Revolution Lullabye

June 23, 2015

Kinney, Fellowship for the Ring: A Defense of Critical Administration in the Corporate University

Kinney, Kelly. “Fellowship for the Ring: A Defense of Critical Administration in the Corporate University.” WPA: Writing Program Administration 32.3 (Spring 2009): 37-48. Print.

Kinney enters the debate about creating full-time non-tenure-track lines in composition and argues that in writing programs throughout the U.S., these full-time lines, though not on the “faculty ladder,” do result in less exploitation of composition faculty. She uses her own experience as an ABD fellow in the Grand Valley State University’s Department of Writing (an independent writing program) to argue that these kinds of positions can not only give composition instructors greater stability and better wages and benefits but also can help create institutional environments that support and value the teaching of writing.

Kinney resists arguments made by Sledd, Bousquet, and others, who saw WPAs who created non-tenure-track composition lines as either complacent with the larger corporate university structure or as eroding the possibility of more tenure-lines. Kinney is pragmatic in her analysis, arguing that WPAs have the power to negotiate for better models for employing composition faculty.

Notable Notes

Discusses the debate about creating full-time non-tenure-track lines in composition: is it creating “boss compositionists,” with just a few tenured WPAs overseeing large masses of teachers, or is it a way that WPAs are trying to rectify the poor wages and working conditions of part-time, adjunct contingent labor?

Cites the major debate between James Sledd and Joseph Harris in CCC (September 2001), uses it to frame the discussion around non-tenure-track composition appointments. In this essay Kinney is responding to Sledd, who saw WPAs as complacent in higher administration’s plans to exploit composition labor.

Her admin work as a doctoral student slowed down her progress toward degree, ran out of her stipend. At the end of her 4th year she became a fellow at GVSU

Discusses the problem of putting pressure on grad students to professionalize, diversify, which slows down their progress (and many never finish). She argues though that her fellowship helped her on the job market and gave her a decent wage as she finished her PhD.

Defines “situated leadership” (a term coined by Sullivan et al), “a concept which reinterprets the ethic of service and helps theorize active ways of applying institutional critique.” WPAs should be rhetorical in how they administrate (40) Kinney argues that he WPAs at GVSU practiced “situated leadership” – reflective, critical analysis of situations, understanding the local context and situatedness.

The Department of Writing at GVSU had 2 kinds of FT NTT positions that had good wages and benefits: “the real improvements in work life for composition instructors are not to be underestimated” (41). One kind was a fellow for ABDs, MFAs, and PhDs. Fellows had conference support and had schedules to allow for scholarship, no service obligations. The second line was Affiliate Faculty positions – again, good wages, renewable 3-year contracts

This Department of Writing is independent of the English Department, and so was able to hire instructors who wanted to teach writing.

Key concept to her argument: the commitment to writing and composition, both the teaching and the field

Argues that FT NTT lines are a step up for composition instructors, who historically have been some of the most marginalized and vulnerable contingent faculty, rejects the “preoccupation with tenure lines,” saying that this position does not help these faculty.

Quotable Quotes

“Although always influenced by institutional constraints, WPAs can be powerful advocates for traditionally exploited writing instructors” (38).

“I found administrative work politically empowering. It gave me a sneak peak into the mechanisms of university bureaucracy, allowed me to see how incremental change was possible, and taught me how I might become an agent in institutional reform” (39).

“Critique is slow to effect change, and often neglects institution-specific exigencies.” (40).

“Through their commitment to the teaching of writing as a legitimate academic pursuit—a commitment that necessitated creating quality working conditions for all writing instructors—Grand Valley’s WPAs were able to attract and maintain a stable, experienced, and well-credentialed staff of composition faculty, committed pedagogues eager to engage in innovative practices such as directed self-placement, multi-grader portfolio assessment, and the development of an undergraduate writing major” (43).

“When ladder faculty ignore their non-tenure-track colleagues by single-mindedly campaigning for tenure-track positions, exploitation ensues.” (44)

makes the point that negotiation is necessary, utopia is not possible with academic labor unions. Compromise is the name of the game:

“Although some equate all forms of administration with a dance with the devil—and of course there’s an undeniably romantic appeal to such an equation and dismissal—most people involved with the labor movement understand that negotiation is at the heart of collective struggle. As we move toward better working conditions for composition instructors, we must continue to negotiate with the corporate university” (45)

“Perhaps the biggest professional compensation I received at Grand Valley, then, was not the solid wages and scholarly status I earned as a Composition Fellow, but the administrative imagination to envision better working conditions for all writing instructors, but particularly adjunct workers. Because of the time I’ve spent in a department that fosters equitable working conditions, I have recognized the power of administrative agency, and the empowering potential of WPA work” (45) – the real gift of her position as fellow at GVSU

Wants to “work together to realize alternative labor possibilities” (46).

