Thursday, May 31, 2012

NBC story to focus on #adjunct profs' struggles

Karen Kelsky ~ #NewFac12 Summiteer, pro-adjunct convert, formerly tenured admin, now deftly consulting on the Byzantine ways of the academic job market ~ just posted this call on The Professor Is In and the open Facebook group, Con Job: Stories of Adjunct and Contingent Faculty
Urgent request. NBC Nightly News is still interested in covering the Ph.D. Poverty topic, but are shifting their angle. This AM I got this email: "Since we last spoke, I have done some more research and it looks like the percentage of PhDs on food stamps doesn’t really hold that much weight in the grand scheme of things. I want to change the story angle a little bit and just focus on part-time and adjunct professors and the struggles that they endure. I was wondering if I could talk to you on the phone and ask you where I could find some good solid evidence focusing on adjunct professors and their financial troubles and job security." 

From #Occupy to Quebec: Strategies & Strategic Demands

What lessons can we ~ non tenure tracked faculty and other precarious academic knowledge workers ~ take away from Occupy and Quebec?

If the Occupy movement did one thing in North America, it put class on the agenda. By making it easier to forge links between differing struggles, the language of the 99 percent has acted as a social lubricant between struggles previously atomized by elite narratives. This shared language of inequality is perhaps the greatest gift the Occupy movement has given to those fighting for a more socially just world. (photo via Common Dreams)

Thus, the Occupy movement should be seen as ultimately posing the question: If our society is increasingly unequal, what are we going to do about it?

Think about the on-going Quebec student strike. CLASSE and the two other student federations (FEUQ and FECQ) started out by speaking to issues that students cared about - the proposed rise in tuition fees.

After months and months of planning they carefully started protesting and then launched a student strike, which was continually voted upon. The strike has slowly evolved into a more general resistance to neoliberal reforms and the Charest government, especially its implementation of the draconian Law 78.

The specific demand has been generalized.

Compare these strategies and outcomes to Occupy. Go to The Indypendent to read the rest of From Occupy to Quebec: Deepening the Struggle through Strategic Demands, originally published by Common Dreams and 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Time to put this puppy to bed before too late to be interesting, let alone any longer. Recent topping off: yesterday mailbox and social media exchanges were about:

  • the TAMU San Antonio adjunct getting booted for having the temerity to expect admin to do something about threatening emails: catch it links, discussion, comments and all on Josh Boldt's Adjunct Project and Con Job (Fb group that has become our electronic water cooler)
  • messy mooc musings (+ comments) from Kate Bowles (Music for Deck Chairs, Australia), Jonathon Rees (More or Less Bunk, Colorado) and tidier,  less dramatic, iterations of the same from members of Change 11 cohort, retired physics prof Gordon Lockhart of mooc cow renown

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

U to the Rescue! Cali Link Feast

Michael Merzanze's Links for May 29, 2012 from Remaking the University (high on our highly recommended blogs list): Quebec to California (rather a ring, doncha' think?). A recent reader comment on our wall reminded me to pay more attention to California. Chris Newfield's and  Michael Meranze's excellent, thoughtful, informative, well researched and written higher ed blog is a good place to start. Add Chris' Blog Archive (overflow site, not really "too dumb to live" at all) to the list. Although CA higher ed is a primary focus, coverage and articles in both go far beyond state lines. Perhaps, a CA reading list next. Got suggestions?

PS I still have my own ramblings with day old links in drafts...  

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Joe Berry's COCAL Updates, late May

To subscribe to regular Updates, email  More about Joe Berry.  Updates are also archived at Follow COCAL International on Facebook 

Updates in brief and links

Around the Adjunctiverse

'Junct Tour is home again! Catch up with road trip posts on 2255 Films, Chris LaBree's blog, the Homeless Adjunct and 'Junct Tour Event page.

Josh Boldt has a post about media aggregation on the Adjunct Project plus new Forum and Job Board 

Carol Leitner, former Westchester CC adjunct sues, says she was fired for expressing opinions (which included support for Arizona's controversial 2010 immigration law, and student complaints.)

Rowan AFT adjunct union endorses no-merger with Rutgers-Camden resolution

add amazin' Amazon to no-shop list

I've been thinking about developing a "no shop" list with, wherever possible, realistic alternatives for precarious academic workers ~ curating a worst workplaces list instead of leaving them scattered them across posts and mailing lists. There arealso "ethical shopping" and "consumer ethics" websites, but this would  focus on contingent labor employment and workplace practices. As one article about warehousing pointed out, employees are not paid well enough to shop ethically outside this system. The same is true for many adjuncts, which makes calling for a boycott unrealistic (even if we were well enough organized to do it). Instead, start with raising awareness and recommending. Training wheels for the real thing someday. 

