Revolution Lullabye

December 9, 2010

Schell, What’s the Bottom Line

Schell, Eileen E. “What’s the Bottom Line? Literacy and Quality Education in the Twenty-First Century.” In Moving a Mountain. Eds. Schell and Stock. Urbana: NCTE, 2000. 324-340.

Schell, looking at the changing landscape of higher education that is increasingly corporate and reliant on part-time contingent faculty labor, argues that in order to provide quality writing instruction, the discipline needs to work toward four conditions – “compensation, contracts, conditions of work, and coalition building.” Schell argues that arguments about contingent labor need to be brought from the individual level (citing the problematic rhetorical shift that blames the people, not the institutions) to the systematic level, where employment policies and their effects can be critiqued and changed. She advocates moving from a “rhetoric of lack” to a “rhetoric of responsibility”: asking and working for what is required for part-time and NTT faculty to be successful in their work and also who is responsible for it: institutions, faculty, students.

Notes and Quotes

“How can we work around what I have come to call the ‘hidden economy’ of part-time work, the ways in which institutions often profit from the undercompensated emotional and material investments that non-tenure-track faculty make in their teaching?” (327) These investments “constitute a not-insignificant, hidden economy of part-time labor” (327) – these costs are hidden because part-time faculty compensate for that which they are not provided for (copying, office space, etc.)

This hidden economy has both a “gendered and classed nature” that cannot be ignored

“Why do institutions hire and then fail to provide part-time faculty with working conditions necessary for the provision of quality education? The bottom-line answer is simple: cost-savings” – but at what cost? (329)

Writing instruction is regarded as essential to a student’s undergraduate education, so why are those who teach not given the resources they need to teach it well?

There is a need to build coalitions and visible teaching communities – communities that nuture and sustain the development of both teachers and students (332)

need to connect quality education with quality teaching and working conditions.

4Cs

1. compensation – wide range in salaries. Need to change the “piecework system” that persists (333).

2. contracts – get multi-year contracts that guarantee good salaries and benefits

3. conditions – value writing and teaching-intensive positions, work to get better working conditions

4. coalition-building – including unionization, collective bargaining initiatives

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.

DeVoss et al, Distance Education

DeVoss, Danielle, et al. “Distance Education: Political and Professional Agency for Adjunct and Part-Time Faculty, and GTAs.” In Moving a Mountain. Eds. Schell and Stock. Urbana: NCTE, 2000.

Statistics show that nontenured and adjunct instructors are far more likely to staff complex, time-consuming distance-education courses than tenured faculty because they are more willing to take on a pedagogical risk (needing the pay) and often have more up-to-date technological skills. The authors argue that these distance education courses need to be move from the sidelines and there needs to be adequate training, support, and compensation for those teaching them. The challenges of distance education raise questions for teachers, programs, universities, and the discipline at large: what effects come from distance education? How do we respond to them? Who is repsonsible?

Notes and Quotes

rise in distance education course offerings reflects the changing demographics of the American college student.

her distance education course reached over 50 students at 23 sites; her classes were video and audio-taped

Benko, Climbing a Mountain

Benko, Debra A. “Climbing a Mountain: An Adjunct Steering Committee Brings Change to Bowling Green State University’s English Department.” In Moving a Mountain. Urbana: NCTE, 2000. 245-258.

Benko explains how the BGSU adjunct steering committee, which functions as a union for nontenured faculty at Bowling Green, worked slowly to improve the working conditions and professional treatment of the campus’ adjuncts, incuding getting rid of the “No Hire Rule” after 5 years (worry over de facto tenure), obtaining health benefits, and gaining voting rights for nontenured faculty.

Notes and Quotes

steering committee as a local alternative to a union, goal is to establish open lines of communication with upper administrators

Peled et al, Same Struggle, Same Fight

Peled, Elana, et al. “Same Struggle, Same Fight: A Case Study of University Students and Faculty United in Labor Activism.” In Moving a Mountain. Eds. Schell and Stock. Urbana: NCTE, 2000. 233-244.

The authors explain how cuts to the English department budget – cutting needed composition classes and leaving 14 lecturers out of jobs in the spring semester – led to San Franscisco State University students joining forces with the lecturers to protest the university’s unfair employment practices. They use this case to argue for the importance of coalition building with students and the public.

Notes and Quotes

students are aware of the importance of their writing courses – and denying them enough sections puts them on an extended (expensive) degree plan.

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).

