TEACH: Transform the Employment of Academics Contingently Hired
At the January 28 2012 NFM Summit, we announced the formation of a Task Force to work on identifying and implementing some immediate and long term action items. The consensus at the Summit was the need to construct targeted messages aimed at educating and motivating different constituencies.
Projects that represent the kinds of efforts that we would like to see the Task Force undertake include The Program for Change, The Adjunct Project, and The Delphi Project on the Changing Faculty and Student Success.
The Program for Change and The Adjunct Project are spearheaded by Jack Longmate & Frank Cosco and by Josh Boldt, contingent faculty activists who involved with NFM. The projects were designed to educate colleagues and the general public about the problem (The Adjunct Project, which provides information to faculty, administrators, students, media and the public about existing working conditions on campuses nationwide) and about a possible solution: The The Program for Change , a blueprint for faculty and administrators to use, based on existing conditions at Vancouver Community College, to guide union negotiations and/or institutional reform efforts).
The Delphi Project on the Changing Faculty and Student Success, was initiated by Professor Adrianna Kezar, a Summit speaker, and has as its primary audience higher education “insiders” — administrators, accreditors, higher ed associations, and major faculty groups and unions. The Delphi Project aims to tap the expertise and energy of its participants in order to explore and launch practical solutions that will have the particular advantage of being proposed and supported by sectors of higher ed that may not have focused enough on contingency in the past, but are willing to do so now.
Current Task Force Projects:
(All of these projects need more volunteers!)
1. Petition to and Follow-up with VP Biden and Dr. Jill Biden
In light of the Vice President’s ill-informed comments declaring that faculty salaries are the cause of high college costs, NFM composed a petition and is seeking a meeting of a “contingent” of non-tenure-track faculty and their allies with Vice President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden to educate them about the reality of faculty working conditions and their effect on student learning, professional development, and access to the middle class.
2. Educate My Students
Sites that claim to rate professors are now abundant, and in general do more damage than good, especially when those providing feedback are neither verified nor held accountable. Because these sites are here to stay, it’s time to fight fire with … truth.
Help us to persuade the operators of these sites to add one paragraph of factual information to every professor-rating page. It probably won’t stop the invective-filled posts, but it just might make readers, be they students, parents, or colleagues — to stop and think about the structural and systemic conditions that most often produce negative classroom experiences.
If a site refuses to add the paragraph, help us to add the paragraph manually to every professor-rating page!
3. TEACH the Parents Well
One constituency that has been difficult to reach is parents. Famously concerned about the cost of college, they don’t know enough about what is happening on campus once their kids arrive. Help us to educate parents by proposing and writing articles about the connection between faculty working conditions and student learning conditions for parent-targeted publications, organizations, and blogs
4. Talk Back to Congress
The need for transparency about college costs is registering with lawmakers and government leaders. The White House has unveiled its “College Scorecard” to help families compare prospective colleges, and Senator Rudman has proposed the “Students’ Right to Know Before You Go” bill to mandate that colleges disclose crucial information to prospective students. Help us to get information about contingent faculty numbers and working conditions built into these public education and accountability efforts.
5. Restore the Faith
It’s bad enough that any college or university exploits its employees, invoking fiscal exigency or interpretations of free market economics. When a faith-based college or university does it, however, it is usually violating clearly articulated teaching about justice. Help us to appeal to the consciences of campus communities that have are bound by their missions to stand for and uphold clearer and higher standards of economic and social justice.