Thursday, January 21, 2010

bang, the shoe falls

We got an e-mail today telling us to brace for a 20% budget cut this fall.

Which means no budget for adjuncts, and (I fear) none for TAs. Like, none at all. Like, the intro labs that we usually staff with TAs, we will have to staff. Which means big honking unpaid overloads for all of us.

And we may be seeing "temporary" pay cuts. Depending on how big those are, that could be an issue. I budget pretty closely so I can sock away a lot for retirement - I may have to rethink that and just pray for big gains in my investments or plan on working 'til 75 (and pray I stay healthy enough to), and cut my retirement savings.

They're also pushing us to consolidate classes: courses where there are four or five sections of maybe 40, lump them all into one giant section. The carrot has been proffered of 3 hours of "release time" or extra pay for whoever bites that bullet. But I - and the colleagues I've spoken to - are highly opposed to this, because:

a. our main selling point is that we have small classes with personal attention. Put 150 kids in a class and you can't give them attention.

b. the 10% or so of Speshul Snowflakes that make your life miserable - that would be 4 in a typical class now, 15 to 20 in a mass class. That alone makes me almost want to stop teaching. I really cannot deal with people who either have problems of their own creation, or have truly trivial problems that they then puff up into reasons why they need special accommodations. I am sure the 3 hours of release time would not be enough to deal with the added load of pain.

c. If they start doing that with the intro classes, we lose majors. We lose majors, we have other classes that can't make - it becomes a vicious cycle.

d. There will be pressure to, for example, teach ecology once a year only, with a big lecture of 40-70 people, and then teach the labs as 2-3 jampacked labs. So they get less attention. (And we already get half load credit for you could wind up with ten of your contact hours being lab, when you're actually IN lab for 20 hours a week, plus the unpaid prep time).

e. It just furthers the eating away of people's morale.

f. Three hours of release time means that majors-level classes do not get taught. I teach typically 12-14 hours per semester; three of that is the non majors class, the rest of it is divided among majors' classes. If I had three hours of release time to take, I'd have the unappealing choice of "which majors' class do I cancel?" (I wouldn't take extra pay. I have sufficient money for my happiness right now; what I don't have is sufficient time. I would rather at this point have more time and less money than more money and even less time).

g. This will hamstring research. If we're all teaching 200 student sections and doing unpaid overloads, none of us will have time for research. (As a colleague said: we will be come a de facto community college)

I know, I know: I should be happy in this economy to have a job. But this seems very poorly thought out. We are already "down" a person in my department, and we all generate a high number of FTEs or whatever the hell they call them (student butts in seats per faculty hour).

I don't know. What I said yesterday about job worry/job satisfaction stands. Even if poor decisions come down the pike and then are shot down, it still hurts morale. One of my colleagues had to spend about 10 minutes figuratively talking me off the ledge after I got the email and started thinking about classes of 200 and what that would entail. (I know, lots of people teach them, but part of the reason I came specifically HERE is because I thought I would never have to teach them).

Yeah, the economy is recovering SO well.

1 comment:

Mr. Bingley said...

i'm sure the administration-side is also taking huge cuts, right?

it drives me insane how they continually fund administrative positions and cut the academic ones.

cart before the horse.