It's the numbers in this story that are truly alarming.
Three decades ago, adjuncts — both part-timers and full-timers not on a tenure track — represented only 43 percent of professors, according to the professors association, which has studied data reported to the federal Education Department. Currently, the association says, they account for nearly 70 percent of professors at colleges and universities, both public and private.70 percent. Holy shit. Seriously. That's not a shift in "instructor type" -- that's a shift in "instructor pay and benefits," with the vast majority getting the shaft.
There are some data in here that administrators might move on, too:
I'm bolding this obviously because I agree with it. I think you can take the best tenure-track professor out there (as far as teaching quality), and give him a 5/5 of comp, and you can just watch his effectiveness plummet. Especially if you take away his office and his copier privileges. Especially if you dock him 10k or so in pay.
Adjuncts are less likely to have doctoral degrees, educators say. They also have less time to meet with students, and research suggests that students who take many courses with them are somewhat less likely to graduate.
“Really, we are offering less educational quality to the students who need it most,” said Ronald G. Ehrenberg, director of the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute, noting that the soaring number of adjunct faculty is most pronounced in community colleges and the less select public universities. The elite universities, both public and private, have the fewest adjuncts.
“It’s not that some of these adjuncts aren’t great teachers,” Dr. Ehrenberg said. “Many don’t have the support that the tenure-track faculty have, in terms of offices, secretarial help and time. Their teaching loads are higher, and they have less time to focus on students.”
I know I'm just a big squealing socialist, seeing this as I do a labor issue first and foremost. But obviously it's an education issue too.
Dr. Ehrenberg and a colleague analyzed 15 years of national data and found that graduation rates declined when public universities hired large numbers of contingent faculty.
Several studies of individual universities have determined that freshmen taught by many part-timers were more likely to drop out.
When we're talking 70 percent, when we're talking a situation that could be fixed just by improving working conditions, we're talking a problem that can be fixed by throwing money at it. Hire more people, pay them more, give them more perks, more benefits, have them teach fewer classes, and watch educational opportunities improve.
The talent is out there, toiling, right now. Show them the money.