I Agree With All Of This

Institutions of higher education are under sustained attack by self-described “anti-woke” culture warriors, and those attacks understandably generate a protective response from those of us who value scholarship. That instinctive defense, however, shouldn’t morph into claims that all is well on the nation’s campuses.

All is not well. I say that as someone who spent the last 21 years of her work life on a university faculty.

Unfortunately, the current, contending critiques of college life are unproductive, because they occur within different realities. The crazed Right (DeSantis, et al) attacks scholarship itself, insisting that, to the extent instruction fails to support their preferred world-view, it is illegitimate.

They are wrong, and they are dangerous, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t problems in the groves of academe. I recently came across an enumeration of those problems a litany with which I entirely agree.

The linked Persuasion essay begins by reminding readers of the multiple, manifestly important contributions of the nation’s “more than 3700 colleges and universities.”

But then come the admissions:

But yes, higher education is deeply screwed up. College is way too expensive, costing twice as much, in real dollars, as it did in 1990, nearly three times as much as it did in 1970. Half of students—half!—fail to graduate within six years. Teaching sucks, and always has. Too much of it is done by adjuncts and other contingent instructors, who now make up three quarters of the faculty. There are far too many administrators—deans and deanlets and directors and diversocrats—peddling far too much administrative bullshit. Academic standards are abysmal. Between 1963 and 2013, average GPA rose from 2.5 to 3.15, even as the number of hours spent studying fell by half over roughly the same period. Selective institutions, the ones that produce our elite, are wildly class-stratified. At the top 200 schools, two-thirds of students come from the highest quarter of the income distribution, less than one-sixth from the lower half; at 38 schools, including most of the Ivies, more students come from the top 1% than from the bottom 60%.

it’s relatively easy to generate complaints, but the author, William Deresiewicz, also offers “fixes.”

First, make public college free. We used to do this. (We still do it for K-12, and no one thinks twice.) If you’re old enough, you remember when people were able to put themselves through school with a part-time minimum-wage job. The University of California, the greatest public system in the world, charged no in-state tuition before the 1970s. Neither did the City University of New York, home to City College, known for decades as “the poor man’s Harvard.” The idea that free college would be a giveaway to the rich, because only the rich go to college, gets it exactly backwards. Part of the reason that only the rich go to college—or, at least, go disproportionately to college—is because it costs so much….

Next, reverse the tide of adjunctification by tripling (at least) the tenure-track faculty. We shouldn’t have adjuncts at all, except for the limited purpose—to enable working professionals to teach the occasional course—for which they were originally intended. Adjuncts are paid like baristas, worked like farmhands, and treated like Kleenex. Their use is bad for students, bad for morale, and bad for recruitment into the profession.

There’s more. As he says, we need to make sure that professors actually know how to teach. (Doctorates focus on research, not pedagogy.) Cost-cutting would include dramatically  reducing administrative staffs and capping the salaries of the remainder at the level of senior faculty. He’d eliminate intercollegiate athletics altogether– “Let the NBA and NFL (and WNBA and NWSL) pay for their own minor leagues.” And, finally, no more “amenities”: no luxury dorms, no climbing walls, no dining halls with carving stations.

His most important “fix,” in my opinion?

Most obviously, the “input” has to be improved. As of now, some 40-60% of entering students—another stunning figure—need remediation. Colleges, in other words, especially community colleges, are being tasked with giving freshmen the education that they should have received in high school. Improving K-12 (a monumental undertaking of its own) would also help reverse another dismal trend: credential creep. If a high school diploma actually meant something, employers wouldn’t feel the need to ask for quite so many bachelor’s degrees, and fewer people would have to go to college in the first place…  And, of course, we need to rebuild vocational education—trade schools, training kids for high-skills, high-wage manual labor—in both high school and beyond.

In other words, let’s step back and remember what colleges are for–not job training, but intellectual exploration and expansion– inquiries that allow humans to learn and grow and successfully navigate an information environment produced by those who are “flooding the zone with shit.”