Lovas, How Did We Get in This Fix

Lovas, John C. “How Did We Get in This Fix? A Personal Account of the Shift to a Part-Time Faculty in a Leading Two-Year College District.” In Moving a Mountain. Eds. Schell and Stock. Urbana: NCTE, 2000. 196-217.

Lovas documents the over-use and over-reliance on part-time faculty in American colleges by describing the situation at his 2-year Silicon Valley institution and argues that the best solution to this problem – which he contends affects everyone from adjuncts and their full-time colleagues to taxpayers, legislators and administrators – is for part-time faculty themselves to organize and create strong faculty unions that are supported by legislators and the public. He ties full-time or permanent part-time positions to quality undergraduate teaching.

Notes and Quotes

baby boom overwhelmed state college systems – an economic solution was to hire lots of part-timers

Foothill-De Anza Community College District

problem reaches beyond individual institutions – to state legislators, who have a say in state-run universities – and to the taxpayers and public

freeway flyers

Thompson, Faculty at the Crossroads

Thompson, Karen. “Faculty at the Crossroads: Making the Part-Time Problem a Full-Time Focus.” In Moving a Mountain. Eds. Schell and Stock. Urbana: NCTE, 2000. 185-195.

Thompson describes some of the solutions she thinks would help solve the adjunct labor problem, drawing on the lessons learned in the UPS Teamsters strike: along with pro rata  compensation, she argues that adjunct faculty need to identify each other and become visible inside and outside the university, that full-time faculty need to join with adjunct faculty to argue for better working conditions, and that the problem needs to be explained to parents, taxpayers, and legislators so they can be in alliance with faculty (coalition building). Thompson contends that full-time faculty need to begin to acknowledge how universities are increasingly run through cost-driven management instead of in the best interests of faculty and students. She argues that it’s not only the overproduction of PhDs (a buyer’s market for universities) that is creating the adjunct labor problem: it is an erosion of tenure and full-time faculty lines, as universities are increasingly relying on part-time adjunct labor to teach their courses, as evidenced by the high demand for last-minute adjunct jobs.

Notes and Quotes

compares higher ed labor situation to UPS strike

“Economic problems need economic solutions.” (187).

part-timers who accept their situation: “Where do they get the idea this is an apprenticeship or the Peace Corps?” (189).

leading to the problem: increased administrative costs, which can happen with increasing reliance on low-pay adjunct wages.

full-time faculty need to use their seniority and power to work for adjuncts.

“visibility, unity, and persistence” (194) – the keys to success.

Jacobsohn, The Real Scandal in Higher Education

Jacobsohn, Walter. “The Real Scandal in Higher Education.” In Moving a Mountain. Eds. Schell and Stock. Urbana: NCTE, 2000. 159-184.

Jacobsohn uses his experience of working for the unionization of part-time faculty members at Long Island University-Brooklyn to argue for the importance of banding together adjuncts and their full-time colleagues in order to enact change at the university. He contends that part-timers often don’t move toward unionizing because they are used to being exploited and/or don’t consider that they could be the victims of exploitation: they assume that how they are treated is normal and OK. He describes four situations that will continue to prevent the needed addressing of the contingent labor problem in universities: 1. adjunct “passing” – adjuncts not acknowledging their status at the university; 2. inability for adjuncts to form a cohesive whole because of high turnover and temporary whole; 3. media and market forces working against unionization; and 4. refusal of full-time faculty to recognize the contingent labor problem and their role in it.

Notes and Quotes

“Writing this essay has been difficult for me because I write out of anger and frustration. I have read many intelligent and articulate essays about the pros and cons of employing contingent faculty in higher education, and I find it  difficult to identify with the dispassionate and distanced language these articles employ. I cannot repress entirely the irritation I feel when I hear glib analyses of the operations of power and privilege in texts and presentations. I believe that this language has failed us, has failed to reveal the problems that we have created and that we face in all their complexity, seriousness, and destructiveness” (161).

Part-time faculty members are a foundational part of the 21st cenutry university’s structure.

Full-time faculty members don’t like to regard themselves as workers – ties in with Horner’s Terms of Work for Composition.

“Full-time faculty often fail to see that they are responsible for adjunct faculty, and that ultimately, it is in their self-interest to take part in this process of changing not just the inequities associated with part-time faculty work, but with the very direction in higher education is moving” (179). There is a mutual interdependence between part-time faculty and full-time faculty.

Can’t wait for change to happen from above – must happen from below

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.

Next Page »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.