Wednesday, October 07, 2009

AFT wants cut in adjunct abuse in higher ed bill

After the House of Representatives recently passed a bill shifting college financial aid away from private banks and more toward grants directly to students, the president of the American Federation of Teachers sent a letter to the House saying that the final version of the bill should inclusion language on the abuse of adjunct faculty:
The lack of attention paid to the loss of full-time tenured faculty positions, and the overwhelming growth of poorly paid part-time faculty, has been taking a toll on higher education for many years. Today, almost three out of four undergraduate instructors are contingent rather than permanent full-time faculty members-contingent faculty members teach a majority of the nation's undergraduate courses. Unless we take steps to reverse course, this trend will greatly impair the ability of our colleges and universities to reach the national goals Congress has set for them.
Specifically, we believe it is essential that programs designed to improve persistence and completion, especially those targeted at community colleges, should include provisions that encourage institutions to strengthen their instructional workforce by creating additional full-time faculty positions or providing more stability and equitable compensation for part-time faculty.

I was grateful to see this campaign, but concerned about the weak language, and added the following note to the post the on the AFT website, and to my letter to our senators:

You should not just ask for language to "encourage" or "permit" this but REQUIRE it, and not just "reduce" unequal pay and compensation but END it.

Too many college administrators not only do not make ending these inequities a priority, but they actively fight against ending them.

We can not depend on them to act responsibly without forceful legislation requiring them to do so.

I also fail to see why our union can't say that schools are economically abusing people who have dedicated their lives to education, including, in many cases, not giving us health insurance, or not giving us enough to cover our families as well.

If we are going to get on the radar, we aren't going to do it by soft-pedaling the problem.

Frankly, there is potentially a very brief window for progressive action in Washington. If Democrats do not pass a strong health insurance reform bill, that window will begin to close and might well be gone after the 2010 election. If they do pass good legislation, there will be momentum that we should ride to get major things done.

We must set our sights higher than glacial, incremental change or we won't get any change at all.

LINK to write letter to senators

Article on AFT president's letter

We should use the AFT link to write to show the AFT that we appreciate the effort, but I would also ask that you compose your own letter to our senators and congressman about H.R. 3221 with stronger language than the campaign.

1 comment:

Debra Leigh Scott said...

I agree with your position. Nothing will change with "suggestions" or "recommendations". The return to pay equity and job security has to be required by law, or our work will remain deprofessionalized. An entire class of highly-educated, dedicated scholars have been beggared for a generation as salaries and benefits for university presidents have skyrocketed. Administrators now outnumber faculty on every campus across the country. AFT surprises me with such soft-pedaling. I've twittered and Facebooked your blog, urging people to write to their representatives in support of your suggested language.

Thanks for your work on this issue. We need to become much more strident, and reclaim our profession.

Debra Leigh Scott
Founder, 'Junct Rebellion
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