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Ghosts in the Classroom : Stories of College Adjunct Faculty--and the Price We All Pay Paperback – January 15, 2001
"...adjunct professors will discover the resource necessary for overturning their common fate--their own colleagues and fellow workers." -- Gary Zabel/Co-Chair of Coalition of Contingent Academic Labor/Boston
"...the attempt to run higher education as a business is an utter failure and a national disaster in the making." -- Richard Moser/National Field Representative/American Association of University Professors
"The issues painfully recounted in Ghosts in the Classroom should concern--and involve--all faculty." Jerry Spindel/MTA Today -- Massachusetts Teachers' Association Today, March 2001
"These are the writings of actual professors. Read the book. Then begin to worry." -- Barbara Wolf/Producer & Director of the video Degrees of Shame
"This melange of musings may someday be viewed as a historic tract--like Luther's theses." Peter Flynn/MCCC News -- Massachusetts Community College Council News, March 2001
From the Publisher
At Camel's Back Books, we continue to hope that Ghosts in the Classroom will be one of the stones thrown into the sea of academia, and that the spray thrown up will wash away the corruption that now corrodes the entire system.
We hope this book becomes a powerful weapon in the hands of adjuncts all over the country, and indeed, the North American continent, who are now fighting for what should be the basics of their profession: Equal pay for equal work, a decent benefit package that includes the option of health insurance coverage and a decent retirement pension, respect and recognition, and promotion to full-time employment as openings arise. We hope this book makes cruel administrators and indifferent full-time faculty members very, very nervous, and that it energizes the adjuncts and the supportive full-time faculty to work for justice--because it's the right thing to do, and because the working conditions of college faculty are the learning conditions of their students.
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Aside from these conditions, the adjuncts also face bizarre situations, such as students who will bring law suits when caught cheating, or such as incomes created by piecing together teaching assignments from two-six different institutions at a time!
All the writers here illustrate how the current policies toward adjuncts hurt the students, the educational system, and America in general, as much as they hurt the adjuncts themselves. These teachers continue out of love for their students and their subject, but the current system works against such love. Not surprisingly, the book concludes with an essay titled "Farewell to Teaching."
The book would have been improved by essays from instructors in the sciences and mathematics, and from instructors who acknowledge the lack of quality inherent in part-time teaching. (Horribly that lack of quality also exists, with far less justification, among the tenured faculty). Only one writer, under the pseudonym "Andrew Guy" is honest enough to admit that when you carry two to three times the load of the full time faculty, when you commute fifteen hours a week and when you are constantly subjected to insult and denigration, you end up dropping your standards just to survive physically and psychologically. Amazingly, the introduction alludes to the presence of "villains," among the writers, as though Guy is evil for putting his own survival ahead of the quality of the educational experience of his students. Every single other writer claimed to maintain high standards (of course!) and work feverishly without regard to his own welfare to give students the best possible learning experience. Each was apparently rewarded by adoring students and high praise on teaching reviews. It's all too unbelievable. These aren't the part-time instructors I knew. The part-time instructors I knew definitely got good reviews and had adoring students. The reason wasn't difficult to see - they talked a great line about high standards, but gave all As and Bs. To do otherwise was to court termination. Again, full-time faculty did the same, often crudely boasting that such superb grades were proof of their own teaching prowess rather than of their utter failure to prepare their students for further studies or work.
It's a great book nonetheless. I wish it was more diverse in outlook and specialty. Next time perhaps the editor can put an advertisement in Science or Nature and get some different perspectives.