Posted by: mutantpoodle | March 25, 2012

The beatings will continue until morale improves…

Robert Farley at LGM pointed out this gem, from the Washington Post (which, as an aside, is the financial albatross around the very profitable neck of the somewhat sketchy Kaplan educational empire), positing that the problem with higher education is that those darned professors aren’t doing enough teachin’.

Farley eviscerates David Levy’s argument swiftly, so not much for me to add on that point, except to say that when a sentence like this appears in print, it should be a clue that the author is just making shit up:

An executive who works a 40-hour week for 50 weeks puts in a minimum of 2,000 hours yearly. But faculty members teaching 12 to 15 hours per week for 30 weeks spend only 360 to 450 hours per year in the classroom. Even in the unlikely event that they devote an equal amount of time to grading and class preparation, their workload is still only 36 to 45 percent of that of non-academic professionals. Yet they receive the same compensation.

Oh, where to start.  “In the unlikely event” that teachers spend time preparing and grading equal to classroom time? Has Levy ever taught a class in his life?  Also, university faculty do more than teach; they are expected to do research as well, and it is that research that a) burnishes the reputation of the institution which employs them, which is why those institutions are more than casually interested in someone’s research when they grant him or her tenure, and b) in many cases brings money into Universities to support their growing administrative costs (as Farley also points out, a far bigger factor in college costs than faculty salaries).

Sister Susan is a tenured professor in the UC system, and between her teaching load, academic committees, system-wide committees, search committees, and department administration, and, you know, research, she works 50+ hours a week – and that’s probably understating it.  Granted, that leaves her far too much time to think liberal thoughts and steal the faith from the unsuspecting devout who enter her realm, but it’s a long way from twiddling her thumbs while she day-trades on university computers.

And one other thing: if you’re going to write an essay about education, sentences like this can’t be a part of it:

Change in employment terms and conditions is never easy, but further avoiding this issue can only continue an out-of-scale escalation in the cost of higher education, with the demand, ad infinitum, for increased public funds to support it.

Perhaps Mr. Levy’s professors should have spent a little more time giving feedback on his composition skills?


  1. The rule of thumb is that between grading and class preparation you do 3 hours outside class for every hour in class. When you are just starting, it’s more on the preparation end, but since we know that making students write is really important, the grading doesn’t slow down. That’s particularly true for people in the CC system, who don’t have graders, or teaching assistants. And let me tell you, reading papers from 150 students 3 or 4 times a semester is A LOT of work.

    That doesn’t include committee work, which can take up from 2-8 hours a week for many people, depending on the time of year. It completely eliminate research, which for people at community colleges and baccalaureate institutions is often considered a personal extra.

    And citing the example of one of the better paid CC districts is disingenuous: I know people at comprehensive regional institutions who are making less than $80,000 a year (often significantly less), have not seen raises for years, and may be expected to publish and attend conferences with no funding.

    For a full picture, the AAUP’s guide to the economic status of the profession — is quite reavealing. The table I’ve linked to gives average compensation by rank and institutional type. For professors, across all institutions, the average salary is $110,000 – for people who have 5-8 years of post BA education, and (by the time they are at the rank of Professor) at least 10-15 years of experience. Not, I think, comparable to other professionals with a comparable level of education.

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