The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Part-time Faculty Hustle

Apr 28, 2014

Today, only about 30% of professors at universities and community colleges in the United States have traditional full-time, tenure-track jobs. They’ve been replaced by part-time faculty, usually called adjuncts. These adjuncts are paid extremely low wages, and they can’t give the kind of education they’d like to provide.

For the equivalent of full-time work, adjuncts make an average of $18,000-$30,000 a year. They are not guaranteed employment from one semester to the next. And they almost never receive health or retirement benefits. This means that many adjuncts teach at as many as five schools in a given area, scrambling to put together enough classes each semester to pay the bills.

This is bad for the adjuncts, but it’s also bad for the students. Adjuncts usually have no office space in which to meet, and no time to do so. They don’t have as much time to devote to preparing for class or giving students useful feedback. Adjuncts also have much less time to attend and organize lectures, student clubs, plays, field trips, research projects, and the other parts of college that allow students to learn beyond the classroom.

Despite the fact that college and university classes are increasingly taught by lower paid professors, the cost of college education has been going up. This is in part because the number of administrators and their pay has been skyrocketing. But more than that, it’s because states have been cutting back on funding for higher education – all while handing ever more tax breaks to the corporations.

All this means that students are paying more tuition every year, for a worse education, and that a large number of the people teaching them are forced into an increasingly precarious economic situation. The situation of these adjuncts proves the lie that getting a lot of education is the path to a good paying job!