  1. I can only speak from down here at grassroots level, peering through the weeds, as a high school dropout with a GED; “…higher education is deeply screwed up.” What we see of “higher education” is their sports teams and their win/loss records and the cost of student loans, some in triple digit levels with no job at the end of their “higher education”. Those student loans helped pay off Bobby Knight’s Indiana University coaching contract long after he was fired, remember that “Chair Threw Around The World”. We are now watching those elected officials who earned their law degrees long before the inflation of the cost of their education, it is a battle of who will get what they paid for at bargain rates and it appears it is the wealthy who are still paying their way to rule the nation they are destroying. But they appear to have benefited more from watching Vito Corleone as “Godfather” than they did from their college years.

    “In other words, let’s step back and remember what colleges are for–not job training, but intellectual exploration and expansion…” “If not for job training, the “intellectual exploration and expansion – to learn and grow and successfully navigate an information environment…” explains our fucked up medical care conditions and costs and those of the current MAGA party, many with Law Degrees, control from the minority and the new “Golden Rule”, “He who has the gold, rules!”

    I am part of the majority of Americans today who are being worn down and worn out by circumstances beyond our control which is in the hands of those with “higher education” who created new “jobs” to rule over the majority to prevent them from learning and growing by blocking education in our education system along with blocking votes and civil rights with their religion based laws. That “shit” filled zone has us living in fear of another Trump term in the White House no matter how many indictments and court cases they are flooding the media with today; where were they when there was time to PREVENT all of this? With my GED, I recognized the shit beginning in 2015 when Trump triumphantly slithered down that escalator.

  2. Sheila,
    I am filled with questions about some of the author’s statements, but will just ask three.
    1. If K-12 education is churning out students (40-60%) that need remediation in college, what is missing in K-12 education to cause such a lack of basic knowledge upon high school graduation?
    2. Does my first question have anything to do with why parents have been choosing to send their children to private schools via vouchers?
    3. If the number of adjunct faculty has dramatically increased over the years, is this due to the need to admit more students in relation to the number of tenured professors in order to pay for the increased number of administrative staff and other expenses?

  3. When I was a circulation clerical assistant at Purdue in the Life Sciences Library, a 1st year student asked where she could look up books on organisms. She was in the intro biology course. We knew the assignments. Each student was to write a paper on an organism. I told her where the card catalogue was. She walked over and stared at it. I walked over and asked her if she knew how to use a card catalogue. I was polite. She was embarrassed and said “No.” I explained how to look up a topic – we picked a rhino as the organism; Purdue still used Dewey – and told her where those books were located in the stacks. Card catalogues are no more, but the principles are the same. A college student should know how to find books. Then again, I don’t know what pressures, academic or financial, her high school was under.

  4. Nancy @ 8:04

    I cannot answer your first question; I have theories, but no data. I can attest that my undergraduate students (who presumably had to take government in high school) came into my classes knowing little or nothing about US government.

    A colleague and I did a study of schools in Indiana that accepted vouchers, and hardly any of them provided civics educations.

    The growth of teaching by adjuncts is partly, as you suggest, a way to pay for increased administrative positions. It also allows tenured instructors to focus on research by reducing the number of classes they have to teach.

  5. Great thought-provoking article!

    And Nancy asks excellent follow-up questions. If we want to “fix” higher education, we need to restructure lower education. Stop making it about moving widgets across an assembly line and adding pieces of knowledge per age group. Blow up the bureaucracies in the unions and school administration.

    If I remember correctly, Ronald Reagan destroyed higher education in CA before he brought his theories to the Nation’s capital. Why Americans elected that buffoon, I’ll never know. We needed to become more in line with our European counterparts, but Thatcher and Reagan killed our respective countries, ultimately leading to Trump and Brexit.

    However, now that we need the government to play a bigger role in society, we’ve populated the state and national capitals with “educated idiots” who compare a public sector budget to a household budget.

    As the author and Sheila note, getting from here to where we need to be will require drastic changes. Commentators will also have substantial input, but how do we get from here to where we need to be considering the blobs we have in public service who want to allow the oligarchy to morph into pure fascist control?

