The closing of American academia – Opinion – Al Jazeera English
The last line of this article really struck a chord with me: “My father, the first person in his family to go to college, tries to tell me my degree has value. ‘Our family came here with nothing,’ he says of my great-grandparents, who fled Poland a century ago. ‘Do you know how incredible it is that you did this [earned a PhD], how proud they would be?’ And my heart broke a little when he said that, because his illusion is so touching – so revealing of the values of his generation, and so alien to the experience of mine.”
Reading this statement elicited a very similar response in me – my eyes teared up when reading about how proud this dad is of his daughter because it reminded me of how proud my parents are of me and my PhD. I also feel the same sadness that the author does – being raised by someone how lived the American Dream and told me my whole life that I could do anything if I just work hard enough. In reality, when 2/3s of college instructors are adjunct or contract, when education is being de-funded, when the educated class is being impoverished, and jobs are vanishing, there is no such thing as “if you just work hard enough you will be (financially) successful.” I think that’s something all of the approximately 1 million adjunct faculty can certainly attest to. Even the slackers among us are overworked, to say nothing of the overachievers.
And that’s saying nothing about the kind of education these students are going in debt to receive. In my most highly-enrolled semester, I got paid $25 per student for the entire semester. And I am one of the lucky ones – I do not get paid below the poverty line and I do receive benefits. Even teaching hundreds and hundreds of students, I refuse to not assign research papers or include written questions on my exams. There are those of us who have high standards, but more likely are the adjuncts who would never even think of assigning their classes of 100 or 200 or 600 students 10-15 pages of writing per student. Because they simply do not get paid enough. I don’t care what Romney says about class size not mattering, it is not possible to be the best teacher you can be to 600 students.
1. The next time you think professors get paid too much, remember that the high salaries of tenured faculty are drastically offset by the 2/3 of faculty barely making a livable wage (or well below, in most cases).
2. We must stop telling students that college education is a means to a job – my generation (and their generation) cannot be anything they want to be, even if they work really, really hard. Many will not find jobs in their fields. This is only multiplied by the decreasing quality of their education (despite the best efforts of those of us who really care) and their increasing debt.
Read the original article here: The closing of American academia – Opinion – Al Jazeera English.