Two recent items about higher education in the USA from The New York Times to help you get into the holiday spirit:
The first is Raising Ambitions: The Challenges of Teaching at Community Colleges, which profiles the working conditions of Dr. Eduardo Vianna, a professor at LaGuardia Community College in Queens, New York. Dr. Vianna, who has an MD in addition to a PhD, teaches five courses a semester to students who don’t understand the difference between correlation and causation and lives in a 500-square foot apartment with his wife and daughter.
The second is the op-ed Your Waitress, Your Professor, about earning three times more as a waitress than teaching freshman English courses as an adjunct. A quick bit of Googling reveals that the webpage for the university department where the author is employed lists what appear to be thirty-six full-time faculty (this figure includes positions like composition program assistant director) and a combined ninety-six instructors and graduate assistants, the vast majority of whom teach on a part-time basis for low pay and no health or retirement benefits.
As I’ve discussed before, higher education is changing. A lot of people who either currently work in academia or plan to in the future are going to wake up one morning to find a lump of coal in the stocking they’ve hung by the fire.