June 12, 2013

Halpern, The Preceptor Problem: The Effect of Undisciplined Writing on Disciplined Instructors

Halpern, Faye. “The Preceptor Problem: The Effect of ‘Undisciplined Writing’ on Disciplined Instructors.” Writing Program Administration 36.2 (Spring 2013): 10-26.

Halpern uses her experience as a preceptor (full-time instructor) in the Harvard Expository Writing Program, an independent writing program that hires instructors from across the disciplines to teach an ‘undisciplined’ approach to academic writing, to discuss the effects of programmatic philosophies on the professional development and disciplinary identity of their instructors. Much of the scholarship on independent writing programs have focused on how stand-alone programs affect the identity and working conditions/relationships of the full-time faculty; Halpern’s article provides an in-depth look at how administrative decisions like the creation of independent writing programs or the adoption of particular writing curriculum affect instructors both while they are teaching in the program and after they leave and teach or work elsewhere.

Halpern argues that there is a problem with freestanding/independent writing programs like Harvard’s or Duke’s because the transdisciplinary nature of the programs leaves instructors without a solid disciplinary identity. Halpern points out that these independent writing programs often function as happy intellectual islands, developing their own theories, terms, and language. When instructors (whose positions are really not meant to be permanent positions but rather post-doc-like instructorships) leave, they are not well-prepared to enter into the disciplinary conversations and debates that characterize most academic departments. Halpern argues that WPAs and full-time faculty at independent writing programs need to consider the professional development needs and disciplinary identities of their instructors, preparing them not just to be successful teachers in that particular environment but also at other institutions.

Notable Notes

transdisciplinarity (11) – what writing shares across disciplines instead of what makes each discipline’s writing distinct

the effect of liberation, freedom, and independence on all stakeholders

the many ways it is difficult for an instructor to move from an instructorship to a tenure-track position (16-17)

characteristic of American colleges/universities/academic departments; thinking in terms of disciplinarity (20-21)

important effect: your graduate school training and early jobs have a profound effect on how you view yourself as a teacher and and academic, where you place yourself in the field (22-23)

connection to Duke (in article), possible connection to Syracuse and the Writing Program’s effect on the professional development and identity of the instructors

list of terms used by the Harvard Expos program – creation of a discourse community (13)

Quotable Quotes

“Academic expertise usually involves learning a discipline, but that is precisely not what I learned at Expos: I learned how to move beyond my discipline” (15).

“Perhaps one of the hardest things for a program to do is to acknowledge its own partiality. I mean ‘partiality’ in two senses: programs are partial to their own methods, and their methods constitute only one approach, an approach that intersects inevitably with the work of others” (23).

 

December 31, 2010

Phelps, Telling a Writing Program Its Own Story

Phelps, Louise Wetherbee. “Telling the Writing Program Its Own Story: A Tenth-Anniversary Speech.” The Writing Program Administrator as Researcher: Inquiry in Action and Reflection. Eds. Rose and Weiser. Boynton/Cook Heinemann, 1999. 168-84.

Phelps uses the metaphor of a “Great Group” to explain the heady, exciting first years of the Syracuse Writing Program. It wasn’t exactly a “Great Group” – Great Groups are usually elite, young, and self-selected, and at the Writing Program, the independent writing program grew from a very heterogeneous faculty and staff, diverse in age, experience, and in degree. Phelps explains that the Writing Program had a tension-filled dynamic, a thrilling roller-coaster ride oscillating between order and chaos. Phelps argues that this dynamic is central to the development of any complex system or organization. Phelps also describes the storytelling role of leaders, explaining why it is crucial for WPAs to use rhetoric through speech and through writing to communicate to their program and to the university at large.

December 30, 2010

Phelps, Fitting the Institution That’s There

Phelps, Louise Wetherbee. “Fitting the Institution That’s There.” National Conference of Teachers of English, Los Angeles, November 1987.

In this 1987 NCTE presentation, Phelps describes how program design is an extension of process theory and argues for WPAs to define and see program construction as a design problem. Phelps explains how starting an independent writing program from the ground up involves working in and through chaos. She points out that writing program design has a “human element,” and that WPAs must design programs, balance costs and plan long-term goals always with the thinking of how changes and systems will affect the people working in them. She uses the first two years of the Syracuse Writing Program to explain her theory of writing program design.

