Adjunct Faculty a.k.a. 'Academic Sharecroppers'
by TheCommuter 8,774 Views | 25 Comments Senior Moderator
Adjunct faculty members, the silent majority in higher education in the United States, must contend with unique issues. The purpose of this article is to discuss the current situation of adjunct professors, also known as 'academic sharecroppers.'
- 5 Published Aug 7, '12
'Academic sharecropper' is a label that is usually applied to adjunct faculty members due to their status in the educational system and the backbreaking nature of their employment situations. Adjunct professors are also known as 'contingent faculty' in some settings, even though many never become full professors or associate professors.
Some people in academia presently feel that adjunct faculty are being exploited by the current system of higher education, just as many people firmly believed that the agrarian sharecroppers of more than one century ago had been exploited by wealthy landowners. The workdays of adjunct professors are characterized by minimal support, no recognition, very low salaries, a lack of fringe benefits, perpetual part-time status, grueling workloads, and absolutely no assurance of a job during the next term. In other words, adjunct faculty members do not possess the same level of status or job security as their full-time counterparts.
Most brick-and-mortar college courses in the United States are taught by adjunct faculty. In fact, some estimates indicate that adjunct professors make up nearly two-thirds of all college faculty. Furthermore, the overwhelming majority of online schools employ very few full-time professors and high numbers of adjunct professors.
What are some of the drawbacks faced by schools who heavily depend on 'academic sharecroppers'? For starters, adjunct faculty have virtually no control over the textbooks being used or the layout of the courses that they teach. In fact, they are often handed a standard curriculum and basically told how to instruct it, when to teach it, and where to deliver it. According to Rooney (2012), many have also long believed that adjuncts routinely inflate grades in order to hold onto their jobs. These aspects do not bode very well for the students who pay staggering amounts of tuition for what they believe will be top notch college educations.
Moreover, the widespread use of these so-called 'academic sharecroppers' is all about business to the many colleges and universities that employ them. School systems save a great deal of money because they do not have to offer fringe benefits or the same amount of pay to adjunct faculty members. In fact, the average adjunct professor receives one-fourth to one-third the pay of his or her full-time counterpart per course.
'Academic sharecroppers' are unquestionably vital to colleges and universities across the US because, without the thankless labor of adjunct faculty, higher education in this country would come to a screeching halt. Therefore, adjunct professors should receive more recognition and higher salaries for all of the work that they accomplish. However, I do not pretend to offer any easy solutions to this complex problem.Last edit by TheCommuter on Aug 9, '12
TheCommuter is a moderator of allnurses.com and has varied experiences upon which to draw for her articles. She was an LPN/LVN for more than four years prior to becoming a registered nurse.
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2Aug 7, '12 by kcmylornI am having a really hard time with term "academic sharecropper" How disrespectful can our society in this country get!! What kind of ghetto, street mentality is running this country.
Next we will have the drug dealer and the pimp elevated to a refined level of acceptable society1Aug 7, '12 by TheCommuter Senior ModeratorQuote from kcmylornWell, academia profits off the exploitative labor of the so-called 'academic sharecropper' just as wealthy landowners have profited off the exploitative labor of sharecroppers who toiled on land which they did not own. I believe this is how the term came into common use in the academic world.I am having a really hard time with term "academic sharecropper" How disrespectful can our society in this country get!! What kind of ghetto, street mentality is running this country.
Next we will have the drug dealer and the pimp elevated to a refined level of acceptable society1Aug 8, '12 by Nurse2b209Most of my professors I've had @ the community college and university have been adjunct professors. I've enjoyed everyone of them. They have to work extra hard and go above and beyond to accommodate their students. One nice thing my old college did was recognize their adjuncts with awards like they would do for our professors of the year. So that was nice but I kmow a lot of colleges don't really acknowledge their adjuncts. This past semester I had a young adjunct Bioethics professor with her Ph.D. who was was an adjunct @ 3 other universities and she commuted there and also had a small child. I don't know how she does it but it's obvious she loves to teach and cares for her students. She taught fall, spring, and is finishing a summer class now. She hasn't been able to have a real break because each university she teaches @ are on slightly different schedules. I admire them for what they do and continue to do. Hopefully they can get more recognition, support, a full time position.1Aug 8, '12 by kcmylornIt's like there is no respect for any of the professions anymore- this is just disgraceful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Who does our society look up to and respect- the jiggle show of Kim Kardashian and her bump and grind sisters!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!2Aug 8, '12 by brandy1017It's a sad state of affairs in America today! People thought education was the key and being a professional, looking down on ordinary workers and unions. Without unions, the professional fairs no better than their blue collar and pink ghetto counterparts!
What is especially sickening is that colleges get away with charging such outrageous tuition that leaves so many students in debt for the rest of their life, while they don't pay their own faculty a living wage! It will be almost 25 years after graduation that my student loans will finally be paid off! They've been sold from lender to lender, currently Sallie Mae which I've heard nothing good about and I would rather not do business with them, but I have no say in the matter. None of us with student loans have any say, your at the mercy of the current servicer!Last edit by brandy1017 on Aug 8, '12