Side note, I have been considering teaching at a uni…in the future, not anytime soon, but because I do love to teach.
Maybe Im just ignorant or stupid, but I always thought that teachers should be getting payed a higher than average salary? Most of them have Masters or PHD’s and most are decent teachers. People complain about tenure but I mean honestly how many teachers have you had that you can truly thought were aweful? Just because you didn’t like their teaching method or them as a person doesn’t mean they are bad.
I mean i go to CSUF and I haven’t really had a teacher I thought should be fired.
Somebody enlighten me or just explain to me all the hate against teachers recently.[/quote]
I agree. I can’t speak for every “consultant” working two days a week or whatever, but 84K a year isn’t really shit for someone in most parts of California (I believe Ponce is from the Bay Area, so it REALLY isn’t shit), especially for someone who most likely has a PhD and is probably toward the top of their respective professional food chain.
As far as the two days a week thing goes, I’ll use my father as an example. He’s the head building inspector at UC Santa Cruz. The university has their own building dept separate from the city’s because they have a lot sinkholes there that warrant attention, plus they’re building new labs, dorms and classrooms. My dad is in charge of all of this, for which he probably makes about 90K or so a year. He has written into his contract what he likes to call a “doorknob policy”, in which he gets paid for a ten hour shift (he works four tens a week) for simply touching the doorknob of his office. He doesn’t spend a lot of time on campus at all.
It seems fucked up that he is able to earn this much money and yet, he doesn’t work anywhere close to 40 hours a week on campus. But what makes it equitable is this: when something goes wrong, my dad is the one they call. He’s had to go up to the campus at all hours of the night and early morning to deal with shit. When something goes wrong, the head of the university comes down on him. He has more than a hundred people working underneath him and he’s in charge of several hundred million dollars worth of construction there. He’s also one of three people associated with FEMA in the Bay Area who is authorized to condemn buildings or something like that after natural disasters. After the Gulf oil spill, he was on the verge of being sent down to Mississippi to help with the relief effort. If there were an earthquake anywhere in California like the Japan one, or even like the big one that hit Cal. in 1989, he has to go and walk through buildings with the fire marshal and determine which ones are still viable and which ones are to be condemned, regardless of where in the state the earthquake occurs. This position is one of the requirements of the job. There’s a little more to that last part, but that’s the basic idea.
The point is that, while it may look like my dad is overpaid on the surface, the reality is that he has way more responsibilities than most people would think. Part of getting paid for your work is getting paid for what you are responsible for, not just how long you are actually at work. I don’t know about any of these CSU people on that list, but I can guarantee you that most of the ones on there who, on the surface, may only work a couple days week or teach one or two classes also have other responsibilities that we don’t see at a glance. Perhaps this consultant that Ponce speaks of offers consultation about very important matters within the university. Maybe he is in charge of developing curriculum requirements, which, if you think about it, is actually a huge responsibility at a college.
The moral of the story is that there is much more than meets the eye with these salaries. You can’t just look at a professor earning 84K (which, again, is hardly an outlandish salary in California. In the Bay Area, it’s WAY less than most people with PhD’s outside of the education sector earn) and say, “oh, he only teaches two classes; he’s overpaid.”
As for terrible teachers - the tenure system is broken in my opinion. It’s very hard to get rid of people who aren’t productive. You can be a horrible teacher too, but if you are publishing and getting grant money then the university will love you. That’s not so good from a student’s perspective.
The tenure system was set up to allow professors to research “unpopular” or “wild” ideas and maintain their jobs.
“oh, he only teaches two classes; he’s overpaid.”[/quote]
I agree. My old department head, who taught a 2:2 load (two classes each semester) described academia as “a job where you get to decide which 70 hours you want to work that week.”
Preparing lectures and grading papers takes a lot of time. Research, writing grants and publications takes lots of time.
I have overheard many debates about hiring or giving tenure to scholars with families because ‘kids take up too much time’ - time away from being a productive scholar.
