I was talking to my brother-in-law one day. He is a tenured professor and has been one for over 30 years. In other words he gets the good salary and all the perks. He informed me that administrators just LOVED adjuncts. I replied, “Well, of course, we are cheap.” He replied that this was not the main reason. Administrators love us because we are pressured to give the grade away. As a result more students graduate.
Schools are rated on retention and graduation rates — not actual learning. Schools are now able to admit students that they could not admit in the past. If you are the real teacher that dares to fail someone then that particular student can go elsewhere and find someone else who will pass him or her. Then your school’s retention and graduation statistic goes down. What’s a school to do?
At many schools student evaluations determine if you will be invited back. Go on ratemyprofessors.com and you will note that the best evaluations are usually accompanied by ‘easy A, no work’. That is the first pressure. But even if administrators aren’t influenced by evaluations, you eventually come to the conclusion that the only way to make this work for you financially is to assign less work to the student. The student will NEVER complain about this and you have also given yourself less work.
Adjuncting is a good job if you:
My last point is statistically significant. I remember spending 4 hours, on my own time, grading finals only to discover that only one student’s grade was changed by the final and that student went from a B to a B+. And so, to be fair, increase every student’s grade by half a letter and save yourself the 4 hours of unpaid labor.
I am a little too ethical to do this and hence I do not adjunct anymore but if you think about it 1) This IS what the school wants. 2) This IS what the student wants. 3) It is the only thing that actually makes the job profitable and 4) Given that this is the real job description, just about anyone can do this.
I do not adjunct anymore. I was sucked in and taught at three different schools before I realized that this is a systemic problem. I was stupid enough in the beginning to assume it was a problem at the particular school I worked at. Unions are not the answer since I was represented by a union at all three schools. To me this was a double whammy — 1) Get paid next to nothing with no benefits and 2) Pay union dues.
And finally, to reinforce my opinion that this is really what the school wants. Specifically — they really want us to do next to nothing. To make sure this happens, most of us get hired two weeks before school begins. This protects the school from the kind of person who might actually spend his or her summer putting together a great class. At the first school I taught, I was unofficially hired in June but told that I could not see the textbook until August when I would officially be hired.