My parents would say to me all the time: you can teach yourself anything better than someone else can teach it to you. Which I really think is true. I hate the the word “disempower,” because it seems kind of cliché, but I do think that we take people’s ability to self-teach away by creating this idea that that someone else has to do this for you, that you have to take a course, you have to do it in some formal way.
It took me a long time to learn that you take courses to find out what you don’t know, so you can go study up on it, and organize your self-study.
I was preparing a data analysis assignment for one of my classes, and decided I needed an example for my students. Similar to what I’m asking of my students, I wanted to use public employee salary data from the the Texas TribuneGovernment Salaries Explorer. After a few moments’ thought* , I hit upon the topic of salaries for non-tenured faculty at the University of Texas at San Antonio, where I teach statistics.
I downloaded the UTSA data–an Excel CSV file–and selected out employees whose job titles contained the words “ADJUNCT”, “LECTURER”, or “TUTOR”, and copied those to a separate worksheet page. From there on, every bit of my example was done using R, all composed and arranged nicely with RStudio. The full analysis is here, but look at this interesting graph:
How the heck do two part-timers in the College of Education and Human Development’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies make over $100K annually? That’s one sweet gig!
Working in the Women’s Studies Institute is a vow of poverty. Should have gone to trade school.
The Writing Core Program is almost as bad. Learn to write advertising copy and move to the College of Business Marketing Department.
Part-time NTT economists seem to make more than full-timers. That doesn’t seem to make make economists credible.
President Trump is about to sign the new National Defense Authorization Act, which will prohibit funding to Chinese-run Confucius Institutes on American campuses.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz added the key amendment to “The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019,” which also restricts funding to universities that host Confucius Institutes and requires them to provide a public record of any agreements or contracts they have with the program, which has deep ties to the Chinese Communist Party.
My workplace has a new President; based on his periodic pronouncements I’ve started calling him President Diversity. Notre Dame’s Professor Patrick Deneen calls this The Ignoble Lie:
Meritocratic ideology disguises the ruling class’s own role in perpetuating inequality from itself, and even fosters a broader social ecology in which those who are not among the ruling class suffer an array of social and economic pathologies that are increasingly the defining feature of America’s underclass. Facing up to reality would require hard questions about the agenda underlying commitments to “diversity and inclusion.” Our stated commitment to “critical thinking” demands no less, but such questions are likely to be put down—at times violently—on contemporary campuses.
A 2014 congressional report suggests that 89 percent of adjuncts work at more than one institution; 13 percent work at four or more. The need for several appointments becomes obvious when we realize how little any one of them pays….
According to the 2014 congressional report, adjuncts’ median pay per course is $2,700. An annual report by the American Association of University Professors indicated that last year “the average part-time faculty member earned $16,718” from a single employer. Other studies have similar findings. Thirty-one percent of part-time faculty members live near or below the poverty line.
It’s amusing to think of all the underpaid university adjuncts striking for a “living wage.” Unfortunately, the pool of potential “scabs” is way too deep for any strike to be effective for more than one semester.
Of course, not all disciplines have the same problems. My department is chronically desparate to find enough statisticians to teach all our courses, and I’ve been comfortably esconced in a non-tenure track job for over 15 years. But statisticians are rare birds, and everyone I’ve talked to allows as how it’s far too late for them to swot up on their math and stats to become employable.