On National Adjunct Walkout Day, contracted instructors are leaving the classroom.
Image via Twitter user Adjunct Action (@AdjunctAction)
Tuition prices continue to rise unabated, but that money’s not going towards the salaries of professors and instructors. Today, thousands of adjunct professors are protesting poor working conditions by staging a walkout. On National Adjunct Walkout Day, instructors are hoping they’ll be able to raise awareness about the poverty-level wages they recieve for working long, difficult hours on a job that is intellectually, physicall and emotionally demanding. But because being an adjunct means you’re easier to fire—all the college has to do is terminate your contract—and some state laws allow universities to fire teachers who walk out, many instructors are staging teach-ins today instead.
Colleges and universities are increasingly employing adjuncts as contractors—part-time workers who don’t recieve health care benefits—and using fewer and fewer tenured professors. When dwindling financial resources demand expenditure cuts, contracted workers provide easy budget relief. According to the American Association of University Professors, three out of four professors were adjunct in the 2012-13 school year. That’s over a million teachers.
Adjunct professors often make less than minimum wage, and many of them even qualify for food stamps and welfare assistance. Much of the time, they’re not even given office space and often have to work for multiple colleges, commuting from campus to campus. Around 65 percent of university professors reported having multiple jobs—17 percent of them said they had more than two jobs.
All of this indicates not only a growing neglect of our higher education system and an undervaluation of human labor but an overall deterioration of education quality. Teachers living below the poverty line and working multiple jobs will not be able to perform at their best. This isn’t a system that’s sustainable and it’s certainly not the best way to invest in our educational institutions.
Image via the National Adjunct Walkout Day Facebook page.