    Biden isn’t trying to make incremental changes because the oligarchy controls him too. We need to make sweeping changes and put substantial resources behind a new economy for the people. The hundreds of billions going into the MIC should go toward education and our new economy aimed at what society needs vs. oligarchic needs.

    One last note: during Purdue’s recent commencement, our governor begged the kids to stay in the state to fill open jobs. That’s rich, considering he and his Chamber cronies have built an environment 100% for employers – at employees’ expense. Not to mention the general backwardness of the state under Republican leadership. How about making Indiana a progressive mecca to offset the corn, soybean, and pollution nation?

    Does anybody see a rainbow in these storm clouds? Because I sure don’t?

  6. An example of my most recent, and extremely minimal, knowledge of current public education is from my oldest granddaughter’s high school graduation ceremony at a large High School in northern Indiana. While waiting for the ceremony to begin I scanned the program. It listed each part of the ceremony in the order it would take place and it also listed the names of the 800+ students. I found it odd that the Valedictorian and Salutatorian speeches weren’t listed, so I asked my daughter-in-law about it. She said they don’t hand out those honors anymore because they don’t want to hurt the feelings of the other students. That was quite surprising to hear. Apparently it is no longer acceptable for society to publicly honor the bright students that work extremely hard to achieve the highest academic knowledge available to them because we cannot risk hurting the feelings of all the other students.

    The student that was chosen to give a speech chose to speak about a time in the car when she picked her nose and how that made her mom laugh during a time of financial hardship. I found nothing at all inspirational in that speech and would have much preferred listening to what a Valedictorian would have spoken about.

  7. “If we want to “fix” higher education, we need to restructure lower education.” But, Todd, where do we begin to restructure lower education? Mine was in the 1940s till 1955; I was in awe of all with higher education till 1972 when I went to work for the City of Indianapolis government under Mayor Richard Lugar. Working for and with many with higher educations who had no common sense or even an idea of what they were doing or what they should be doing. Things improved greatly under Mayor Bill Hudnut only to be destroyed by Steve Goldsmith and his clueless appointees. A “lost” $3 MILLION contract with a Cincinnati consultant firm had in fact never been signed; the Chief Financial Officer in the Department of Metropolitan Development had a Masters Degree in Personnel Management from the University of India. Once it was discovered no legal copy had been signed; that CFO asked me how to get a legal copy of a contract. Of course the Goldsmith administration was a microcosm of the Nixon administration and a precursor of the Trump administration and the chaos we live with today. And it is my generation serving in all levels of government who are being declared too old to serve.

  8. What a mess. Once again “education” for profit rules at EVERY level. Profits for private schools. Profits for universities. What could possibly go wrong?

    During my research for my book, “Saving the Seed Corn…”, I discovered an interview with a major elite university’s president. He was asked about tuition rates climbing so quickly. His response went something like this: “Well, if we don’t charge top dollar, the parents of the children applying think their kid is being cheated out of an elite education. So, we have to raise our tuition rates to compete with the other top-rated universities for the best students who will eventually become well-off alumni.”

    I wish I made that up. Restructuring K-12 has been necessary for decades. And, Todd is correct about the buffoonery of Reagan, et. al. Republicans have been trying to destroy public education – and public everything else – since the day Lincoln was shot. They answer, almost exclusively to corporate/banking America and therein lies the problem. As Rick Wilson so glibly stated a couple years ago: “Everything Republicans touch dies.”

  9. Sheila,
    Thanks for your answers.
    The public high school that I mentioned in an earlier comment about my granddaughter graduating from in June offers an excellent Government class to its students. The teacher makes it interesting and exciting by putting the students through real life exercises such as holding mock trials. The class gets divided in half and one side is the prosecutor while the other side is the defendant. The teams must collaborate to create the reasons for their opinions. This teacher also has the students become members of a senate and house of reps and puts them through exercises of creating and debating Bills. The knowledge the students gain from his classes is invaluable. I believe he should create a curriculum that would be the state required way to teach an IN high school Government class.

