My Maniacal Rant, Chapter One, Part Four

[Author’s Note: This writing project, The Maniacal Rant of a Community College “Professor,” started about two years ago, in the fall of 2012. I began writing a book that was intended to be a collection of memoirs. These memoirs were intended to testify about my experience as an instructor at Ivy Tech Community College in Northwest Indiana. My goal was to highlight the indignities I experienced, campaign for change in an unjust education system, draw attention to problems in our greater society, and share details of my incredible life story. I finished two chapters of the book, formed the majority of a third chapter, and planned fourteen more chapters. When I started this blog two months ago, I’ve found my goal as a writer has not changed much. I’ve decided it’s time to share the text from my memoirs. I intend to transcribe the text of my book periodically in this blog under the title My Maniacal Rant. Chapter One, titled “Profession as Confession, or the Professor Confessor” will be told in approximately eight parts. Enjoy.—SG]

I realize the supposition is that English teachers are to correct spelling only, not understand in-depth business models, ideologies, or politics. I become most offended with this socially-accepted assumption.

Politicians and administrators continue to lobby about increasing class sizes and reducing English professors. Indiana is paving the way for administrative hires who can now forego the pesky experience of teaching that formerly was a requirement. Apparently, business-degree recipients know best about teaching; they have certainly cornered the market on the best-paying jobs in schools and colleges. Teaching experience is seldom a necessary qualification for principals, superintendents, instructional technologists, and chancellors, all “exciting” job opportunities that are expanding at a school near you.

Four-year institutions continue to limit the amount of classes that Master’s degree-recipients of liberal arts can teach, and Indiana’s community college allows adjuncts to teach a maximum of three classes per semester at the salary rate of about $1,700 for each sixteen-week session (yes, under two grand to teach a class for an entire semester). All of this occurs while administrators, who are often paid $60,000 to $125,000 a year at Ivy Tech, thank teachers incessantly for their vital contributions and sacrifices. Often, they pat an adjunct instructor on the back as they shake hand hand, and, yes, they sometimes are looking for the best place to insert the knife, as administrators continue to reduce teaching jobs under the assumption that administration is just more important than teaching at a place of higher learning.

This is part and partial of my experience within the Indiana education system at Ivy Tech Northwest, and this is not necessarily true of all colleges and schools; however, I assume that there are liberal arts students, instructors, and professors from all over America that read this text and understand fully what is being expressed here.

Consider that Indiana has almost criminalized teaching unions. Professionals are discouraged from unionizing to challenge any corporate takeover of the education system, where millions of dollars of government money flow, but not to the teachers. Corporate-minded, public sector job-killing Indiana led the way for Wisconsin’s and Michigan’s reformation of teachers’ unions, like a virus infecting nearby states. The Midwest states are becoming infected as more and more states attempt to privatize the necessary public professions. Police officers and fire-fighters are paid minimally along with teachers, to perform supposedly-needed communal functions.

As I see more campaigning for charter schools, I cannot help but lose my mind with each passing day: Do we honestly think that schools should fall into the hands of private business? Can’t people see that entrepreneurs simply want a bigger piece of the government-spending pie? You mean to tell me that union-less teachers have to do more work with less autonomy and take less pay as administrators take more pay because it’s for “the good of the company?” You’re telling me that we should allow complete corporatization of our educational professionals under the auspices that it will improve education?! How exactly will it do that?!? When has privatization ever been about anything more than profit for profiteers?! Look what the history of the privatization of the healthcare industry has wrought?!? Hyperinflation, that’s what!…and oh, by the way, the PRIVATE college system is trying to keep pace with healthcare’s financial trends. Have you seen the jump in tuition rates just over the last decade?! Americans have been led to think it’s now a necessity, and people WILL pay the grossly-overinflated price! Now we have a country full of kids with a useless piece of paper that doesn’t seem to land them a job in the corporate sphere, and their ultimate prize?…Loads of debt that prevent them from buying a house, starting a family, or going to the doctor!! Seriously!! Privately-operated charter schools!! That’s your solution!! The freakin’ FREE MARKET!!? (Whoa, take a breath…peace and love…find your center….)

A Master’s degree in English or philosophy is often regarded as so much toilet paper when applied to the real world. The modern liberal arts college instructor, working with only a Master’s degree, has to be quite masochistic. The education system itself does not deem these degrees as worthy. Certainly, it is not worthy of the title of professor.

As a holder of this graduate degree, I do have alternatives to this masochistic Master’s degree lifestyle, of course. The most obvious is to get a doctoral degree. This would require taking out a larger loan and paying the exorbitant tuition fees required—putting a scholar further into debt after borrowing tens of thousands for the Master’s degree. It is usually encouraged to move away from the family (it would be best if I didn’t have one, according to some professors) and to take on the mostly-obnoxious task of publishing a dissertation to obtain a doctoral degree. ABDs (All-But-Dissertations) are quite popular now for professorial hires, indicating that as long as you pay the money, college institutions will give teaching positions to those who have nothing new to contribute to the academic conversation. I might invest myself further into a system that insists a professorship has to provide financial reward to the institution in which a professor is to surrender all his attention and acumen, ignoring home, family, and social lives…a system that withholds tenure on a whim, AND a system that pays assistant AND associate professors of English in Indiana on average a whopping $30,000 to $40,000 a year once tenure is granted, but only IF it is granted….

Consider that tenure at colleges is usually only granted to those who bring “real-world” money into the college…college football coaches’ salaries should be a good indicator for most of my readers, as well as a quick study of computer, engineering, nursing, and especially, business schools of discipline. Further consider that most scholarship within English and philosophy earns up to $250 for a successfully published article in a credible scholarly journal, which might take a year to be acceptable to a stubborn editor.

I am sorry, but I am not that masochistic.

{If you appreciated this writing and want to help support the continuation of this blog, please consider sending a donation to:

Scott C. Guffey
P.O. Box 53
Michigan City, IN 46360

For a full explanation of author impetus, blog mission statement, and donations appeal, click About.}

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