- Presidents Message, (Connecting to) The News of the World
- New Jersey County College Adjuncts Federate, By Bill Lipkin
- Meet the NFM Board: Anne Wiegard (NFM Secretary)
- Me and UC: Fighting "reasonable assurance" One adjunct's story
- A Word from NFM's Treasurer By Bill Lipkin
- A Documentary in the Making: Con Job
- Teach-on: Teach-in By Vanessa Vaile
|(Connecting to) The News of the World |
by Maria Maisto, NFM President
First, I am pleased to report that The Marguerite Casey Foundation in Seattle, Washington has awarded $25,000 to our nascent 501c(3) organization, New Faculty Majority Foundation, to support its ability to provide programming complementary to that of NFM. The NFM Foundation's goal for the next year is to 1) build capacity in ways that include employing staff, seeding further fundraising efforts and expanding its base of stakeholders; 2) begin identifying and gathering essential data currently missing from research on adjunct and contingent faculty; and 3) sponsor a summit meeting in Washington, DC, tentatively titled "Confronting Contingency."
Incredible, inspiring movements in support of justice and democracy have swept our country and others over the last couple of months. At the same time, unimaginable tragedy has befallen the residents of Japan, and regularly occurs both locally and globally every day. I sometimes find it difficult to keep perspective in the face of events that are so large in scope and significance. The project in which we are engaged - to establish fair and ethical working conditions for all higher education faculty in the US - can seem trivial when compared to the life-or-death situations of people in our communities and around the world. Indeed, when we take our message beyond our campuses, we often find that people respond to us in exactly this way. Expecting support from members of our communities, we are hurt when we hear instead, "You should be glad you have a job rather than complaining about your pay."
This is exactly what happened when NFM VP Matt Williams and I publishedan op-ed in the Cleveland Plain Dealer on Feb. 27: we laid out what we thought was a crystal clear explanation of the reasons contingent faculty working conditions need reform, and still received comments that betrayed deep misunderstanding of the reality and value of higher education.
Of course, we also know that we reached many new audiences - we were gratified to hear from many of them, and are inspired to continue our campaign to spread our message into the community. However, in doing so, we need to take the misunderstanding seriously and respond to the rebuffs exactly as we would to students in our classrooms and colleagues on our campuses: by being understanding and open, but also by challenging everyone to think more deeply and critically.
As educators, we have a responsibility to help our students and communities to understand the ways in which seemingly trivial and insignificant choices and events have ripple effects that affect neighbors near and far, for good and ill. The historic events in Wisconsin, for example, have reminded the country that no matter our experience or opinion of the labor movement, it was instrumental in securing most of the basic, humane workplace conditions that the fortunate among us currently take for granted. Current debates over training versus education desperately need our voices; we need to bolster the position of those who understand the critical role of the education we provide.
Likewise, struggles for democracy and human rights, wherever they take place, remind us how important it is to educate by example. This underlines"Confronting Contingency," to be held January 28, 2012, will convene contingent faculty, tenure-stream faculty, students, parents, college and university administrators, faculty union leaders, accreditors, state and federal policymakers, philanthropists, business leaders, and other stakeholders in higher education to focus exclusively on the problem of hiring higher education faculty on a contingent basis. The summit meeting will 1) educate the public about the effects of adjunct and contingent faculty working conditions on the quality of higher education and the teaching profession; 2) examine practical, ethical solutions and solicit a broad-based commitment to reform; and 3) provide adjunct and contingent faculty with the opportunity to engage in self-advocacy on an unprecedented national scale. We expect this event to be the first in a series that will keep higher education focused not only on the problem of contingency but, more importantly, on the need to commit to and implement real change.