Notes and Quotes

“But if teachers are taking such active roles in the Proqram, we need a model of program administration that empowers them to act on their ideas. For this reason among others we are designing a collaborative, entrepeneurial, decentralized administrative structure, cultivating leaders among the faculty of teaching assistants and part-time instructors, trying to diffuse authority and responsibility throughout the Program. Besides the intellectual and ethical justification, we need a much more professional, committed, expert faculty if we are to move the Program out into the university at large, working with other faculty, not to mention the reforms we are undertaking within our own course responsibilities.” (4)

December 9, 2010

Stock et al, The Scholarship of Teaching

Stock, Patricia Lambert, Amanda Brown, David Franke, and John Starkweather. “The Scholarship of Teaching: Contributions from Contingent Faculty.” In Moving a Mountain. Eds. Schell and Stock. Urbana: NCTE, 2000. 287-323.

The authors, who all worked or are currently working in the Syracuse University Writing Program, argue for a reconceptualization of the teaching portfolio from a static portrait of what good teaching should look like to one that sees teaching as scholarship and that highlights how the teacher makes and implements pedagogical, scholarly discoveries. They contend that seeing teaching portfolios as evidence of the scholarship of teaching would “demonstrate that the scholarship of teaching is not one among several overlapping scholarships but a holistic scholarship of discovery, integration, application, and teaching, all at once, together” (292). The essay uses the reflective essays from the portfolios of Brown and Starkweather to show how part-time and contingent faculty engage in the scholarship of teaching.

Notes and Quotes

“If teaching portfolios are to figure as more than a body of portraits of effective teaching; if they are to figure as contributions to a scholarship of teaching…they will need to be composed and read as discoveries about teaching and the subjects taught, as evidence of the integration of new and familar understandings of teaching and the subjects taught as well as scholarly applications of what is known about teaching particular subjects to particular students in particular times and places” (291).

The Syracuse WP was designed to do 2 things collectively among all members – construct the writing curriculum (spiral studio) and do inquiry into the field and the program activities that would allow for continuous assessment and amending of the curriculum and the program practices. Activities that aided this were the coordinating groups, Reflections, plan symposiums and colloquia, and construct portfolios.

Tingle and Kirscht, A Place to Stand

Tingle, Nicholas and Judy Kirscht. “A Place to Stand: The Role of Unions in the Development of Writing Programs.” In Moving a Mountain. Eds. Schell and Stock. Urbana: NCTE, 2000. 218-232.

This chapter explains why the lecturers in the University of California system unionized, how that union affects both their writing program and the lecturers working in the writing programs. The authors argue that the unionized lecturers are really a different sort of employee, and there is an invisible wall between thsoe who teach at the university and those who do research, a labor distinction that led to the creation of the independent UC Santa Barbara writing program. They warn that American universities are beginning to act more openly like corporations, making decisions based on economics instead of education.

Notes and Quotes

“The iron law governing the employment of lecturers, and all ‘temps’ for that matter, has been and always will be economics” (220).

short-term stop-gap part-time employment in the 1970s became the norm in an inflexible, tenure-heavy university system.

“While lecturers were increasingly hired as professional educators, the university administration remained wedded to a view of lecturers as satisfying a short-term economic need. This view was perhaps reinforced by the fanciful notion that, if suddenly and for no apparent reason the quality of entering students dramatically impoved, there would be no need for teachers at all” (221).

UC Santa Barbara program – run mostly by lecturers on union contract, an independent writing program

the university is not the only corporation that is increasingly relying on temporary workers – “Historically, a central factor mitigating against the more inhumane excesses of capitalism has been and continues to be unions and the threat of unionization” (231).

December 8, 2010

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

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

December 7, 2010

Schell and Stock, Moving a Mountain

Schell, Eileen E. and Patricia L. Stock. Moving a Mountain: Transforming the Role of Contingent Faculty in Composition Studies and Higher Education. Urbana: NCTE, 2000.

This collection studies the role of contingent faculty in composition instruction, investigating local and disciplinary perspectives from a variety of stakeholders: administrators, faculty, part-time instructors, and policymakers. It includes a bibliography of scholarship on contingent labor both in composition specifically and in higher education more generally.