We talk about asking education consumers (parents, students) and involved agencies/ institutions (funding, accrediting, regulating, evaluating, overseeing) to make contingent faculty policies and numbers factors in making decisions. Let's consider practicing what we preach. To second Amazon's nomination to our "no shop" list, here's Paul Haeder's report from the Amazon shareholders meeting in Seattle

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Take Action in Small Steps: Petition Junction & more

Remember Lee Bessette's post-Summit resolution about making a difference no matter how small the action? Take smalls steps but many of them and often, Josh Boldt started his crowdsourcing project that led to the Adjunct Project, which just keeps growing and by now includes media aggregation, job board, open blog, forum and more. Lee's resulted in her April 2 Day for Highered, action. Short notice didn't slow it down. Since then individuals have been taking many steps, Karen Kelsky now addresses adjunct issues on the Professor Is In and maintains a Job Seeker Support FundAna Maria Fores Tamayo started her adjunct pay petition. Debra Leigh Scott, aka the Homeless Adjunct, already ahead of all long before the Summit, planned the Junct Tour. Jack Longmate, Frank Cosco and Keith Hoeller put on a contingent faculty issues workshop and teach-in. Oronte Churm's John Warren started the Adjunct Hero series. John A Casey Jr has been busy with Pfac and Occupy English. Those are just off the top of our head. Let us know about the ones we missed. All the heroes get a hat tip here. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

#NFM a strong voice for #ContingentFaculty @ 3rd #CFHE Gathering

Despite possible impressions to the contrary, the New Faculty Majority was well represented, highly visible and a strong voice to make adjunct and contingent issues a priority at the Third National Gathering (left) of the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education (CFHE), hosted by the Michigan Conference AAUP in Ypsilanti, Michigan May 18-20. 
Gary Rhoades including New Faculty Majority Foundation board membership in his Saturday morning introduction signaled our presence, further highlighted by a highly visible NFM presence that included active participation and presentations: President Maria Maisto, VP Matt Williams (right), Treasurer Bill Lipkin, Board Member Alan Trevithick, Esther S. Merves, the Foundation’s Director of Research and Special Programs, and member Daniel Maxey. Additionally, members of NFM’s Board of Advisors, Elizabeth Hoffman,  Associate Vice President,  Lecturers, California Faculty Association, and Richard Moser, of Rutgers AAUP-AFT, were also heard in support of a strong and continuing focus on contingency.  

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Reading Room: Omnivore on #highered systems

...the whole collection as is. Some but not all sources are journals and media from the Mundo Bizarro of highered. Others are main steam media and studies from outside the profession. All are informed. Consider this homework, prep reading for bigger picture, context for whatever the #CFHE gathering yields and is willing to share and seeing other perspectives, perhaps even ourselves, our profession, as others see it.

Eli Meyerhoff (Minnesota), Elizabeth Johnson (Wisconsin), and Bruce Braun (Minnesota): Time and the University. Robert Rhoads (UCLA): The U.S. Research University as a Global Model: Some Fundamental Problems to Consider. Study abroad? Why American students head north. What country has the best higher education system

Monday, May 21, 2012

Joe Berry's COCAL Updates, Mid-May

Check & click new Petitions Feature. Are you shopping an adjunct or higher ed petition? Email link to to add to add here. 

To subscribe to regular Updates, email  More about Joe Berry.  Updates are also archived at Follow COCAL International on Facebook 

Updates in brief and links

Around the Adjunctiverse
Susan Schacher, of Peralta CCD, Laney College, Oakland, CA gets major award.
In her 24th year as a part time temporary instructor and contingent activist at Laney College, Susan is the recipient of the Margaret Quan Part Time Advocate of the Year award presented by the FACCC, the Faculty Association of the California Community Colleges.  

  • Watch for the Adjunct Tour interview: Duquesne adjuncts to request voluntary union recognition with USW and university declines to recognize union
  • More from Debra Leigh Scott, finishing Day 2 on the road with the Adjunct Tourblogging about disrespected adjuncts as being like stupid sluts at 'Junct Rebellion.
  • Why adjuncts unionize, Kalamazoo College MI and their blog Raritan Valley CC (NJ) adjuncts eye raises 
  • Utah Valley U adjuncts protest new requirement to reapply for their jobs each semester, more here
  • A Gannett story on adjunct faculty use at ULM
  • Collection of back posts on Chronicle adjunct / community college blog, The 2-year Track
  • A somewhat limited but unnerving, ominous article on contracted academic "coaches" and the company supplying them
  • Washington State union adjunct gives unemployment benefits advice.Another (Business Insider) PhD adjunct [from UC Berkeleyon food stamps and yet another (newser, a conservative content mill) recycle the original Chronicle article. Finally, NPR (where it has been replicated on NPR sites across the country) 
HigherEd, Mundo Bizarro

