these are tenured. By the way, you can also see that 95% of all faculty hold not a, but "the Ph.D. or other terminal degree." That the thing always make it sound like there's only one, doesn't it? Anyway, I hold a Ph.D. myself, and as a 20-year adjunct the difference between it and something "terminal" begins to seem trivial.

You see what I mean. Or not. Do you have something mysterious happening where you teach? Disappearing faculty? Percentages of full-timers approaching 100% Please let me know. Maybe I am missing something.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Coffee with Richard Boris: Adcons aren't Kids, Separate and Unequal Part II

I came into the CUNY graduate center on Tuesday, about 8:30 in the morning, for the panel on Contingent Faculty: Issues at the Table, which started at 9, and met Richard Boris, Professor of political science at York College (CUNY) and executive director  of the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions, which is the organizer of this annual powwow, now in its 38th year. Professor Boris is a nice man and a good New Yorker, which means among other things that he was keen that everybody eat from what was laid out at the breakfast buffet.
Professor Boris had also been keen, in the planning phase of this meeting, to see that adcon faculty—that’s my current term for faculty who are non-tenure-track, of all varieties—be more represented at this year’s conference than at last years, and he was personally kind to me and others in seeing that various extensions be granted so we could get our act together.
So he’s a nice man and now I am going to give him a hard time because I decided I don’t like his sound bite which involves thinking of adcons as unfortunate children in the sense that the system is “like condemning these kids to a succession of foster families rather than real families.”
Actually, Dr. Boris tried that one out on me while I was swilling coffee, and he actually asked me what I thought of it, and I said it’s ok, not bad. I also said I liked mine better which was, more or less, this: “You can’t continue to have faith in higher education when a high proportion of the most highly educated people in the population can’t make a living.”
Ok, so you can see versions of these little bits of wisdom in an article “Separate and Unequal” in Inside Higher Ed, where you’ll find that my little gem is quoted before his, so I win! 
You’d think I’d be satisfied, but I’m not, because, thinking about the whole foster kids idea has made me more and not less grumpy.
I mean, I’m 57 years old for god’s sake! I have a freaking doctorate from a very famous university on a river in New England! If I can stop obsessing about adcons for a bit I might be able to finish a chapter for an invited collection on a North Indian temple, something—what?—to do with my research life of many moons ago.  
Wait, that last thing didn’t have an exclamation point. Here we go-I've been in this damn foster home for more than 20 years! And I was't even a kid when I got sent here in the first place! I have two kids myself! One of them is ready to have children of his own! Why are you talking to me about kids in foster homes?! I don't want anybody else's real family! I've got that covered!
Ok, here’s the scene: the adcons are in the basement? And there are a lot of us, though nobody really knows how many? But whatever, we can see, down here, that there are termites working their way in from somewhere, and working their way up, through the walls. They have briefcases and lawyers, and expensive software, and sharp toothy hardware in their hard managerial mouths. They’re coming up! We know, we can see! And all the faculty, the adcons, the majority, and the non-adcons, the minority, we’re all in the same building: the “real family” isn’t living somewhere else, they’re just living upstairs.
So let’s get with the program, ok? It’s quite true, as a brave Marist adjunct has just Utubed, that “Your-average-college-professor-earns-less-than-a-sanitation-worker,” but for now I guess we need to make the point that sanitation workers aren’t kids. 
And let’s get at least one other non-kid into this piece-Jack Longmate, of Olympic College and New Faculty Majority, who has had the courage and drive to fight back against attempts by his local NEA affiliate—his real family?— when they tried to retaliate against him for advocating adjunct rights. Also, if I may pile on a bit (you were waiting?), the foster kids are not the majority population in real kidworld, thank goodness, but in adcon world, adjuncts and contingents and whatever other categories of non-tenure-track faculty are the majority, and the continuing inability or unwillingness of traditional faculty to deal with this fact in an open and collegial way is one of the main reasons that some people decided, not long ago, that an organization like New Faculty Majority: The national Coalition for Adjunct and Contingent Equity, was necessary.
Now, Professor Boris, really, thank you for the coffee and the sandwiches and I will be back next year.