Introduction: Schell and Stock, “Working Contingent Faculty in[to] Higher Education.” 1-44

Schell and Stock, seeing the complextiy of the issue of contingent faculty labor, hope that this book will spark conversations among compositionists and others in higher education about the increasing use of contingent faculty to teach the vast majority of lower-division courses at American colleges and universities. Their hope is that these conversations will lead into changes in policies and practices surrounding contingent labor, which they believe is important for both the faculty and the students that they teach. Their introduction to the collection includes an extensive literature review of scholarship on contingent labor beyond composition, from the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. The collection is a response to the call in the CCCC Statement on Professional Standards for research and case studies on contingent labor conditions and solutions that could serve as guidelines to others in the field and in higher education. Their introduction explains the three sections of the book: 1. a series of personal and institutional case studies about contingent faculty and their working conditions and place in writing programs; 2. chapters that explain the move by contingent faculty toward collective bargaining and coalition building; and 3. a section that argues that it is often the non-tenure-track, contingent faculty that lead the way for innovative teaching practices in higher education (technology, service learning, distance education.)

Notes and Quotes

Increasing student enrollment between 1970 and 1985 (huge rise in underserved and minority populations) led to universities increasingly relying on part-time, contingent faculty to staff lower-division required courses. Why did this work? Also an increase in the number of master’s degree and PhD candidates who were looking for jobs, so universities had plenty of qualified candidates to fill non-tenure-track jobs, which were cheaper (no benefits, no tenure, no long-term contracts.)

Ernst Benjamin, Secretary of the AAUP, wrote in his 1997 paper that non-tenure-track faculty (not including graduate TAs) account for over half the teaching faculty in American colleges and universities (4-5).

The labor problem is an ethical problem. What are responsible and ethical solutions? Are you waiting for a Rosa Parks?

“The growing reliance on contingent employment is not unrelated to what many predict will be the erosion of the tenure and faculty governance system of higher education, the virtual absence of tenure-line faculty in lower-division teaching, and the transformation of a system of higher education that is generally regarded as the finest in the world into one which the long-term benefits of quality education will have been sacrificed for short-term economic gains” (6). 

composition is a good field to start this discussion – there have been contingent faculty working in composition for decades, it offers the most widely offered first-year required course, and the field has been working to improve the working conditions of its contingent faculty.

scholarship on contingent faculty isn’t just from composition; draws on higher education, social science, policy, economics, education, demography, sociology.

part-time faculty are a diverse bunch: those who have full-time careers and teach like consultants, those who want part-time positions, those who are trying to piece together several part-time positions and wait for a tenure-track job to open up, those without the PhD credentials who are still trying to scrap by a living, etc. Women are more often tracked into part-time positions.

scholarship draws a lot on personal narrative, statistics, broad institutional surveys and studies.

Wyoming Resolution: drafted in 1986 by full-time and contingent faculty at the summer Wyoming Conference in English Studies

contingent faculty tied into rising corporatization of the university

moves, rhetoric of unionization and coalition-building in the 1990s, questioning of the purpose of university faculty (where Boyer’s work comes out of)

Wyche-Smith and Rose, One Hundred Ways to Make the Wyoming Resolution a Reality

Wyche-Smith, Susan and Shirley K Rose. “One Hundred Ways to Make the Wyoming Resolution a Reality: A Guide to Personal and Political Action.” College Composition and Communication 41.3 (1990): 318-325. Print.

Wyche-Smith and Rose, recognizing that the conditions outlined by the CCCC Statement of Principles and Standards for the Postsecondary Teaching of Writing and the actual working conditions of writing teachers at American colleges and universities seem far apart and almost incompatible, list one hundred local, institutional ways writing teachers, tenured professors, non-tenured instructors, and WPAs can work to make the Wyoming Resolution a reality. The list is organized by actor: first things students can do; then things composition instructors can do; then things a part-time faculty member can do; things a graduate teaching assistant can do; then things a writing-program and writing-center administrator can do; things department heads can do; things deans can do; things professional organizations can do; things editors of professional journals can do.

Notes and Quotes

Wyoming Resolution drafted by writing teachers at a conference in Laramie, Wyoming. It addressed the working conditions of writing teachers in college and argued that their unprofessional treatment had an impact on students’ education. The resolution was endorsed by CCCC in 1987, which appointed the Committee on Professional Standards for Quality Education, which then issued the Statement of Principles and Standards for the Postsecondary Teaching of Writing in 1989.

What’s interesting to me is the organization of this hierarchy: it assumes a writing program model built with WPAs managing TAs and part-time instructors. There’s no departmental structure, full-time faculty roles here.

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