  • AFL-CIO blog on Rutgers study on recent grad debt and unemployment, also see comments
  • Yet more on consequences of student debt [in depth story, no mention of us contingents]
  • A passes new regulations governing for-profits
  • Federal consumer board investigating for-profit Corinthian
  • CUNY (NY) activists fight for greater access, lower tuition and fees,  and roughed up by cops, in Alternet. Ed (not Joe) note: Alternet runs excellent articles on higher education and labor issues: following highly recommended. Consider spending comment time there to get heard outside the Ivory Silo™ of highered media.
  • Severe police attacks on Quebec student strike demonstrators, another account, an adjunct union's evaluation of the "deal" and a good summary update article on the whole Quebec anti-tuition struggle 

Taking Action

Visit COCAL International for information on the  Tenth (X) Conference on Contingent Academic Labor in Mexico City, August 10-12, 2012 at Universidad Nacional Autónimo de México (UNAM), Mexico City. Join International COCAL listserv online or email with send "Subscribe" in the subject line. If you have problems subscribing, e-mail

A mitzvah: pass it on!

What a nifty, elegant idea. Do a mitzvah, pass it on. That is the heart of building both solidarity and networks. Historiann's "A mitzvah: pass it on!" was already sitting in drafts waiting for a short lead-in and exhortation to go out pretty much intact. Then I read Josh Boldt's Copy & Paste post about aggregating posts and plans for an Adjunct Project media board. They are not quite the same but headed in the same direction.  Now to weave them together like a complex essay prompt. Josh adds adjunct -specific context to what Historiann is working up to proposing when she writes ...

Monday Miscellany

... catch-up & preview touching on sundry topics from activism (#JunctTour & #AdjunctProject) to #CFHE's recent "gathering," blogging, links, Digital Identities & professional development. Briefly, I hope... 

#JunctTour (follow the hashtag) through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan (Detroit) tops my personal list even if highered media has not seen fit to give it due notice. I take that omission as a sign of their information deficit about the adjunctiverse, not mine. Filming partner and cinematographer, Chris LaBree (from the wilds of New Jersey), is video blogging the road trip, regular posts on 2255 Films. The Homeless Adjunct's road trip is and will be the ongoing lead on New Fac @ Facebook through May 26'Junct Rebellion's adjunct road trip has a Facebook Event page. 

The #AdjunctProject has made web site changesis aggregating media references to the Project and also added a job board and forums to its site. Go check them out for yourself. I'd write more but am already having a hard time with "brief." Josh is going distributed networks: this deserves a post of its own... and will get one.

Friday, May 18, 2012

College Affordability? For whom?

Eagle Crest Resort (Ypsilanti, Michigan)A little story: one that occurs to me as I wait high above a rather nice golf course, Eagle Crest, waiting for the start of a weekend powwow of those who have signed on with the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education. It regards, my little story, college affordability.

One evening, as I crossed the Triboro Bridge into Queens, to teach my single community college class there, I realized something. I had to take a loan to get to my job. This is because my E-Z pass, though it may have thought it was sucking the $6.50 out of our checking account (what does E-Z Pass care?) it was actually getting it from the overdraft protection that bankrolls our household's continued between-semester-contract operations. 

And that money, of course, we would have to pay back, with interest. The repayment would start when the first one or two of the three colleges I teach at got around to sending me a check. Sometimes they take a couple of weeks, sometimes a month. So I was taking a loan to teach  college. 

 What do you think? Cost-effective? Sustainable? Fair?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Brother, can youse paradigm?

Multiple puns, smart commentary, great graphics, artwork, cartoons, public art... why have I been skimming past occasional links & commentary and not re-posting more? It's a treat I owe to myself if no one else. Plus, David Ruccio's posts and graphics have always been popular and well shared. Consider them back on the regular menu, if not here then at the blogueria...

Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, first published 50 years ago, is one of the few classics I tell students in pretty much all my classes they have to read before they leave college, whether or not it’s assigned in one of their courses. It contains important lessons, especially for economics, of radical paradigm shifts and the fundamental incommensurability among different theories and approaches.

David Weinberger retells one of the great stories about Kuhn that you can read at  Brother, can youse paradigm? along with the story behind the pun titling the post.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Power of Two: Leveraging Academic Senates and Faculty Unions

... strategizing unofficially for #CFHE, Campaign for the Future of Higher Education, post by Teri Yamada, Professor of Asian Studies, originally appearing at Restructuring Public Hi Ed
The challenge for government, universities, and unions is to recognize that while the environment is changing and the pressures are intense, adaptations must be made in ways that ensure that short-term fixes do not compromise sound public policies, such as the right to form associations and collectively bargain. Nor can short-term fixes be allowed to compromise fundamental public priorities, including access to an affordable, high-quality college education, and prudent, long-term financial planning by the government (1).
(image above) Student arrests during protest against tuition increases, Nov. 17, 2011, CSU Board of Trustees meeting. Photograph by Stefan Agregado

Monday, May 14, 2012

Joe Berry's COCAL Updates +

.. Check out new features, Petition Junction and Conference Corner. Are you shopping an adjunct or higher ed petition? Got a conference ~ on the horizon or in the rear view mirror ~ to share? Email me link and information on petition or conference.  

