Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Have you written Martha yet?

Write Martha Kantner, Under Secretary of Education and former adjunct, that is. In her IHE comment and on the adj-l listserv, Betsy Smith urges adjunct faculty to write Martha Kanter about living as an adjunct.

Speaking at the Saturday lunch, Martha Kantner, also a former adjunct, assured all present that she reads all of her e-mail personally - and gave her e-mail address. I know of at least one that she has read and answered.  As Raye Robertson at the The Adjunct Voice might say, It's good to have a voice.

if you haven't written yet, go to the Inside Higher Education article about adjunct issues at the 2010 NEA/AFT higher ed conference in San Jose. To get the email address, scroll down to Comments or just text search the page for "Write Martha Kantner."  Then write Martha. Betsy encourages members of the Contingent Faculty listserv to cc If you prefer the contents of your letter to remain private, that's your choice, but do let your letter be counted.

The more letters written, the better: the louder; the clearer and the more polyphonic the adjunct voice, the better ~ whether from individuals or representing groups. 

Friday, March 26, 2010

conferences, surveys and videos

I've been thinking about conferences, even though NOT thinking about conferences may be the best part of being OUT of the game. So why was I? They are professional forums. Many conferences offer sessions relevant to adjunct/ contingent faculty issues ~ employment, workplace conditions, pedagogy, professional development, etc. It's a different medium than mainstream media, local and college press or even academic press. It's where we connect with like minded and present our case to tenured colleagues. Continuing presence is an expensive strategy so track and coordinat for maximum effectiveness.
  • MLA 2009, past
  • AHA 2010, past
  • CCCC 2010 - recently past
  • AAC&U, "Faculty Roles in High-Impact Practices" - this weekend, Philadelphia
  • AFT-NEA - this weekend, San Jose
  • CEA 2010: Voices - this weekend, San Antonio
  • TESOL 2010 - ongoing, Boston
  • Working Class Studies, "How Class Works" - upcoming, Stony Brook
  • COCAL IX, upcoming, Montréal
  • CBW, 2010 - upcoming, Atlanta

Sunday, March 21, 2010

NFM, out and about

Executive committee members, l-r: Ross Borden, Matt Williams, Maria Maisto, Anne Wiegard

March 12-13: Retreat and Strategic Planning meeting, Akron Ohio: Employment Insurance Initiative; budget and fund-raising; membership drive ~ chapters, "Toolit for Members" with provisions and suggestions for members to work on projects and/or in chapters; Chicago meeting planned to coordinate UI initiative; Yvonne Bruce to coordinate her faith-based initiative (Catholic universities' treatment of contingent faculty) with NFM; developing timeline and medium and long range goals for strategic plan, to be develped in time for COCAL 2010, August 13-15, Quebec City, Quebec 

Webpage housekeeping... out of date news items have been "unpublished" and other minor housekeeping. Link to Facebook page added, Twitter link still MIA   

June 3-5, How Class Works Conference, Stony Brook, Maria Maisto and Steve Street present in contingent issues in academic labor (maybe we can shake a preview out them to blog here...)

August 13-15, COCAL 2010, Quebec City, Quebec 

Tentatively, immediate (and interconnected) priorities are:

1.     Brochure
2.     Newsletter
3.     Fund-raising
4.     Membership development

(Note: original post edited 9:45pm, Mountain Daylight Time ~ I'd put the newsletter ahead of the brochure but that's probably just the community news blogger and former newsletter editor speaking)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Highered and Labor Video of the

Marc Bousquet to Contingent Academics Mailing List:

Higher ed working conditions are the topic of two of the five finalists for LaborStart's first ever Labor Video of the Year competition. Both are real contenders for winning. My top choice is the super-clever, frequently hilarious series of strike ads for CUPE 3903, representing grad student and contingent faculty who do half of all the teaching at York University, a major research institution in Canada.

See the CUPE videos, links, etc, here

Add your vote here:

Friday, March 12, 2010

Saturday Speedblogging: the soul of college

I'm starting a new feature, Speed blogging, designation borrowed from fellow former (UC) Davisite blogger Davis Zetland at Aguanomics (water + economics). List (annotated or not) posts are more derivative than innovative but will use my feed reader overload more efficiently. I keep tagging interesting and (imo) relevant posts to share but always have more tagged and bookmarked than I can use. Consider it the blog version of leftover night after cleaning the fridge. 

This list comes ready made courtesy of The Book Forum. Remember the old saw about what do your books/ bookshelves say about you? Surely the web 2.0 version/revision asks, :"what does your rss reader (or bookmarks collection) say about you?" Something for its very own article someday and perhaps a poll. 

