Revolution Lullabye

December 8, 2010

O’Grady, Trafficking in Freeway Flyers

O’Grady, Helen. “Trafficking in Freeway Flyers: (Re)Viewing Literacy, Working Conditions, and Quality Instruction.” In Moving a Mountain. Eds. Schell and Stock. Urbana: NCTE, 2000. 132-155.

O’Grady points at the contradictions between institutional mission statements and radical discourse about literacy and the working conditions of contingent faculty working in those institutions. O’Grady argues that changing how we address the contingent faculty labor problem could result in more productive ways to create better workign conditions.

Notes and Quotes

concern for quality undergraduate education but not an inadequate investment in the faculty delivering that instruction

teachers treated unprofessionally are preparing the next generation of professionals

link faculty working conditions to instructional quality

forums, dialogues, studies about part-time labor

O’Grady works part-time at several institutions – speaks from experience.

Lipson and Voorheis, The Material and the Cultural as Interconnected Texts

Lipson, Carol and Molly Voorheis. “The Material and the Cultural as Interconnected Texts: Revising the Conditions for Part-Time Faculty at Syracuse University.” In Moving a Mountain. Eds. Schell and Stock. Urbana: NCTE, 2000. 107-131.

Lipson and Voorheis describe the new teaching culture established through the independent Syracuse Writing Program, focusing on the 1. mechanisms that were put into place that allowed part-time faculty to take leadership positions that included compensation; 2. the merit pay system that allowed for part-time teaching careers; and 3. the peer evaluation portfolio system of part-time teachers. They argue that the changes in the material conditions for part-time instructors go hand-in-hand with the cultural change in the program and at the university for valuing writing instruction – one does not occur before another; they happen in dialogue. Voorheis and Lipson argue that the Syracuse Writing Program was not just interested in changing the material conditions of its instructors; rather, the director (Phelps) worked with the members of the Program to radically shift the culture of the Writing Program and the university to one that visibly valued writing pedagogy, scholarship, and administration.

Notes and Quotes

Written 15 years after the first moves towards making the Syracuse Writing Program – after the “honeymoon” period.

The Writing Program (through the leadership of Phelps) used innovative, opportunistic ways to provide money for leadership and professional development activities, finding flexibility through packing sections to capacity and using extra ones, that were budgeted for, as release or discretionary sections (these were reigned in with the Syracuse University campus-wide budget cuts.)

In addition to working on part-time instructor working conditions in the Writing Program, there has been work towards opening up opportunties campus-wide for part-time instructors (can propose for funding, representation on the University Senate)

have not been able to create full-time instructor positions because of lawsuit potential: university faculty handbook says anyone who has taught for 6 years get tenure unless they are officially denied tenure.

“The merit awards helped established the basic values of the new teaching culture” (114).

created a 4-tier merit pay plan in the 1989-1990 school year: allowed for a sequence of advancement, identify those activities that were worthy of merit reward (115)

Introducing merit pay does create a tension: there are some who believe that all should be treated equally and others who think that those who contribute differently should be compensated differently.

Problems of the tiered merit pay plan: 1. the tiers were supposed to lead to full-time positions, which never materialized, so now they are dead-ends. 2. it takes a long time to progress, so beginning teachers are still not paid very well; 3. the merit pay increases cut into the yearly across-the-board raises, esp. those at the top of the pool – “The problem is inherent in a process bounded by a fixed salary pool that must accommodate both annual raises and merit tier upgrades” (118).

A system based on merit pay depends on evaluation (the TEC, put into place in spring 1990). This is expensive. It was redesigned years later to be sort of like tenure: once a part-time instructor passes through a certain level, they do not have to be evaluated, and the TEC does no longer include full-time faculty or adminstrative members. This new plan creates a new category of PWI: veteran intstructor, attainable after teaching in the Program for 5 years.

“The force of the new teaching culture was to emphasize the professional status of part-time faculty, and to underline their value to the program and to the profession.”

problem with coordinating groups: some of the instructors who taught in the old program saw it as top-down supervision and monitoring, not independence and professional (121-122). The structure of the coordinating groups changed to meet these concerns and needs of instructors, Program.

Suspicion: “While the program identiied these sites as generative places for the creation of a new culture, the part-time faculty viewed them through lenses ground in the old teaching culture – or in similar hierarchical environments” (121).

The teaching culture’s drawbacks are also its strenghs: it is a teaching culture (threatened by the new PhD program, which introduces a different cultural ethos); 2. it is resistant to change; 3. it relies on part-time – not full-time – positions.

peer control in evaluation

attached is the first and revised merit pay plan for PWIs

Brumberger, The Best of Times, the Worst of Times

Brumberger, Eva. “The Best of Times, The Worst of Times: One Verison of the ‘Humane’ Lectureship.” In Moving a Mountain. Eds. Schell and Stock. Urbana: NCTE, 2000. 91-106.

