First, let’s talk first about qualifications. At a minimum, your average adjunct professor has a Master’s degree in their specialty. That alone puts them in the to 10% of educated people in the country. Top 10%. (PhDs are in the 1% in regard to education).
Now just think about that for a moment. Top 10. From the Top Ten Best Sellers, to Top Ten Movies, to Top Ten MLB Hitters, to the Top Ten Businesses – we place a LOT of value on the top ten in everything. Could you imagine if a business disregarded their Top Ten Sales People, or their Top Ten Marketers, etc.? Of course not, because that would be stupid.
But we do it in higher education. Why is that? Because we as a society don’t give a crap about education. We say we do, but we don't.
Adjuncts make between $1,000 and $2,000 per class. No benefits. So let’s say on average they teach 4 classes per semester at $2,000. A 4-4 load is not that unusual at a teaching institution. That’s $16,000 for the year.
Hmm. Now you know why some of your teachers are on food stamps.
Many adjuncts cobble together more classes than that, but lets say they teach 12 classes in a year at $2,000. That’s still only $24,000. Still no benefits. And they are teaching hundreds of students per year.
Of course some people will counter that it is the “law of supply and demand.” Except that that is not actually true. People say, “You are producing too many PhDs and too many MAs, and there are not enough positions, so labor is cheap.”
The idea that there’s a surplus is flawed and is a fraud.
In higher education, the demand for the product (a higher education) is actually going up. The student body is growing consistently, and obviously someone must teach these students. Demand is going up, and generally when demand goes up there are more jobs, and pay goes up along with them.
The problem, then, is not that the jobs don’t exist or that the highly trained professionals aren’t needed. So if demand is going up, what the hell?
There are a couple facts here that lead to the current dilemma:
States slashed their higher education budgets. States stopped making investments in higher education, some by as much as 40% since 2008. Think on that for a moment: 40%!
Imagine if your annual income was cut in half? What would you have to do? How would you survive? Things would really suck!! There are only two things you could do: try to get more income and try to cut your budget.
This is what universities are dealing with. What does it mean?
First, it means tuition is going up all the time.
Second, it changes hiring practices.
University administrators found a way to transition many middle class professor jobs into temp worker, “part time” jobs. Rather than keeping tenure track positions with benefits, they have turned much of the Top Ten Percent into cheap labor. You can hire 3-4 adjuncts for the price of one tenure-track faculty. That’s what they are doing. They are making labor costs cheaper and cheaper.
“In the 1970s, 67 percent of faculty were tenured or on a tenure track. Today that figure is down to 30 percent, and for those who run higher education such a low number is ideal. They cost less and are easy to get rid of.”
But wait a second...?
If demand for services is going up, but costs (professor pay is going down), why is tuition still going up?
Here is your answer: “From 1987 until 2011-12—the most recent academic year for which comparable figures are available—universities and colleges collectively added 517,636 administrators and professional employees, or an average of 87 every working day.”
As Herbert Hoover said, “Bureaucracy is ever desirous of spreading its influence and its power.”
While most organizations attempt to become mean and lean – or at least leaner – by cutting managerial positions and costs, universities have done the exact opposite. They cut professor positions, added adjuncts, and then shifted the money to their own fiefdoms. (We all know what money = power.)
“Universities are now filled with armies of functionaries—vice presidents, associate vice presidents, assistant vice presidents, provosts, associate provosts, vice provosts, assistant provosts, deans, deanlets, and deanlings, all of whom command staffers and assistants.”
So the reason that your tuition continues to go up is because:
"The bureaucracy is expanding to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy." - Unknown
Not the faculty.
Not the students.
And that’s why your college teacher is on food stamps.