I just stumbled upon this short film today. It discusses the issue of adjunct instructors teaching at community colleges and even state universities. If you are unaware of what an adjunct is, it’s a part time teaching position that pays instructors on a per-course schedule. Taking an adjunct position in the past was a mixed blessing for me. On the one hand it enabled me to step into a teaching position with little barrier to entry, but on the other, the pay is extremely low and jobs come with no benefits.
To make matters even more complicated, the people for whom I was directly working had no power to alleviate this situation as they were mandated to schedule and fill certain courses without the funding to do it properly (by that, I mean with full time faculty). While I was settling for a sub par wage, they were dealing with the uncertainty that their instructors would come back for another semester. In fact, since most contracts were not finalized until halfway through the semester or later, it is not unreasonable that an instructor might back out of teaching a month or two into a course in order to take full time employment somewhere else.
Given this situation, very few instructors are able to support themselves on these wages. Those who try, struggle. Most only teach because they enjoy it. So, the next time you enroll in a college / university class and are writing a good-sized check, remember that your education is being provided by someone’s hobby and hope that their interests don’t suddenly change.
The film, Professors in Poverty:
After the film, check out the website to learn what you can do to effect change.