And what follows is a rehash of something I posted two days ago:


4-13-2011- We had a terrific panel at the 38th Annual National Conference on Collective Bargaining yesterday at the CUNY Grad Center in NYC. Here’s a very good article on our particular panel and on another in re adcon issues—“Separate and Unequal” in Inside Higher Education:

Now I wonder what will appear in CHE?

Briefly, while I just jumped up and down and yelled “adcon exploitation, bad, bad!” others, particularly Holly, Brenda, and Juliette, had really well supported arguments for the different ways that a bad situation has been/might be ameliorated, and that was wonderful.

Contingent Faculty: Issues at the Table
Holly Lawrence, Secretary, Clerk, Massachusetts Society of Professors/Massachusetts Teachers Association/NEA,
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Brenda Appleton, Vice President, Vancouver Community College Faculty Association
Audrey Williams June, reporter, The Chronicle of Higher Education
Juliette Romano, President, UCE of Fashion Institute of Technology/NYSUT/AFT/NEA
Alan Trevithick, founding member, New Faculty Majority: National Coalition for Adjunct & Contingent Equity, Fordham University & Westchester C.C.
Manfred Philipp, former Chair, University Faculty Senate, CUNY
Moderator: Caryl Schiff-Greatorex, Director, Member Services, Connecticut State University/AAUP

The other splendid panel, that I saw, was:

Dual Labor System: Can Higher Education Endure with Such a System?
Mayra Besosa, Campus Lecturer Representative, Co-Chair, Committee on Contingency and the Profession, CFA/AAUP/CTA/NEA/SEIU,
California State University, San Marcos
Barbara Bowen, President, Professional Staff Congress, City University of New York
Robert Samuels, President, University Council/AFT, University of California
Ron Norton Reel, President, Community College Association of California/CTA/NEA
Frank Brooks, Treasurer, Roosevelt Adjunct Faculty Organization/IEA/NEA
Adrienne Eaton, President, Rutgers University, AAUP/AFT
Moderator: Larry Gold, Director, AFT Higher Education, American Federation of Teachers

The answer to that question, BTW, was, yeah, sure, but that would suck, wouldn’t it? I really enjoyed listening to everyone, particularly Frank, who gave a very personal view of what adjunctivitis does to a strong intellect—it makes it more incisive and more amusing—and Mayra, who managed a link to broader human rights values that was both low-key and passionate, which is a marvelous combination—and Bob, who did a lightening quick and absolutely convincing report on how adcons actually enable the whole university and advocated strong adcon (that’s not the right term in his neck of the woods, but close enough) organizing as the only way forward. I also really enjoyed Ron’s deadpan and dead-on analysis of the costs of “for-profit” education, which focused on students but somehow silently highlighted the plight of adjunct and contingent labor in the public sector as well. Neat trick.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

What'd NACIQI and Who are the “Faculty Leaders"?

