Thursday, February 06, 2014

brony's lip poked out about not being paid after racking up a mortgage to study and teach my little pony


pbs | But there was no evidence of my incompetence or lack of excellence in teaching. I had rave reviews from all my students and had wonderful relationships with all my colleagues, several of whom supported my candidacy for a full-time, tenure-track position. In fact, as evidence of my demonstrated prowess, after a short while they brought me back as a part-timer, and I have been employed there every semester since as an adjunct lecturer. I’m good enough to teach their students every semester for many years, but I’m not good enough to hire permanently?

After taking out nearly $140,000 in student loans to pay for grad school, and after years of financial hardship deferments, accrued interest has brought these loans to over $190,000. And on an adjunct lecturer’s salary, even augmented with other side jobs, I can neither support my family nor pay my student loans. My wife and I cannot afford to raise a child on our combined income, so we have waited to raise a family. Now at the age of 43, it may be too late.

And when my parents became ill, I couldn’t afford to move them in with me, arrange proper medical care or take enough family leave to be at my father’s side when he died. With the massive debts that my parents have left me, I risk losing the family home that I grew up in — that my grandfather built for us with his own hands — all because I am living on part-time wages.

Now that my parents are gone, I want to honor them by helping to change academia for the better. University administrations have failed to safeguard their hallowed halls against greed and the service of short-term savings, going the way of big business. And the accrediting bodies have failed to guide and censure them as well. If this situation continues unchecked, it will signal the destruction and disintegration of higher education as we know it, though many tenured faculty still do not recognize the inevitable, morbid outcome if this current trend is not immediately reversed.

I have no intention of letting that happen. My father was a grade school teacher. And he used to say that if not for the unions, teachers would have starved. Now, as an adjunct, I am experiencing what it would have been like for grade school teachers to be unsupported by the unions.

There is a growing movement of adjuncts who are willing to stand together to stem the tide of the avalanche. So when the union came to our campus in the fall of 2013, I took out my lucky pen and asked, “Where do I sign?” Our grassroots movement will prove to be the best thing that happened to higher education since the advent of the erstwhile tenure model, despite the common public opinion about unions fostering greed and mediocrity.

I’m fully educated; I stayed in school. Two masters and a Ph.D. I’ve published a book. I’ve paid my dues. I’ve followed the rules to realize the American dream, but I am now living the American nightmare. And I am not alone in this. I’m ready to work. All I want to do is contribute to the scholarship in my field and to teach my students effectively and passionately. But I need to earn a decent wage in order to do so.