  10. I graduated high school in 1980 and because of the high school vocational training classes in Data Processing (now know as IT), I landed a job at a local hospital that was so desperate for qualified DP personnel, they were training their own. I started college at IUPUI. It cost $25 a credit hour. My parents paid for my first semester, but because of my high paying job ($7.25/hour) and a hospital benefit program that would pay for half my tuition if I made B’s, I paid for the rest of my education myself as I went. Quickly shifting to working full time, college took longer than average and it took 8 years to get my bachelors degree. By the time I graduated, the cost of credit hour had risen to $125/hour. In that short time, the quality of the education didn’t change, and facilities all still smelled like cross between old library book and locker room, so I’m not sure what justified the price increase.

    As for the remediation, my first semester I ended up in English 001, and remedial course. It turns out my freshmen year of high school when english grammar would have been taught, our family moved three times that year. I was in one school for the first semester and was taught literature, we moved in temporarily with family over Christmas break and I started a new semester at a new school and started in on a semester of english grammar. Six weeks later, my parents had found a house and we moved again into a new school system and they looked at my transcript and said, oh, he’s already done grammar, let’s throw me into an english literature class. So my high school education on english grammar consisted of just six weeks of instruction. Luckily I was always well read and while I couldn’t tell you why you should use “is” over “are”, I knew when to use one over the other, that is until somebody tested me on it and asked why. I will have to say that waiting until I was 18 to teach me the basics of english grammar might have been better for me.

    I will say that in the area of Data Processing in the 1980’s the part time professors that had DP jobs in the real world were much better teachers than the full time professors in a field that was changing faster than even then, most people couldn’t keep up. I suspect that script has reversed with increasing specialization and the growing need for theoretical research.

  11. Research brings free money to the university in the form of “overhead” charges in the grant. Teaching doesn’t bring anything over and above the tuition paid by the students. It’s money that counts and free money counts most.

  12. One of the (MANY) things our lovely GOP has damaged is the ability to have a rational critique of something. The more liberal (anyone left of Mussolini at this point) among us are perpetually stuck defending things we don’t even like/have critiques of because the GOP keeps making insane claims and we’re afraid (reasonably) that if we give an inch, we’ll lose the whole thing.

    I am greatly annoyed that I’m stuck defending Disney. They don’t have a great worker treatment history and they have been awful for copyright. Their environmental record stinks. Etc. etc. BUT, they’re being attacked as evil child grooming monsters by the rightwing because they (for once) stood up to say “we actually don’t want to insult and abuse trans/gay/anyone”. So, liberals feel like they have to fight that dishonest attack and we can’t fix the real problem.

    Education has issues – VERY accurately enumerated in this column – and we should absolutely try to fix things. BUT, we’re stuck arguing that schools aren’t leftist indoctrination camps because lunatics argue insane things to fire up their base.

    The examples are endless. We’re stuck wasting time/effort/resources arguing with insanity and because of that we can’t fix anything. Which means things just get worse. Which feeds the insanity engine, which means we waste resources…. No idea how to break out of this destructive cycle.

  13. Folks – we have another problem round here at The Hill – “activist” professors/admins are going out the way to hire “identity politics” teachers who are mostly interested in being “woke”, less interested in critical thinking. The result – the rightwing legislature is overreacting and doing the usual stuff. It works so beautifully for the MAGAs….the lefties just feed them…

    What happened to teaching how to think, not what to think???

  14. Readers of this comment will call me a liar – but I have been called worse. When pursuing a degree in economics/political science eons ago my tuition was $3.25 a semester hour, and when I went to law school the tuition costs were outrageous, i.e., $4.25 a semester hour! While the dollar was more valuable those days it wasn’t THAT more valuable.

    Later my wife did adjunct work at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, while pursuing her doctorate in elementary education. I became acquainted with some of the faculty there, and I found that research attracts grants and teaching doesn’t. I also think that states abandoned their constitutional requirement to adequately fund higher education in favor of appropriating such savings for political purposes since, after all, new roads, bridge repairs, and cultural matters are politically more vote-getting than more money for them thar egghead perfessers and their administrative overlords. Uh. . .

