Please Give to Your Alumni Organization!
Anecdotal evidence about academia’s race to the bottom: a local university emailed our graduate department- they’re offering to pay adjuncts $1,850/ course to teach their history offerings. Some math: a full time teaching load is often figured at about 4/4, although it is possible to do more. So, an adjunct, imagining that they could get four courses lined up in the spring and fall semesters (a big if) would be making (drum-roll please): $14,800 per year. This would be the payoff for dedicating a decade of their life to higher education and taking on thousands of dollars in debt. (You will understand why, when bright undergrads ask me about grad school, I recommend they take their talents to the private sector instead.) My guess is the only people this place will get to teach their core classes will be grad students who are very desperate for experience to put on their CVs, whether or not they have any actual knowledge of the specific subjects offered.
What will they do after those suckers run out? Hard to say. I’ve heard of universities having their retiring professors copy all of their lecture notes so that grad student instructors can try to replicate their lectures. I’m willing to bet (roughly $1,850) that some university will eventually figure out that they can pay a temp agency to provide out-of-work actors to “deliver the course material” regardless of credentials. After all, good instruction is so unimportant as to be virtually worthless.
(A second bet: I bet the university in question’s tuition rates are not declining, in spite of the money they’re saving.)
[Postscript: Okay, now a question. Those of us who are navigating the job market get to know pretty well which universities are so cheap about their instruction that said instruction is virtually worthless. Should we do a better job of informing the suckers public about this? Or, do they really not care, provided their kids get the piece of paper at the end?]