Thursday, May 31, 2012

NBC story to focus on #adjunct profs' struggles

Karen Kelsky ~ #NewFac12 Summiteer, pro-adjunct convert, formerly tenured admin, now deftly consulting on the Byzantine ways of the academic job market ~ just posted this call on The Professor Is In and the open Facebook group, Con Job: Stories of Adjunct and Contingent Faculty
Urgent request. NBC Nightly News is still interested in covering the Ph.D. Poverty topic, but are shifting their angle. This AM I got this email: "Since we last spoke, I have done some more research and it looks like the percentage of PhDs on food stamps doesn’t really hold that much weight in the grand scheme of things. I want to change the story angle a little bit and just focus on part-time and adjunct professors and the struggles that they endure. I was wondering if I could talk to you on the phone and ask you where I could find some good solid evidence focusing on adjunct professors and their financial troubles and job security." 
Setting aside my issues with what counts in the grand scheme of things, I want to keep this topic alive. I have not yet responded, and before I do, I want to source the crowd----what and where is "good solid evidence" about adjunct professors and their financial troubles? We are creating documentaries and sharing stories.... but are there any studies? 
I will of course direct him to Josh Boldt's Adjunct Project salary table. But anything else?
I pitched in recommending....
Both Megan for Con Job documentary and Debra Leigh Scott for her Homeless Adjunct project. Maria Maisto and Esther Merves (research and special projects) would probably be the best sources for extant studies. My off the top impression is that there have not been many (the dog that did not bark in the night) and that most information is anecdotal. Maybe it's time to think about how to scrape that, grab a sympathetic data dude focusing on higher ed analytics.
NFM board member and good soldier Steve Street added....
For a start on a slew of studies and stats based on US Dept of Ed figures and others, direct your source to AAUP's Issues/contingency page and the multiple links on it, and AFT/FACE's similar, if sometimes arguably less pro-contingent, documents.
You can read the complete thread on Con Job 


  1. I'm not in the ConJob group (otherwise I'd post there) ... but, if you can add this to the group post, please do!

    NBC would probably be very interested in the people people who are putting together the Juncted documentary (Chris LaBree of 2255 Films and and Debra Leigh Scott, of Hidden River Arts). They have a YouTube channel with the trailer and some of the video narratives they're collecting.

    In solidarity,
    --- deborah

  2. I'm not in the group otherwise I'd post there too. What about introducing the topic VERY RELEVANT TO ALL ADJUNCTS-- that we don't get Unemployment Insurance when we're not teaching?

    I struggled for TWO YEARS with a case that I actually won. I won the case because the Judge thought I qualified since between the years I was making less overall. CUNY appealed the case & it dragged on for ages. It was just settled finally in March of this past year-- siding with CUNY against me. Honestly, if I didn't have another income in my family I would not be able to survive. I've been turned down for food stamps and for other public assistance.

    And, in addition, I just discovered my department was doing a search for a full time lecturer but never notified anyone since apparently the position was advertised, once ages ago & probably briefly because I never saw it, on CUNY FIRST. But since the search is closed, adjuncts need not apply.

    In Fellowship

  3. I am for all of the suggestions so far-so I am just adding on (sorry if I am repeating-have read fast)

    1) Ask them to look into issues of MISREPORTING, UNDER-REPORTING, and NON-REPORTING, to Federal agencies, by institutions in regard to numbers of adcon faculty. I'll be happy to make a newsworthy charge or two in this area.

    2) Ask them to look at how many new adjunct labor unions have been formed recently (not many, but a serious uptick in a short period of time)

    3) Ask them to press faculty unions hard on the question of equal representation, conflict-of-interest, and related issues.

    4) Ask them to quash the idea that "adjunct" is represented best by practicing (often well-off and, certainly, often very well-intentioned) lawyers and MDs, or by Jill Biden.

    5) Ask them to at least consider that adjunct/contingent faculty are less white and more female than "regular" faculty.

    6) Ask them to make it very plain (and this is quite verifiable) that regular T/TT faculty have in fact been shrinking in the nation as a whole, as a percentage of all faculty, for four decades.

    7) Ask them to consider that, in the most politically "sweet" sector—community colleges—the use of adcons has grown more rapidly, and the "regular" sector has shrunk even more—that elsewhere.

    8) Ask them to consider whether or not this all keeps faith with the "learning equals earning" mantra.

    That's all I can think of at the moment. Alan

  4. I passed on both suggestions to Maria. Deborah ~ I hope they do contact Debra and Chris for footage.

    @Jessie ~ neat blog (old time and long standing Dr Who fan), adding it to rss reader and blog roll here too.

    I'm pretty sure unemployment comp will be on the list as it's one of our major initiatives. I'll still be reminding them anyway. I've seen a number of the accounts submitted to the initiative. The UC system is a mess, no consistency. Schools claiming "reasonable assurance" a joke.

    When faculty groups met with Undersecretary of Education Martha Kanter last month, Maria brought up the issues of inconsistent access to unemployment insurance by contingent faculty and specifically asked her for help. Kanter asked NFM follow up with her so that she can approach the Department of Labor.


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