    The institution of education is in decline for other reasons cited by responders to Sheila’s blog today, and the addition of new culture war brawls and crime in high places that are monopolizing our civic attention these days are not helping us focus on solutions to this and other pressing problems.

    So what to do? Vote blue and reintroduce governing to the political class while leaving cultural wars to the sociologists and philosophers.

  15. Nancy – to follow up on the question of adjunct faculty, the universities are taking a hint from big businesses that “outsource” so they can easily cut staff without worrying about severance, unemployment payments, or potential discrimination law suits. Adjuncts are disposable. Permanent faculty want tenure. Tenured faculty are very hard to fire. It is about the “bottom line”. I’ve heard of some universities that have ended “tenure track” positions, making everyone a “temp worker”.

    Going along with that, and Peggy’s comment, faculty are valued by their grants and publications. Teaching is rarely a criterion. That is another major problem.

  16. Dirk and Len: Excellent observations and conclusions. How deploy our educational efforts in re teaching versus research/grant bucks? It’s depressingly similar to a corporate boardroom answer to all obstruction to profit-making, i.e., Follow the money.

  17. My father was a public school teacher and so was I. My experience is that K-12 teachers have always been underpaid, overworked and held responsible for all of our societies failures. It is almost a miracle that any first-rate people choose this profession.
    Only when there are far more applicants than there are jobs can employers get highly qualified employees. Excellent teachers are rewarded with the equivalent of a gold star and a pat on the back while hedge fund managers, price gouging business executives and so many other unworthy low lifes amass millions. Is it any wonder that teaching jobs go begging and are often filled by people with skills that are mediocre at best?
    Teachers need not only better pay, but better working conditions and abundant support staff.
    There are heroic, dedicated teachers out there struggling to do great work but not enough of them to prop up a failing system. And the worse they are treated, the fewer of them there will be.

  18. Lester, Vernon, Joanne, Nancy, and Et al,

    Agenda, what is it? The so-called educational leadership is not concerned about education. Whether it be preschool, middle school, high school, junior college, University graduate schools, they deem it as influential power, not promoting positive critical thinking, or anything close to the sort. The critical thinking that’s promoted seems to be deconstructionist, in other words, really not believing in anything.

    I read an article the other day in Physics.org, and it was talking about the whales found in the Egyptian desert. At least the skeletal remains. And they went on to discuss how these creatures first evolved in the ocean, then they moved on to land, then, back into the ocean! No intellectual thought process involved in that particular comment, it was just ‘cuz, that’s the way it is.’ or something to that effect! They also had a similar article in Live Science, when I commented on Physics.org concerning their paper, while mentioning live science and their article, I asked them how could this be, I was censored! In a previous article we had discussed the difference between meiosis and mitosis, and how or why would one evolve into another? They called it pseudoscience, lol!

    So when you rummage through all the drivel, and you have those who are gullible enough to swallow anything hook line and sinker, just to be admired or for someone to say good job, that’s pseudo intellect! Half of the degrees or less, seem to be about as useful as toilet paper. There is no common sense, but there is book smarts. It just depends on what book has been studied/research believed or not for those smarts, if any at all!

    I guess one of the points is, where do you get your information from, and who are the ones setting the agenda? I prefer to read and study and find my own answers rather than listening to somebody pound it down my throat.

    There really is no interchange of thought in school, that’s extremely evident. One side will tell someone on the other side of the so-called intellectual hierarchy, that they’re stupid. And naturally they’re always is a vice versa! Occam’s razor be damned, pseudo intellect indeed!

    When philosophical teachings become the norm, who is to say which philosophical teaching is logically or critically thought out, and which isn’t? “When a tree falls in a forest, does it make a sound if no one’s there to hear?” No, I won’t get into what some of the answers were that I’ve heard to that question, but I guarantee you almost the entirety didn’t refer to physics!