From Expositions, Brian Satterfield (Villanova): What is the Good of the "Examined Life"? Some Thoughts on the Apology and Liberal Education. Why are some departments being eliminated while others are secure? Meg Worley wonders about the future. A review ofStanford in Turmoil: Campus Unrest, 1966-1972 by Richard Lyman. Free speech within reason: Constantine Sandis is disturbed by a claim that academics have theright to say what they want at all times, in all places. When the First-Amendment scholar runs the university: Lee Bollinger puts free-speech theory into practice, and practice into theory. At what cost? A successful academic faces lifelong debt. The structure and silence of the cognitariat: In the American university system, recipients of higher education are increasingly prepared for a working life in a knowledge economy where independence and social protections have been eroded. A review of Porn University: What College Students are Really Saying About Sex on Campus by Michael Leahy. A review of Varsity Green: Millionaire Coaches, Ruthless Sneaker Wars, and the Battle for the Soul of College Sports by Mark Yost. Daniel Pearce on Postcollege Ennui: College has proved so reliable a setting for fiction that it's even laid claim to its own literary genre — but what happens after the campus novel graduates? Neal Gabler on the college admissions scam. Does the English Department have a Jewish problem? The New Math on Campus: A shortage of men. Ramesh Ponnuru on the case against college education. A case for comics in college: My name is (insert name here) and I am a visual learner — and other reasons why comics is a relevant subject for the college curriculum.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

AFT Action Alert: Bank on Students

Money for banks or to invest in students and institutions? Which is the better investment? Reblogged from AFT / FACE Talk, Thursday, 11 March 2010

Call NOW!

Tell your senators:
 include student loan reform 
in reconciliation bill
Stop. Go to your phone and contact your Senator right this minute.  Why?
Because right now, the Senate is in a serious debate, the outcome of which could jeopardize the fate of the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act.  Republican Senators and key Democratic Senators are opposing the inclusion of SAFRA in the reconciliation process.  But as Rep. George Miller stated today, the choice is clear:

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

SAFRA Wars: Student Aid Reform Showdown Coming Soon

Article below by Angus Johnston, cross-posted from Student Activism. This topic returns: last year it was over SAFRA in the House. Although a student oriented bill, adjunct / contingent faculty groups discussed letter writing campaigns to write basic principles of faculty equity into the legislation. Will we or won't we?

If we do, will it be haphazard or coordinated? What are the odds on making changes in a bill already competing with jobs and health care for legislative attention? Just increasing legislative awareness would be an overdue step forward. Start doing your homework now: reread SAFRA material, track down your legislators' snail, email, fax and ~ in case you come into a phone card ~ telephone numbers.

SAFRA Wars: Student Aid Reform Showdown Coming Soon 

A big fight is looming in the Senate over SAFRA, the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act.

SAFRA is the most ambitious attempt to reform higher education lending in ages. The bill would put the federal government in charge of providing federal student loans — students would borrow money under the same terms as before, but the money that used to go to banking institutions' overhead and profit would go to education instead.

The passage of SAFRA would provide billions of dollars in new funding to education programs: $4.7 billion this year alone. Starting next year, it would provide a big boost of cash to Pell Grants, reducing the cost of higher education for needy students. And it would simplify the student loan application process too.

SAFRA passed the House of Representatives last September, but it was put on hold in the Senate because of fears of a Republican filibuster. Here's where things stand now:

Friday, March 5, 2010

Of particular relevance to adjunct issues in HCW2010

Please note in the extensive conference schedule below presentations by New Faculty Majority's own Maria Maisto at 8-9 AM on Saturday, June 5, who will speak directly to the conditions of contingency, and later that day (at 10:45 AM) Steve Street, who'll speak on the two-tiered faculty system as a microcosm of class dynamics. Also a panel on The Pedagogy of Class on Friday might be of particular interest to us adjuncts. So if you're near Stony Brook in early summer, please stop on by and contribute your $.02.

How Class Works: 2010 conference schedule

Here's a compact version, quick and easy to forward quick...registration, housing information now posted on site. With two NFM board members presenting, this will get more social media coverage. I'd say "buzz," but then someone would have to shoot me...

from: Michael Zweig;


Dear Friends and Colleagues

*I am happy to report that the full schedule for the How Class Works - 2010 conference is now posted at, together with registration and housing information.  The conference will be at SUNY Stony Brook June 3-5, 2010.*

The conference includes over 200 presentations exploring the many ways in which class dynamics shape our social, cultural, and political experiences. It brings together graduate students and senior scholars, labor and community organizers and activists, to extend the knowledge and community of working class studies.

Presenters are coming from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iran, New Zealand, Portugal, Nigeria, South Africa, Sweden, Turkey, the UK, and the US.

The opening plenary session will feature Larry Cohen, international resident of Communications Workers of America: "Economic Crisis, Political Paralysis:  What's the Working Class to Do?" Thursday June 3 at 7 p.m. Other plenary sessions will address right wing populism, charter schools, and contingent academic labor.

I invite you to check out the program and register for the conference.Limited financial aid is available.  I hope to welcome you to Stony Brook in June.

