The WALL ST JOURNAL has an excellent article laying out the pros and cons of providing tenure for college professors.
I come down FIRMLY on the "abolish tenure" side. It seems to me that it makes no more sense to offer tenure in college than in kindergarten -- or in any other job. Bestowing tenure on professors is an archaic concept adopted hundreds of years ago when academic freedom was too often opposed by the church.
The tenure system – with the tenured faculty essentially picking the lucky professors -- has been the biggest impediment to conservatives teaching in academia. While colleges give much lip service to diversity, that variety does NOT include diversity of thought. Few would argue that conservatives are not discriminated against on today’s campuses — as both students and teachers.
Furthermore, too may tenured professors have no incentive to teach, or to teach well. Resarch, however arcane, is more valued than classroom skills or success. Tenured professors can shirk such pedestrian classroom activities, and too often do.
Because tenure ensures lifetime employment, academic liberals have become ferocious about keeping limited government types from receiving tenure. It is now a semi-closed progressive system, poisoning the minds of our young at great taxpayer and parental expense. Today’s colleges resemble more reeducation camps than bastions of intellectual challenge.
Indeed, most people who go into academia as a career have nothing but disdain for competition and meritocracy. Often that disdain is exactly why they are drawn to the academic life. While feuding and petty jealousies are common, real competition is a foreign concept — and almost universally condemned by today’s professors.
As I see it, teaching college is FAR easier than teaching youngsters in K-12 — and thus likely merits lower pay. After all, which would YOU rather do.
For college professors, there are no collegiate class disciplinary problems. There are no parents to deal with. No need to exhort students to do their homework. There is no myriad number of secondary subjects that must be taught — from brushing teeth to the proper application of a condom.
But in all the discussion of tenure and professor compensation, here’s a fact seldom considered: Adjunct professors/instructors (often derisively labeled “freeway professors”) reflect the free market price for teaching college classes. There is no shortage of such qualified teachers – quite the contrary. These itinerant educators are hired by the class.
I don’t know the current exact pay figures, but it’s ROUGHLY $3,600 per "3 unit" class — $36,000 annually for teaching a “full” five course per semester load in California.
[FROM A TYPICAL 2010 CALIFORNIA COMMUNITY COLLEGE "HANDBOOK": Salary Range: Part-time faculty are paid between $1,428 and $2,428 per semester per .1 load. Placement on the salary schedule is based on education and experience. Faculty may be assigned any combination of lecture, lab. or lecture/lab classes. Following is an example of a 3 unit class:
· 3 hour per week lecture = .2 load
· 3 hour per week lecture/lab = .15 load
· 3 hour per week lab = .1333 load (Except for those listed on Appendix F of the VCCCD/AFT Contract calculated at 75% of regular load.)
Example: An instructor who is placed at column II, step 1 ($1,714) on the salary schedule who is assigned to teach one 3 unit lecture class will be compensated as follows: $1,714 x 2 = $3428 total wages for the semester.
I don’t think there are any benefits for adjuncts — and certainly no tenure. One is hired and retained strictly on performance and the needs of the college.
Apparently there is no shortage of such adjunct professors — at least in the liberal arts. In the technical and science fields where competent teaching talent is less abundant, there may be difficulties fielding quality adjunct educators. But there is no reason all professors should be paid the same — though that’s the public employee mentality.
Even the hidebound military learned long ago to pay different amounts for different skills (primarily with reenlistment bonuses). No reason our colleges could not do the same — except for collectivist faculty opposition.
As for the shortage of classes offered under our current fiscal crunch, it’s largely related to the fact that the colleges laid off the "freeway professors," choosing to retain their overpriced, underperforming tenured faculty.
In essence, a "freeway professor" teaches college for less than a THIRD what a tenured professor costs (counting benefits). If the colleges decided their primary goal was to provide “service (classes) to the students, they would have reduced the tenured positions. Obviously, these institutions are run primarily for the union employees rather than the public — just like every other public agency in California.