    Socrates and Plato polished up the philosophical opinion of an immortal soul. This was not based on any Christian teaching, but it made the immortal soul appealing to the upper echelon of society. And of course was then adopted by the church to bring in the movers and shakers, those who were wealthy and had deep pockets.

    When society tells one that anything goes, and then expect there to be parameters in place to prevent backlash or misapplication, it doesn’t work! What do they say? Boundaries are made to be broken? Isn’t that what we see today?

    After all, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, The tooth fairy, humanity teaches lies all the time, it’s indoctrinated from birth. Only a very few can unlearn what they’ve heard from birth. There’s a lot more wrong with society than there isn’t. It is a mire of our own making.

    In the words of John Milton, “vain wisdom all and false philosophy!”

  19. When I was in H.S, having graduated in 1960, in NYC, along with my pet dinosaur, I had had no
    classes in “government,” in fact had never heard of such a class. I believe that I got my education about that in the history classes, however. Educators get very short shrift, in this country, maybe especially so in red states/counties. Free college for all would be a great thing. My father, and many other folk, attended CCNY, and got an excellent education. Rabid capitalism, and its profit motive have poisoned much of our culture, hey, even Mr. Four-Tmes-Indicted tried to use it to screw people over.

  20. I would agree with it back then too. The zNational Debt was pretty low and things were cheaper, we keep loosing the wage war of today. How are you going to get education free and who is it free for? Well in my eyes its for the privileged and why is that today especially? Half of all of our population has an IQ less than 100. Thats a fact!! You you want to help the needy be sure and start of with the trades and tech jobs. This has been agreed upon by people from both sides that this should be where post graduate funds go to.
    College expenditures have soared the more there are government programs for them to take advantage of. This makes it more and more out of reach for the poor and gives a wider gap in families with a higher SES.

  21. Sharon Miller you 100% correct. Teachers also need team leading and teacher leader opportunities . Corporations that fund these things actually can have a greater influence by supporting educators.

  22. Perhaps, instead of paying off the debt of a very select few recipients of student aid,the administration should be focusing on a solution as to why such a large amount of debt is accumulated in the first place. Besides,those with an upper hand in life want to bring the ladder up with them. Denying those below them of opportunity.

    Not gonna happen.

  23. Isn’t it interesting that a very smart and provocative article would generate such trenchant comments without stimulating and serious opposition? It may be that the “other side” simply doesn’t read such stuff (very likely), or it may be that the claims of the piece and the responses are simply ALL TRUE. I spent 50 years in higher ed, and I agree with the premise of the article: that much is wrong and that the attackers have a point in many cases. But the attackers are apparently motivated by an ignorant agenda and not a serious desire to fix anything. “WOKE” may be a faulty agenda, but diversity and inclusion, honest inquiry and critical dialogue are not wicked things. Meanness, exclusion, thought control, and rigid behavioral policing ARE wicked objectives and many “Anti-WOKE” voices seem committed to just that. Does anybody want to FIX the system? Please???

  24. John P. Sorg. Re. your comments about the evolution of whales. I’m sorry if you felt you were being censored. Statements like the one you mentioned about how the ancestors of whales were first ocean dwellers, then land dwellers and then returned to the oceans are supported by huge amounts of evidence collected over many decades by scientists who devoted their entire lives to studying biology, geology, paleontology, and other branches of science.
    I understand that such statements may sound like gobbledygook to someone without a solid grounding in the sciences, especially if one is predisposed to dismiss it. However, your claim that it involves no thought process is simply untrue. Unless you are willing study science with an open mind, I wish you would be as reluctant to make pronouncements about it as I am to make pronouncements about the Bible.

  25. Sharon Miller and John P. Sorg; you might want to Google a Smithsonian Magazine article, “What Really Turned the Sahara Desert From a Green Oasis Into a Wasteland?” with the subheading “10,000 years ago this iconic desert was unrecognizable. A new hypothesis suggested that humans may have tipped the balance”.

