Call to unite Boston’s adjunct faculty

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Mar 192013

I wouldn’t presume to know the individual opinions of everyone in FYWP regarding unionization, so I offer without comment this call for Boston’s adjuncts to unite in conjunction with the SEIU:

Boston Adjuncts Uniting for Respect, Better Standards, and a Voice in Our Profession

Low compensation, no benefits or job security, and lack of respect for the important work we do endanger our profession and make it increasingly difficult for us to do our best for our students.

That’s why adjunct professors across the greater Boston area are coming together to form a union with SEIU. To be successful, we need to unite as adjuncts and take action.

IRS: Adjunct Faculty Hours Must Be Calculated With ‘Reasonable’ Method

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Jan 142013

The Internal Revenue Service put colleges and universities on warning with new proposed rules issued this month, warning them not to skimp when counting the hours adjunct faculty work. The guidelines from the IRS could be critical to ensuring whether part-time college instructors receive health care benefits as new Affordable Care Act laws take effect.

The IRS noted in the Federal Register that “educational organizations generally do not track the full hours of service of adjunct faculty, but instead compensate adjunct faculty on the basis of credit hours taught.” In short, most colleges are only paying part-time instructors for time spent in a classroom, and nothing for time spent grading or preparing.

The Treasury Department and the IRS are considering and “invite further comment on how best to determine the full-time status of employees” like educators, who may work many hours after students leave the classroom.

@ Huffington Post

Got an MFA? Teach High School.

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Aug 012012

In early 2012, Joshua Boldt launched The Adjunct Project, a website containing a collaboratively updated spreadsheet of adjunct salary and work conditions. The Chronicle of Higher Education reported the site had nearly 800 user entries in the first month. While comparative salary data is useful, the most disheartening element of the site is the short narratives. Adjuncts accept poor pay with silence, “terrified of being even more broke than we are.” Other grievances include no health benefits, rushed contracts, and — despite the fact that adjuncts comprise nearly three-quarters of university faculty — paltry voice and representation in university matters.

I am unable to offer an absolute solution to this institutionalized, national problem. But I have, and will continue to, make a suggestion to the graduates of MFA programs who often enter these adjunct positions as perceived full-time employment. Before you join a dismal system where you might teach an overloaded schedule on multiple campuses and still earn less than $30,000 a year, pause for a moment. You have other options. Continue to fight your good fight, and bring this academic sharecropping, as some have called it, to public attention. But consider another career. Teach high school. It works for me.

~ Nick Ripatrazone @ The Millions

Teaching Like a Motherf@#%er: Finding My Mid-Career Mojo

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Jul 022012

The external goal of tenure is self-justifying, so even though its pursuit often involves unpalatable activities, the end result is so obviously worth it that any qualms are easily silenced. It’s like being in one of those professions that requires six pack abs – Victoria’s Secret model, Matthew McConaughey, Matthew McConaughey impersonator – the diet and exercise may kill you, but without, it, you don’t have a career.

As contingent faculty, historically, my actual job performance is by far the least important factor as to whether or not I will continue on in my position. A down economy, or budget and curricular cuts are a much greater threat to my continued employment than anything else. This may make my job tenuous, but it is also freeing.

Without a future, I have only the present.

~ John Warner @ Inside Higher Ed

Warner makes a pretty compelling argument here about the creative benefits of not being on the tenure track, though I wish I shared his sanguinity regarding the practical risks. But it’s true much of the other writing and editing and literary activity that make me, I hope, a good teacher are “officially” tangential to my duties (this very blog, for example) and pursuing tenure could bring them into conflict.

The Adjunct Project

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Mar 202012

The Adjunct Project is a way for us to compile data on treatment of contingent faculty. Combining our knowledge and resources will help us all to better understand the reality of life as an adjunct professor. The goal of this website is to identify universities that set the standard for best practices with regard to adjuncts. The best schools should be recognized and honored for what they are doing. The project is also designed to promote transparency in higher education employment practices for the sake of teachers, students, and parents.

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