The Chronicle of Higher Education
January 14th, 2015
Next week, when the president re-announces his “free community
college” plan during the State of the Union address, I’d like to see him
add a sentence about the teachers.
They’ve been missing in the White House language
promoting the plan. None of the critics, even those who have said mean
things about community colleges, have mentioned the plight of part-time
community-college teachers. With a few exceptions, such as this Chronicle piece by Peter Schmidt,
the journalism surrounding the plan has focused on students, costs, and
consequences. Nothing we do to change higher education in this country
will matter if the students are mostly being taught by overworked,
underpaid, contingent labor.
It is now the job of professional organizations (especially those
with a presence in D.C.), faculty members lucky enough to have full-time
work, and all advocates for economic justice to unite on this issue. We
need to elevate the voices of those who are most engaged in adjunct
advocacy, stand with them, and speak up ourselves. If we, as a country,
are going to send more people to college, those new students should find
well-supported full-time teachers waiting for them when they arrive.