    My first thought reading John’s quote about whales into people into whales was that many areas of this earth, once under water are now deserts and desert areas are now under water. This is what Climate Change and Global Warming is all about; with humans the primary culprits bringing about the changes. Our east and west coastlines are changing with oceans coming further inland in visible amounts, rapidly causing waterfront homes and areas to disappear. Humans haven’t been listening to the repeated warnings which have been coming in recent decades and we are now dealing with mass destruction more rapidly than ever before. The repealing of many EPA ordinances, rules and laws by Republicans seeking smaller government are causing smaller land areas needing more laws to control the destruction of the earth globally.

  26. Joann Green. Either I misunderstood the meaning of the article John referenced or you did. I think it referred to the evolution of the ancestors of whales, not “whales into people into whales.” That would, indeed, be absurd and wholly unsupported by scientific evidence.
    All species impact their environments. Humans have been doing so for as long as we have existed. The frightening thing about what we are doing now is that our impacts may be too massive and rapid to adjust to successfully.
    For an understanding of how radically the Earth has changed in the past, I recommend reading “The Ends of the World”. I think the author’s name is Brennan. It is absolutely fascinating and revealing in its comparisons of past changes to present climate changes.

  27. People do not comprehend the amount of work that goes into teaching, the stress of it, nor the (oftentimes) relatively low pay. Most of my recent ancestors have been teachers, including both parents, a grandmother, and all but one uncles/aunts. I only taught a little along the way, however.

    As a simple real example, back in the 90s, I taught a math course at my college while working on a degree in Computers. (I had a Math degree already, and had interviewed to teach a specific course–and lost out to a Physics PhD–but an instructor returning from sabbatical broke his leg, so I got the job for a different course.) It was a first year math course, 14 weeks, 4 hours of classroom time per week (3 hourlong lectures, 1 hourlong seminar), plus 4 hours (at least) per week of office hours. Between creating lesson plans, creating assignments, creating tests, marking assignments, marking tests, and a bunch of other tasks surrounding these main ones, I spent roughly 6 or 7 hours working on the course per hour I spent in the classroom. I was paid $20/hour, but only for the 4 hours/week I spent in the classroom. On a real basis, I was making less than $3/hour in a very stressful job. Thirty-six people were counting on me to teach them. At that time, the minimum wage in BC was about $5.50 or $6.

    This is pretty typical, especially in the first delivery of a course. All teachers spend way more time working on the class than anyone outside the profession would typically believe. And it’s true that building a store of materials helps with later deliveries of the same classes, but the really good teachers do a lot of tinkering, and include a lot of updates, and include a larger variety of types of classroom delivery. They _care_ about the students, and strive to make the classes interesting because people learn better if they are.

    And the stress is way more than people imagine. If you are a parent, you know how difficult some days can be when your kids drive you nuts. Now imagine that there are way more students in your class, and imagine a gang of 35 8-year-olds, for example) and you must often exercise infinite patience, no matter how tired you are, or what is happening elsewhere in your life.

    Long story short, teachers are a critical basis for our societies, and should be respected more, and paid way, WAY more.

  28. Amen, Sheila.
    My own history:
    A.B., U.C.-Berkeley, 1954 (no tuition, only a 35$/semester “student activities fee”).
    Ph.D., U. of Michigan, 1963 (requirements included significant teaching experience).
    Emeritus Professor, Psychology, Indiana University (Assistant Professor-Professor 1963-1992; adjunct professors in my department were few and far between; we all expected to teach).

  29. Peggy Hannon made a great point. Faculty members who write grant proposals that are funded get promoted and get tenure because the grants bring money into the school. If you don’t bring in grant money, you don’t get tenure in many, if not most colleges these days. That emphasis clearly affects the level of teaching and explains why so many college classes are taught by part-time instructors who are “cheaper” than the full-time ones who are busy trying to get grants. Government grants usually pay half of the “instructor’s” salary and contain extra money for “overhead” expenses such as janitorial services and utilities, so those who get grants are valued and promoted. No one else is kept around.

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