Wednesday, January 14, 2015

What’s Missing From the Debate on Obama’s Free Community-College Plan

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.

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