There is much more than you might realize. Of course, this is differ depending at what point in their career an academic is in.
Yes, I KNOW. That’s why I am so pissed off. Make the professors SHARE the same pain as students, it will force the professors to act and push back against publishers. Right now, profs have NO incentive to keep the older texts. It’s retarded. I personally think all the bundled slides and exams that come with newer texts is a big reason why profs keep going for the newer material–essentially, many profs are lazy, usually the ones who have just started teaching or aren’t yet tenured, but also the ones who are NOT from industry.
I have always favored industry profs (in general). Huge difference in how they teach.[/quote]
Some departments do not give the professors a choice on which book they use.
Some updates to books are worth having.
There are options with most of the publishers to ‘customize’ books - make then cheaper for the students.
Copyright practices are getting stricter so texts are far easier than getting allowances and paying fees on a dozen or more readings for the year.
eBook I think are going to be a big deal because the publishers get to sell them every semester, not just the first. So unit price should go down.
Many students feel ‘better’ when there is a class text to refer back to.
Many professors are aware of the cost and try to minimize them. That said, some texts are worth the student buying and keeping for reference if they are within their majors.
That said, I have not used a text in years but would consider one if it was good for my class. I also use readings available in the school library. I know it will cost the students money to make copies, if they want, but college is not free…
Regarding textbooks: I agree that books are way too high-priced and all of that. But the reality is that you’d have to be a fucking idiot if you’re buying all of your textbooks from your school bookstore. You can use Chegg.com to rent textbooks for the semester at a tiny fraction of the cost of buying it. They also sell text books at a lower price than most places other than maybe Amazon, which is a great place to get books, especially if you major in history like I did where a lot of books aren’t text books but translations of primary sources like The Prince or Common Sense or The Iliad or The 95 Theses.
And then there’s craigslist. You can usually find a lot of lower-division texts on craigslist for much less than school bookstores, especially for Math. And there’s always the used copies at the school bookstore which are not cheap relative to other sources but are nonetheless much cheaper than a new copy. I know a lot of teachers also have their own packets or whatever that they require, but these are usually much cheaper than having the equivalent information in a text book.
And don’t forget Kindle. I got a Kindle for Christmas, and although I’m not crazy about the whole ebook thing and reading books off a screen, Kindle is a great resource for books like what I mentioned I needed for my history classes. All of the books I listed above are available for free or less than $5 through Kindle.
Of course, you can also sell whatever books you don’t need at the end of the semester on craigslist. This is a much better way to go about getting some money for them than selling them back to the school for some menial amount of money. I used to sell used text books for $30-60 on craigslist, which is more than I would get from the school and is still less or about the same as a student would pay for a used copy at the bookstore anyways. And if you feel the need to hang onto a particular book, then chances are it is a valuable resource of some sort and therefore is actually worth whatever high price you may have initially paid for it.
So when people complain about the soaring prices of textbooks, it falls on deaf ears to me. Sure, they ARE going up quickly and it isn’t necessarily “fair”. But if you guys want a real good lesson in economics take a look at the response from the private sector in the face of these skyrocketing prices: there are other avenues being created and already in existence to answer this demand for lower-priced textbooks. When I went back to school last fall to get a teaching credential I noticed that the books were much more expensive than they were when I graduated ten years ago. But with a little bit of research and thanks to sites like chegg.com or Amazon, I get all my books now for less than I did ten years ago. I ended up keeping most of my texts from back in the day and I am keeping most of the ones I need now, which will become invaluable resources for me once I start teaching fulltime.
I want to make one thing clear:
I am NOT some whiny punk who has no sense of economics or valuation of labor (e.g. salary = more than just actual hours worked). I am friends with several professors, I am considering teaching myself, and I’m far more savvy than the average student.
