Higher education institutions rely on the work of their instructors and lecturers to do the teaching in college classrooms and lecture halls.Adjunct faculty members deserve better.
Students attend class, they take notes, complete homework assignments, and take exams to prove that they’ve learned the material and mastered the subject. These assignments and exams are passed on to the instructors so that they can be graded.
In many cases, these part-time instructors do not get an office to work in, nor do they get paid for the hours spent grading papers.
Around 70% of North America’s college professors are considered “adjunct faculty”, which means that they work part-time and are not “tenured”.
This means that they do not have many job protections and or stability, and the pay may also be slightly lower than that of other faculty.
Faculty are granted tenure after they have shown their commitment to teaching and providing services to the college. In their roles as tenured faculty, they are meant to protect academic freedom while also assuring accountability.
Tenured faculty are, in essence, a part of the college that will help make decisions for the college. They have some power to make changes and contribute to its academic politics.
It is, however, a possibility for instructors to be “on track for tenure”, as many of the full-time positions available give that opportunity to those professors.
In a recent article by The Skyline View, “Skyline College is Under Violation of the 50% Law”, it was indicated that around 70% of Skyline College faculty members are adjunct faculty. This tells us that many of them are working part-time, and may also be working at other community colleges in the Bay Area.
It becomes harder for them to be able to complete their work if they are tasked with other things like filling out extra paperwork that adds to their workload. They are not appropriately compensated for all the time spent doing these things.
Educators deserve better than that — They deserve to have the time to complete their work so that they can provide the most enriching level of teaching that they can to their students.
The American Federation of Teachers [AFT1493] represents the San Mateo Community College faculty. Many say that they are just fighting to be given more money, but it is more significant than that. They are negotiating the pay, but they are also focusing their attention on the workload that many faculty are being required to manage. This workload outside of teaching makes it harder for faculty to accomplish their goals in the classroom. In the end, this results in student learning outcomes not aligning with the amount of instruction they receive. It diminishes the quality of education in the classroom.
Tenured professors are given job stability, but it is different for the part-time faculty, who might even have one of their classes canceled the day before the class was supposed to start.
With all these pieces put together, one can understand that not only is this unfair, but it puts instructors at risk when the source of income that they use to purchase essentials such as rent and food may depend on their part-time role as an instructor.
While students deserve to have a debt-free college and a quality education system, the same goes for the professors and faculty teaching at the institutions. Money should indeed be allocated for their salaries, which should increase as the demand for living increases.
How can we have a system where not only the students, but also the teachers are failing to show up to class because they are struggling to make ends meet?
A more favorable state of affairs would be one in which our passionate part-time instructors are treated with more respect by being allowed to have the time, space, and resources they need to grade papers — thereby not leaving them in a situation in which they’re forced to complete too much work outside of the classroom. This would make it easier for instructors to be invested in teaching and in their classrooms.
This will then improve students’ learning outcomes, allow them to have a better time in class, get better grades, and have a better environment in which to learn. In this case, everybody wins — and everybody deserves to win.