Teaching English in a Texas Community College: The Teachers

Texas has one of the strongest community college systems in the nation, outnumbered only by the much more populous California. We have sixty-seven two-year colleges (“Community College Studies”), with fifty-five public community college systems (“US”), meaning there are multiple campuses.

For the past seven years I have been happily teaching in two-year colleges as an adjunct. I’ve worked in two different systems, which had very different expectations and requirements. So I know that the generalities I am starting with aren’

t necessarily a perfect picture of where the profession is right now. But it is a beginning.

When we look at the state of the profession in a community college, we begin with a look at the teachers. Who are they?

Twenty-five percent (Tai) have their PhDs.

Twenty percent of those with PhDs are full-time faculty (Jacoby).

Just over fifty percent (51%) of full-timers are tenured, while a little over one third (35%) of full-timers are in situations without tenure or are in non-tenure track positions (“Faculty”).

But the full-timers are usually in the minority.

Although throughout the US’ secondary educational system adjuncts teach around forty percent of the courses, they are often the bulk of the faculty at community colleges (Gappa and Leslie).

An MLA study estimated the number of adjuncts at community colleges across the nation at 45 percent (Papp 701), but others, including the American Association of Community Colleges, estimate that 60 to 75 percent are part-time (Gappa and Leslie; “Faculty”).

In one of my colleges, the part-time adjuncts make up only 50 percent of the faculty. This particular system has a position called “full-time part-time” in which an instructor is hired at the hourly wage for five classes, the full load at that college, on a semester to semester basis and also receives $10/hour for ten additional hours that are on-campus office hours. I do not know how many of their full-time faculty are in this situation, but I know it is normal for these part-time people to be hired for years in a row. It is possible that the MLA’s description of adjuncts would not include these part-time faculty.

My other college system tries to maintain a three to one part- to full-time faculty ratio. There are just over 300 adjunct faculty, I’m unsure of exact numbers because they are still looking to hire, and 108 contract faculty. Despite the large adjunct numbers, the growth of some campuses has kept this system growing. For every new 1000 students on a single campus, the colleges will hire one new full-time English teacher. The growth rate in this system is so strong that they have been hiring at least three and sometimes as many as six full-time instructors every year.

These full-time positions typically have at least eight adjuncts applying for each opening. One thing this shows, if we didn’t already know it, is that not all the adjuncts are part-timers by preference.


 “Community College Stats.”

American Association of Community Colleges.  January 2008. 10 August 2008 < http://www2.aacc.nche.edu/research/index.htm>.

“Community College Studies.”

University of California: Los Angeles. 10 August 2008 <http://www.gseis.ucla.edu/ccs/faq.html#CC>.

“Faculty Members.”

American Association of Community Colleges.  January 2008. 10 August 2008 <http://www.aacc.nche.edu/Content/NavigationMenu/AboutCommunityColleges/WhoAreYou/FacultyMembers/Faculty_Members.htm>.

Gappa, J.M., and Leslie, D.W. The invisible faculty: Improving the status of part-timers in higher education. San Francisco : Jossey-Bass, 1993.

Jacoby, Daniel.  “Effects of Part-time Faculty Employment on Community College Graduation Rates.”

  Journal of Higher Education (November 2006). 12 August 2008 <http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-26679697_ITM>.

Papp, James.  “Gleaning in Academe: Personal Decisions for Adjuncts and Graduate Students.”

  College English 64.6 (July 2002): 696-709.

Tai, Emily Sohmer. “Teaching History at a Community College.”

  American Historical Association.  February 2004. 10 August 2008 < http://www.historians.org/Perspectives/Issues/2004/0402/0402gra1.cfm>.

“US Community Colleges, by State.”

University of Texas at Austin. 30 June 2008. 9 August 2008 <http://www.utexas.edu/world/comcol/state/#TX>.

Articles in this series include:
Adjuncting, especially in a community college
Teaching English in a Texas Community College: The Focus
Teaching English in a Texas Community College: The Courses
Teaching English in a Texas Community College: The Students
Teaching English in a Texas Community College: Summary

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