Yes, generally speaking, there are ways to mitigate the impact of high-priced books, such as Chegg or Abebooks (international versions, sold as soft covers and in black and white, cheap paper…books are sometimes a few bucks versus $60-80)…but honestly, I have had to buy MANY books that had no equivalent on Chegg/Abe, and just were not cheap, even as used books. I would make a matrix in Excel and calculate–PER book–the end cost of a text if:
Bought dirt cheap from Abe
Bought used and sold back (differential = cost)
And then I’d choose the source that gave me the best value for each text. It can sometimes be a LOT of work.
Some updated texts are seriously only updated by one chapter or just some extra commentary at the end of the chapters. That is NOT worth it, and publishers have had a strangle hold on schools for years. Yes, many teachers will try to help out in some way, but many others simply go with the publisher for the free material–slides, exams, quizzes, discussion topics. These are the most BORING professors, the ones who have very little to say themselves and don’t lecture much without reading off slides. THESE are the professors I have a problem with, who do not (in my opinion) deserve to make over 90k a year. I don’t give a shit what they’re researching, but they do NOT provide that much value to the students. I am very critical of professors. I pay for my damn school, I WANT MY MONEY’S WORTH.
The one professor I honestly am ashamed to have associated with my uni makes 126k. Yes, he has a PhD, but his lectures were useless and his teaching style was horrible. I got an A in that class, so it’s not like I’m a whiny student who didn’t do well. Again, I pay for my school, you better believe I will take it seriously.
Most teachers don’t deserve to get fired, but I would love a system that truly made transparent the perceived value of a professor (teaching style, impact on students, etc) and correlated it with salary. I don’t feel that’s how it works right now, and i think it should get more weight.
Most teachers I’ve had were good, some were phenomenal, but I think the salary is more about retaining talent–i.e., “don’t you dare go to our rival school!”–than true performance/value of teaching.
I’m well aware of the value of money, but I think you should not only be “worth it” at the time you get your salary, you should be proving that worth every fucking year. None of this, “Good, I can coast now that I’m tenured!” shit.
That’s how I feel MANY tenured professors act.
And honestly, I’m sick of seeing administrators get $200k+ per year. THAT is insane. AND I get nickle and dimed with stupid fees? Fuck you.
Sorry Ponce. I wasn’t trying to insinuate that you’re whining about all of this.
Ponce - there is some stuff in this thread you might find interesting. http://tnation.T-Nation.com/hub/Tex%20Ag#myForums/thread/4312182/
I basically argue that teaching has lost its importance in research universities, though perhaps universities in general. One way to look at it is how little adjuncts are paid per class. You can replace a professor teaching two classes a semester for about a 1/6th (or much less if they are well paid) of their salary. I think I remember reading that the average adjunct job pays about $1200 a class for someone with a masters and PhD. That covers just the teaching aspect of the professors job. Tell me that the universities take teaching seriously when you read about profs making six digits.
Sorry to tell you but it is more and more about grants and research.
Thank you both for your contributions; I’m glad we kept this discussion civil and got to see it from two distinct viewpoints.
And thanks for teaching. I seriously consider teaching above medicine and the like in terms of the value and impact on society. Hopefully, I’ll join you guys one day and pimp slap some punk kids for “facebook’ing” in my class.
I’ll take a look at that link later today. Really interesting (re: research vs. teaching). I know research adds to the bottom line for a uni trying to maintain its place on a map. It’s the ultimate advertisement.
I know our Lorie Professors in the English Dept are highly advertised to boost the Creative Writing MFA program.
Ponce - Once you start getting too deep into academia (basically well into your PhD) you get to see how the sausage is made. It is not for everyone. I am trying to tell (warn) you how it is. The other thing to bear in mind is that maybe two hand fulls of people will be the judge and jury of your career. Politics, unfortunately, rule - though I will admit it is a different type and I am sure differs by department. As you move forward, and I encourage you to, research departments, make friends around, go to conferences, find out as much as you can about perspective schools. A good fit can be (and often is) the difference between finishing or not.