My first year home again, I taught part time, and I planned to teach part time here for several years. However, I have had to quit, and I hate that I have had to.
I have taught since 1972, still have a lot of love and energy for students and learning, and my previous 10 years as an adjunct in Massachusetts were good, and previous to that, my 18 years tenured at The University of Findlay were, great, too. When I returned to Northeast Ohio, I interviewed with Cleveland State, Kent, and Akron, and though Akron seemed perhaps the best fit pedagogically, the curriculum required many more days on campus, so it was prohibitive in commuting and parking costs.
I chose Kent Stark, with some warm feelings for teaching at home. I didn't think too much about salary, though I recognized it was abysmal, less than I was making when I left adjuncting in Northeast Ohio in 1984. I loved the students who reminded me of all my Perry High '68 classmates, 45 years previously, who went to Kent Stark, waiting till the last minute to do everything, there by duress or lackadaisical but not disinterested attitudes to education. But my students were in a much worse economy than most of my friends faced in 1968. I read up on the history of Kent Stark and Kent State to work the material into my College Writing II Course, "Writing About College Student Culture."
A first year at any new institution has a learning curve, but having done a LOT of teaching, I was fairly well-prepared and rate it a very good year, from an educational point of view (mine and and my students'.) One of my students got a version her last essay for my class accepted for publication in The Chronicle of Higher Education and others produced publishable work and everyone produced one excellent piece of writing. Final presentations were wonderful with the students speaking with power points on what they had learned about Kent State and its students in their weeks of research. Many of those former students shout out to me now and wave across parking lots. I don't allow students to friend me on Facebook until the semester is over, but I have lots of Kent Stark facebook friends now.
Byy the end of the year, however, the salary issue was really hitting home. On the one hand, I would be willing to teach for free. On the other, it just isn't right. I told my chair that I was taking a year off for a sabbatical, but I was actually trying to step back to think about it all. Then, I didn't think about it. I missed teaching so very much and wanted to return. And then, at the end of the year, just as I received a letter from my chair asking for my schedule preferences, I saw online the photos of the New York McDonald's workers striking over wages that were as much or more than I make at Kent.
Now I don't mind McDonald's workers making more than me. A friend always says we should be willing to pay more for work we don't want to do, and I don't want to work at McDonald's..However, the idea that McDonald's workers were striking, while acadmia is doing nothing over the "Adjunct State of Affairs" was too much for me to bear.
And by nothing, I don't mean that the adjuncts were doing nothing. Here in Northeast Ohio, they held demonstrations in the month of April over new changes to adjunct hiring practices that will make it even worse for adjuncts. And in New York and Massachusetts, similar demonstrations were going on. What I mean is that the full-time faculty and unions and professional organizations have done next to nothing over the "Adjunct State of Affairs."
And what is the "Adjunct State of Affairs"? Statistics are very hard to get, but some estimate that 70% of the college courses are taught by adjunct. (One source I have found says that 65% of Kent's courses are taught by adjuncts.) In most cases, adjuncts receive no benefits and their salaries are teeny. At Kent State Stark, I made less than $8000 a year for teaching four courses. A full-time load on that campus would be eight courses. So if I had taught a full-time load, I would have been making less than $16,000 a year and no benefits. Meanwhile, full-time Assistant Professors at Kent State make over $60,000 a year and benefits.
Tomorrow, I will publish the letter of resignation I sent to Kent State, and then after that, to discuss why this state of affairs is bad not only for adjuncts but for institutions, full-time faculty, and most of all, for the students. Meanwhile, I cannot tell you how much I miss teaching. But I am not going to step back into the harness of indentured servitude that is "The Adjunct State of Affairs" in most of the college education system of Ohio.