To subscribe to regular Updates, email  More about Joe Berry.  Updates are also archived at Follow COCAL International on Facebook  

Updates in brief and links


Thursday, May 10, 2012

On the Road with JunctRebellion

#JunctTour is coming! Remember the story of JunctRebellion at Left Forum? Well, our intrepid Road Scholars Debra Leigh Scott and Chris Labree are getting ready to take their show on the road. Help us get the word out about the Homeless Adjunct Tour

I'll be following them from here, blogging, tweeting, Facebook updating. Making it happen will take a group effort: we need your help too. Spread the word. Share ideas. This is adjunct taking matters into their own hands ~ talking back, taking action, reaching out to adjuncts, contingent faculty, precarious academic knowledge workers everywhere. 

Debra writes, 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Precariat? R'us? If not, then who?

We're who but not the only ones; now what about who else and 'what'? The University of Sydney, cited below, gives an overview in its news release introducing visiting speaker, UK economics professor Guy Standing (truly, a minimalist home page). 
The precariat consists of a growing number of people around the world who live in social and economic insecurity, without occupational identities, drifting in and out of jobs and constantly worried about their incomes, housing and much else. (sound familiar?)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Community Colleges: Who is having this Warhol Moment?

National leaders, in higher education, and these people called "practitioners," where do they come from? Consider, for instance, the following:
“Many of the full-time faculty who created the current levels of success for community colleges are retiring in hordes, with only a few graduate programs to prepare their replacements.”
Wow, not just a dearth of qualified replacements, for this community college version of the “greatest generation,” but also a dearth of grad programs that can bring them up to snuff.  This alarming, but not entirely accurate, news is from a article in a series on “completion rates,” sponsored by the Association of American Colleges and Universities, and attributed to “national educational leaders and practitioners.”

The specific leader here, who has constructed his views around the idea that community colleges are enjoying their “Andy Warhol fifteen minutes of fame,” is Dr. Terry O’Banion of Walden University, a private for-profit. According to Modern Language Association’s handy site on the academic workforce, Walden employs exactly zero full-time tenure or tenure track faculty among its employees and, among the 1800 faculty reported, only 100 full-timers.

What to make of such an educational leader, then, when he writes  this:

Friday, May 4, 2012

More Green River Adjunct Workshop coverage + CPFA Conference

Doesn't this make you want to go out and put on a conference just for adjuncts or throw a workshop of your own? When you do, be sure to let us know about it. Jack Longmate sets the example here by writing letting us know about the feature in the student newspaper and a video on YouTube.

Issue 10, volume 46The April 20 “The Solution to Faculty Apartheid” conference held at Green River Community College in Auburn, WA, which featured Keith Hoeller, Frank Cosco, Kathryn Re, and me, is described in a feature in the college’s student newspaper, The Current. Click on the issue and then advance to page 10 for a nice picture of Frank and Keith. 

Issue 10, volume 46, Subscribe / Print / Share / Download

And now bring out the popcorn for the main feature: video of presentations on part time college faculty working conditions. Looks at the differences between full and part time faculty pay and other issues and possible solutions to these problems.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Special COCAL Update: Mexico City COCAL X

Joe Berry reminds us, 

NOTICE: Tenth Conference on Contingent Academic Labor (COCAL X), August 9-12, 2012

Early discounted registration ends June 1, 2012. Please see COCAL International for all details (dates, agenda, housing, registration and costs) for the upcoming COCAL X conference. 

The call for papers (presentations) is now out and proposals are due May 15. Submission details are at

This is the major biennial conference of the the COCAL network, encompassing US, Canada (and Quebec) and Mexico and being held in Mexico for the first time, in Mexico City on the beautiful campus of the Universidad National Autonomia de Mexico (UNAM), the largest university in the Western hemisphere and site of some of the most famous struggles [notably the 1968 Tlatelolco massacre. Stele dedicated massacred students, above] in the history of higher education worldwide. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

highered defunding, the future of work

Don't skip over the NYT links in Chris Newfield's recent posts on taxation and higher ed financing in California. They are more than just props. The Squeezed Middle and its tale of workplace changes are our story. 

In case you may be foolish enough to think that's not where you are: remember and respect the saying about the state as bellwether. Consider both posts and NYT articles as background reading for talking about higher ed policies and how to change trends. 

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