Do adjuncts hurt educational quality?

Of course teachers with offices, phones, computer access, stable schedules, peer support, a living wage, and a possible future with an institution might well do a better job than teachers without any of those things. But for all the reasons above and then some, beware the recent spate of studies linking part-time faculty members with such indicators of educational quality as graduation and transfer rates.

Steve Street doesn’t think that adjuncts hurt educational quality. As an adjunct myself, I would agree.

But perhaps the educational system which supports adjuncts over full-timers hurts educational quality.

In a system where 3/4 of the teachers are part-timers, where the full-time faculty report to the dean while the adjuncts report to the chair, where the priority is on keeping faculty costs down, the educational quality decreases. It isn’t because of the adjuncts. It’s because of the school.

Two of my colleges are 90% full-timers. They really don’t have many adjuncts. Both could easily replace most of their part-timers with one or two full-timers in English.

One of my colleges is 3/4 part-timers. They would be paying 3x as much for the same work if they dropped that 75% to nothing.

There’s not that much committee work at the one college. If most part-timers were dropped and became full-timers there might be a single committee work per person.

I don’t think that adjuncts hurt educational quality. But being an adjunct hurts them.

Yet the American Association of University Professors once reported that only 8 percent of new tenure-track faculty hires had previously worked as part-time instructors — an indication of what is common knowledge on the academic job market: Search committees deem adjunct experience to be worse than none at all.

I am finding this is an issue. Applying for jobs where I already adjunct has not been hurt. I have gotten interviews there. But schools where I am not an adjunct have been much less forgiving and much more “anti-adjunct.” (I have talked to people who work/ed there.)

What can be done to prove that an adjunct will be an asset rather than a liability?

I have some ideas.

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