Brumberger investigates the benefits and consequences of full-time non-tenure-track instructorships, using interviews, documents, and responses from a small survey of the writing teachers at the University of Wyoming. Though the lectureships have increased the working conditions of the lecturers and their place in the university, they still continue a split in the valuing of the teaching of writing and of literature, as evidenced by their lower pay, inability to teach upper-division courses, inaccess to paid research leaves, and limited voting rights in the department. In the CWPA external evalution of the Wyoming Program, the evaluator suggested improvements, including making rhetoric and composition a more integral part of the English department’s mission and undergraduate major program.

Notes and Quotes

University of Wyoming created a “probationary to extended term academic professional lecturer” (P/ET APL) in 1992 – designed to hire and retain teachers without PhDs. They have a yearly reappointment process; have a 6-year probation period followed by a six-year renewable contract, 78% teaching and 22% professional development, a 4/3 load. Includes non-classroom assignments like tutoring in the writing center.

argues of the benefit of hiring from outside, national searches.

Maid, Non-Tenure-Track Instructors at UALR

Maid, Barry M. “Non-Tenure-Track Instructors at UALR: Breaking Rules, Splitting Departments.” In Moving a Mountain. Eds. Schell and Stock. Urbana: NCTE, 2000. 76-90.

Maid explains how the creation of full-time non-tenure-track faculty members at University of Arkansas-Little Rock in 1990 played a key role in the split of the English Department in 1993 and the creation of a new stand-alone Department of Rhetoric and Writing. He asks and explores whether it is possible to integrate the labor practices, purpose, and values of a writing program (university-wide teaching done primarily by untenured teachers) into a traditional English department, and he argues that the solution for many colleges and universities can only be independence from English departments.  Maid explains the problems of a faculty made primarily of full-time non-tenure-track faculty: though hired to teach, they begin to up the ante on themselves and push toward presenting and publishing, becoming in essence like tenure-track assistant professors without the benefits or guarantees of a tenured position. He argues for clear job descriptions and evaluation expectations.

Notes and Quotes

Model of a full-time instructor: one-year renewable contract, attendance at one professional conference a year, 4/4 with benefits, pay equivelent to a public school teacher, some departmental service, expect some departmental continuity.

department split largely because of a fear from tenured literature professors that the untenured full time instructors, who had voting rights, would outnumber them and begin dictating how the department was run.

those who espouse leftest ideas or embrace difference in their scholarship or pedagogy sometimes seem like hypocrites: “Yet, when it comes to those issues that are closest to them, labor issues and the governance of the academy, some are aristocrats of the first degree. Once a group sets itself up as being inherently superior to another group – whether that group is defined by academic degree, gender, or race – the first group cannot value or respect the different skills of the second group” (86).

different should not mean less than

Anson and Jewell, Shadows of the Mountain

Anson, Chris M. and Richard Jewell. “Shadows of the Mountain.” In Moving a Mountain. Eds. Stock and Schell. Urbana: NCTE, 2000. 47-75.

The authors, recognizing the complexity of the contingent labor issue in composition teaching, give their own labor narratives in their work of composition and then comment on each other’s stories, representing both the attention to individual voices and necessary dialogue that they believe must occur when trying to solve some of the deep labor problems in higher ed teaching. Though Anson argues that most of the reform must start small and locally, he points out that many of these grass-roots changes can too easily be squashed by more powerful forces in higher university administration, and he contends that labor reform in composition and higher education can only succeed through visible, national-level lobbying through major national organizations using tactics like censure.

Notes and Quotes

Argue that this issue must be approached with attention to individual stories, voices, histories. It can only be solved or approached in a spirit of dialogue, which they try to represent in this piece.

Jewell: professional development, conference attendance for part-timers without support is often limited to where you can go round-trip in one day.

It’s not just low pay that is the problem – it is no job security, no tenure, no intellectual freedom to design courses, no power or say in a department

Even people in the same department – tenured, part-time, etc – don’t know each other and don’t know what each other would want in a revised labor structure.

Anson initially opposed hiring full-time adjuncts, wanted to rely on TAs and a few part-timers.

“Work, any work, was better than nothing. Shut doors represented a more chilling fear than even the lousiest of teaching jobs” (66). Social Darwinism mentality.

“But more subtle inequities can be found in dozens of college and university literacy programs across the country – inequities of course assignments, scheduling, and sensitivity to personal situations; inequities of representation in decisions about class size or workload; pay inequities between people doing the same jobs with the same expectations; inequities in access to equipment, phones, office space, lounges, computer labs, and libraries; inequities in performance assessment; inequities in the advanced scheduling of course assignments; and inequities in curricular and pedagogical freedom. Any employer – in a warehouse, a manufacturing firm, a country club, or a composition program – has a responsibility to treat employees fairly and equally” (68).

“Good writing programs not only treat all their employees with fairness and respect but also create a climate in which people of all ranks and employmenet categories work together in a spirit of cooperation and collaboration, sensitive to each other’s needs and working for each other’s good, for the good of the program, and for the good of the students it serves” (71).

How do you treat those with the least amount of power – the untenured?

Blog at WordPress.com.