Michael Zweig, Director, Center for Study of Working Class Life
Department of Economics, State University of New York
Stony Brook, NY 11794-4384; tel# 631.632.7536

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Up to speed on March 4th

So far, short pieces on NPR and PBS, belated coverage in mainstream media, a brief snip emphasizing unruliness in local NM media but nothing about the forum hosted locally by the AAUP chapter at UNM. What about college towns in your area? 

I know I've left off one important link but just couldn't find midst the plethora blogs and webpages named occupy, defend, resist, save public education. 

Google Group, March 4th Action

Campus Progress, March 4th Roundup 

Youth Radio (Youth Media International)

March 4th links, not comprehensive but a start

Search Twitter for the hashtag #march4 

Background - the situation is not a news bite, too complex to understand with it
Not comfortable using Twitter? This might help. 

Townson U, AAUP, March 4

Sorry to be so slow off the mark ~ and then this post left in drafts instead of posted ~ when there is so much going on. Inconvenient time for what ran me down and laid me low

These turned up on my feed reader: 1 academic, 1 Baltimore local, 1 national (WaPo), two Black press bloggers ~ waiting to see if Black Commentator will run something. Also what the lifespan will be.

TOWSON U ~ adjunct fired for racial slur
Thanks for the AAUP information, including a March 4 endorsement. The newsletter does not have an rss feed. I created one to let me know when the archive updates. I subscribed to several AAUP feeds but they are not very active. Good material on their main page too, well worth spreading the word, reblogging in a post of its own. 

March 4 ~ so much in feed reader, bookmarks & mbx, I'm drowning in it. Tomorrow, I'll try to sort out a list of top 10 or so sources for you. I doubt many, if any, will be main stream media (with the possible exception of SFGate).

Go to to view a map of EVERY action taking place NATIONWIDE! Credit: @studentactivism (great website too)

Next up: a few good sources on March 4 actions ~ and I don't necessarily mean mainstream. In case you haven't noticed, they were the last ones to jump on the band wagon.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

a student loan debt campaign

Cryn Johannsen, who blogs about student loan debt at Educated Matters, writes asking everyone to repost the this video clip clip about the student lending crisis. Get the word out: blog, tweet, forward, post on websites, email to groups.

Cryn also maintains a Facebook Support Group for the Indentured Educated Class (USA)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

March4 with Bob Samuels and Twitter

UCLA Fights Back!: Demands for #March4 (Bob Samuels in HuffPo)

"A UCLA coalition of students, faculty, community members, and unions has worked together to come up with a set of demands to present to the administration and the media for March 4th."

The first set of issues deals with fighting the privatization of the university. Another group addresses budget transparency, shared governance, and democratic participation. Samuels explains,

"It is important to stress that when students and workers say they are fighting the privatization of the university, they are resisting six inter-related trends:

1) the shifting of costs from the public to the individual; thus while the state reduces funding, the individual students are being asked to make up for the differences through higher fees;

2) the university is being run more like a private profit-centered business than a not-for-profit public institution; in this structure, costs are socialized, while profits are privatized through the rise of an administrative class;

3) the move from a peer review system for public workers to a private model of free agent contract negotiations;

4) The move to individualized, online learning;

5) The student focus on earning individual grades over social learning and collaboration; and

6) the move to have private donors and private corporations fund the research mission."

March 4th sources are picking up. In addition to blogs, mainstream media and several March 4 groups with Facebook presences supplementing their blogs and Ning platforms, Twitter searches may be be the best and most efficient way to search fast breaking updates. Just search the hashtag #march4. Nor is all the action in California.

Article on EMU Campaign

A 'Nice Experience' or a Job? Lecturers at Michigan School Say Part-Timers Need a Union, Too,
by Ken Wachsberger in Labor Notes, 02/24/2010. via Jon Curtis, AFT Michigan  

The university, whose specialty is educating future teachers and whose slogan is "Education First," has hired a team of high-priced lawyers to break the back of the drive, in part by creating divisions between full-time and part-time lecturers.

The Adjunct Lecturers' Organizing Committee (ALOC) has gathered signatures from a super-majority of part-timers who are teaching this semester, according to AFT organizer Greg Pratt. They've filed a petition with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission for an election to be held before the winter semester ends May 4. Three out of four part-time lecturers approached by ALOC organizers have signed. According to ALOC data, EMU employs about 450 part-time adjunct lecturers every semester, who teach more than one-third of classes.

The demands of EMU part-timers for equality are being echoed at the national level: a coalition of academic associations, including the AFT, released a report February 10 calling on universities to treat all their teachers as "one faculty"—which means extending health and retirement benefits and making pay equitable for those not on the tenure track. The joint paper notes that nationally, one-third of teachers not on the tenure track have been in their jobs at least five years, but schools insist on "outdated personnel and compensation policies that assume non-tenure-track faculty members are short-term employees who will make up only a small proportion of the faculty." Union organizing efforts across the country are challenging this unequal set-up.

At EMU, the administration has refused to recognize part-timers as worthwhile members of the university community.

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