Most people I ask—cab drivers, veterinarians, jugglers—don’t seem to know that the Federal Education Department recently convened a 2-day meeting of meeting of the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI), to discuss higher education accreditation.
Those same people don’t know that, a week prior to the NACIQI meeting, a group assembled by the California Faculty Association (CFA) held a meeting to launch a “national dialogue to save higher ed.”
The NACIQI meeting is a regularly scheduled one, and is designed to offer advice to the Secretary of Education, and in this mission is provided for by the Federal Higher Education Act of 1965.
The CFA meeting, billed as a “first-of-its-kind discussion on how to assert the faculty’s voice in the national debate over the future of American higher education,” was designed to, well, launch a dialogue. Let’s go.
First, let’s get the players straight: you’ve got some NACIQI members appointed by the Secretary of Education, some by the Speaker of the House, and some by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate. They are in three years if appointed by the Secretary, four if by the Speaker, and six if by the President Pro Tempore.
The CFA meeting? That involved some 70 faculty folk, from 21 states. More about that later.
The NACIQI members are required, in line with the relevant federal rule, to be, let’s see, individuals of great experience, integrity, impartiality, and good judgment; knowledgeable concerning education and training beyond secondary Education; and qualified on the basis of technical qualifications, or professional standing, and/or demonstrated knowledge in the fields of accreditation and administration of higher education.
Those attending the CFA’s Quality Higher Education for the 21st Century draft statement assembly? Ok, I admit, I don’t know anything except that these 70 or so faculty are claimed to “collectively represent hundreds of thousands of faculty members who teach millions of students in colleges and universities throughout the country.”
Right, well, let concentrate more closely on some of the NACIQI processes, and on some of the NACIQI people, about whom more is known.
We have the right to assume, at the outset, that NACIQI has been overseeing, since 1965, based on the language of the statute in question, the quality and integrity of our higher education system, and this they have done, in such a manner as to ensure an almost uninterrupted decline in the ranks of regular faculty—the once traditional type that relied on a strong measure of job security—“tenure,” so called—and who received comfortable levels of recompense by way of regular wages, health insurance, and provision for their golden, or as some would say, twilight years.
And NACIQI has also, since about 1965, with their experience, knowledge, and professional standing, safeguarded the quality and integrity of higher education such that traditional faculty have been increasingly replaced by great numbers of adjunct and contingent faculty, who are available at reasonable rates, need, apparently, little in the way of health insurance, are not in need, apparently, of provisioning for their twilight or golden years and who, to boot, can be hired, or not, at the convenience of the managers of higher educational institutions of all sorts, in the private and public sectors, and in the non-profit and in the for-profit sectors—the accreditation system, you see, and those who are entrusted in Federal law to oversee its Institutional Quality and Integrity, pronounces alike, and with no partiality, on all subsectors that comprise the super sector which we know as Higher Education.
NACIQI members today include William Pepicello, Provost and President of the University of Phoenix, one of the education properties of the NASDAQ-traded Apollo Group, shares of which are currently going for, okay, about half of what they were getting, peak, in 2008-09, and yesterday, whoa!—taking a bit of a hit, but maybe climbing back up? Take a look. Community sentiment, I read, is "bullish" on Apollo.
And NACIQI members today also include Arthur E. Keiser, Chancellor , Keiser Collegiate System—that’s a smaller, almost ma-and-pop outfit in the higher ed private sector, and a 501(c)(3) non-profit, and I don’t which one of those things explains why they’re such pikers in regard to Washington lobbying—they only coughed up $70,000 in 2010, whereas Apollo Group, for University of Phoenix, managed $180,000. Apollo actually spent more than half a million, but who knows, maybe some of that was on behalf of some high school they just bought—they have these really cool Buddhist-sounding ones called “Insight Schools.” I don’t know. Drill down a little more than I did. NACIQI’s goal at their most recent meeting was as follows: “To broaden the members’ knowledge and to arrive at an informal, draft set of topics on which the NACIQI will focus during the June 8, 2011 NACIQI meeting concerning the Higher Education Act (HEA) Reauthorization.”
The members were guided in their deliberations by a variety of presentations, including one from Gary Rhoades, General Secretary of the American Association of University Professors, who has been known to say such things as:
“Amid the unacceptable exploitation of contingent faculty, what if we were able to establish for these colleagues due process and terms and conditions of work comparable to those of tenured and tenure-eligible faculty, ensuring their academic freedom?”
Stirring sentiments, those.
Also, the NACIQI committee heard from Tom Dawson of the Gates Foundation, who is into such things as critical drivers of degree productivity, and also from Holly McKiernan of the Lumina Foundation, which is really into cranking up degree-yield big time. AAUP is just a dues-paying bunch, you know, but these foundations, wow! Gates needs no explanation here, of course, but Lumina is less well-known: it owes its power to the selling off, by its parent, USA Group, of a gazillion dollars’ worth of education loan assets to the Federally spawned but now independent Student Loan Marketing Association, Inc. (Sallie Mae). It’s actually quite the story—read this:
“The transaction was a magical thing. All of a sudden we snapped our fingers, and we had almost a billion dollars. What do we do with it?” recalled Lumina Board Member Norris Darrell. Lumina Foundation Board Member—that’s in a Lumina-written history of its own honorable self.
Let’s see, the Gates man at NACIQI spoke in on a panel “Outside the Box,” and the Lumina rep was one of the wrapping-up ”Synthesizers,” who, you know, synthesized things.
So I don’t know what all they did, but remember, they’re all getting ready for the June 8, 2011 NACIQI meeting concerning the Higher Education Act (HEA) Reauthorization, so they’re just getting geared up. But what did they really do? I have no idea. I wonder if they thought about some of the following issues, and are just waiting to tell us:
1) Might they have been considering, for whatever accreditation apparatus that they decide to keep in place, or retool, the reporting requirements for colleges and universities, in regard to the ratio of full-time to part-time (adjunct and contingent) faculty? One would think this data would be of keen interest to the general taxpayer, especially given the tendency of some observers to (unfairly in my view) associate part timers with lower quality teaching and student outcomes. And, perhaps, might they consider adding some enforcement provisions? 

We don’t really know how many adjunct and contingent instructors there are at our colleges and universities, and that is because, while they’re very good at reporting numbers of full-timers, and trumpeting their achievements and credentials, they are very much less consistent in regard to adjunct/contingents.
Now there is, in existing Higher Education law, a bit which requires the secretary of Education to report on “student-faculty ratio, the number of full-time and part-time faculty, and the number of graduate assistants with primarily instructional responsibilities, at the institution.” That would be on view in your United States Code TITLE 20, CHAPTER 28, SUBCHAPTER I, Part C, 1015a (i) (1) (m), the whole of 1015a being, by the way, entitled "Transparency in college tuition for consumers,” a noble phrase if ever one were keystroked.
Now, how is that working out? Ask around. This is the sort of data that an accreditation system might be reasonably interested in, no? Worthy, I think, of a congressional hearing?
2) Insofar as a goodly percentage, probably a majority in most categories, of adjunct/contingents are women—don’t have good numbers, see #1 above—our subcommittee might have had a crack at this: does the current abuse of adjunct and contingent labor violate at least the spirit of the Equal Pay Act amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act, in 1963, the part which requires equal pay for all people, regardless of sex, who are working at jobs "equal skill, effort, and responsibility and performed under similar working conditions"? 
That would be a good hearing too.
But the truth is, pressing on, I don’t know what NACIQI is up to. And I don’t know how much pull William Pepicello of the NASDAQ-traded Apollo Group, or Arthur E. Keiser, proprietor of the Keiser Collegiate System, have on that subcommittee. I do know they were both appointed by authority of Nancy Pelosi, which should cause at least a few people to reassess their view of Democrats as anti-business union-coddlers. (Idle hope, I suppose)
And, back to the Quality Higher Education for the 21st Century statement, and the “faculty leaders” who have launched a “national dialogue”? In another Inside Higher Ed piece Professor Lillian Taiz, president of the CFA, is quoted as being "Over the moon" in regard to the enthusiasm and joy of the drafters, but this seems odd to me, given that they managed to leave out the thing that most threatens the faculty—adjunct and contingent exploitation. Well, they did have one statement that included the majority: “The increasing practice of hiring faculty into contingent positions . . is not an “innovation” or an “efficiency” that will serve higher education well in the 21st century.”

They drafted this last week? Increasing? Innovation? It's been going on for thirty years! To the point that most faculty are adcon and not traditional tenured/tenured track.
And that is why, mainly, the traditional faculty is in such dreadful shape, and why the traditional faculty needs to, right from the beginning of any “reform” statements, reach out sincerely to their adcon brothers and sisters who might be willing to support “faculty,” but only when all who toil in that category are included.
This Quality Higher Education for the 21st Century: Draft Principles thing is weak. Does anybody think that such a document presents any sort of threat to institutions like NACIQI?
These folks are going to eat you all up! Think, from yet another Inside Higher Ed article, about those NACIQI deliberations, where Kevin Carey, of Education Sector, was one of the presenters. Mr. Carey, styled by IHE, by the way, as “among the more innovative thinkers about higher education,” is quoted as follows:
"When Uncle Sam provides or guarantees 9 out of every 10 dollars -- or more -- that flow into the coffers of large private sector corporations, the federal government must play a far stronger role in managing that process than it does today."
That’s nice, but who’s going to define that “management” role? The faculty? Traditional faculty who apparently cannot bear to face up to the fact that the majority faculty are adjuncts and contingents? Traditional unions, which over and over again ignore or bargain away the rights of adjuncts and contingents in favor of the traditional full-timers? Official NACIQI-style processes, which depend on ancient and newly energized networks of interest in universities, businesses and government, and increasingly, on the philanthropic ventures of tycoon-reformers who have little patience with the traditional culture and values of the university? Perhaps some new form of organization that can clearly and forcefully argue against the secrecy and inequity in higher education and in the processes that shape it?